Changing motor oil is an essential part of owning a car. You’ll be spending a few dollars every few months as you car drives a few extra thousand miles. One area that seems to elude a lot of people is figuring out how often they should take their car in for an oil change.
After all, Pep Boys oil change cost, Jiffy Lube prices, and prices of other motor oil brands and services are slowly starting to go up. Add in the price for a professional mechanic to do your oil change and you could be looking at a $40 cost every few thousand miles driven.
If you knew exactly when you had to change motor oil you might be able to prepare for the expenses ahead of time.
The 3,000 Mile Rule
The general rule of thumb is to change your oil every three thousand miles. Some extend this to about five thousand miles. Whether you go to a mechanics shop or to a gas station to get your oil changed, they’ll give you a sticker indicating when you’re due for another change.
Not surprisingly, they tell you to come back in after driving another 3,000 to 5,000 miles.
This is how it is across the country and you can even read that information in the back label of some oil products such as Castrol and Valvoline. Drive over to Pep Boys or Meineke and they’ll you the same thing too.
However, the 3,000 mile rule isn’t as accurate as many of these companies make it out to be.
3,000 Miles for Profit
It’s all just a marketing ploy that became a standard over the years. Perhaps several decades ago it was a normal standard for older vehicles but these days, it just lets companies earn more money. These days they’re just milking the money out of this old saying.
You’ll be buying their motor oil products and paying for oil change services even when your car doesn’t really need to change oil yet.
Many cars can driver well over 5,000 miles before they need an oil change. Some vehicles have gone over 12,000 miles before they required new oil. Every car has a different engine, different oil requirement, and different performance standards.
It’s Also a Rule for Safety
This means that one car will require an oil change at different times compared to another. There is no universal standard that works for every vehicle out there. The 3,000 mile rule is just a guideline for people who don’t know how to change their oil on their own.
It’s also a guideline to avoid car damages. Even if your vehicle could go another 4,000 miles before requiring an oil change, by changing it regularly every 3,000 miles you’ll be doing your vehicle a favor as this practice keeps the engine in tip-top shape. It can be a bit costly but the benefits are worth it.
Estimating Costs for Properly Timed Oil Changes
The average American male drives around 16,000 miles per year while the average woman drives about 10,000 miles per year. These numbers reflect people who drive the most, middle age adults between the age of 30 and 54. As people get into their senior years they tend to drive less.
If you divide 16,000 miles per year into 12 months you’d get an average of just over 1,000 miles per month. This means the 3,000-mile rule basically means you need to change motor oil every quarter of the year.
If you avail of Walmart Auto Service for your regular oil changes then you can see a single, standard oil change job charge you about $30. Walmart oil change prices are also similar to Meineke oil change prices and that of other popular auto service companies.
Some charge a little extra and premium oil change jobs will cost you about $50.
In a year this means you could spend from $120 to $200 for oil change. If you buy your own motor oil and do the job yourself this will most likely cost you from $60 to $160 per year depending on the grade and brand of the oil you purchase.
Read Your Car Manual
The car manual shouldn’t be tossed into the glove box the moment you get the keys for your car. Always make it a point to read the manual in order to understand what the manufacturers say. You might actually find instructions as to how many miles your car can go before it needs oil servicing done.
The 3,000-mile rule isn’t necessarily the best option but it is a way of playing safe. It can cost a bit over the year but if it lets your car run peacefully and safely then what’s there to lose? What’s $120 compared to the assurance of driving a well-lubricated engine that keeps you on the road?