Changing Your Oil: What Every Driver Should Know Changing Your Oil: What Every Driver Should Know

The oil in your car is the blood of your engine and needs to be changed regularly. It is very important to not ignore your engines oil needs. Your engines life depends on the proper use of oil. You have invested a lot of money in your vehicle and with just a little oil care it can last years.

When to Change Oil


There are many theories surrounding the proper time to change your engine oil. There are some easy formulas and some that are downright complicated to figure out. You can use them if you want and can mathematically do them. Most newer vehicle manufacturers in the US suggest 6,000 miles while their European counterparts say between 10,000 – 15,000 miles. The difference supposedly is from the amount of influence the oil companies have over them. Several people still stick to the “3,000 miles or 3 month” plan that the drive thru oil change dealers love and older vehicle documentations state. The best bet to use is the manual that comes with your vehicle. Read your manual to find out what your manufacturer suggests. Once you decide when you are going to change your oil – stick to it faithfully! It is a good idea to track the date and mileage of your oil change either in a note pad kept for maintenance or by placing a sticky note on the windshield like the express oil change places do. The main thing is to write it down “somewhere” you can easily find in the future.

What Type of Oil to Use

It is great that you properly change your oil at a set interval, but it is also extremely important that you use the correct type of oil for your engine. This is another area that has many theories that can be researched finding a lot of different views, but again if you follow the manual that comes with the vehicle you can hardly go wrong. Read on about oil grades and blends.

Grades of Oil


The SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) uses a viscosity grade that measures the thickness of the oil. The lower the number the thinner the oil is. This is shown on the label as a number and sometimes is followed by a W. The W stands for “winter” use and shows that oil meets the standards for low temperatures. There are several types of oil grades. Single grade is used when there is not a lot of temperature change. Multi-grade is the type that is good for very cold and/or also very hot conditions. The lower number or first number shows the cold temperature viscosity and the second number is the engine operating temperature viscosity.

Oil Blends

There are also different types of oil blends. Regular or conventional oil is mineral and the byproduct of the crude oil refining process. It is the most common and least expensive oil to use for your vehicle. Synthetic oil is more expensive to make and does cost more to buy. It is made up of chemical compounds called polyalphaolefins and is more stable and cleaner. This type of oil can be changed at longer intervals so the cost comes down considering you will have less oil changes. There is also a synthetic blend that is a combination of both types of oils. It gives the benefits of the pure synthetic oil, but keeps the price closer to the conventional oil blend. The synthetic blend oil is conventional oil with added high performance elements that make it withstand higher temperatures and burn cleaner.

It is a good idea to keep up with regular oil changes no matter which type of oil you choose to use in your motor. Your vehicles manufacturer suggestions are a great place to start to get the needed information in making the decision as to what type of oil to use and how often to change it. You can also talk to your mechanic, family and friends, but be ready to hear a lot of different views on the subject!

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