How do I know when to change my oil?

There are a wide variety of standards for how long a car can run between oil changes, depending on the car in question. Checking the instructions in the owner’s manual of your specific car will help you determine when the normal time interval should be.

However, here are some factors that your owner’s manual will tell you to consider as exceptions, and could warrant having your oil changed more frequently:

  • The length of your most frequent trips-shorter trips, especially in colder weather
  • Driving in heavier traffic in cities
  • Driving in dusty conditions, on gravel, or on bumpier roads
  • Driving at sustained higher speeds on the highway during hotter weather
  • Using the vehicle to tow something like a trailer
  • Whether your engine is diesel or turbocharged
  • The quality of oil your engine is using

However, the quality of engine and oil technology has improved dramatically over the years. Modern cars employ sensors that automatically sense when the engine will soon need an oil change. Even a couple of decades ago, the golden rule for changing your oil was every 5,000 to 5,500 km. Now, however, a modern engine using the most advanced synthetic oil can go 15,000 to 16,000 km before needing to be changed.

With such a wide variety of factors, the new golden rule should be to always fall back on what is prescribed in the car’s manual.