- Getty Images/Duane Prokop
The timeworn notion that you need to change the oil in your car has come under assault in recent years.
Blame the internet: it’s pretty easy to debunk received wisdom when you have million of debunkers, a healthy percentage of them actually qualified, debunking away.
So you don’t really need an oil change every 3,000 miles.
But how often do you need one?
The best piece of advice I can give is to consult your owner’s manual, where the recommendation for oil-change intervals will usually be spelled out.
Actually, I can give a better piece of advice: If you own a new car, you can change the oil twice a year and forget about it.
That’s assuming you drive the 15,00o or so annual miles that typical for most Americans. If you drive substantially more, you might want to consider changing your oil more often.
In many new cars, especially luxury models, you don’t even really need to check your oil (which isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be able to handle a dipstick, just in case). Some cars don’t allow you to, preferring to monitor your vehicle’s oil life and condition electronically and remind you when it’s time to head for Jiffy Lube or your dealer.
Various other factors can contribute to the need for an oil change more than twice a year on a new or new-ish car. If you operate your car in extreme weather conditions, for example, or if you drive aggressively, putting more stress on your engine.
But one of the best things about buying new is that you can forget about some of the old-school maintenance issues. Twice a year should be just fine. Unless the car starts smoking or warning lights go off on the dashboard.
This all goes out the window, of course, as your car ages. You may want to change the oil more frequently in an older vehicle. Still, every 3,000 is probably unnecessary. I had a 12-year-old car at one point that had numerous problems, but I still only changed the oil twice a year and never had any issues on that front.
A new car isn’t a great investment (you lose substantial value when you drive off the dealer’s lot). But it is an excellent investment in one crucial respect. It won’t demand much of your attention for the first few years that you own it.