Oil changes are based on the manufacturer’s schedule recommended for each make and model. In the past, the recommendation was a generic 3 months or every 3,000 miles. That was a good guideline for older vehicles and older oil products. Nowadays, modern vehicles can go up to 10,000 miles between oil changes. The newest models may even come with a 20,000-mile recommendation!
The driving conditions you encounter with your vehicle will affect your schedule of oil changes. Manufacturers often give you two charts to follow. One is for “regular” driving conditions. The other is for “severe” conditions. Severe driving conditions include stop-and-go driving, prolonged idling, dusty environmental conditions, or very cold and very humid weather. If separate charts are not provided, then a good rule of thumb is to reduce the mileage on the standard chart by 33%. That means a 7,500-mile oil change recommendation should become 5,000 miles if you frequently drive under severe conditions.
Some drivers decide to push their vehicles to the limit, going beyond the recommended service window. This choice causes the oil within the vehicle to become dirtier over time. That gives it fewer opportunities to absorb the contaminants that could affect the performance of your engine.
Think about how you would use a mop bucket. The water is clean when you first put it into the container. As you clean your floors, the water becomes dirtier. If you keep using the same water, you’ll eventually be unable to clean your floors because the water is just as filthy as the floor.
If you feel like the 3,000-mile rule for changing your oil is what your vehicle needs, then there’s nothing wrong with that practice. Having clean oil is a good thing. You may be able to save some money in the long run, however, by following the recommended service schedule. Just don’t ignore this chore. If you wait too long to change your oil, you may cause damage to your engine, which may result in a costly repair.