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How Often Should I Change the Oil?

The phrase “every three months or every 3,000 miles” sticks in most drivers minds soon after they buy their first cars, as the accepted standard for how often they should change your oil. Increasingly, that number is up for debate. If you’re interested in seeing just how far you can stretch your dollar, and in decreasing the impact to the environment from needlessly wasted oil thrown out before its time, you might want to consider memorizing some new numbers.

Most drivers can now get away with going at least 5,000 miles between oil changes. Why? Automotive technology has improved both the quality of motor oil and the ability of engines to use it more efficiently. Some manufacturers recommend even longer periods between oil changes – up to 15,000 miles. That last number is extreme, so check your car’s owner’s manual before deciding to give it that much of a rest between oil changes.

Even though 5,000 is a new safe bet for most cars, drivers need to keep some qualifiers in mind. If you drive a car or truck that was built before the year 2010, you may still need to stick with the old 3,000-mile rule. Even if you have a newer car, more frequent oil changes are still best if, during a typical week, you drive in any of the following conditions:

1). Heavy stop and go traffic.

2). Idling a lot.

3). Temperatures below ten or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

4). Hauling heavy materials.

5). Taking trips of less than five miles at a time.

Regardless of which magic number you settle on for your oil changes, here’s what happens if you don’t: the oil eventually picks up so much dirt from the environment that it becomes as thick as sludge. When this happens, it can no longer move fast enough to do the job of lubricating your engine, and the engine seizes up. The next step is to buy a new engine. Our guess is, you’d rather change that oil.

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