Is It Time for an Oil Change?

Published: 10/22/2010 by

Is It Time for an Oil Change?

Car maintenance can be as tricky or as easy as an owner wants it to be – it all boils down to knowing exactly what your vehicle needs, and when it needs to be done. One of the most crucial aspects about your vehicle that needs to be addressed is the need for an oil change, or more specifically – when it should be done.  There are a number of factors that need to be considered when dealing with oil changes, and some of them can spell the difference between having your vehicle’s optimum performance and a serious automotive repair issue.

Factors in Determining Your Oil Change Schedule

Deciding on when to have an oil change will depend on a number of factors, and we will discuss those factors so you can determine when to schedule your vehicle for an oil change at the best possible time.

Vehicle Type

Cars manufactured a few decades ago, particularly during the 1960s to the 1970s, are usually recommended to have their oil changed after every 4,800 km. On the other hand, newer car models (and their engines) will generally need an oil change between 8,000-12,000 km; car repair experts and professionals from auto shops suggest that you go no longer than the 12,000 km range to avoid potential car repair problems.

Driving Conditions

The conditions in which you use your vehicle will determine to a large extent when an oil change will be needed. When a vehicle is exposed to severe driving conditions, the oil should generally be changed more frequently than what manufacturers or car maintenance professionals suggest. These are some of the conditions that fall under “severe” driving:

  • Frequent stop-and-go city driving (often experienced during moderate to heavy traffic situations)
  • Frequent driving in gravel roads and in dusty conditions
  • Driving for regular short trips, which usually take less than  10 miles
  • Driving in extremely cold weather for a short duration
  • Driving in extremely hot weather while maintaining high speeds

Driving under the above-mentioned conditions can take a toll on your vehicle, which justifies the shorter period of time between oil change services; it is best to schedule to have the oil changed every six months or after every 4,800 km – whichever comes first. Following this schedule is even more important of the vehicle is older, or has already passed the 160,000 km mark.

Manufacturer Recommendations

While it may be tempting to ignore the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding oil change frequency, it is best to follow it as closely as possible – this is especially true if your vehicle is still under warranty. Not following the recommended oil change schedule can lead to your vehicle’s warranty being voided – and in a worst case scenario, may lead to more serious car repair problems.

The factors listed above are intended to guide you into making the right scheduling decisions with regards to your car’s oil change needs. However, being sensitive to how your car responds as time goes by will also be a very helpful tool – your senses can act as a built-in gauge for whatever it is that your vehicle needs. Regardless of the recommendations and timeframes given by automotive repair experts, if you intimately know your vehicle enough to notice any warning signs – you will be able to give it the oil change it needs, at exactly the right moment when it is most needed. As long as you take care of your vehicle, you can rest assured that it will take care of you in return.

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