Wednesday September 21st, 2011 02:57 When to Change Your Oil

As a driver, you need to be especially careful about taking care of your car. One of the most important things you can do is change your oil regularly. How often is that?

When most of us got our first car at 16, our parents probably told us to change our oil every 3,000 miles. That was a great suggestion back then, but things change. Newer synthetic oil has fewer contaminants and is better for your vehicle. You won’t have to change you oil nearly as often if you go the synthetic route.

A New York Times article recently looked into the phenomenon. They interviewed Kristen Huff of Blackstone. Huff says her labs ran tests on people’s cars as they were taking them in. They found that people were changing their oil much too often. Many of these customers were still relying on feedback they got about 60 years ago when their parents were still driving 55’ Chevys.

The best place to start is your owner’s manual. This will give you some basic recommendations on doing oil changes.
As a general rule of thumb, expect to do an oil change about once every 5,000 miles. However, you shouldn’t just rely on your driving manual or the words of a few radio talk hosts. You need to consider how the oil has actually corroded and whether it is still useful.

One technique is to use a maintenance minder. This will let you know when your oil has 15% of its life remaining. This is generally a good time to take it in for a change.

Also, you should check your oil levels every few hundred miles. Add oil when it is running low, but don’t add too much. Adding too much oil can lead to catastrophic engine problems later on.

You must also remember to change the oil filter whenever you change the oil. If you don’t, a lot of the same contaminants will make their way into the new oil. This won’t do you any good.

Finally, don’t be too concerned about alternating between different brands of oil. Many people seem to think that if they use a new oil source they will ruin their car. This is an old wives’ tale. There is no need to be that consistent. The important thing is to make sure that you stick with the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Changing your oil regularly is certainly important. If you don’t you can have reduced performance, engine breakdown problems and reduced engine life. However, changing your oil can easily cost over $30. There is no sense changing it more often than necessary. Ignore the rules of thumb you grew up with and understand your engine. Your driver’s manual and your oil levels will give you a rough estimate of how often you need to take your car in for an oil change.

Kalen Smith writes about Mis-Sold PPI claims and bank charges at a UK based mis sold PPI reclaim website in the financial claims sector. Kalen also writes about personal finances, mis-sold mortgages, unfair loan agreements and credit rating advice.

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