Oil change intervals when not driving frequently

If you drive less than 6000 or maybe even less than 3000 miles a year, how often should one change the oil on the car? Or don’t bother with time interval but mileage as recommended for the make and model? I’m not sure there’s a recommendation for time on the make & model, I’ll check sometime.

Car in question is a Hyundai Accent 2009

Toyota says 5k miles or 1 year for my Camry.

Change by time. Rule of thumb is 6 months for dino oil, one year for synthetics.

So you still have the owners manual? The change interval will be in there, and should include a max time. If you don’t have the manual, you probably can download it at the Hyundai URL.

The last time I changed the oil in my 79 was two years ago…and two years prior to that as well.
elapsed miles at each oil change…1000 miles.
It sits in the driveway impatiently awaiting our next load from Home Depot.

The brand new oil in the container from the store is already many millions of years old. If it looks good on the dipstick, it probably is good.

I drive my 89 Mustang GT less that 2000 miles a year. When it does go out its for a 50 mile round trip drive to a bi weekly car show, and a few short drives around town…I change it every December around Christmas time. After 9 months ( checked it last week ) the oil still looks clean on the stick. Being in hot FL I run 15w-40 for the past 25 years…and ethanol free 89 gas. Have it since new. Does not burn a drop.

Once per year out of warranty. If you are first owner check maintenance schedule & your warranty. They used to do 10yr/100,000 mile on powertrain for primary owner.

IMHO, there is a major difference between these two scenarios:

A car that is driven infrequently–but is driven for at least 40 minutes at highway speed when it is driven
A car that is driven infrequently–but is driven in mostly local driving when it is driven.

If the car is no longer under warranty, and if scenario #1 describes the car’s usage, then changing the oil once per year is probably sufficient. However, if the warranty is still in effect, this schedule will likely void the warranty.

If scenario #2 is a more accurate description of how this car is used, then I would advise changing the oil twice per year.

My view is similar to VDCdriver’s.

Over the course of each month when it has been driven, if the car has at least one hour of highway driving, then I’d change it once per year.

But if it is primarily local driving, then I’d change it twice per year.

Close the barn door already ! This horse left years ago.

Thanks for the comments. As for voiding the warranty, the car manufacturer will ask for oil change records? Say what if you don’t keep records (or keep them well)? But I guess this issue is only for when engine/powertrain issues come up?

Yes, a car manufacturer can legitimately deny any warranty claims that may be related to maintenance on whatever item is problematic if records are not provided.

Even a DIYer should keep a log book with dates and mileages noted along with the saving of receipts for fluids, filters, and so on.


I agree with VDC’s post too that how the vehicle is used matters. Vehicles that are taken for a good drive when they’re used stay cleaner inside than vehicles only occasionally used and only for very short trips.

The problem is that the parts inside are designed and manufactured to fit together optimally at full operating temperature. That’s when the cylinders are at their optimal seal, meaning less blowby past the rings.
And that’s also when the crankcase is warm enough to be carrying any moisture that gets in there (and it does, because your engine makes water vapor) up to the cavity under the valvecover to be drawn back into the engine via the crankcase ventilation system.
In addition, when the engine is cold the ECU ignores the oxygen sensor and allows it to run rich, whereas when it’s warm it’s metered to near perfection… no excess fuel going in.

The bottom line is that engines only used occasionally for short trips can end up with more contaminated and diluted oil over a given timeframe than engines taken for a good drive when they’re used. More frequent changes are definitely prudent.

@bustedknuckles agrees with the manufacturer of the cars I have exactly. One car uses synthetic and it calls for 10k or one year and the other is in a free two year oil change service with non synthetic at 5k or six months according to the brochures they mail out. Though some including myself may not be quite ready for the 10k, the times seem quite reasonable.

On my seldom used car I change oil and filter once a year. Last year I had 7 miles on it. I’d change twice a year if you are doing 3-6K a year. I keep good records of the date and mileage any work is done. I usually do my own oil changes so on the cars still under warranty, I keep the receipts for oil and filters. Its pretty obvious if changes have been done or not.

There’s another forum (which I’m not a member of) and a couple of years ago there was a complaint on there from a lady whose purchased from brand new Nissan Altima suffered a catastrophic engine failure at 15k miles due to engine sludge.

She was irate because Nissan denied warranty and she had no records of any oil changes. Several posters asked her about how often she changed oil in the car and she stated “Never”.
She was informed that this entire debacle was all her fault and she had no one to blame but herself.

She did not want to hear it. It’s Nissan’s fault, they build junk engines, and even had the audacity to state that even if she never changed the oil the engine should not fail due to lack of. She will also never buy another Nissan, etc, etc, etc.

So if anyone is in favor of extended oil changes keep this one in mind.

That this lady did not follow the manufacturers recomendation seems the “worse” she could do. If the manufacturer had recomended 15k oil changes with the oil type she had in it, you could understand…a little. But no one does ! There must have been some regulars pulling their hair out. ;-()

One follow up question, though maybe should go as new thread but it’s related to the original post. Manufacturers typically state change at X miles or Y months/interval, whichever is sooner. Is that really the best advice, or depending on condition of oil when checked, you can stretch it for “whichever is later”.

I read it made more sense with old cars years back, but newer model cars are designed better that you don’t need to change oil as frequently unless driving conditions are severe.

For my current car that I drive regularly, a 2006 Suzuki, I’m taking the later option, which ends up being ~3k per 6 months / ~6k/yr. And I’m just doing the regular oil change option, not specifically synthetic.

My late mother-in-law had this driving pattern. She changed oil and filter spring and fall, only going 2000 mile or so between changes. However the service station checked the car over for her at no cost. She never had a problem.

One of our cars only covers 4000 miles per year. We change at 4000 because the car is always garaged and gets a good workout on a regular basis.

When your car is under warranty it makes sense to follow the schedule for time as outlined on the owner’s manual