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Do You Have to Change Your Oil Every 3,000 Miles?

BY: Larry Witherspoon Jr.
oil-change

No matter if your car is brand new, a heavily used older car or whether it’s a Ford, BMW, Audi, Toyota or any other make or model, there will always be essential maintenance that needs to be done. And for any gas-powered vehicle, one of the most important maintenance services you’ll need is an oil change. In fact, frequent oil changes aren’t just for making sure your car’s engine is running properly; they can be an essential part of keeping your warranty active, whether it’s from your automaker or a third-party provider. And whether you change your own oil or have someone else do it for you, it seems like it is always time to get it done, doesn’t it? 

Due to this, you might be asking yourself, “do I really have to change my oil so often?” After all, with so many people leading busy lives, following the age-old rule of having an every 3,000-mile oil change interval might seem like an aggressive maintenance schedule. But with advancements in automotive technology coming each and every year, what was once a “must” for car owners may not be the case anymore. 

So to help you be better prepared to maintain your car, truck or SUV, it’s important to truly know if your car actually needs an oil change every 3,000 miles or not. 

Do You Really Have to Change Your Oil Every 3,000 Miles?

The old standard recommendation of changing your car’s oil every 3,000 miles has been popular for many years. However, as it turns out, it might not be true. In fact, if you have a new, late model vehicle, you don’t need its oil changed as often as the older models did just a few years ago. But why?

Well, like in almost every industry, car manufacturers have been making advancements in automotive technology every year to improve the driving conditions and the overall lifespan of your vehicle, which allows some drivers to go longer than 3,000 to change their oil. Another reason why new cars have a longer mile interval is that oil filters found in cars today can remove contaminants better than older filters, which helps surrounding parts work better, like your car’s engine.

Why Don’t You Have to Change Your Oil Every 3,000 Miles?

Along with more efficient oil filters and general automotive advancements, there are also several other reasons why your vehicle might not need an oil change every 3,000 miles, including:

More Effective Lubricants

One of the main reasons you don’t have to change your oil as frequently as you used to is that modern motor oil is more efficient. Synthetic oils, for example, are designed to resist thickening and can be used for a much longer period than conventional oil, enabling you to wait a bit longer before taking your car into the shop.  

Even modern conventional motor oils have better longevity than they used to. They have fewer impurities and can protect the engine for longer based on their clean chemical makeup. You don’t need an oil change as often if your oil isn’t breaking down easily.  

Oil Life Monitors

Newer vehicles come with an oil life monitor in the dashboard instrument cluster. This gauge has an oil can icon and gives you the temperature and whether or not it is time for an oil change or if your car needs more engine oil. Many vehicles also have this monitor in their digital display, which shares all kinds of warnings and routine maintenance alerts.  

The rule that you should change your oil every 3,000 miles comes from when vehicles did not have this kind of monitoring capability. Most of the time, car owners had to guess what condition their oil was in or physically check it using a dipstick. This is why the idea of changing the oil so often came to be so popular. It was meant as a safety precaution when there was no easily available way of knowing when an oil change was due.  

You’re Not Driving As Often

With many people working from home or changing their driving habits, chances are you might not be driving as much as you used to, meaning your engine oil won’t get as contaminated as quickly as it once was. But, while you may not be getting behind the wheel every day (or every week even), it doesn’t mean car maintenance should take a backseat. 

So while you may not be driving often enough to truly need an oil change, it’s still best to always follow the recommended oil change interval in your owner’s manual. With it, you can determine what interval you should be changing your car’s oil and if your vehicle needs synthetic motor oil or one with specific additives.

How Often Should You Change Your Oil?

Even if you are driving less often than you once did or have a newer vehicle, regular oil changes are still necessary. The interval, however, will depend entirely on your vehicle’s recommended maintenance schedule and your driving habits, and more. However, most newer vehicles will typically need an oil change in one of a few possible intervals, including:

Every 5,000 to 7,000 Miles

While the popular consensus used to be that you needed an oil change once every 3,000 miles, most drivers of newer vehicles realistically only need to change their oil once every 5,000 to 7,000 miles, which is still a fairly conservative estimate. Depending on your driving habits, you may even be able to wait longer.  

