Basic Car Maintenance 101: How Often Is an Oil Change Required?

Basic Car Maintenance 101: How Often Is an Oil Change Required?

Ask a handful of people how often to change your oil, and you’ll get a handful of different answers.

That’s because there’s no one-size-fits-all solution as to changing your car’s oil. Yes, an oil change is required every so often — but how often will depend on several factors.

Here’s what you need to know.

Basic Car Maintenance 101: How Often Is an Oil Change Required?

Oil Change Required After 3,000 Miles?

The truth is, you can’t decide when to change your car’s oil based on its mileage.

Of course, this was once the rule of thumb for oil changes. Perhaps you’ve heard to change your oil every 3,000 miles. That’s not necessary anymore, though, especially if you have a newer car.

Nowadays, most automakers say that their cars need oil changes after 7,500 to 10,000 miles. If you drive a Jaguar, you can wait even longer than that. These vehicles will only need fresh oil after a whopping 15,000 miles on the road.

All of this is to say that you can’t go on mileage alone unless you know what your particular brand and model requires.

Can I Gauge By the Oil’s Color?

In short, you can’t tell if your car needs an oil change based on the oil’s color.

But you should check oil color if you check oil levels in your engine. If your oil is brown or black, you’ve got nothing to worry about — you have working oil in your machine.

Metal particles in the oil can signify that you have internal engine damage. Call your mechanic if you notice these specks in the oil.

You might also notice your oil has taken on a milky hue. This change occurs when coolant leaks into the engine, which is a sign your vehicle needs maintenance, too.

Check Your Car’s Age Instead

Factory-scheduled maintenance should give you a clear idea of how often you’ll have to change your vehicle’s oil. Newer cars have more than just a manual — they’ll have an internal system to let you know when it’s time to change your oil.

Newer Cars

Like we said, a newer car will have an internal sensor that can tell when your oil is past its prime. Early models of this system will, of course, count up mileage and light the signal when you’ve passed the recommended benchmark.

But if you have an even more modern version of this system, it will analyze the quality of oil in your car. Once it starts to degrade, you will see the symbol light up on your dash. Heed that alert — with such a sophisticated system, you can rest assured it’s telling you to get the oil changed at the right time.

If you own a newer car, you should try to follow this oil-change regimen or the one outlined in your car manual. Like we said, you don’t need to change your oil as often as you used to with older cars.

You can save yourself money by skipping out on unnecessary maintenance. But keeping oil in place until it has deteriorated in quality can maintain the life of your vehicle.

On that note, you should check your car’s oil levels monthly, since it won’t be in the shop nearly as often as your vehicles of the past. But keeping the oil topped up maintains the health of your engine, which is vital in extending the life of your car.

And, if you don’t drive much and you don’t see your oil-change light come on for 12 months, take it in for a service. Otherwise, you should see it within a calendar year — and now you know to take it into the shop as soon the light goes on.

Older Cars

Do you drive your older vehicle on a day-to-day basis? If so, you should follow a regular maintenance schedule, as described in the car’s manual. That may mean you do take your vehicle in for an oil change every 3,000 miles — that’s how older models were designed, after all.

Whatever the manual says, don’t surpass the maximum mileage they suggest. There’s a reason why carmakers want you to have your oil changed at this clip. You could cause expensive or, sometimes, irreparable damage to your vehicle by skipping oil changes.

On the other hand, you might have an older car that falls into what’s known as the “severe service” category. To earn the title, you’d have to operate your vehicle in one or more of the following conditions:

  • You only take it on trips that are five miles long or less.
  • You drive it in dusty, cold or hot climates only.
  • You carry heavy loads or tow a trailer in your older vehicle.
  • You end up driving your car in primarily stop-and-go situations.

If your older car use falls into any one of these categories, it’s a severe service vehicle. Your user manual will have a different schedule for you to follow for maintaining it in these extreme circumstances. Chances are, it will need more oil changes and other car care than a standard vehicle.

Some cars operating in extreme conditions need an oil change every 1,000 to 3,000 miles. So, keep up with the schedule so that your older vehicle continues to endure and work for you — no one’s going to the junkyard anytime soon.

If An Oil Change Is Required, Call Us

Now you have a better idea of when an oil change is required for your car, whether it’s new or old. Perhaps you’ve found signs that your vehicle does, indeed, need a fresh dose of oil. If so, you know who to call — ATL Total Car Care.

So, contact us today and schedule your oil change. We’ll keep your car in its best shape so you can stay on the road for many years to come.

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