How often should I change my engine oil?

That is a very complicated question to answer. How often should you change your engine oil? Let’s begin by breaking this question down into 4 different reasons; engine design, cost, oil type and dependency on foreign oil.
Engine design: Today’s manufactures are building very reliable engines, with proper maintenance, these engines can easily reach 200,000 miles. Also many manufactures are specifying a very specific brand of oil for their engine. Because of today’s engine design and engineered oil, engine oil changes can be pushed upwards towards the 10,000 mile mark.
Oil change cost: Unfortunately, the cost of an oil change can dictate how often it gets changed. I believe the single most important thing you can do to your car is change the engine oil every 3,000 miles. (more on that later) That’s why here at US 23 Auto Care our oil changes are priced at cost to the customer.

Oil type: The type of oil you are using will dictate how often you need to change your engine oil. For example, conventional oil has the shortest life expectancy while a full synthetic oil has the longest life expectancy. Synthetic blended oil is a type of oil that I don’t recommend and this is why. When we as a customer read the label “synthetic blend”, we assume it’s a 50/50 ratio of conventional oil to synthetic oil. That assumption can’t be further from the truth. Most synthetic blended oils only consist of 5% synthetic oil and come with a huge price jump per quart resulting in higher profits for the oil manufacturer.
Dependency on foreign oil: This one may seem strange to most of you but it is true. Think about the amount of oil we consume in oil changes alone on a yearly basis. What if someone could come up with a way to double the mileage interval on your oil change? We as a nation would be buying half as much foreign oil as a result. Let me introduce you to the “change oil soon” light. Most new cars today has one. Traditionally we have been told to change our engine oil every 3,500 miles, but why 3,500 miles? Oil doesn’t wear out slowly, it has been engineered to maintain its durability to a certain point and then the oils usefulness drops off dramatically. In the old days that was right around the 4,500 to 5,000 mile mark. With today’s technology, we’re pushing oil changes to the 10,000 mile mark based on how you drive. Most new cars today have a “change oil soon” light that monitors your driving style/habit and calculates when the engine oil should be changed. Your “change oil soon” light does NOT monitor the condition of the engine oil! It’s important for you to understand that. Your “change oil soon” light is a computer program that monitors your driving style/habit and your engine conditions to calculate when you need your next oil change.

To sum this question up, you really need to talk to your auto repair shop about your car, what you expect to get out of your car and how long you plan on keeping it. Here at US 23 Auto Care, my conversation goes something like this. “This is your car that you have invested tens of thousands of dollars into and the single best thing you can do for your car is to change the engine oil on a regular basis. What is that interval, it depends on many factors. My experience of 30+ years working on cars says to change the oil every 3000 miles regardless of what your “change oil soon” light says.” We are now starting to see a high failure rate on timing chain components due to a lack of oil changes or a lack of using the proper oil or both. These repairs run in the $1,500 to $2,500 range. Do you really want to chance a future repair like that by skipping or extending the oil change interval? “The single best thing you can do for your car is, change the engine oil on a regular basis. Let me put it to you this way to help you understand, you can wear the same pair of underwear for a week, but really, is that a wise thing to do? Change your engine oil every 3,000 miles.”

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