Extending the life of your car requires keeping up with regular maintenance tasks like oil changes. Oil changes are one of the most important things you can do for your car, but choosing the correct time to change your oil can be confusing for new car owners. If you’re wondering about the ideal oil change schedule, you’re in the right place. Whether you’re a conventional or synthetic oil user, refer to this beginner-friendly guide to see how often you should change your oil.

Oil Change Basics

Oil is the lifeblood of your car’s engine as it keeps your car’s parts lubricated and running smoothly. However, oil degrades over time, resulting in the need for an oil change. As a result, changing your oil at the right time is key to maintaining your vehicle’s health and longevity.


Choosing an Oil Change Schedule: What to Consider

Consider these factors when deciding how often to change your oil:

  • Type of Oil: Synthetic versus conventional.
  • Driving Habits: Frequent short trips versus longer highway commutes.
  • Vehicle Age: Newer versus older models.
  • Manufacturer Recommendations: Specific guidelines are provided in your vehicle’s manual.

Conventional Oil Change Frequency

For vehicles running on conventional oil (oil that’s extracted from the ground), experts previously recommended changing your oil every 3,000 miles. However, with advancements in oil and engine technology, most car manufacturers currently recommend changing your oil:

  • Every 5,000 to 7,500 miles, or every six months, whichever comes first, especially for moderate driving conditions.

Full Synthetic Oil Change Frequency

Synthetic oil, engineered for higher performance and durability, lasts longer than conventional oil and doesn’t need to be changed as frequently. If you use synthetic oil, experts recommend changing your oil:

  • Every 10,000 to 15,000 miles, or every six to twelve months, as synthetic oil maintains its viscosity and effectiveness over longer periods and distances.

Woman driver checking level of oil on a car engine dipstick

Recommended Oil Change Frequency

To recap, here’s how often you should change your oil depending on the type you use:

  • Conventional oil: Every 5,000 to 7,500 miles or every six months.
  • Synthetic oil: Every 10,000 to 15,000 miles or every six to twelve months.

Remember, these are guidelines. Always check your vehicle’s owner’s manual for the most accurate recommendations.

The Importance of Regular Oil Changes

Consistent oil changes aren’t just about following a schedule; they’re about ensuring that your vehicle operates efficiently and lasts longer.

The Benefits of Regular Oil Changes

There are many benefits that come with changing your oil regularly, including:

  1. Lubricated Engine Parts: Oil changes reduce wear and tear and help you save on expensive engine repairs.
  2. Lower Risk of Overheating: Oil helps minimize friction, reducing the risk of your vehicle’s parts overheating.
  3. Cleaner Engine: Oil changes help remove engine wear particles and sludge, cleaning the engine internally and helping things operate smoothly.
  4. Improved Gas Mileage: A well-lubricated engine performs more efficiently and improves fuel economy.

What Happens If You Don’t Change Your Oil?

Failing to follow an appropriate oil change schedule can cause:

  • Reduced Engine Performance: Increased friction and overheating can diminish your engine’s efficiency.
  • Higher Fuel Consumption: Poor lubrication can reduce your fuel economy.
  • Potential Engine Failure: In extreme cases, lack of maintenance can result in costly engine damage or the need for a replacement.

Regularly maintaining your car’s oil is a simple yet impactful way to extend your vehicle’s life and ensure peak performance. Whether you choose conventional or synthetic oil, follow your vehicle’s manual and the above guidelines to determine an appropriate oil change schedule for your car.

Have additional questions about keeping your vehicle in shape? Read more articles about car health and performance on The General’s blog.