I have a 2004 Ford Ranger pickup. Currently it has less than 25000 miles on it. I drive it mostly to the local home improvement store or to the city dump. My typical yearly mileage is around 3000 miles, and certainly less than 5000 miles. So my question is how often should I change the oil? The manual suggests 3000 miles or 3 months, which ever comes first. But 3 months frequently means less than 1000 miles, so the oil is hardly touched. But I worry about water condensation and such, so waiting for 3000 miles might be too long. What is optimal in a situation like this?
Personally, I would change it once a year. You, however, might feel more comfortable changing it every every 9 months. That would be a nice compromise between 6 months/1,500 miles and 1 year/3,000 miles. I think changing it every three months would be excessive.
Follow your owner’s manual advice.
Even though I probably would not. I’d probably change it every 6 months. But I’d be wrong in doing so.
Change it when it looks dirty or once a year…
Check the owner’s manual. If you don’t have one, order one. You likely can find one on-line. Follow the instructions there. It will say XX miles or XX months, which ever comes first. The owner’s manual is taking the very questions you ask into consideration when they figure out what is in the manual.
In situations like this I normally recommend twice a year, spring and fall. My mother in law drives a similar distance and gets a free spring and fall checkup with the oil changes. We are talking small bucks here; lets do what makes the most sense!
Does your truck still have warranty coverage on it?
If yes, do whatever the warranty requires to keep the engine protected in case there is a need to file a claim on it.
If no, change it whenever you feel like you need to.
At the very least, once a year.
I, personally, would use a good quality synthetic engine oil, and change it once a year, since the usage is infrequent. Higher quality oils are going to be able to counter act fuel dilution better than average oils.
As for condensation build up in the engine, a good run in stop and go traffic, or a long highway drive should eliminate most if not all of the water condensation. Just got to get the oil hot, and make sure the PCV system int eh car works right, and it will get out of the engine.