How often should you change your oil?

October 6th, 2020 by

Keeping up with oil changes is an essential task that comes with vehicle ownership. Knowing how often to change your oil is important, as is taking your car to the right provider for oil change service. You can become an even better vehicle owner by keeping up with oil changes and caring for your car’s engine and other components.

How Oil Works in a Vehicle

Oil serves several key purposes within the operation of your vehicle. Its main purpose is to lubricate the moving parts, preventing components within the engine and powertrain from grinding against each other and wearing out prematurely. It also helps to cool down the engine, reducing the risk of overheating. As you drive, the oil in the car accumulates debris and impurities and breaks down. As a result, it is no longer as effective in performing its key functions.

Thick, dirty oil doesn’t move through the engine and components as smoothly, which increases the heat and friction produced during normal operation. Within the engine, heat and friction can cause damage that impacts the car’s ability to run properly and can even break down this vital component. Failing to change your oil regularly can cause significant engine damage that is expensive to repair.

The Importance of Regular Oil Changes

checking oil dipstick

Image via Flickr by shixart1985

By having the oil changed regularly in your vehicle, you can ensure that the material is able to perform its functions and keep the engine cooled down and lubricated. Investing in oil changes is investing in the smooth operation of your car, as well as your safety. Wondering what happens if you don’t change your oil for 10,000 miles, which is usually suggested? Skipping or missing oil changes can result in the buildup of sludge and carbon deposits in the engine, leading in significant and costly damage.

How Long Can You Go Without an Oil Change?

In the recent past, automotive manufacturers have made advancements that allow the vehicles they produce to go longer between oil changes. Older models often needed the oil changed every 3,000 miles driven, but today’s cars can often go up to 7,500 miles before needing an oil change. If you use synthetic oil, you may be able to go 10,000 miles before you need to have the oil changed. Check your owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Your driving habits factor into how often to change the oil, as drivers who tend to travel short distances at slower speeds tend to need to change the oil more often. This is because the engine has to reach a certain temperature to boil off the accumulated condensation, and that condensation can cause the oil in the car to break down faster. If you don’t drive fast or long enough for the engine to reach that temperature, the condensation doesn’t get boiled off, which means your oil may break down faster.

As mentioned, synthetic oil is another option that can extend the time between oil changes. This type of oil provides better performance and doesn’t break down as quickly as traditional oil. It does cost more, but the increased price is typically offset by the lower oil change frequency. Another advantage of synthetic oil is that it’s eco-friendlier than standard oil.

The best way to know when it’s time for an oil change is to keep track of the condition of the oil in your vehicle. Pull the dipstick every few weeks or so and check the color and consistency of the oil. Fresh, functional oil is light-colored and transparent, similar to the color of honey, so as the oil starts to accumulate impurities within the engine, it will darken. If you spot any metal shavings on the dipstick, make sure to get your vehicle checked, as this can indicate a serious problem within the engine.

While you check the color and consistency of the oil, keep an eye on the level as well. Your dipstick will have minimum and maximum markings, and the oil level should fall between them. If your oil level is low, you may have a leak or an issue that causes the engine to consume excess oil. Take the car in for an oil change and checkup to determine what may be causing it to run low.

Where to Get Your Oil Changed

Where you choose to have your car’s oil changed can also impact the overall experience. You may be tempted to take it to the cheapest or closest location, but now that you understand just how important oil changes are to the functionality of your car, you may want to reconsider. Taking your vehicle to a location that specializes in your particular make and/or model can ensure a better outcome, as the technicians working on it will understand how the vehicle works and make recommendations based on manufacturer specifications.

Many independent shops lure customers in with lower prices, only to upsell for services that may or may not even be needed. You could also end up with technicians working on your car who don’t have the necessary training to do the job right. Even a seemingly minor mistake in the oil change process can have costly and major consequences. Forgetting to screw the lid on your oil pan can result in a leak that overheats your engine or causes damage to the moving parts. The wrong type of oil can clog up the engine or degrade faster.

It’s important to make sure that the technicians working on your vehicle are skilled and trained in the oil change process. At Sweeney Buick-GMC, our service department is staffed with certified and factory-trained technicians who use state-of-the-art equipment and technology to keep your vehicle running like new.

When you need an oil change, bring your Buick or GMC vehicle to our location. We make it easy to schedule a service appointment online. When performing a service, we always include a multi-point inspection to look for any other areas of concern and give you the peace of mind to know that your car, truck, or SUV is operating efficiently. You can rely on us for oil changes and other automotive maintenance services, as well as a number of repairs.

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