Why Oil Change Intervals Matter

Why Oil Change Intervals Matter

Modern vehicles have become increasingly sophisticated, but one thing that remains the same is the importance of clean oil. Oil remains the lifeblood of even the most technologically-advanced engines, so staying on top of your oil change intervals is essential. Fortunately, many vehicles now have an onboard service reminder that will let you know when an oil change is needed; some models even let you know when the oil level is too low. 

Longer Intervals Make Regular Oil Changes More Essential

As advances have been made in both oil and engine technology, recommended oil change intervals have gotten longer. The old rule of changing your oil “every 3,000 miles or every three months” is now outdated. Many manufacturers now recommend oil change intervals of every 5,000 to 7,500 miles; some intervals are as much as every 10,000 miles. 

This is great news for many drivers, but longer intervals also mean that it’s even more important to change your oil according to the schedule listed in your owner’s manual. Back in the days of 3 months/3,000 miles, if you went an extra month or extra 1,000 miles, the oil was still fresh enough that it didn’t have time to build up much sludge. However, if your recommended interval is 6,500 miles, and you go over another thousand, you increase the risk of sludge developing. 

It’s not just about mileage, either. If you don’t drive your car a lot, the oil still needs to be replaced regularly—even if you only drive it fewer miles each year than what your manufacturer suggests for changing oil. You should still make a point to get your oil changed twice a year because oil breaks down and becomes less effective as it ages. Once this happens, you risk excessive wear and tear on your engine and overheating. If too much sludge develops, it can even cause complete engine failure. 

What is the Severe Service Schedule?

In your owner’s manual, you’ll find different recommendations based on the “normal” or “regular” operation of your vehicle and a “severe service schedule.” Sometimes, it will be listed as “Schedule 1” and “Schedule 2”. There’s a lot of confusion around this, so we’re going to break it down.  

The severe service schedule recommends more frequent intervals for maintenance items like oil changes, air filter replacement, and transmission service based on your typical driving conditions. Although it can vary based on the automaker, you would typically follow the severe service schedule if any of the following apply to your typical driving conditions:

  • Most of your trips are under four miles
  • Most of your trips are less than ten miles when outside temperatures are below freezing
  • You drive in a lot of stop-and-go traffic
  • You don’t drive on the freeway very much and mostly stick to low speeds 
  • You drive in an area that has a lot of dust, dirt, slush, mud, or pollution
  • You frequently pull a trailer or haul heavy loads
  • You frequently drive in areas that can get very hot or very cold

Check your owner’s manual for more information on your vehicle, or feel free to discuss which service schedule you should be following with your service advisor. Since many people have some severe service factors mixed into their daily driving, some prefer to follow the severe schedule to play it safe. 

Conventional vs. Synthetic Oil

It’s also worth mentioning that you should always use the recommended oil for your vehicle. This is especially important if you top your oil off at home. If your car came from the factory with synthetic oil, only use synthetic and follow the synthetic oil interval. 

So, what’s the difference between the two types? Synthetics use higher-quality base oils compared to conventional oil, which makes them more stable and less likely to oxidize and acidify. They take longer to break down, so they offer better protection for your engine. Synthetics help your engine run more efficiently and perform better. Another benefit of synthetic oil is that it keeps your engine cleaner and can better resist sludge formation. Many vehicles that run on conventional oil can convert to synthetic; ask your service advisor if your car could benefit from making the switch!

Extend the Life of Your Engine

Service advisors often report that when they talk to someone with 200,000 miles or more on their engine, the drivers always say the secret is changing the oil on time. Although there could be other factors as well, routine oil changes undoubtedly extend the life of your engine. 

If you have questions about your oil change schedule or would need to make an appointment for an oil change, contact the experts at EuroCar Service! We specialize in all European vehicles, including BMWAudiLand RoverMercedesMini-CooperSaabJaguarVolkswagenVolvoSmart Car, and Fiat! Call us today at (206) 527-8828 or request an appointment online.