How Often Should You Change Your Engine Oil?

Change Your Engine Oil

Ask three different people how often you should change your engine oil, and you’re likely to get three different answers. Some people of a certain advanced age might tell you that back in their day, they went 6,000 miles between oil changes. Others will swear that every 3,000 miles or 3 months was handed down with Moses’ 10 Commandments. And today’s technicians, if they are honest with you, will tell you that your driving pattern is a much better indicator to how often you should change your oil.

WHY THE DISCREPANCIES?

In the history of the world, automobiles (that’s what cars used to be called) make up only a tiny fraction of the timeline. The invention of a petroleum lubricant to reduce friction in steam engines hails only 135 years back to a man named Dr. John Ellis.  You may not know his name, but you have probably heard of his company founded in 1866: Valvoline.

Each of the three answers found above are correct for their own tie period. You see, back in the 19th century, engines weren’t being asked to perform under nearly as strenuous conditions as they are today. And while it’s true that all oils solve the same problem (friction), the conditions under which they are asked to perform requires different additives and viscosities.

One of the nation’s largest oil change brands is Jiffy Lube. They are owned by Pennzoil/Quaker State… both subsidiaries of Royal Dutch Shell. Their standard suggested interval between oil changes (as of the date of this writing) is still 3,000 miles or every 3 months. And yet, on their website it clearly states that manufacturer’s recommendations (often 5,000+ miles) are based upon the anticipated rigors of ‘normal driving’. And while we don’t claim to be rocket scientists, it’s pretty easy to see the economic benefits of suggesting shorter periods of time between changes of the products that they not only sell, but manufacture as well.

WHAT ABOUT SYNTHETICS?

Synthetic oils were first developed in 1929. All synthetic oils get their start with refining oil, just the same as traditional oils. The major difference between the two lies in the level of refinement. Today’s synthetics offer a uniform molecular size and a whole host of additives to boost performance and burn cleaner.

Many of today’s newer vehicle manufacturers suggest that you use either synthetic or synthetic blended oil for your car. And many mechanics are already using synthetic blends as their base offering, as they simply perform better.

SO… HOW OFTEN SHOULD I CHANGE MY OIL?

If you are an average driver who isn’t drag racing to work, most mechanics will recommend the you change your oil about every 5,000 – 7,500 miles. If you’re using high grade synthetic oil, that interval may jump up to 10,000 – 15,000 miles. The best answer, though, is to ask your trusted mechanic.

Full service mechanics offer a huge advantage over quick oil change chains. A qualified mechanic knows and understands the operations of every part of your vehicle. Typically, the oil change technicians at the chain quick stops are unskilled workers who are trained to do one thing: check and change your oil.

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