How Often Should I Change My Oil?

August 21, 2012 by ootmar  
Filed under Ootmar's Tip of the Month, Vancouver Automotive Blog

A few weeks ago, a customer came by for an oil change. We hadn’t seen them for just over a year and in that time they drove 24,000km. This is what their oil filter looked like:

Old Oil Filter

As a comparison, here’s what a new one looks like:

New Oil Filter

Not only does the oil filter start to deteriorate the longer it’s been in the engine, but so does the oil. So this leads to some questions:

How often do you get an oil change? Do we measure it by kilometers or by time? 5000kms? 10,000kms? 20,000kms? Five months? Six months? Once a year? What if you don’t reach the mileage due but it’s past the time?

The rule of thumb is to change your oil every 5,000 kms. The average person drives 20,000km per year. That equates to changing your oil four times a year; once per season. As for time, one oil change every three months.

But what if you don’t drive that much? Many of our customers are located in the West End and only drive a few thousand kilometers a year! How often should they get an oil change then? In these cases, the oil in your car should be changed every six months; once in the summer and once in the winter.

Many manufacturers are now suggesting that you service your vehicle once a year; however, there is a difference between servicing and performing oil changes. Oil changes consist of changing the oil and engine oil filter, checking and testing all the fluids, as well as performing a general visual inspection on the car. This may or may not include rotating the tires and checking the brakes. Servicing is significantly more in-depth. It includes checking steering and suspension components, performing charging and starting system tests and in some cases, installing fuel additives and servicing the throttle body.

So how many kilometers do you drive a year? Are you in the category of changing your oil by mileage or time? How often should you be doing an oil change?