There are a lot of smart mechanics out there that will give you a variety of numbers related to years and miles when it comes to an oil change. Many of them will make grand assumptions on your car in the process. Others may be trying to get some extra money out of you.
So, how often do you need an oil change for your car? Most people will give you a flat rate of around 5000 to 7500 while older cars may need to replace their oil every 3000 miles. Some synthetic oils may go up to 15000 miles.
Typically, the answer is always more complicated than it seems. Let’s get into the details below.
How Often Do You Need To Change Your Oil In A Newer Vehicle?
Follow the recommendations in your owner’s manual.
Many new vehicles come with a powertrain warranty, meaning that you need to follow the oil type, frequency of changes, and overall millage to keep your warranty active. Failure to comply will result in a voided warranty.
When your vehicle is out of warranty and is still not considered an “old vehicle,” the frequency of changes will depend on a couple of different things we will list below.
How Often Do You Drive It?
Vehicles that spend more time in the garage do not need frequent oil changes. Because of this, you will likely want to check your oil every so often to be sure it’s still a desirable shade. Murky looking oil will need a change sooner rather than later.
How Do You Use It?
If you use your car on mountain terrain, you may need to replace your oil more often. The more time you spend in stop-and-start situations, the rougher you are on your engines.
If it is for your daily commute to the office, it may be less necessary to be worried about how you use it. The exception being if there is a lot of stops on the way to the office.
What Do You Use?
This category bleeds a bit into the “how do you use it” section, but consider a large truck. This massive truck probably hauls many things, some of them may be heavy things. Take this into considerations when making a decision.
As a result, you are going to want to shoot for anywhere between 5000 to 7500 miles. The most extreme conditions will be as low as 3000 miles. Check your owner’s manual to confirm what is best.
How Often Do You Need To Change Your Oil In An Older Vehicle?
In this case, an older vehicle would be anything before 2010. Older cars tend to go through more oil because their engine may have already seen a couple hundred thousand miles.
If you purchase an older, used vehicle, the seller may try to advertise that they have a recently replaced engine. In this case, you will want to ask them about the overall miles of the car and other parts of the vehicle. These may require less oil, but consult a trusted mechanic to be sure on this.
In this case, you will need to replace your oil every 3000 to 5000 miles. If they do not see much time on the road, you should consider replacing your oil every three months.
How Do You Change A Car’s Oil and Oil Filter?
Many people in the world have never changed car oil before. If you are one of those people, there is no shame in learning this as if it were a new skill. There are many types of people in the world that do not know what you know.
With this in mind, we are going to take the beginner’s perspective in this section. If you already know how to change oil, this part won’t be beneficial to you. Let’s take this step-by-step. We also suggest taking a visual look at this with the video below.
Purchase The Supplies You Need To Change Your Oil
You will need the following supplies to change your oil correctly:
- Oil and oil filter
- Typical ratchet set
- Gloves and paper towels
- Oil collection pan or bucket
- Oil filter wrench
- Jack and jack stands or ramps
The owner’s manual will have information on the right oil and oil filter.
Lift The Car Up
Place your jack underneath your car in a location that would be typical of a jack. You may see that the spot where you would place the jack is a bit worn, but you will typically need it behind the front tires.
Jack stands will provide you an additional layer of security if the jack slips. Be sure you have an ample amount of space for yourself to fit underneath the car comfortably.
Some people prefer ramps, which can be just as effective.
Locate The Oil Drain Pan and Filters, Remove Bolt
Once you are comfortably beneath the vehicle, locate your oil drain pan. Per the video above, they tend to be darker than your other surfaces underneath. There is also a bolt that you are going to want to put your pan underneath.
Your filter will either be next to or on top of the oil pan. In either case, position your bucket or container in such a way where it will catch where the oil will spout out. Wait for the oil to stop dripping entirely before moving onto the next step.
Replace Oil Filter
Replace the oil filter at this point. You may need an oil filter wrench if it is too tight to remove by hand. It is also an excellent suggestion to pre-oil your filter, which prevents the car from running dry when you first start it.
Refill Oil From Top
At this point, you should be able to spot the cap with the oil sign on the top. Be sure that you replug the gasket at the bottom, and the oil filter is secure and refill the tank will oil. Be sure to be aware of the number of quarts your car takes, which is typically four, and take into account the amount you added to the filter.
What About Synthetic Oils?
Synthetic oils have an advantage against conventional oils. They have a higher temperature tolerance, work well for older engines that can build up gunk, and don’t break down as quickly. If at all possible, purchase synthetic oil. The video below will explain the science behind it.
When it comes to how often you should change your oil, you should think of three things.
- How old is your vehicle? Older vehicles need to have oil changes more often.
- What do you do with your vehicle? If you haul heavy machinery around or drive offroad often, you may need more oil changes.
- In what conditions do you use your car? If you live in a place that is prone to extreme hot or cold, you may need to change your oil more often.
Provided you keep those in mind and follow the steps on this guide to replace your oil, you can drive with confidence.