When to Change Your Oil?

Oil-Change-2Perhaps the question we are asked most frequently is How often do I need an oil change?.   The answer is not simple, but  let’s see if we can shed a little light on the issue.

In the old days, the rule of thumb was to change your engine oil every 3 months or 3 thousand miles.  The quick lube industry has continued to push this despite the changing recommendations from automobile manufacturers.  What we have here is a bit of a good news bad news situation.  The good news is that according to the manufacturers, recommended oil change intervals have increased to 5,000 miles on most of the vehicles we service, and in some cases up to 10,000 miles.   The bad news is that rather than a simple oil and filter change, the manufacturers recommend a service at those intervals as well.  The service varies based on the vehicle and mileage, but a standard 5,000 service on a 2012 Lexus for example includes an oil and filter change, tire rotation and brake inspection.

A lot has been made of oil technology in recent years, which has played a part in the increased mileage recommendations.  While it’s true there have been improvements in oil technology, it is also true that the oil being used today is much thinner than the oil we used 20 years ago.  Most new Hondas and Toyotas use a 0w20 oil now which provides better lubrication in today’s engine with much tighter tolerances, as well as reducing the drag inside engine which results in better fuel economy.

At Automotive Instincts, our goal is to keep your car running as trouble free as possible for as long as possible.  To do that, we take into account the manufacturers’ recommendations as well as our own experience in servicing Japanese automobiles.  Even though the oil technology is improved, the thin viscosity, tighter engine tolerances, and higher temperatures at which today’s engines run, we really feel that 5,000 miles is plenty of time for the oil to spend in the engine.  Even a new engine can burn some oil, especially with today’s oil being so thin, so checking and changing it on a regular basis is necessary.

The bottom line:  For most newer cars, bringing your vehicle in every 5,000 miles for schedules service along with your oil and filter change will keep it running for many many years.  Plenty of studies show that regular service will keep your car running longer and save you money in the long run, and the many vehicles we see with 200,000 miles plus is the proof!


Changing Oil

  • Follow your manufacturer’s recommendations
  • If in doubt, change it sooner, rather than later
  • We recommend changing the oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles
  • We recommend changing the oil filter every oil change.
    (The oil filter contains a pint of dirty oil)