While it may not seem like it, engine oil does a lot for your vehicle. Motor oil lubricates different parts of your engine and helps it perform flawlessly. With time, however, engine oil accumulates dust and dirt from circulating through an engine so many times. And, unfortunately, dirty engine oil can do more harm than good.
To ensure your car’s flawless performance, opt for oil changes at regular intervals. While most drivers are aware of the benefits of changing their oil regularly, they don’t always know when or how often they need to swap it out. (Even expert drivers struggle to determine the right time to change their engine oil.)
In order to determine how frequently to change your oil, consider the type of oil your vehicle uses, the age of your car, and driving conditions. Many drivers incorrectly consider a change in oil color as conclusive evidence that their car needs an oil change.
Avoid this and other oil change pitfalls by consulting your car’s factory maintenance schedule, and read up on your manufacturer’s instructions regarding oil changes.
Using synthetic oil in older vehicles
Vehicle technology has come a long way. While older cars require an oil change every 3,000 miles, most engines manufactured today can go without an oil change for up to 7,500 miles. Cars that use synthetic oil have an even higher range, and usually don’t require an oil change for up to 15,000 miles.
Many older cars have two maintenance schedules: one for a vehicle operated in normal conditions, and one for a car driven in extreme service conditions. Extreme conditions include:
- Operating the car in hot, cold, or dusty climates.
- Towing heavy loads or a trailer regularly.
- Continuous stop-and-go driving.
If you operate your car in severe or extreme service conditions, you need to get your oil changed more frequently.
Using synthetic oil in newer vehicles
If you have a new car, however, you can rely more on your vehicle’s internal systems to tell you when it’s time for an oil change. Most new models have an oil-life monitoring system that’s designed to automatically determine when an oil change is needed. Your car’s system should alert you that it’s time to change your synthetic oil with a notification on the instrument panel.
After an oil change, make sure the mechanic resets the oil-life monitoring system. Because you don’t need to change your oil as frequently in newer vehicles, it’s good to check your car’s oil level at least once a month.
Regardless of how old your car is, maintaining the right levels and cleanliness of your motor oil helps prevent engine wear and damage resulting from dirty or low levels of oil.
Still can’t determine how frequently you need to get your oil changed? Request an appointment at any of the AAA Owned Auto Repair Centers near you. Or, find a AAA Approved Auto Repair Facility in your neighborhood. AAA Members receive a 10% discount on labor and a 24-month, 24,000-mile warranty. Not a Member? Not a problem! All are welcome.