5 Things to Know About Oil Changes for Your Car

If you’re confused about motor oil—the right time to change it, how often to change it, what’s the best oil for your car—Consumer Reports’ chief mechanic, John Ibbotson, can set you straight.

1. When to Change the Oil

The answer to a lot of these questions is the same: Check your owner’s manual. It should be your car maintenance and operation bible. Don’t make assumptions on the interval based on past experiences or guidance from mechanics who profit from the work, because the timing has evolved over the years.

Many cars, pickups, and SUVs now have service reminder monitors that alert drivers when to change their oil. “These systems typically monitor the number of miles a vehicle has traveled, and they also sense how hard the car is being driven, and adjust accordingly,” Ibbotson says.

Make sure you get your oil change soon after you receive such an alert.

Oil level gauge.

2. How Often to Check the Oil Level

Checking car oil.

You should keep an eye on your car’s oil levels. Our reliability survey results have shown that even newer cars can need the oil to be topped off between changes.

CR recommends checking your oil level at least once a month. Be sure to get repairs done at the first sign of a leak.

Check the owner’s manual and follow the automaker’s recommendations. Some newer cars have electronic oil monitors and don’t have traditional dipsticks for manual inspection.

If you do have a dipstick, and you’re checking it yourself, make sure the car is parked on level ground. If the engine has been running, be aware of potential hot spots under the hood.

With the engine off, open the car’s hood and find the dipstick. Pull the dipstick out from the engine and wipe any oil off from its end. Then insert the dipstick back into its tube and push it all the way back in.

Pull it back out, and this time quickly look at both sides of the dipstick to see where the oil is on the end. Every dipstick has some way of indicating the proper oil level, whether it be two pinholes, the letters L and H (low and high), the words MIN and MAX, or simply an area of crosshatching. If the top of the oil “streak” is between the two marks or within the crosshatched area, the level is fine.

But if the oil is below the minimum mark, you need to add oil.

Pay close attention to the oil’s color. It should appear brown or black. But if it has a light, milky appearance, this could mean coolant is leaking into the engine. Look closely for any metal particles, too, because this could mean there is internal engine damage. If you see either of these conditions, get the car to a mechanic for further diagnosis.

If everything is okay, wipe off the dipstick again and insert it back into its tube, making sure it’s fully seated. Close the hood and you’re done.

3. How Often to Change the Oil

Changing car oil.

Some swear by the “every 3,000 miles or every 3 months” rule, but advances in engines and oil have made that guidance obsolete. Many automakers have oil-change intervals at 7,500 or even 10,000 miles and 6 or 12 months for time.

“Your owner’s manual has more detailed information about your car than any mechanic does,” Ibbotson says. “Don’t get talked into too-often oil changes. Follow the manual and your car’s engine should stay well-lubricated and perform well.”

Over the course of two years and 30,000 miles, assuming that your oil change costs $40 a pop, you could save $240 if you get it changed every 7,500 miles vs. every 3,000 miles.

It’s not just about miles: If you don’t drive your car a lot, your oil still needs to be kept fresh. Even if you drive fewer miles each year than your automaker suggests changing the oil (say, 6,000 miles, with suggested oil-change intervals at 7,500 miles), you should still be getting that oil changed twice a year.

Why? Oil becomes less effective as it ages, and by not getting the engine warm enough, excess moisture that forms in the engine will not be removed, which can lead to shorter engine life.

4. Choosing the Right Oil for Your Car

Again, take a look at your owner’s manual. “Don’t be upsold into synthetic oil if there is no need,” Ibbotson says.

In many newer models, the weight of your car’s motor oil is printed on the cap where you add oil. “Make sure you know what’s recommended or required by your automaker before you visit your mechanic so that you can control the cost of the oil they’re putting in,” he says.

If you have a much older car, do you need special motor oil?

“Not if it’s running well,” Ibbotson says. “If you’re not sure what oil you should be using because you don’t have an owner’s manual, check with your local dealer or an online enthusiast group for your particular model,” he says.

5. Do You Need Synthetic Oil?

Conventional engine oil vs. synthetic engine oil.

“Only if your manufacturer calls for it,” Ibbotson says, “because it can cost from two to four times as much as conventional oil.”

Synthetic oil is designed to be more effective at resisting breakdown (and because of that, it lasts longer) and withstanding high temperatures.

There are situations where that resistance to breakdown can help prolong the life of your engine.

“If you make lots of short trips, standard motor oil may never get warm enough to burn off moisture and impurities, which means it may not be doing enough to protect your engine,” Ibbotson says.

