How Often Should I Change My Oil?

How Often Should I Change My Oil?

At our auto repair shop in Paso Robles, oil changes are a common service and we are often asked by customers if they should be getting their oil changed every 3,000 or 5,000 miles.  The answer may surprise you! 

Your owner’s manual is the first place you should look to determine the interval for oil changes as the design of the engine is a major factor.  But it isn’t the only factor.  If your owner’s manual suggests an oil change every 3,000 miles it is their recommendation without knowing you and your driving habits.  Newer vehicles will often suggest an oil change every 5,000 miles, but it’s the same story – it’s their recommendation without taking everything into account, like the age of your vehicle; 5,000 miles might be right when it is still new, but that may change over time.

Short-Trip Vehicle Oil Changes

When we’re asked about an oil change in Paso Robles, we usually ask a few questions to learn about your driving habits: are most of your trips in town or on the highway; do you regularly drive less than 10 miles each way; how old is your vehicle; how many miles are on your vehicle?  The answers here matter.  If the majority of your trips in your car, truck, or SUV are under 10 miles each way, you’re putting a lot of wear and tear on your engine by starting it frequently and your engine isn’t getting hot enough to boil off excess condensation or moisture in the system, which means you need an oil change more often.  In fact, some vehicles should be getting their oil changed every 1,000 miles, although this isn’t common.  1,000-mile oil changes are more common for commercial vehicles that start and stop their engines frequently, but in today’s age of ride share services and food delivery, some non-commercial vehicles need frequent oil changes, too.

Now, if you drive short trips but drive infrequently, you’ll be looking at time and not mileage.  If you put less than 10,000 miles per year on your vehicle, you’ll want to schedule your oil change for every 6 months, regardless of mileage, as the oil breaks down over time even without being driven. 

Long-Trip Vehicle Oil Changes

If you commute for work, you’ll rack up the mileage faster and, more importantly, your vehicle is likely seeing mostly highway and freeway mileage, which means less-frequent oil changes.  Cars less than 10 years old that mostly go on long commutes at higher speeds can actually go longer between oil changes and wait until every 5,000 miles.  Some drivers prefer to use synthetic oil in their vehicles and for commuters, this can mean you’ll only need an oil change every 10,000 miles.  Switching to synthetic isn’t necessary for everyone, but vehicles that do heavy hauling or are prone to oil build up (called sludge) can have benefits that outweigh the costs of the synthetic oil.

Somewhere in the Middle

Most drivers are somewhere in the middle between trips under 10 miles and long stretches at freeway-speeds.  For this reason, many manufacturers suggest an oil change every 3,000-5,000 miles.  Newer vehicles may have a sensor that looks for dirty oil, but checking the dipstick is still a tried-and-true way to check the status of your oil and we’re happy to check your oil free of charge.  If you don’t remember when your last oil change was, or if you think your driving patterns have the need for more frequent oil changes, stop on by our auto repair shop in Paso Robles and we’ll take a look for you.  If you’ve had your oil changed with us in the past, we can always look up what your mileage was at your last change. 

Time for an oil change?  We are now offering an oil change punch card – buy 4 oil changes with us at the regular price and the 5th one is free! Some exclusions apply, so be sure to ask when it’s time for your next oil change and we’ll get you a punch card.

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