Informational Guide

How Long Can A Car Go Without Changing Oil?

Oil changes are an essential part of car maintenance. Don’t get caught out with a dry engine!

Now that you know how to change an oil filter and replace the fluids, you might be wondering how long can you go without an oil change?  

While the manufacturer will offer guidelines showing how many miles for an oil change, these aren’t set in stone. In this article, we review how often to get an oil change. 

Before we answer how long can a car go without an oil change, it’s vital that you understand why the oil change is critical. Motor oil is used to lubricate the moving parts of the engine and keep dirt or debris from ruining the mechanical aspects. As the motor oil becomes dirty and contaminated, it is less effective at providing this lubrication. 

The result is a change to the engine temperature and a lack of protection for the moving parts. Both of these problems will lead to premature wear on the motor. Additionally, the oil can no longer remove the dust particles and debris, thereby causing more wear on the vital components.  

As the engine fails to work properly, you could be looking at replacing it sooner than necessary, which can be an expensive repair. Additionally, up until the point that the engine fails, it won’t run the way it was intended. These problems could lead to a lack of performance or acceleration, as well as decreased fuel economy.  

Basically, your car or truck engine requires regular oil changes to ensure it lasts as long as it should, runs the way it was intended, and keeps the moving parts from failing.   

man checking car oil

How To Check If Your Oil Needs To Be Changed: DIY Guide  

Do you know how many miles between oil changes is considered ideal? To get the answer, you can check the owner’s manual of your vehicle or follow the recommendations from the oil company. However, there are times when your vehicle might need more frequent oil changes. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s time to change the oil. 

  • Darker color or thicker consistency 
    You can check this with the dipstick. Motor oil should be a light brown, transparent color when it is fresh.
  • Burning oil smell 
    Verify that no oil was spilled on the engine first.
  • Knocking sound from the engine 
    This is an indication that there is a lack of lubrication.
  • Dashboard warning light 
    The sensors in the engine can tell you when something is wrong. 

How Long Can You Go Without An Oil Change? (In Theory) 

How many miles can you go over an oil change and still be okay? There’s no concrete answer to this question, leading you to ask – is it bad to go 1,000 miles over an oil change? If you don’t change the oil at all, the engine won’t be able to perform and will eventually fail.  

Most experts recommend changing conventional oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles or up to 10,000 miles with synthetic oil. While it probably won’t hurt to go a little over this time frame, the neglect could lead to bigger problems down the road.  

What happens if you go too long without an oil change? The internal parts of the engine can start to rub together, causing wear that is irreparable. Once the damage is done, you won’t be able to fix it with an oil change. That’s why if you are asking, “How often should I change my oil,” we will always recommend following the manufacturer’s guidelines.  

person checking oil in car

How Often Should You Get An Oil Change? Advice From A Mechanic 

How often do you need an oil change? It truly depends on what type of car you drive and the oil you are using. However, we can use a few guidelines to help you answer - how often should you get an oil change? 

Every 3,000 Miles 

Some experts still recommend changing the motor oil every 3,000 miles, especially if you use a conventional formula with no oil additives. However, the modern car is designed to go longer than this in many cases.  

Every 5,000 to 7,000 Miles 

If your vehicle is newer and you use a synthetic blend, you should be able to go 5,000 to 7,000 miles between changes. This is also a good time to change the oil filter. 

Every 10,000 to 15,000 Miles 

Do you know how often to change synthetic oil? If you are only using premium oil and a synthetic oil filter, you should be able to go 10,000 miles or more without a change. For some people, this is a reason alone to upgrade the quality of oil being used.  


People Also Ask (FAQs)

Is it bad to drive your car when it needs an oil change? 

It shouldn’t hurt your vehicle dramatically if you go slightly over the recommended oil change interval. However, you want to perform all maintenance when recommended to keep your vehicle running its best.  

Can I just add oil to my car instead of getting an oil change? 

When oil becomes old, it gets contaminated and breaks down. Adding more oil to the existing fluid isn’t going to help the situation but could make it worse, leading to engine damage in severe cases.  

How long does an oil change take? 

If you have the equipment, such as an oil drain pan and an oil filter wrench, you can complete the service in less than thirty minutes. If you have to take your vehicle somewhere for service, look for a quick lube that will get you in and out promptly.  

Why is my car losing oil but no leak? 

If you are noticing low oil pressure or you are constantly adding oil but can’t find the leak, the problem could be internal instead. Have your vehicle diagnosed by a qualified technician.  

Does oil go bad if you don’t drive? 

The motor oil is meant to be circulated through the engine during driving. If you store your vehicle or don’t drive it often, you might need to change the oil more frequently or add an oil stabilizer.  


Conclusion

How often should you change your oil? We’ve given you a general list of guidelines to help you determine what’s best for your vehicle. Ensure the engine oil gets changed as directed to keep it running longer.  

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