Keeping Your Engine Oil Fresh

How often should you change your motor oil? Every 3,000 miles, right? Maybe. Maybe not. The truth is that most cars can safely go far more than 3,000 miles between changes. How do you know if your vehicle needs more frequent oil changes? And while we’re on the topic, which oil should you use?

Check your owner’s manual

Much of what you need to know about maintaining your vehicle can be found in your owner’s manual. So it follows that the best way to tell how often you need to change your oil is to consult said manual. If your manufacturer recommends an oil change every 7,500 miles, rest assured that your engine is designed to at least meet those specifications.

Know thyself–or at least your vehicle

As important as knowing how often to change your oil, is knowing which oil to use. Consider the following:

  1. Know your viscosity.Viscosity is that funny combination of numbers and letters you see on a bottle of engine oil. 5W-30 is a common one; so is 10W-40. It basically refers to how easily the oil flows at different temperatures. Consult your owner’s manual for the recommended viscosity.
  2. Know your car’s oil capacity. Find the page in your manual where oil capacity is specified. It will probably be in the neighborhood of five quarts, although some specialized engines can take eight or more.
  3. Choose a quality engine oil. You should only use motor oils with the American Petroleum Institute’s seal of approval. You might also want to read up on the benefits of synthetic oil. And if you decide to have a professional change your oil, don’t be afraid to bring your own oil. That’s the best way to ensure that a high-quality product is keeping your car’s heart beating.

Do you change your own oil or leave it up to a mechanic? How often do you change your oil, and do you use synthetic or conventional oil? Leave us a comment.

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