Blog Car Care Advice How Often Should You Change Your Oil? (+3 FAQs)
Car Care Advice

How Often Should You Change Your Oil? (+3 FAQs)

Looking for a mechanic near you for maintenance or repair? AutoNation Mobile Service brings the shop to you. Get a free instant quote today.
Get a Quote

A regular oil change schedule is important for maintaining an efficient running engine.

However, how often should you change your oil? 
What factors influence your oil change frequency?

In this article, we’ll answer both of these questions in detail. 
We’ll also cover the service maintenance schedules to follow according to your driving style and frequently asked questions about oil changes.    

This Article Contains:

Let’s begin! 

How Often Should You Change Your Oil?   

Your vehicle’s recommended oil change frequency depends on several factors, mainly your driving habits and vehicle age. For example, older vehicle models will demand a different oil change frequency compared to a newer car or a modern vehicle. 

Here’s a look:

A. For Older Vehicle Models

Older vehicle models often feature a time and mileage-based oil-changing frequency. Therefore, you must manually check your vehicle’s oil levels and get regular oil changes. 

With older vehicle types, getting an oil change twice a year is best, even if you don’t do heavy driving. You can then simply top up your engine with clean oil every few months.  

Your oil change interval also depends on the type of maintenance recommendation you fit into, such as whether you belong to the normal or severe service category.

Pro Tip: Keep traditional oil or synthetic oil in your vehicle for emergencies. 

B. For New Car Models

New car models often have an oil life monitoring system that notifies you when you run out of oil. The oil life monitoring system is handy because you never have to worry about the oil change frequency. 

A newer car will likely still be under the manufacturer’s warranty, covering any oil maintenance and change costs. This oil change service will likely include oil filter replacement, on top of general oil system maintenance. So, if you have a newer vehicle, you shouldn’t hesitate about frequent car service visits! 

But what factors determine the frequency of an oil change for both new and old cars?

4 Factors That Affect Oil Change Intervals

Your oil-changing frequency can depend on the following factors:

1. Oil Type

Car engines use two significant types of motor oil — conventional oil and synthetic motor oil. Both are based off crude oil, but their quality and manufacturing process can vary greatly.

Conventional oil made by heating crude oil at different high temperature points to obtain a base oil. It requires frequent oil changes and maintenance since it isn’t very refined. 

Synthetic motor oil is carefully formulated to have a longer oil life and be more stable at high temperatures. Therefore, synthetic oil will have a longer oil change interval. Many modern cars use synthetic oil. However, it’s more expensive than conventional oil.

Depending on the oil you use, you will have to decide on an oil replacement routine. 

It’s best to refer to the owner’s manual to see if your car’s oil system has any specific requirements or oil change tips. Some older car models are better suited for mineral oil, while high-end vehicles may require synthetic oil.

2. Your Car’s Oil Levels

Keeping an eye on the car’s oil levels is a good rule of thumb for car owners. This vigilance allows you to know when to top up some clean oil and when to replace it. 

The easiest way to check the oil level in your car is by using the car’s dipstick. Simply dip it in the engine oil and then determine the oil level based on the oil marks on the dipstick. Then, replace the old oil with conventional or synthetic oil if necessary.  

3. Driving Conditions

Extreme temperatures, rough driving habits, and uneven terrain can significantly impact your oil life and engine oil consumption. 

For example, an older car used for short trips will require a different oil change interval than a newer car used for off-roading and heavy towing. Modern cars that carry heavy loads also need regular oil changes.

Shorter, infrequent trips in cold weather may also exert pressure on your engine’s oil system and oil filter. 

Also, if you notice that the oil’s color is often dark and smoke comes from the exhaust pipe, you may need to replace the old oil more often. Exhaust pipe smoke is never good, and you should check your oil filter in this case. 

4. Engine and Car Type

Each engine type has different oil change tips and specifications. 
For example, diesel engines dirty your vehicle’s oil more frequently than petrol engines. Turbocharged engines also utilize more engine oil than regular ones. 

It is, therefore, best to consult the vehicle’s owners manual before forming a routine. An owners manual will tell you everything you need to know about your car’s service requirements. A 3-liter Toyota vehicle engine may have a different oil change schedule than a 3-liter BMW engine. For example, the same goes for a Toyota Rav4 versus a Toyota Prius.

The recommended oil change frequency also depends on your category of service maintenance. 
Let’s look at them.

What Type of Service Maintenance Schedule Should You Use?

Service maintenance schedules are categorized into two types; normal and severe. 

And these categories are dictated by your driving style and car type.

People who practice good driving habits, regularly drive their car, perform routine tire rotation, and mostly stick to on-road rides can usually abide by normal service maintenance. This service is also suitable for people with relatively modern cars. 

On the other hand, severe service maintenance requires frequent changes and motor oil replacement and is designed for users who fall into one of the following categories:

If you engage in any of these driving styles, your recommended oil change frequency is 3000 mile intervals

Aside from these, older cars will also require you to follow a regular oil change routine along with oil filter replacement. You may need to refer to the owner’s manual for specific maintenance requirements and oil change tips. 

Now that we’ve discussed what influences your oil change interval, let’s explore some common questions about oil changes.

3 FAQS About Oil Change Frequency

These are some common queries you may have about oil changes and their answers:.

1. What if I Don’t Change My Oil?

When you don’t change your oil, it becomes thick and dirty. Its reduced quality might lead to engine overheating, worrying engine noises, and dark smoke exhaust emissions.

On the other hand, following your oil change service schedule can improve car performance. The motor oil will lubricate the engine better, reducing friction and preventing overheating.

2. Does Oil Change Frequency Affect Car Worth?

Yes, how often you change your oil impacts car worth.

Regular vehicle maintenance increases resale value, as people who look to buy cars, especially older cars, appreciate it when they are in good mechanical condition.

Furthermore, any car buying guide would encourage people to buy cars with regular service maintenance records. So, vehicles without regular oil changes or oil filter replacements could seem risky.

3. How Much Does an Oil Change Cost?

Depending on where you get it, a regular conventional oil change and filter replacement could cost around $50 to $200.

If you use synthetic oil, this may increase by approximately $20.

Final Thoughts

So, are frequent oil changes better? 

Most car service providers would advise you to get a routine oil change every 3000 mile or 5000-mile period. But as we’ve seen, it depends on the oil type, driving style, and the vehicle’s oil levels.

While frequent oil changes certainly won’t hurt your vehicle, you could waste time and money if you do them more often than required. 

The ideal thing to do is to check your car oil level every 1-2 months in the beginning. This routine will give you a rough idea of how much oil your engine consumes and how frequently you must top up or change it with clean oil.

After that, you can always rely on your instincts and previous oil change intervals. You can also consult a car mechanic for oil maintenance and service questions. 

Looking for a trusted service provider for your car?
Contact AutoNation Mobile Service to get top-quality auto repair and maintenance provided by expert mechanics, plus upfront pricing and a service warranty.