At Least Twice a Year

No matter how often you drive, you’ll want to change your oil at least twice a year. Oil eventually thickens and starts to deteriorate, no matter what kind of mileage is put on the car. Doing this routine maintenance ensures that the oil does not start to break down from atmospheric heat, even if it is sitting in the driveway or garage most of the time.  

What Your Vehicle’s Owner’s Manual Says 

When in doubt, check your vehicle’s owner’s manual regarding routine maintenance, such as how often you should change your oil or when to get a tire rotation. Every car is different, and you’ll want to make sure that you are doing everything you can to keep your car in good working order. Your owner’s manual will give you insight into this.  

Who Should Change Their Oil Every 3,000 Miles?

While newer vehicles might not need an oil change every 3,000 miles, older vehicles will. So if your car is more than 20 years old, you’ll want to regularly perform routine maintenance, including oil changes, tire rotations, or replacing windshield wipers. Older vehicles are also more likely than newer ones to have issues with cooling and other processes that can cause the oil to break down more easily. In this case, it is a good idea to change your oil every 3,000 miles.  

If you’re a daily commuter or simply love to get out and hit the open road, you’ll likely need to change your oil more often than others, even with a newer vehicle. So if you’re someone who regularly drives more than 40 miles per day should also get an oil change more frequently. Cars driven more are more likely to burn through oil since they run more cycles through the engine. Getting an oil change every 3,000 miles will keep your car reliable during the commute.  

Oil Change FAQs:

Does Oil Go Bad if You Don’t Drive as Often?

Even if you don’t drive often, oil can still break down and separate over time, which can be dangerous for your vehicle’s engine. To avoid this, change your oil at least twice a year, even if you rarely drive.  

Can I Add More Oil Instead of Getting it Changed?

You should not add more oil in place of changing it. However, checking your oil level is a good idea no matter how often you plan on getting it changed out. It can give you a picture of whether or not your car is burning through oil, which can be a sign of a more serious issue.  

How Long Does Unused Oil Last?

Motor oil is fairly stable and can sit unused for upwards of five years so long as you keep it in a cool, dry place until it starts to oxidize. In order to keep your unused motor oil from deteriorating, keep it somewhere where it won’t freeze or be exposed to high levels of heat.  

Save on Your Routine Maintenance with Advantage

Keeping your car maintained and running smoothly is an important responsibility for any car owner. Protecting it and yourself from expensive auto repair bills is also vital, especially if you have an older, used vehicle outside of its factory warranty coverage. So if you want to be certain that your car will always be in top shape, the Advantage auto protection plan from Endurance can help. 

As the most comprehensive coverage plan on the market, you can combine breakdown protection with up to $3,500 in maintenance coverage, including regular oil changes. You’ll also get even more coverage and savings with an Advantage plan, including tire rotations, alignment checks, engine diagnostic exams and even help toward your vehicle’s next state safety inspection. Plus, you’ll also receive several other special, one-time services with Advantage, including a battery replacement, cooling system maintenance, brake pad/shoe replacements and more.

Not only that, but every Endurance protection plan also comes with everyday driving benefits, including receiving 24/7 roadside assistance and towing, access to certified repair shops or ASE Certified mechanics, rental car reimbursements, and rental car coverage, regardless of your plan. You will also be eligible to enjoy a full year’s worth of Elite Benefits, including key fob replacements, collision discounts, total loss coverage and even help in replacing or repairing up to two tires per year. 

Get started protecting your vehicle today by requesting a free, no-obligation quote or calling the award-winning Endurance customer care team to learn more about how Endurance can help you and your vehicle. And don’t forget to visit the Endurance blog, where you can find other articles that answer more of your automotive maintenance FAQs and road trip planning guides, extended warranty comparisons and much more.

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