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When Should You Change Your Engine Oil

Rohan Bhalerao
Changing the oil in a car or motorcycle is necessary. How often you do this depends on certain factors. This post lists these factors and approximate intervals for an oil change.
If the engine is the heart of your vehicle, then the engine oil is the blood which is essential to keep the engine running and at optimum efficiency. If you don't change your car's oil after certain intervals, it will become ineffective.
This will result in problems in its functioning like friction leading to a cranking noise, increased pollution emission, and gradually reduced mileage. It has an adverse effect on the overall life of the vehicle.


Engine oil acts as a coolant and a lubricant in the engine. There is a lot of friction and heat generated in the engine due to the particulate matter that results from combustion of gasoline. Oil acts as a cleansing agent and transports the unwanted matter to the oil filter, where it is filtered out.
It helps a great deal in reducing the corrosion in the engine occurring due to rust and other corrosive agents. Thus, oil aids in improving the overall efficiency of the vehicle, making it pertinent to have it changed at regular intervals.

Change Intervals for a New Car

How often you change your engine oil depends primarily upon the frequency of your car usage, conditions in which you drive, and the design of the engine. Ford and GM have set a standard interval for oil changes at 7500 miles. This is the same for most new cars. However, for high mileage vehicles, it is mostly recommended that you change the oil every 5000 to 7500 miles or once a year (whichever is earlier).
 It is mostly dependent on the manual which the car manufacturers provide. Many new manufacturers recommend an oil change as late as 10000 to 12000 miles. Nowadays, most new cars have an oil service reminder light to let you know when an oil change is actually necessary. Under ideal driving conditions, like 10 miles everyday on a proper highway, you may not get the signal for a long time. 
On the other hand, if you drive your car on dusty roads, in hot weather, or in traffic (involving a lot of starts and stops), this change interval reduces. This is termed as severe service driving, and if you have a passenger car (or a light truck with diesel engine), the intervals can be as short as 3000 miles or six months (whichever is earlier).
Also, if you prefer using synthetic oil (use the same if your car manufacturer recommends it) over conventional oil for a new car, then the oil can be changed after as many as 12000 to 15000 miles.
Nowadays, the latest oil monitoring technology checks the condition of your engine oil using electronic sensing. Also, there are many companies like Oil Analyzers Inc., Blackstone Labs, and Insight Services, which provide oil analysis services where they take a sample of your oil and recommend whether a change is required or not. You can have your engine oil analyzed at the intervals of 3000, 5000, 7500, and 10000 miles. It costs less than USD 25, providing a cost-effective way for you to get your oil checked.

Change Intervals for a Motorcycle

Changing the oil can be tricky in a motorcycle. It could happen that even though the oil hasn't become ineffective, the quantity may have reduced. In these circumstances, you should check the quantity level after every 1000 miles. Normally, it is recommended that you change the oil every 3000 miles or six months (whichever is earlier).
Again, do this with synthetic oil, and if you drive in good conditions this interval increases. Make sure you follow the manufacturer's recommendations about the weight and blend aspects of the oil. It will certainly ensure a longer engine life and higher mileage for your motorcycle.
Remember that it is absolutely essential to keep a close tab on your oil change frequency, so that you have a smooth driving experience. Your engine will have a longer life, providing you with higher mileage.