Regular Oil Changes Help Maintain Used Car Values

by Don Elliott on June 14, 2011

Historically, manufacturers have recommended changing a car’s oil and filter every 3,000 miles under normal driving conditions. Oil picks up particulate matter, soot and dirt, produced by combustion. The particulate matter creates the need for an oil change. Heat gradually reduces the oil’s ability to carry the particulate matter to the filter where some of it is removed. If you or your automotive repair mechanic doesn’t change the oil and filter at regular intervals, particulate matter will build up in the oil until the oil becomes thick. This restricts the oil’s ability to lubricate critical engine parts. Very thick oil becomes sludge and will cause the engine to fail.

There’s no denying that the design of automobile gasoline engines requires regular engine oil changes. The debate amongst automobile enthusiasts questions how often the oil and filter should be changed to maintain engine performance and assure used car value. While the 3,000 mile myth rage continues, a few basic guidelines can help drivers make better decisions when choosing oil change intervals.

Manufacturer Recommendations – Any vehicle that is within the manufacturer’s new car warranty period should follow the manufacturer’s recommended oil change interval to assure warranty coverage. Recommendations vary from every 3,000 miles to every 10,000 miles or more. Check the owner’s manual to find the right schedule for your used car.

Driving Conditions – Change the oil more frequently when your car is affected by severe conditions including very cold or very hot weather, extreme humidity, dusty conditions, stop and go traffic, frequent short trips, towing a trailer, or carrying heavy loads. More “normal” conditions extend the interval required between oil changes.

Oil Type – Oil choices include petroleum, synthetic, and blended oil types. Synthetic oils cost more. However, synthetic oils don’t break down as fast as petroleum oils, causing them to last longer. The Society of Automotive Engineers provides numerical guidelines regarding the proper viscosity, or “slipperiness,” of engine oil. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for the correct SAE rating (e.g. 10W-30) for the oil, petroleum, or synthetic oil you choose for your car.

Filtration – Change the filter at every oil change, regardless of the interval. Oil filters have gotten smaller (pint-sized versus quart sized) over time, causing them to loose their filtering capability sooner. Filters have also become less expensive, making them affordable at each oil change.

Whether you change your own oil, use a “quick-change” service, or go to your automobile dealership’s auto repair department, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations whenever possible. The cost of an oil change with the correct oil and a good quality filter is considerably less than the damage that can be done to your car’s engine if not properly maintained.

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