How often should I change my oil?

I have a 2000 Chrysler Town & Country with 50K miles. I drive it only 4,000 miles/yr. mostly on paved country roads and seldom in stop-and-go traffic. How often should I change the oil and filter?

My other car is an '02 Subaru Forester with 46K miles. I drive it 10,000 miles/yr mostly on paved country roads. How often should I change it’s oil and filter?

As often as your owner’s manual says you should. They’re the experts on your car.
That answer applies to both vehicles.

To mountainbike’s appropriate answer, I want to add that BUDKEENE should note that the maintenance schedule provided by the vehicle manufacturer is always a “whichever comes first” situation. For example, “every 7,500 miles or 7.5 months, whichever comes first”, in the case of the '02 Forester.

Time to refer to the booklets in the glove compartment of both vehicles!

Excellent point.

Chrysler: Every 6 months
Subaru: Every 3-4 thousand miles.

Owners manuals are fine reading material, but will not necessarily provide the best common sense guidance for things like oil change. Based on owners manual of changing oil of (5k miles) for instance, he might only change the oil once a year. In my opinion, that’s not frequent enough. Then you know what they say about opinions…

Benny–Every manufacturer’s maintenance schedule with which I am familiar specifies an elapsed time limit, as well as an odometer mileage limit for maintenance procedures. So, even if a manufacturer specifies “every 5k”, it is also likely that the manufacturer also specifies something on the order of “or, every 6 months, whichever comes first”.

That being said, I am going to have my oil changed in about 2 weeks. Since I no longer put a lot of miles on my car, I follow a strict regimen of every 4 months, or 4,000 miles, whichever comes first. As my friend, mountainbike says, “Oil is relatively cheap, engines are expensive”, and as I say, “No car ever suffered because it was maintained better than the manufacturer specified”.

This is BUDKEENE who posted the question.
Most replies state that I should just follow the recommendations in the owner’s manual. But following the milage recommendations makes more sense than time. If time was important then a car sitting on the dealer’s lot for 12 months should have the oil changed twice, even though it has not been driven.
Please note that my Chrysler is driven only 4,000 miles/yr. Changing oil is not just a matter of cost. It takes time to take the car in and wait for an oil change. And time is precious.

The difference is that the car sitting on the dealer’s lot isn’t driven at all. When you drive the car (or at least run the engine) bad things from the blow-by get into the oil. The oil starts to get acidic and that’s not good for the engine internals. That’s why there’s a time limit as well as a distance limit.
It is true, however, that the simple single or dual miles/time schedule in the owner’s manual does not cover everyone’s situation perfectly. In your case, why don’t you just change the oil yearly. The engine may not last as long, but at the rate you are putting miles on, the engine will outlast the car anyway.

I have a 93 Caprice and a 2000 Blazer driven under the same conditions. These are the change intervals I’m comfortable with.

The Caprice has 74k miles and is driven 3 to 4k miles a year. I used to change the oil every 6 months, but now change it every 2k miles or so. It works out to 7-9 months between oil and filter changes. It gets driven 40 to 50 miles during the course of the day, no stop and go driving or short trips. There is no noticeable oil consumption between changes and the oil stays clean.

The Blazer at 103k is the daily driver and is driven 10-11k a year. Same driving conditions as the Caprice, no short trips or stop and go driving. The work commute is about 25 miles round trip. The Blazer gets an oil, filter, and lube job every 4k miles. It’s starting use some oil between changes, 1/2 to 1 qt every 4k, so I check the oil level on a regular basis.

Ed B.

The owner’s manual should have two standards, one based on miles and one based on time, whichever comes first. So you don’t have to follow the mileage recommendations if you are not putting enough miles on the car to warrant it.

If the time it takes to pay someone to do an oil change is that precious, it may be time to hire a personal assistant.

The OP’s in these type of posts always want to be told they are on a reduced interval plan, they know where the manual is.

I would be surprised if any of the respondents to your question were mechanics. I am and have been for 45 years. The manuals usually overstate the need for oil changes for a car with normal use. If all of your driving is stop and start city driving or consists of 250 five-mile trips per month it’s obviously not the same as someone who takes one 1250 mile highway trip yet both cars have gone the same distance.I’ve wasted more clean oil (under protest)because someone took their manual as gospel while claiming to be an “environmentalist”

Hey BUDKEENE . . . welcome to the forum. Just my two cents . . . I wouldn’t think that an oil change would cost that much or take that much time. I do my own and 4 quarts of oil @ $2.50 each plus a $3.00 oil filter isn’t all that big of a deal. It might take me a half hour, sometimes I drain the oil overnight in my garage, but usually it takes about a half hour. I would do BOTH cars every 4,000 miles, based on your “easy” driving. Rocketman

I would be surprised if any of the respondents to your question were mechanics.

You are wrong there.

The manuals usually overstate the need for oil changes for a car with normal use.

I will buy the manufacturer’s recommendations any day. You may well cut back on oil changes and not see a problem, but oil changes are cheap and engines are expensive. It is like your home insurance. It may seem like a waste of money until you have a fire.

I suggest that if your comments here are typical of the kind of service you provide you are giving a bad name to the industry. I hope it is just one isolated difference of opinion on the subject.

It appears you are new (first post today) to this group, I suggest you hang out a while before commenting on the advice being given. You might learn a lot. I suspect that all our regulars, many of whom are professionals would agree they have learned a lot here.

I am sorry if I appear harsh, and I hope you stick around and be more receptive to ideas other than your own.

“The manuals usually overstate the need for oil changes for a car with normal use.”

Somehow, I think that the owners of Toyotas and VWs who adhered to the mfr’s guidelines, and yet still wound up with severely sludged engines, would disagree with that statement.

And, of course, then there is the question of what constitutes “normal use”. In reality, the way that most cars are driven probably fits the definition of “severe service”, thus indicating the need to change oil more frequently than is listed for “normal use”.

In my opinion, unless a car is driven almost exclusively in highway driving situations, it is prudent to err on the side of caution and to change oil at least as often as specified by the car’s manufacturer. If someone is planning on getting rid of a car in just a few years, an extended interval may not matter, but for those of us who keep our cars for many years, being a bit more cautious with oil change intervals is prudent–IMHO. As my friend, mountainbike says, “Oil is relatively cheap, and engines are very expensive”.

Bud–Your statement–“If time was important then a car sitting on the dealer’s lot for 12 months should have the oil changed twice, even though it has not been driven”–indicates a fundamental lack of understanding of combustion’s effects on motor oil, coupled with other negative factors such as the damage that can be done by a lot of short-trip driving when the engine rarely gets up to operating temperature.

In other words, there is a VAST difference between what happens to the motor oil in a car that sits without being started and one that is driven. I REALLY think that you need to open up that glove compartment, take out the booklet containing the mfr’s maintenance schedule, and read all of the details, including the many definitions of “severe service”, as well as focusing on the “whichever comes first” factors for servicing your cars.

If you came to this site for honest opiniions from people with experience in this issue, that is great. On the other hand, if you just want to get approval for your rationalizations that are not reality-based, then you came to the wrong place.

Stick around, and you will see myriad posts from people who experienced serious problems with their vehicles because of “deferred maintenance”.

Chrysler: Every 6 months

Every 6 months…You mean to tell me that if I owned this vehicle I’d be changing my oil ever 24k miles…Somethings not right. I no of no oil that will last 24k miles.