For years, drivers were advised to “change your oil every 3 months or 3,000 miles – whichever comes first.” But is that still a good rule to follow? The answer depends on your vehicle manufacturer's recommendation.
The engines in today's vehicles and the motor oils we use in them are far superior to the engines and oils of just a generation ago. As a result, some vehicle manufacturers (also known as O.E.M.s) have decided that longer periods of time between oil changes are not harmful. But that's not the case for every make and model. The O.E.M. determines how often the oil should be changed based on the vehicle and engine type, the drive train, and the vehicle's anticipated use. Each O.E.M. tests its vehicles to calculate the proper “oil drain interval.”
So, What's the Answer?
Because so many variables come into play, there's not just one response for the question “how often should I change my oil?” Fortunately, you will find the answer that's right for your vehicle in your owner's manual.
One caution: if you work your vehicle harder, if you tow a boat or trailer, if you carry heavy loads regularly, or if your trips consist primarily of stop-and-go driving, you may want to consider having your oil changed more frequently than the O.E.M. suggests.
The Benefits of the 3,000-Mile Oil Change
There isn't a downside to changing your oil more often than recommended. A shorter oil drain interval will provide better defense against harmful engine deposits, reduce oil consumption, improve fuel economy, and decrease wear on engine parts. More frequent oil changes can also uncover serious engine problems, such as a coolant leak, before serious damage occurs.
Engine deposits and internal wear kill performance and shorten engine life slowly, but surely. And, in most cases, the irreversible damage is done by the time the vehicle owner is aware of any issues. Changing the oil - at least as often as the manufacturer recommends - is the easiest, most cost-effective way to prevent lubricant-related engine damage.