When to Change Your Oil

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When to Change Your Oil

With advances in engine performance and design, plus the advances in engine oil technology, most cars can now go farther between oil changes. But how far?

© iStockphoto.com/Jim Jurica

For decades, there was one basic rule for changing the oil in your car: every 3,000 miles (4,828 kilometers) or 3 months, whichever came first. Easy, right?

However, with the advances in engine performance and design, plus the advances in engine oil technology, most cars can go farther between oil changes. But how far?

Many modern cars can go 5,000 or even 10,000 miles (8,047 or 16,093 kilometers) between oil changes, depending on the model and how you drive. Most people won't go wrong with a 5,000-mile (8,047-kilometer) interval between changes, but if your daily commute involves lots of stop-and-go driving, you might want to change it a little sooner.

Some cars can even keep track of the oil and alert the driver when it's time for a change. Chris Martin of Honda says his company's Maintenance Minder, for instance, "monitors engine operating conditions and accumulated engine revolutions to recommend specific maintenance, like oil changes, when it's actually required, rather than relying on a set maintenance schedule." This keeps the engine in its best shape and saves the owner money on maintenance.

Next, the easiest of all maintenance: Checking your oil.

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