How Often Should I change the Oil in my Vehicle?

June 1st, 2015

Oil Change in College Station, TX

Used motor oil is nasty stuff. It’s full of fine particles of metal, carbon and other chemicals, and all the additives that help it do its job have been boiled out by being heated up and cooled down again hundreds of times over. The worst part, though, is that used motor oil isn’t as effective as fresh, clean oil is.

Motor oil is essential to your engine’s operation. Engines are built to extremely close tolerances, and oil provides the film of lubrication that reduces friction that builds up as moving parts spin around or slide against each other. Over time, though, it picks up the microscopic metal shavings that come from that friction...in addition, motor oil carries contaminants from the combustion process. Motor oil contains detergents, antioxidants, corrosion inhibitors and other additives; these help keep it slippery, help it flow easily at low temperatures and help suspend the contaminants in the oil so they can be caught by the pleated-paper element of the oil filter. Once the oil becomes too dirty, though, the paper in the filter gets saturated and can no longer trap the particles; that’s when they start to accumulate and build up around moving parts in the engine as sludgy deposits.

Older motor oil formulations didn’t feature these additives, which was how the “3,000 mile” rule came about. Today’s mineral-based motor oils can easily go 5,000 miles between changes. Newer synthetic oils, which tests show are superior in performance across the board, can go 8,000-10,000 miles between changes (making their increased cost a little easier to handle). But...it isn’t quite that cut-and-dried.

These intervals for oil changes in College Station, TX should be lowered for severe duty. What constitutes “severe duty,” you ask?

  • Driving in dusty or dirty conditions
  • Lots of short trips where the engine doesn’t get up to operating temperature -- this means that the condensation that normally happens in a crankcase doesn’t get hot enough to evaporate and vent, and stays in the crankcase where it promotes oxidization and corrosion
  • Very hot or cold weather
  • Towing or hauling heavy loads

In these conditions, you might want to go back to the “3,000 mile rule” -- in any event, don’t exceed the recommendations in your vehicle’s owner’s manual, and make sure that you use the grade of oil recommended by the manufacturer.

If you’ve been wondering how often you should schedule oil changes in College Station, TX, we hope that clears things up for you a bit. If you’re thinking it’s time to get it done, give us a shout at BCS Lifts and Accessories to set up an appointment, and don’t forget our ongoing oil change promotion -- five quarts of  conventional oil, filter and change for only $24.99!

  Posted in: Auto Repair 101