Do I really need to change my oil every 3,000 miles?

Oil checking

Question:

What conditions should I consider when establishing my oil-change schedule?

Answer:

Your car needs an oil change every 3,000 miles as determined by the Society of Automotive Engineers. Oil breaks down and loses lubricity (slickness) as the result of many factors. But here are the top three reasons you need an oil change at 3,000 miles:

  • Heat – If your car overheats, the temperature was elevated to a point the oil began to breakdown and an oil change is part of the overheating repair.
  • Mileage – Only three piston rings separate the combustion chamber from the oil, and the oil becomes contaminated at 3,000 miles after exposure to combustion and air.
  • Time – Change your oil at three months, even if you haven’t driven an additional 3,000 miles since your last service. People in this category seldom drive their car long distances, usually driving back and forth to the bus stop or grocery store. As a result, their car seldom reaches full operating temperature, and the oil is likely diluted with gasoline from the car running disproportionately in a cold state.

Bottom line: Stick to the tried-and-true rule of thumb. Change your oil every 3,000 miles or every three months, whichever comes first.