The Magic Number: Oil Changes

You are probably maxed-out on the old “get your oil changed every 3,000 miles” lecture. I know I am. What’s the deal with that rule, anyway? On the one hand, there are parents and mechanics all across the country encouraging young drivers to get into the habit of having their oil changed every three months or 3,000 miles—but consumer reports are calling this a waste of money. Who do we listen to?

According to Preferred Automotive of Rockville, MD, you simply have to consult your owner’s manual. I know, I know; there’s nothing sexy about advising a manual… But, you just have to do it. You see, not all cars and trucks are created equal. They have different manufacturers and technology… their bodies literally require unique attention.

Next, use your head: what type of driving conditions does your vehicle undergo throughout the year? Your owner’s manual can only tell you so much about the car or truck—but it’s up to you to use some discretion according to the region you live in and the type of driving (harsh/not harsh) you do. Here are a few ways we define “harsh” conditions/driving:

– Driving in stop-and-go traffic often.
– Driving in extreme weather: very hot or very cold (here in Rockville, our winters are fierce; thus, the car takes a fair beating).
– Driving at low speeds for long distances. Low speeds are 50 mph or less. So, this applies to you and your vehicle if you rarely take the freeway, work locally, shop and run errands locally, etc.
– Towing something heavy. Do you work on a farm or use your vehicle often for hauling equipment or camper? If so, this is harsh activity for a vehicle—even if it’s designed for this type of thing.
– Driving “hard.” If you’re a hard driver, you know it. Do you race from stoplight to stoplight and brake rather hard? Do people in your life tell you that you’re a harsh driver? Be honest…
– Short trips: less than 5 miles in non-freezing temps or less than 10 miles in freezing temps. If you do these types of trips often, it will wear on your vehicle and cause more frequently needed maintenance.

How many points above apply to you? Just one? Many? There isn’t a hard and fast rule here, but if you can relate to many of these, the 3,000-mile/three-month rule may not be a bad idea for your vehicle. But, if this list seems designed for another vehicle owner—if you simply drive to and from work and an occasional grocery run or band practice pick-up—the 3,000-mile rule is overdoing it.

What’s the actual magic number? Unfortunately, that’s a tough question to answer. Know that some studies have found little difference in a vehicle’s health when oil changes happened every 3,000 miles vs. every 7,000 miles. Perhaps the answer is to split the difference? Perhaps the answer is to chalk up the $20-$45 it costs every three months and not worry about overdoing it. Either way, stop in and see us at Preferred Automotive; top Rockville oil change we’d be happy to take a look at your owner’s manual with you and set up an oil change schedule you can feel good about. See you soon!

Preferred Automotive | 12356 Wilkins Ave | Rockville, MD 20852 | 301-881-8530

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