How Important Should You Really Change That Engine Oil?

Written by Colchin Automotive and published on

Every automobile engine needs an oil, but not just any oil will do. Modern engines are designed and built to exacting standards and require oils that meet very specific industry and automaker specifications to ensure long service life. Failure to use the right type oil, and document its use, could void your new-car warranty.

How often do I need an oil change?

The short answer is every 4 months or 4000 miles – without fail.

The more complicated answer is, this is a great question that has a lot of people confused, and it only seems to be getting worse. Conflicting information from every angle, including your car’s message center, has everyone asking the second most common question – Who do I believe?

To bring this into perspective, I will make an analogy to health care and preventive maintenance for the human body. It’s safe to say that we as humans know we need to take care of our bodies through proper diet, exercise, and rest – right? Caring for your vehicle (which is the second largest investment most of us make) isn’t any different. Regular maintenance is a must if you want to avoid unnecessary financial impact.

Change your engine oil every 4 months or 4000 miles – this is a safe and reasonable interval. The reality is this: By the time you realize it’s time to change the engine oil, and you actually get your car in for service – the elapsed mileage is going to be 5000 miles. This is the pattern we have seen at Colchin Automotive for 31 years.

Find Out Why and Whom You Should Believe

As an automotive professional with more than 40 years working with machinery and people, I’ve seen a pattern of failure result from oil change intervals that are too long (or non-existent).

We are very aware of the computer software in your vehicle that is monitoring various parameters and using that information to calculate a “% Oil Life Remaining” message. The interval is too long!

We are aware of new engine oil technologies, synthetics, and the like, telling us we can run the engine oil longer than ever before.

We are aware of auto manufacturers telling us to run the engine oil longer than ever before – possibly due to state-by-state legislation related to required maintenance by manufacturers, or possibly due to the manufacturer trying to create a “Low Maintenance” or “Maintenance Free” perception. We are not certain why manufacturers are saying this, but we are certain that it is in your best financial interest to change engine oil every 4 months or 4000 miles.

Here’s a concern I never hear anyone talking about: When people don’t change engine oil often enough, significant deterioration of internal engine components takes place – this is a fact that no professional will argue. Poorly-maintained engines pollute our airway more than well-maintained engines. My point is this – environmental concerns about waste oil generation are unfounded! Change your engine oil every 4 months or 4000 miles.

We are aware of the argument that “Auto shops are just trying to get our money more often by telling us the oil needs to be changed.” My response is this – “If you think paying for a few more oil changes over the next 50,000 miles is expensive, go ahead and don’t change your oil – let’s see how your auto expenses look in a few years.

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