Oil change frequency

Many people have differing views about “when” to change oil. I drive 1000 miles per year which includes 3 - 4 trips to the store each week. Some people say I should change my oil yearly, some say twice each year. Please give me your wonderful opinion. I enjoyed the show this am…“muffler art???” I have been a loyal fan since the beginning. You brighten my day with your laughter and great information. drfrankl

The type of driving that you do is the absolute worst type for your car, and as a result, you should be using the Severe Service maintenance schedule listed in your Owner’s Manual. Likely, it will tell you to change the oil every six months under the conditions that you noted, but I will defer to the statement in the Severe Service schedule, as that was written by the engineers who designed your engine.

If you don’t know why this type of driving is very hard on a car, I will explain.
One of the byproducts of combustion is water vapor. When an engine is warmed-up fully, this water is evaporated. However, when a car is subjected to only very short-trip drives, the engine never warms up fully, this water is not evaporated, and the water winds up diluting the motor oil and accumulating in the exhaust system. The result is poor lubrication of the sensitive bearings in your engine and early failure of the exhaust system from rust. Another effect is shortened battery life as a result of insufficient charging of the battery during short runs.

One of the best things that you could do for your car would be to take it out on the highway for at least 30 minutes, once each week. That would help greatly to ameliorate the effects noted above. However, you should still adhere to the Severe Service maintenance schedule listed in the Owner’s Manual.

Don’t ask me when to change it. Pull out the owner’s manual and follow the instructions there. If it really bothers you and you don’t like their advice, go ahead and change it more often, but never less.

Be sure to read the part about which ever comes first (miles or months) and severe service change schedule.

If you can’t find a manual, check with the dealer and see if he can get you one.

You can also check here to download a manual free:

Thanks everyone. I appreciate your replies and will take your advice. I will most certainly go for an extended drive at least once each week. I have my manual out and will follow those instructions as to oil change frequency. Thanks again.

I change my oil every 6 months or 6,000 miles, only because that is easier to remember- my Subie is 7 1/2 months or 7500 miles, the Bronco is 6 months/6,000 miles- if I forget, once a year is okay- I mean, oil is a LOT better than it was in 1960- as well as cars being built quite a bit better (in comparison, my 1958 VW Beetle needed oil changes & valve adjustments every 3 months/ 3,000 miles!)- on this same subject: Click & Clack were doing an experiment, where they NEVER changed the oil on a car- they just kept adding new oil, when it was burned or lost- as far as I know, nothing bad happened- my point is: unless you own a Ferrari, you could probably drive a year or 12,000 miles, with no ill-effects on your motor- new cars and new oils are that good!

Thanks for the follow-up. My CRV has 66K miles and looks new. I believe you are correct about the new oils and I like your advice. Have a great weekend!

Not exactly. Oil quality may have improved but the oil still gets contaminated no matter how good it is and your type of driving would be what I consider very severe, not severe.

The air filter does not stop all of the dust entering the engine and all of that dust does not vaporize and exit the exhaust. Some of it is forced past the piston rings.
Oil is also contaminated by moisture. Extended driving will burn this off. Short hop driving and low miles per year never burns all of this moisture off.
A cold engine is usually running a bit richer than a warm one so the engine oil is also going to have more contaminants from the combustion processes.