Updated March 15th, 2017

Winchester, Virginia - Changing the engine oil in your car is one of the most basic routine maintenance items on any vehicle owner's list. Although nearly everyone knows the importance of getting your oil changed at regular intervals, many drivers are not exactly sure how frequent those intervals should be. While the traditional rule of thumb is to get your oil changed every 3,000 miles, modern oil manufacturing techniques and innovative auto engineering have rendered that old adage virtually obsolete. Below are some tried-and-true methods you can use to help you determine when to change your oil.

Use your engine service light as a guide. There was a time when oil change intervals were primarily determined by the amount of miles the car had driven. This metric is now considered to be somewhat of an oversimplification, and may actually be an inaccurate gauge due to various technological advances. In modern engines, oil life monitoring systems rule the roost, as these systems take several data points into consideration to determine when it's time to change your oil. The frequency between oil changes will vary based on a wide variety of factors including miles driven, driving habits, etc., all of which are tracked by sophisticated computer algorithms. Using your engine service light as a guide will keep everything super-simple for you; just drive as you always do until the maintenance light comes on, and then get your oil changed. While it may be tempting to doubt the oil life monitor, your best bet is to stick to what it's telling you.

Check your owner's manual.
One of the simplest and most reliable methods you can use is to check the owner's manual of your vehicle to see what type of oil change intervals your manufacturer recommends. Not only will it give you insight into the type of frequency with which oil changes should occur, but it will also tell you what type of engine oil is recommended by the manufacturer. If you have accidentally misplaced your owner's manual, most auto makers have put these manuals online for your convenience; a quick Google search for the make and model of your car plus the word "manual" should get you what you need. 

Use a set time frame as your gauge.
No matter how mileage estimates may vary for recommended oil change intervals, all vehicle manufacturers have a time-specific recommendation as to when you should change your oil. For example, many newer cars recommend changing your oil every 8,000 to 10,000 miles or one year, whichever one comes first. If you own a "weekend car" or drive only a few miles each week, you may not even come close to the mileage estimate, but you should still get the oil changed if the maximum time frame has been reached. 

These three methods are completely reliable when it comes to estimating the proper time frame in which to change your oil. Whenever you are ready to bring your car in for its routine maintenance appointment, you can leave it in the hands of trained professionals at an oil change Fairfax shop in order to ensure that the service will be properly performed.

*Always check your owner’s manual for your vehicle model’s specific instructions before attempting any type of repair. Copyright Hogan & Sons Tire and Auto March 2017