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It’s vital that you maintain, and stick to a schedule of checking and maintaining your vehicle. A pre-planned plan for monitoring and professionally maintaining your car ensures you prevent potential problems from developing.
Regarding your engine oil, it’s better to maintain a habit of checking it from anywhere between once a week to once in four weeks. You have to regularly check your oil for two main reasons.
The first reason is if you notice that there’s a marked drop in your oil levels, it means your vehicle has a problem like an oil leak that requires immediate attention. Secondly, it’s nasty for your car if it runs on very little engine oil as it can quickly inflict severe damage to your engine.
Definition of ‘regularly’
Now you may ask yourself what’s the definition of regularly. Well, auto mechanics once used to recommend an oil change every 3,000 miles or every three months. However, today’s oils and engines can traverse longer and farther in between oil changes.
This is why the best answer to a ‘regular’ and ‘routine’ oil change routine can be found in your owner’s manual and based on the oil type, and viscosity your vehicle’s manufacturer suggests.
It’s typically better to change the engine oil after 5,000 miles, if you use conventional or synthetic blend oils. However, if you use full-synthetic oil, it’s okay to change the oil every 6,000 to 7,500 miles. While a better quality oil gives better lubrication, it is always better to frequently check the oil level in between oil changes.
Set a routine to check and change oil
The best way to remind you to check and change your engine oil is by creating a timetable for changing the oil. You can come up with a favourable mileage interval based on your vehicle manufacturer’s recommended range, and some other factors that may affect this time interval.
Once you set a schedule, make sure you stick to the program and keep changing your engine oil based on it. You can opt to either change the oil personally or have it changed by a professional.
While your changing the oil on your own is an economical option, disposing of the waste oil can be a hassle. This is because the oil has to be legally disposed of, usually in facilities equipped and ready to take waste oil. And though you may have to spend some money to change the oil professionally, it’s a convenient option, and there are no hassles as you know the oil change is done correctly.
It is always wise to follow your vehicle manufacturer’s recommended oil change intervals. But as driving styles and conditions vary, there are no fixed norms or timetable to follow to decide the frequency of your engine oil change. In fact, various factors determine an oil change like:
Manufacturer’s recommended intervals
The manufacturer’s recommendations may not adhere to your driving situation as it’s based on ideal driving conditions, and unfortunately, the world is seldom ideal! So it’s better to consider the manufacturer’s recommended interval to be the maximum possible time-gap and keep the other factors in mind.
You will have to change the engine oil more frequently than the manufacturer’s recommended intervals in case of the following driving conditions:
- You will need frequent oil changes if you are an aggressive driver or tend to make lots of quick starts and stops.
- You will have to change engine oil frequently, and top it at least once a week if you drive a lot in dirty and dusty conditions.
- The engine oil needs frequent changing if you regularly tow heavy loads.
- Frequent oil changing is necessary if you drive in extremely hot or cold conditions.
- If you tend to start and stop driving a lot in your regular commute, you will need more frequent oil changes.
- As driving the car on short trips of less than five miles is hard on the oil, you’ll need to change the engine oil much frequently.
- There is a chance of the oil getting contaminated even if you don’t drive your vehicle regularly. This is why it’s better to change the oil if your car has been stationary for a long time.
So one or a combination of some of these conditions may require more frequent oil changes. Don’t think that this means you have to spend more money for more oil changes. It’s better if you consider the amount of money you’ll save because of this by preventing eventual engine damage that needs expensive repairs!
What happens if you don’t change oil?
If you skip an oil change, your engine ends up not lasting as long as it should, and can also lead to expensive engine replacement or rebuild bills. This is because the oil breaks down with time after which it cannot provide the necessary lubrication for metal parts after extended use.
The engine’s moving parts then start rubbing against each other to lead to premature wear without lubrication. Besides, as oil has a limit to the number of particulates it holds, not changing oils leads to the particles in the oil settling down and causing corrosion.
What to do if you skip oil changes
While one missed oil change may not do much damage to your engine, the best thing to do in this scenario is to immediately call the mechanic. You have to explain what had happened and ask them to look at the engine. They will perform a leak down or vacuum test, and tell you if there are signs of any possible problems and advise you on your next move.
Of course, prevention is always better than cure, which is why you need to maintain a habit of regularly checking your oil. This way you know when you need to change the engine oil so that you keep your car well-maintained, and the engine performs well for as long as necessary.