How Long Can You Delay Changing Your Car’s Engine Oil?
One of the most annoying things about automotive technological advancement is that vehicles have learned how to complain. In the olden days, the majority of vehicles were broadly the same. There was an engine at the front, drive sent to the rear and it was propelled by a refined mixture of fossilized dinosaurs. Back then, most people maintained their vehicles themselves because you could fix them with a hammer, today that is not the case. In this article, we will fill you in on how long you can delay changing your car’s engine oil.
Why Should You Trust Us?
Just to give you a little back story, before I became a full-time writer, I was an automotive mechanic for almost 15 years. When I was in my late teens, I started modifying Hondas at my friend’s shop, Driven Performance. From there, I moved on to servicing, restoring, and modifying Porsche’s. I ate, slept, and breathed the automotive industry for most of my life and still do to a certain extent because reviewing cars is part of my job. So, it is safe to say you can trust the information I am about to give you.
What Does Engine Oil Do?
Mechanics get a lot of flak for being “grease monkeys” and those people do exist but, in reality, most mechanics are just a doctor for machines. That is how I looked at my work as a Porsche technician. I was a doctor and that old Porsche 911 outside that won’t start was my patient.
Sticking with the medical analogy, a car’s engine oil is the equivalent of the blood in your body. Just like your blood carries life-saving oxygen throughout your body, an engine’s oil carries life-saving lubrication to all the internal components.
Why Do I Need to Change My Oil?
In the body, your kidneys filter out the contaminants in your blood and the engine oil filter carries out the same function in your car. If a person’s kidneys begin to not do their job properly a doctor will put them on dialysis. Dialysis uses a machine to filter out the toxins in the blood, kind of like changing the person’s oil. In a car, the engine’s “blood” has to be changed manually because it slowly gathers contaminants like moisture and fine metal particles from the components making contact with one another.
How Long Can You Delay Your Car’s Engine Oil Change?
What kind of car you drive is a major contributing factor in how often and what kind of maintenance is required. In regards to your oil, a good rule of thumb is to change your oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, depending on what type of oil you are using in your car.
Most automotive manufacturers do not use conventional oil anymore because of the havoc it can wreak on your engine if you let it go too long between changes. However, if you don’t ask for synthetic oil at your local mechanic shop they may try to use conventional oil to save a few dollars.
If you’re using synthetic oil that time frame jumps to between 5,000 and 10,000 miles but, once again, this depends on the vehicle manufacturer. Some carmakers like Volkswagen say you can go 10,000 miles on an oil change but this is discouraged by most mechanics. This is because they do not take into account any oil the car might burn or leak in between changes.
If you don’t put a lot of miles on your car, it is recommended to change your car’s engine oil at least once a year. This is because moisture naturally gets into the oil as the car sits. Normally the moisture is burned off when the car warms up to operating temperature but if the car sits for a long time moisture can become an issue.
Performing regular maintenance on your vehicle is the best way to ensure it lasts you a long time. That means changing the oil and getting the car checked over at least once a year, more if you drive often.
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Drew Blankenship is a former Porsche technician and lifelong automotive enthusiast. Recently, he began writing for several websites and is enjoying the career change. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and their dog Enzo.