How often should you change your oil? The answer depends on what type of vehicle you own, among other things. Here is a guide to help you make sure you keep up with your vehicle maintenance, especially when it comes to oil.
What Is the Purpose of Motor Oil?
Motor oil plays a huge role in keeping your vehicle running optimally. That’s why it’s important to understand what it does.
Motor oil lubricates your engine. There are many parts of engines which move against each other. The oil you use in your vehicle keeps these parts moving and making friction, which turns into heat that breaks the oil down. That’s why you need to change your oil on a regular basis.
If you’re not changing your oil on a regular basis, usually however often your owner’s manual suggests, it can cause engine problems. If you never change your oil, your engine will stop working.
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How Often Should You Change Your Oil?
Different factors measure into how often you should change the oil in your vehicle. These can include how you drive your vehicle, the environment you live in, and the age of your vehicle. While it was originally suggested people change their motor oil every 3,000 miles, with newer vehicles and new types of oil, you can go longer in between maintenance.
The most commonly recommended time between oil changes is 5,000 miles, but some people may be able to get up to 10,000 with the use of synthetic oil. If you drive your vehicle for a living, you’ll be putting those miles on faster than someone that only drives a couple of times a week.
Some things that can cause the need for changing motor oil more often include regularly driving at higher speeds, owning an older car, and living in areas with extreme temperatures (hot or cold). If you live in the country and drive on a lot of dirt roads, that can muck up your motor oil faster as well.
Getting an Oil Change
Getting the oil changed on your vehicle can be done a few ways. You can take your car to your usual technician and have it done. You’ll have to wait a few hours, and you’ll have to make an appointment. You could go to a quick lube type business where you’ll spend far less time, and you can drive up anytime during business hours.
The other way you can deal with your oil change is to do it yourself. It’s not a difficult process, it’s something you can safely do on your own, and you don’t need a ton of supplies. You do, however, need some time and some instruction. Here are the steps:
1. Gather Supplies
You will need the following items:
- The right amount of fresh oil for your engine/vehicle
- An oil pan to catch oil
- A new filter and a wrench for replacing it
- A Funnel
- Jacks or a ramp to get your car elevated
Wear some clothes you don’t mind getting oil and dirt on. It is a messy job. Wear some latex gloves as well.
2. What Type of Oil Do You Need?
One of the easiest ways to figure out what kind of motor oil you should use in your vehicle is to check the owner’s manual. The manual lists how often you should change the oil. If you don’t have your owner’s manual, you can do some research online or consult your mechanic.
Oil types include the oil’s viscosity (it may need 5W-20 or 10W-30), and your vehicle could require synthetic oil, especially if it’s a newer vehicle. Make sure you read the manual carefully. The wrong oil can damage your engine, and that damage could be permanent. Viscosity measurements are determined by the size and type of engine your vehicle is running on.
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3. Get Your Vehicle Ready
Start with a warm vehicle, but not a hot one. Go for a short drive before it’s time to do your oil change, then let the engine cool for a few minutes before you get started.
You need to have easy access to the hood and under the car. Raising the car can be helpful. You’ll need to get to the drain plug underneath to drain the oil into your oil pan. Dispose of the old oil properly (not in any drains or dumped outside).
4. Change the Oil and Filter
Make sure you’re using the right amount of oil to replace what you drained (that info is in the owner’s manual). After you’ve put the plug back in you’ll replace the oil the same way you add it any other time, from under the hood using a funnel.
Change the oil filter too. It can get clogged. Depending on your car, it’s likely you’ll need to do this step from underneath. Make sure you buy the right filter.
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Keeping Your Vehicle Running Smoothly
Now that you have the answer to how often should you change your oil, you are one step closer to keeping your vehicle at optimal performance. Make sure to check your oil often, just in case you have any leaks.