Oil Change Intervals – Newer Cars
Most newer cars are equipped with oil-life monitoring systems that automatically determine when an oil change is needed and notify you with an alert on the instrument panel. Early simple systems are time and mileage based, but current advanced designs analyze actual vehicle operating conditions to identify when the oil will begin to degrade. In fact, the owner’s and maintenance manuals for many newer cars eliminate “severe service” recommendations altogether because the oil-life monitoring system automatically shortens the oil change interval when it detects heavy-duty operation.
Whenever you have your car’s oil changed, the service technician should reset the oil-life monitoring system. If you change your own oil, you can reset the system by following the instructions in the vehicle owner’s manual.
Less frequent oil changes on newer engines make it essential that you check the oil level monthly and top it up as needed. While many engines will use less than a quart of oil between changes, others can consume as much as a quart every 600 to 700 miles. Maintaining proper oil levels can help you avoid costly car repairs; engine wear or damage resulting from low oil levels will not be covered by your new-car warranty. Note that if you do not put many miles on your car, most automakers recommend an oil change every 12 months, even if the maintenance reminder has not come on.