Generations of guys used to take pride in performing minor routine maintenance on the family car. Now cars have become so complicated that checking the oil periodically has become the only hands-on maintenance performed by many drivers.It sounds like a cliché, but oil really is the lifeblood for your car’s engine. How often you should get it changed is one of the most hotly debated and confusing topics in car care.
5000, 8000, 15000 KM?
Changing the oil every 3000 miles or 4800 kms was the norm for most vehicles for generations and many people continue to change their oil that frequently. However, today’s motor oils are not the same as the ones that your father poured into his 1977 Datsun 510 and cars are designed to run a lot longer between oil changes than they did in the past. While you’re not going to damage your motor, changing the oil more frequently than necessary is a waste of money and oil. It also means that more used oil has to be disposed of and can end up in the environment.
Better Motor Oil and Gasoline Mean Fewer Oil Changes
Modern motor oils are made from higher quality base stock than they used to be and they contain a number of new additives. They don’t break down as quickly and they provide maximum lubrication for longer. Modern fuel is also cleaner and contains fewer impurities. That means it burns cleaner so it takes longer for oil to get contaminated with combustion byproducts. Even older vehicles that were manufactured during the era of 3000 mile oil changes can go longer between oil changes, thanks to higher quality motor oils. Most new car makers now recommend that you have your oil changed every 5000 – 7000 miles or 8000 – 12,000 km. The best advice is to follow the recommendations in your owner’s manual.
As always, there are Exceptions
There are some exceptions to the general rule though. If you mainly use your vehicle for short trips – driving the kids to school or making runs to the grocery store, you should get your oil changed more frequently.
During short trips, your car never reaches its normal operating temperature. When a car burns fuel, water is a byproduct of the combustion (you may have noticed water dripping from a car’s exhaust pipe). If the engine is running at its proper temperature, that water turns to vapor and is vented out of the engine by the crankcase ventilation or the exhaust pipe. When a car doesn’t reach a proper operating temperature, the water produced by combustion doesn’t vaporize so it stays inside the engine and the exhaust system. That water can trickle down into the oil pan, diluting the oil and reducing its ability to keep engine parts well lubricated.
When in doubt, read the Manual
Most drivers should follow the recommendations in their owner’s manual. For many new cars that means an oil change every 8,000 to 12,000 kms. If you use your car mostly for quick trips to the school, the store, or work, you might want to get it changed more frequently – between 5000 and 8000 kms. If your car is equipped with an oil sensing system that tells you when it’s time to change your oil, listen to your car.
When it’s time for your next oil change bring it in to Kelowna Nissan and have your vehicle inspected by a trained technician at the same time. Click here to book an appointment.