Replacing your engine’s oil should be one of your high priority items when it comes to your vehicle’s regular maintenance.
The question remains, How long can you go without an oil change? Well, the shortest answer to this question is it depends.
Changing your engine’s oil frequency is determined by looking into the frequency of driving your vehicle, which can be a little vague.
Automotive experts put together some guidance on how often to replace your engine’s oil, as you will see by reading through this article.
Why does my vehicle need an oil change?
Your engine’s oil is responsible for lubricating your engine’s moving parts to prevent damage through friction and grinding.
Over time of use, it is very easy for this oil to get contaminated by foreign objects like dust and dirt, resulting in affecting your engine's overall performance. In very severe cases, contaminated engine oil might result in engine damage by overheating.
Here is a list of the main reasons why your car needs an oil change:
Provide the required engine lubrication
Your vehicle’s engine is a very powerful component that is usually under pressure, high temperature, and constant stress. For your engine to provide the required power, its internal components move constantly and interact with each other.
These components require continuous lubrication to avoid grinding against each other and maintain the required level of performance.
To get the best out of your engine, you must maintain a specific volume of engine oil, as stated in your vehicle’s owner’s manual.
If you don’t have a copy of your owner’s manual, you can get a copy from your local mechanic or download a soft copy from the web.
Reduce the engine’s temperature
For a strong component like the engine, it is expected that a lot of heat is generated as the internal moving part work. Using a sufficient oil, you assist the engine is cooling down by preventing friction between moving parts.
Improve fuel economy
While it's great to maintain a specific oil volume in your engine, it also important to change this oil as recommended.
As we mentioned earlier, over time of use, the oil can break down and collect tons of foreign objects resulting in the oil contamination. This contaminated oil doesn’t help the engine; instead, it reduces the overall fuel economy.
That been said, to improve your engine’s fuel economy, you need to perform a regular oil change.
Remove engine dust particles
Over time of use, your engine collects dust and dirty particles affecting its performance. By changing your oil, you are almost flushing the engine from all these particles and improving its performance.
Expands the lifespan of your engine
As it said, “take care of the routine maintenance, and your vehicle will thank you for it.”
That’s true. If you keep your engine lubricated and remove any contamination, your engine will not require its full energy or work harder. As a result, you expand the lifespan of the engine’s internal components.
How long can you go without an oil change?
There is no way for your engine to perform if you did not change the engine oil at all. Automotive experts recommend an oil change every 3,000 to 5,000 miles depending on your driving style, the environment, and the type of oil you use. Your engine can also run without an oil change up to 10,000 miles.
While you still can drive your vehicle after the 5,000 miles without changing the oil, you will see a clear effect on the engine’s performance after a couple of additional thousand miles.
Ignoring oil change can cause engine self-destruction as the engine overheats due to insufficient lubrication. Furthermore, your engine’s moving parts will grind against each other and wear each other out in a short period.
While a check oil light might help you remember to change your engine’s oil, it might be a little late, and some issues might already happen to your engine.
Most vehicle owner’s manuals recommend regular maintenance every 5,000 to 7,500 miles to maintain good performance for your vehicle.
Yes, the same timeline of your regular maintenance might be good for changing your engine’s oil; however, most experts recommend changing your oil no later than 3,000 miles.
Four recommended oil change frequencies
This section discusses four experts’ recommended oil change intervals by vehicle owners; some are too frequent while others are not.
Change your engine’s oil every 1,000 miles
As we mentioned earlier, most experts agreed on changing your engine’s oil once every 3,000 miles. If you know that you don’t drive your vehicle very often, we don’t think that changing your engine’s oil every 1,000 miles is necessary; it can be a little too much, and the replaced oil can be harmful to the environment.
Change your engine’s oil every 3,000 miles
A group of experts thinks that changing your engine’s oil every 3,000 miles is unnecessary and is only for the repair shops' favor. That’s why most automotive experts are leaning towards a longer timespan of 5,000 to 7,500 miles.
While this might be true, changing your engine’s oil every 3,000 miles might still be valid for people with older vehicles.
We think in this situation that the fluency of chaning your engine’s oil depends on your vehicle's age. For instance, if your vehicle is relatively new and you don’t drive it very often, it might be OK for you to change your oil once every 7,500 miles. However, if your vehicle is not in good condition and is not new, you might need to consider changing the oil more frequently.
Change your engine’s oil every 10,000 miles
Some vehicle’s owner’s manual requires using synthetic oil only. In that case, you can reduce the frequency of your oil change to once every 10,000 miles. However, it would help if you kept in mind that synthetic oil is much more expensive, but at the same time, it provides better benefits to your vehicle.
Automotive does not recommend switching to synthetic oil unless necessary. For instance, if you tow heavy loads frequently, you might need to make an exception and switch to synthetic oil. By switching to this type of oil, you reduce the stress no your engine and expand its lifetime.
What is the oil life indicator?
Suppose you are one of those people who finds it hard to keep track of when to change their engine’s oil. Luckily, a certain piece can be installed on your vehicle to let you know when your engine is due for an oil change.
The oil life monitoring system does not only track your vehicle’s mileage; it also analyzes your driving style through your vehicle’s internal computer and provides recommendations for when to change your vehicle’s oil.
These monitoring systems are different from the oil pressure light, illuminating when your engine’s oil pressure drops below the recommended values.
The oil life monitoring system comes in two forms depending on your vehicle’s make, model, and year:
An algorithm based oil life monitoring system
The algorithm-based oil life monitoring system collects a lot of information and feeds it to a specific mathematical formula to do internal calculations and provide you a final status. Your oil’s status would be either your oil is OK or you need to change it.
A direct measurement based oil life monitoring system
The direct measurement based oil life monitoring system performs direct measurements to your engine’s oil and provides a final status based on its remaining lifetime.
In some vehicles, both monitoring systems are used to provide better and more accurate oil change information.
In any vehicle’s engine, the oil is responsible for lubricating its moving components. Consequently, the engine’s temperature will not increase as the oil prevents friction between these moving components.
During the time of use, the engine’s oil collects dirt and other foreign particles resulting in dropping your engine’s overall performance. Therefore, this oil needs to be changed frequently.
In this article, we helped you answer how long you can go without an oil change?
Most automotive experts recommend changing your engine’s oil once every 3,000 miles to avoid complicated problems with your engine or engine’s self-destruction.
Other experts suggest changing your engine’s oil once every 1,000 miles, especially if you have an older vehicle. On the other hand, another group of experts thinks you can go as long as 10,000 miles without an oil change if you have a newer vehicle and don’t drive that often.
The bottom line is that changing your engine’s oil depends on your driving habits, driving environment, and the type of oil you use for your vehicle.