Oil Change Questions and Answers
Engine oil is one of the most important fluids in your vehicle. It lubricates your engine and protects it from heat and corrosion. Changing your oil regularly should be at the top of your maintenance list. When engine oil breaks down, as it will over time and use, it doesn’t protect your engine as it should. Old oil creates sludge in your engine, which can cause serious damage.
Let’s take a look at some common questions about changing your oil.
How Often Should You Change Your Oil?
The standard recommendation is that you should change your oil every 3,000 miles or three months, whichever comes first. However, that recommendation comes from decades past when lubrication technology was not as advanced as it is today.
Most individual automakers have their own recommendations on when you should change your oil. The usual interval is often between 5,000 and 7,500 miles. It might even be as long as 10,000 miles.
Automakers also distinguish between normal and severe driving conditions. If you drive in severe conditions, then you should typically change your oil more often. Severe driving conditions include the following:
- Driving on dirty or dusty roads or off-road
- Towing or hauling heavy loads
- Short trips of less than five miles in cold temperatures on a regular basis
- Excessive idling and driving under 50 MPH for long distances
- Stop and go traffic in hot weather
Snowmobiles and ATVs have a recommended interval of every 100 hours, six months or 1,000 miles whichever comes first. You also should change your oil filter every time you change the oil in your ATV.
Instead of 6 months, Boats and PWCs should have their oil changed every year or 100 hours.
Motorcycles that use conventional engine oil should have their oil changed every 2,000 miles. If they use a semi-synthetic every 5,000 miles and fully synthetic every 7,000 miles.
How Long Does an Oil Change Take?
A DIY oil change should take about 30 minutes for the average person who knows what they’re doing. An oil change at a lube shop or dealer service center could take an hour or more, depending on how backed up they are. You may have to make an appointment in advance.
How To Change Oil
A do it yourself oil change is a fairly simple process that shouldn’t take very long. However, it does require a few tools:
- Oil filter wrench (for spin on filter) or specialty wrench recommended by your manufacturer
- Correct wrench size or removal tool (hex wrench, Allen wrench etc.) for your drain plug
- Appropriate volume of oil needed based on the manufacturers recommendations for your vehicle
- New oil filter sized for your vehicle
- New crush washer or O-ring sized for your vehicle
- Disposable gloves and rags
- Oil pan
- Oil funnel
- Jack and jack stands (if you have a 4WD truck or SUV you may have enough ground clearance to not need these)
For further steps and information, see this article: How To Change Your Oil
How Often To Change Oil If I Don’t Drive Much
If you drive less than 6,000 miles in a year, you should generally change your oil once or twice per year. Moisture in your engine can break down the oil and introduce contaminants. Keep an eye on your dipstick and the color and appearance of the oil. If it begins to look dark and dirty, it’s probably best to change it.
What Type of Oil Should I Use?
In terms of type and weight, you should generally use what is recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. There are three types of oil: conventional, synthetic, and semi-synthetic. Conventional oil is made from natural crude oil. As it’s natural, the molecules that make it up are of inconsistent size and shape.
Synthetic oil is constructed from uniform molecules in a lab, which enables it to protect, clean, and lubricate better than conventional oil. Semi-synthetic combines both synthetic and conventional oil.
You should use the oil that your vehicle manufacturer recommends and the oil that was put in it in the factory. In general, most modern vehicles come with and recommend synthetic oil. Older, high-mileage vehicles can benefit from the added protection of semi-synthetic oil.
You can also use full synthetic oil in high-mileage vehicles, however, it’s important to be aware that the advanced cleaning power of synthetic oil might reveal leaks hidden by the use of conventional oil.
What happens is that sludge from conventional oil can fill gaps around worn engine seals. When you begin running synthetic oil through your engine, the old sludge gets cleaned out, which may reveal leaks that you didn’t know you had.
Small leaks may sound like a bad thing, but in fact, this will actually help you to spot early signs of trouble that may turn to even bigger problems later down the road.
You can generally switch between the three types of oil without doing any damage, however, it’s generally best to keep using the same type.
Where Can I Get an Oil Change?
You can get an oil change at most any mechanic shop, dealership service center, or dedicated oil change shop. Or you can use an oil change kit from Power Oil Center and do it yourself quickly and easily.
What Is an Oil Change Kit?
How Much Does an Oil Change Kit Cost?
Oil changing kits vary in price depending mainly on how many quarts of oil are included. You can pay as little as $40 or up to and over $100.
Where Can I Find an Oil Change Kit?
Power Oil Center sells a nice selection of oil change kits to fit various types of vehicles, including Toyota, Honda, Ford, Kawasaki and Suzuki vehicles. Check for your specific vehicle by clicking on the individual kits.
Changing your oil with an oil change kit is a fairly simple process that will almost always save you money and definitely save you time versus going to a lube shop. Oil change kits from Power Oil Center also gives you the convenience of getting everything you need for an oil change, instead of going to your local auto parts store and searching the shelves.