When it comes to taking care of their vehicles, many motorists prefer to be overly cautious. While that's not necessarily a bad thing, there are times when being too cautious can unnecessarily cost you money. Motor oil, and when to change that oil, has long been a point of contention. Many drivers grew up being told that motor oil should be changed every 3,000 miles (4,800 km). However, that myth has been debunked for many of today's vehicles, which should come with suggested intervals between oil changes. According to Edmunds.com, in 2010 the average interval for oil changes was 7,800 miles (12,553 km). In addition to changing a car's motor oil less frequently, there are other things drivers should know about motor oil.
. Oil does not necessarily need to be changed before a long trip. Taking a trip? While it's good to have your car examined before embarking, if the recommended oil change interval is not up, then you do not need to preemptively change your oil. Such a change is likely unnecessary and will not improve the performance of your vehicle during the trip.
. Black oil does not necessitate a change. Conventional wisdom once suggested if the oil on the dipstick is black then it needs to be changed.
But nowadays automotive professionals are noting that black oil is doing its job and different additives might be changing the oil's color, which means the oil doesn't need to be changed.
. You can use petroleum-based oil after using synthetic. Another long-standing myth regarding motor oil was that once you use a synthetic motor oil instead of a petroleum-based oil you have to continue using synthetic oil, which is often more expensive than more traditional motor oil, in order to avoid harming the vehicle. However, automotive professionals have noted that these two types of oils are now often blended, meaning switching back and forth from one to the other is not likely to cause any damage to your vehicle. Just be sure to use motor oil that meets the standards set forth in your vehicle's owner's manual.
. Consider an earlier oil change after buying a new vehicle. Sometimes a new vehicle will need an oil change after its first 3,000 miles. However, this does not mean your vehicle will need one every 3,000 miles. According to Blackstone Laboratories, which studies motor oil, oil samples taken from engines during their initial 3,000 miles of driving had elevated metal levels from the camshafts and pistons.
These elevated levels will not necessarily be harmful, but some auto manufacturers recommend a shorter initial interval just to be safe. Honda, however, includes an anti-wear additive in their break-in oil and advises against changing their oil early. Consult your owner's manual to determine if it's best to change your oil after the initial 3,000 miles or to let it go until the recommended interval.