Cars, like people, need a lot of liquids to run smoothly, one of the most important ones for vehicles being oil. Unlike people, cars have to completely drain and replace their oil somewhat frequently (naturally, that wouldn’t be a great idea to do as a human with our bodily fluids). However, it’s not always clear when you need an oil change.
Below, we break down everything you need to know about changing your oil and both when and why it’s important to do so.
When Do I Need an Oil Change?
When you actually need to change out your oil will greatly depend on the age of your vehicle. Older cars (generally those made before the early 2000s) are designed to have their oil changes based on mileage driven on normal use. In most cases, this number is around 10,000km.
However, if you’re frequently driving in extreme conditions or putting your vehicle through its paces, it’s best to follow your owner’s manual for “severe service” recommendations for changing oil.
Newer cars have a lot more tech in them which will actually let you know when your oil has degraded to the point you actually need an oil change. However, some newer cars also use more oil, so it’s important to check your car’s oil levels regularly and top it off when needed.
How Often Should I Check My Car’s Oil?
Again, this will depend on the age of your vehicle.
Traditionally, most cars were built with dipsticks, i.e. a simple piece of metal that extended down into your car’s oil reservoir to check the oil levels. If your car does have a dipstick, it’s best to check it once a month. To get an accurate reading, checking the dipstick after a little use (like a quick trip to a gas station) is best since the oil that the engine needs to use will stay in the engine and not the reservoir letting you know how much oil is actually left.
Newer cars may come equipped with an electronic dipstick. In this case, there will simply be an icon or display that lets you know when to check your car’s oil levels and quality.
What Oil Does My Car Need?
The short answer: we can’t say because every car requires a different kind of oil. Some cars share the same oil type, but there’s not a one-size-fits-all when it comes to oil.
To find out what oil type your car needs, refer to your owner’s manual as it will let you know what the correct type of oil your car will need.
Should I Be Using Synthetic Oil?
Synthetic oil has been around for a while, but it’s often still unclear to many people whether they need it or should be switching to it for their vehicle.
Once again, like the kind of oil your car needs, it will highly depend on your vehicle. Some engines perform significantly better with synthetic oil, while it’s less noticeable with others. If you’re really straining your vehicle by driving it in extreme conditions or hauling/towing heavy equipment consistently, your engine can probably benefit from a switch to synthetic oil.
Oil is an important part of most vehicles, and by staying on top of the proper care and maintenance for it, you can help your car perform at its best for a long time.