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Oil Change time frames

The sticker you get after having an oil change showes DATE or Mileage. My questions is should whichever is later be used for oil change? My husband said you would use which comes up first. If a car sits in the garage and is not driven why would you use the date and not the mileage. I feel you could use whichever comes last.

Please advise!


It’s whichever comes first. However, go by your owner’s manual rather than the sticker. It’s common to base the sticker on 3,000 miles between changes, when in fact most cars today are 5,000 miles, some even more.

No, it has always been “whichever comes first”. The majority of cars that accumulate mileage slowly do so because they are driven only for short trips–which is the absolute worst type of usage that a car can be given. If your car is under warranty, then you have to perform maintenance according the the mfr’s maintenance schedule, which also adheres to “whichever comes first”.

If your car is no longer under warranty, then feel free to use whatever maintenance schedule you feel comfortable with. However, if that rare usage of your car is indeed for just short trips, I would advise you to adhere to the “whichever comes first” proviso for the sake of the car’s longevity. Cheaping out on maintenance is almost always more expensive in the long run when repairs are necessitated by poor maintenance.

In most cases your husband would be right. The time formula is based on a car being driven daily, usually 2-4 trips a day. A trip is a start up, drive, shut down. You’d have two per day just going to work, probably 4 if you take the car to lunch or run an errand after work. The shutdowns are what cause the most wear on the oil, not the engine running. Engine running does cause some wear on the oil so the time or miles, which ever comes first is the general rule.

The exception is the car that is not driven frequently. An example would be my pickup truck. I usually only use it on weekends, one or two trips a week, so I only change my oil in that vehicle about once a year.