Motor oil ensures that your car operates smoothly, but knowing when to replace it can be a bit of a challenge due to the countless different claims about the ideal time to do so. In this guide, we’re going to look at everything you should know about how frequently you should replace your car’s motor oil.
Depending on who you ask, motor oil can last for 1000 miles, 3000 miles, 5000 miles, 7500 miles, 10,000 miles, or 15,000 miles. A lot of this depends on your driving conditions, how much work your engine is put through (acceleration, high speeds, etc.) and even the season or weather.
We’re going to take a closer look at each of these brackets of length for how long motor oil can last and we’ll explain why experts are so divided on the matter. By the end of this guide, you can compare your driving conditions to the ones that we list out so that you can see how frequently you should be changing your oil.
How Many Miles Does Oil Last?
We’ll start by taking a look at the reasons why you should change your oil out more frequently and then we’ll move on to the reasons why you may wish to wait longer in between your oil changes. Keep in mind that this will be relatively universal, regardless of whether you drive an Audi or a Mazda.
Changing Oil Every 1000 Miles
While it may be more expensive and time-consuming to change out your oil every 1000 miles, there are a few cases in which it may be a good idea. This is mainly based on how you drive, and if you typically drive less than 10 miles whenever you use your car, you may want to change out your oil frequently.
The main issue is that your car’s engine doesn’t get hot enough when you don’t go for sustained drives. While this may sound like a good thing, it actually means that the engine can’t boil away the condensation that forms in the oil tank. More water in the oil means that the oil will break down.
Another common issue is that taking short drives means that your car has to go through more ignition cycles. Every time you turn on your car, it puts the engine under more stress than it would have to deal with than when you’re driving along. By replacing your oil more frequently, you can reduce the wear and tear on your engine.
In most cases, changing your oil once every 1000 miles when you drive short distances means that you’ll probably be changing your oil every six months. Remember that driving your car infrequently doesn’t mean that it’s dealing with less wear and tear because the engine is meant to be used regularly to function smoothly.
Changing Oil Every 3000 to 7500 Miles
More and more research is coming out that’s showing that the 3000-mile oil change interval isn’t quite as crucial as it has been made to seem throughout the past. In fact, some go as far as to say that this interval was chosen because it means that you’ll spend more money at auto shops maintaining your vehicle.
In other cases, it’s a good idea to stick to the 3000-mile mark, especially if your car is older. Older cars have less reliable engines and the parts can be harder to find, so it’s often a good idea to ensure that your oil is changed frequently enough to prevent any potential damage to the components.
On the other hand, some publications recommend stretching your oil a little longer, only changing it every 5000 miles or potentially even every 7500 miles. Of course, this depends on how you drive, and this assumes that you’re driving your car regularly enough for the engine to stay in a good condition.
This is mainly recommended for newer cars that are often driven on the highway, as this allows for the condensation to be boiled off and newer cars can typically go longer between oil changes. On the other hand, if you’re driving an older vehicle, it’s better to be safe than sorry by ensuring that your oil is changed often enough to keep everything running smoothly.
Changing Oil Every 10,000+ Miles
There are also cases in which you can change your oil out every 10,000 miles, and that’s usually the case for cars that have been designed with more advanced oil types in mind. For example, synthetic oil is designed to last far longer than traditional motor oil types, and it can easily last for 10,000 miles.
In fact, some brands of synthetic oil can last for up to 15,000 miles between changes, minimizing the amount of time that you have to deal with your car’s maintenance. Of course, synthetic oil also tends to be a little more expensive and there’s no guarantee that it will play nice with all cars.
Another advantage to using synthetic oil is that it’s a lot more eco-friendly and it offers improved performance over regular oil. In some cases, it’s not recommended to use synthetic oil if you don’t need the improved performance. For example, if you routinely tow heavy loads with your car, then you may need to use synthetic oil to make it easier.
Synthetic oil is also a good choice for cars that have their oil turn into sludge. If you don’t deal with either of these cases, the jury’s out on whether or not synthetic oil will be worth the price.
More modern vehicles like Teslas or newer Nissans have onboard computers that will help you determine how frequently you’ll need to change out your motor oil. In these cases, the car will take telemetry data about how you drive and compare it to how long it’s been since you’ve changed your motor oil.
The onboard computer will then calculate the amount of miles that you can go between oil changes, giving you a much more accurate estimate than simply guessing. Keep in mind that this option typically isn’t available on older cars, however