Car Maintenance 101: How Often Does Oil Really Need to Be Changed?

August 8th, 2015 by

Pouring oil from a jug, shot on a whit backgroundWhen it comes to vehicle maintenance, conventional wisdom says drivers should change their oil every three months or 3,000 miles, whichever comes first. But thanks to advances in technology, many drivers can now space out their trips to our Honda service technicians.

The best way for drivers to determine when to change their oil is by checking the manufacturer’s recommendations in the owner’s manual or online. Automakers have done extensive testing on their engines and used their performance data to develop guidelines for maintenance and oil change frequency. Many of the cars made in the last decade need oil changes every 5,000 to 20,000 miles.

Anyone who drives in severe conditions may need to visit the mechanic or Honda service center more frequently than that. Severe conditions include frequent stop-and-go traffic, repeated short trips under five miles, extreme heat or cold, and frequent cold starts, all of which shorten the lifespan of oil. The owner’s manual should outline recommendations for changing oil under normal and severe driving conditions.

Drivers looking for an accurate assessment of their oil’s lifespan can also send oil samples to an independent lab, like Blackstone Laboratories, for an engine analysis. These tests run about $25, and they will help estimate how long oil typically lasts in your vehicle. Another option is to purchase a vehicle, like a Honda, that has a maintenance alert on the dashboard to inform the driver that the oil needs to be changed. Honda has used this system for several years to prompt drivers to take their vehicles to a Honda service center for an oil change when the vehicle needs it.

Putting off oil changes can lead to contaminants in the oil, which creates friction in the engine as parts rub together. The engine damage caused by friction is mostly irreversible, so avoid putting off an oil change whenever possible.

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