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Engine oil change frequency: the 3,000 mile oil change myth

So much has changed in motoring over the past 30 years that the standard practice of changing your car’s oil every 3,000 miles is no longer necessary. Both oil chemistry and engine technology are now so much better than before that anyone who sticks to the regular intervals set out in the past is just throwing good oil away. But what is the current recommended engine oil change frequency?

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Manufacturer’s recommendation

The truth is that the engine oil change frequency depends on what car you’re driving, how often you use it and how it’s driven so there’s no such thing as a standard oil change interval. Don’t wait for the oil light to turn on though, check your handbook or consult your local garage.

Driving habits

The manufacturer’s recommendations work on a perfect world scenario because they don’t know how the car will be driven. Their recommendations assume that driving conditions were ideal but the following factors have a bearing on the frequency of oil changes you should observe.

  • Lots of short trips
  • City driving which is stop and go
  • Driving on gravel roads
  • Driving on normal roads during very hot conditions
  • Car used to tow

Older cars

If you have an older car then the manufacturer’s oil change intervals may not be frequent enough. Older cars tend to burn oil, so you’ll need to check the oil level a lot more often. If you find that your car is using a lot of oil, then you’ll have to change the oil more often.

Synthetic oil

The advancement in oil technology that’s making the traditional 3,000 mile interval obsolete is mainly down to synthetic oil. Major brands like Mobil 1, who produce the Mobil 1 Extended Performance synthetic, now suggest that their oil will be good for up to 15,000 miles. Investing in this type of high-grad and high-performance oil can only benefit your car and lower the frequency of oil changes.

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