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Oil change intervals for a car rarely used

How often should the oil be changed if the car is driven less than 200 miles per year?

200 miles per year? You should sell the car and cancel the insurance. Take a cab or Uber, it would be much cheaper and no repairs or maintenance.


Once a year


No clouds, just blue sky today.

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Agree 100%. Owning this car makes no sense what-so-ever.

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Once a year. Just to remove the moisture that accumulates in the oil in a car that isn’t driven much.

I won’t make judgments about ownership. You’ve already made that decision. Good Luck!

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That was my best guess.

If there’s planned long stretch of non-use, I’d change the oil just before then, right after a full warm-up drive.

Miles are really not the keyword here. In your unique case it is all about time. Oil does lubricate engine components and does last a while but it does wear down and start to deteriorate and gunk up over time due to its ingredients. Without getting into a full on chemistry calls if you are not meeting the suggested miles and your car sits a lot I would strongly urge at least every six months minimum to maintain your vehicle and prevent any buildup or bad oil issues. Also if you only put that few an amount of miles at least make sure once a week to fire the old engine up and let her run for 10-15 minutes just to keep everything greased and working. A car sitting with all them fluids and not being used is just like a persons veins full of fat things will start to clog or gunk up and then even the best cars can see issues from limited use.

Why do people assume this is this person’s only car? I have numerous hobby cars that get very limited usage, some less than this! The insurance cost reflects the extreme low mileage put on them but regardless, maybe this person can afford the luxury of a car that gets very little usage…telling them to sell the car is not answering the question and assumes a lot…

Personally, I change the oil in those cars of mine once per year if they get driven at all.


I know a fellow who owns an old fire truck. Maybe is driven a few miles every year in local parades. In fact, he let me drive it in one.

Exactly. It could be an extra car or a hobby car with use limited to car shows and parades. I also think a 12 month oil change would be fine. Other things would be battery charge, fuel going bad, and tires with like new tread deteriorating from age.

Does your owner’s manual list a time interval as well as a mileage interval? If so, that’s your answer.

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Exactly, TwinTurbo. I drove to college in a 1970 Chevelle. Graduated in the late 70’s. Stored for many years after that. I’m sure glad I didn’t sell it after getting several cars since.

We don’t have Uber here and barely have a bus for seniors trying to get to the grocery store. So having another car around for a couple hundred a year was not a big problem for me. If one car went down for a few days, a rental can get pretty expensive. If you are attached to the car, and not worth much, it can have some value taking up garage space.

At any rate on mine, I would change oil and filter once a year. One year I had 7 miles on the car. Of course it’s in car heaven now, or part of a new Ford, who knows?

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I’m of the opinion that families that can comfortably afford to do so, should have a spare car. It doesn’t have to be high end, or even look nice. But it should be reliable, for those times when the main car is in the shop, for whatever reason(s)


That’s for those that have parking space for the second car. Those of us who live in cities don’t have that option. Plus the thousand dollars for insurance is another problem, not to count taxes.

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It has been about 10 years since my wife and I had 2 cars. In that time I have had to leave my car in the shop one time for 5 days for collision work. My insurance paid for the rental but even if they didn’t, it would be far cheaper than paying insurance, registration, repairs and maintenance on a second car for 10 years.
Besides, if I had 2 cars in my one car driveway, I would want to keep the “good” car in the garage. That would require constant shuffling of the cars and if the old one broke down it would be blocking the one in the garage.

I would recommend ever 1-1.5 years.

Does the car get driven 1/4 mile at a time or 200 miles at a time? If 1/4 mile at a time, that is tons harder on the oil and the rest of the car than all 200 miles at once or 100 miles twice a year.

I would actually be curious and send off for an oil analysis. The oil might still be good after a year and have lots of life left on it. Statistically, this would be an outlier. It doesn’t match any normal pattern of usage anyone is used to. If the miles are all put on at once or two long trips, I wouldn’t be surprised if you could go longer than a year. If all the moisture and acids from combustion are burned off, then I don’t see storing oil with 200 miles on it to be much of an issue. Get an oil analysis and find out how long it really can go. You may be surprised. It may be 3-5 years. Without knowing, I would do once a year or every year and a half.