Another consideration is your lifestyle. “If you live in a region with very cold winters or very hot summers, or if you use your vehicle for towing or hauling heavy material, synthetic oil is your best bet,” he says. “While synthetic generally holds up better and can serve for more miles, it is equally important to not extend oil changes beyond the time interval recommended by the manufacturer—typically six months or a year if it is a motor that is not driven many miles or on many short trips.”

Synthetic oil can also help engines that are prone to building up sludge; some Volkswagen and Toyota models have had sludge issues in the past. This residue, formed when oil breaks down, can block the flow of oil, leading to the quick death of an engine. Synthetic oil would be beneficial in these engines because it helps to reduce sludge buildup, helping to extend the engine’s lifespan.

AAPEX 2018 Mobile App Helps Navigate Show

AAPEX 2018 Mobile App Helps Navigate Show

AAPEX has introduced its 2018 Mobile App that provides everything to help attendees plan for and navigate this year’s event taking place Tuesday, Oct. 30 through Thursday, Nov.1, at the Sands Expo in Las Vegas. To plan for AAPEX, attendees can use the app to register, as well as locate exhibitors and products, build a … Read more

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Need A Pumpkin Spice Oil Change? Lakeview Auto Shop’s Sassy Signs Help Boost Business

Need A Pumpkin Spice Oil Change? Lakeview Auto Shop’s Sassy Signs Help Boost Business

We recently shared a photo of a Tuffy pumpkin spice oil change sign on Facebook and Twitter. It was submitted to us by our friends at Solid Start, and now there is a story to go along with the photo. Customers have come in asking if the oil smells like pumpkin, said the auto shop’s … Read more

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As Fires Continue to Burn, Changing Cabin Air Filter a Must

As Fires Continue to Burn, Changing Cabin Air Filter a Must


With woodland fires proceeding to burn all the way through the West, the non-profit Automobile Care Council reminds automotive homeowners to have their cabin air filters inspected and altered incessantly. This easy, but essential, carrier will assist be sure that automobile longevity in addition to blank air throughout the automotive.

“With the quantity of smoke and particles led to through woodland fires, it is vitally most likely that cabin air filters within the neighborhood were significantly affected,” mentioned Wealthy White, govt director, Automobile Care Council. “Cabin air filters are the primary defensive position towards contaminants that cut back automobile cabin air high quality. The Automobile Care Council recommends that motorists in spaces impacted through wildfires and the ones in surrounding states have their cabin air filters changed.”

A cabin air clear out must now not be wiped clean and reinstalled. As a substitute, it must get replaced each 12,000 to 15,000 miles or in keeping with the landlord’s guide, or extra continuously in spaces experiencing heavy smoke, particles and contaminants.

The cabin air clear out is accountable for cleansing the air coming into the passenger compartment. Underneath customary instances, it is helping entice pollen, micro organism, mud and exhaust gases that can in finding their method into a automobile’s heating, air flow and air con (HVAC) device, compromising inside air high quality and destructive the device. Maximum cabin air filters are accessed throughout the panel within the HVAC housing, that could be below the hood or positioned throughout the inside of the automobile.

The Automobile Care Council is the supply of data for the “Be Automobile Care Mindful” client schooling marketing campaign selling some great benefits of common automobile care, upkeep and service to shoppers. For the most recent automotive care information, discuss with the council’s on-line media room at http://media.carcare.org.

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Covington Pro Lube Announces New Valet Services to Newton Businesses

Covington Pro Lube Announces New Valet Services to Newton Businesses

Covington Pro Lube, leading oil change and auto repair shop in Covington, announces a new valet service they will offer, starting September 18. Every Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Covington Pro Lube will offer a convenient valet service for customers in Covington needing an oil change but unable to come to the shop. … Read more

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Costa Oil – 10 Minute Oil Change

Costa Oil – 10 Minute Oil Change Oil in Dillsburg Pennsylvania is a privately owned circle of relatives operated 10 minute oil trade facility which supplies rapid high quality complete provider oil adjustments in numerous varieties. We provide Standard (Same old Oil Change) and Complete Artificial oil adjustments, at one of the crucial most cost-effective and best costs within the Dillsburg PA. house. We additionally be offering Artificial Mix oil adjustments designed to lend a hand stay your engine operating at optimal price. All complete provider oil adjustments come usual with all fluids being checked and crowned off, a cleansing of any batter terminal corrosion, and filling your tire air power to its right kind stage.

Costa Oil – 10 Minute Oil Change is a 10 Minute Oil Change Store located in Dillsburg PA 17109