8 Oil Change Myths

A motor oil tank.

Knowing how and when to change the oil in a car is one of the first things you learn when you start driving. While changing the oil is important for the maintenance and longevity of your engine, there are many myths surrounding the art of the oil change. Here are the eight you should know before you swap out your car’s oil.

Myth 1: Change Your Oil Every 3,000 Miles

There was a time when it was recommended to change your car’s oil every 3,000 miles, but that is not the case anymore. Engine technology and oil manufacturing have come a long way in the past 30 years, and most auto manufacturers recommend oil changes between 7,500 and 10,000 miles, according to Edmunds. There are even some cars that can push that number to 15,000 miles.

Myth 2: You Don’t Have To Change Your Oil Anymore

Just because you do not have to change your oil every 3,000 miles does not mean you never have to. Over time, the oil in your engine will lose its ability to properly lubricate metal surfaces. When that happens, parts will rub together and begin to break down. Avoid this by following the manufacturer’s recommendation for when you need to change the oil.

Myth 3: The “W” Stands for Weight

Changing the car oil.

When you go to buy new motor oil, most people think the “W” in 10W-20 means weight. But in reality, that “W” is actually short for winter. The first part of the number represents the viscosity of the oil in cold weather while the rest is how well it flows when warmed up.

Myth 4: Once You Go Synthetic You Cannot Go Back

Another big myth in the oil industry is that once you put synthetic oil in your engine you can never return to normal oil. This is simply not true. As long as you are putting the correct type of oil in the engine you can switch between synthetic and petroleum-based varieties without any issues.

Myth 5: You Should Use A Dealer To Change Your Oil

A lot of people think that you have to go to the dealer to get an oil change to avoid warranty issues. While the dealer may know more about your specific vehicle than an ordinary shop, you will not void the warranty by taking it elsewhere. As long as you keep records of when you had the oil changed, you will be good to go.

Myth 6: Dark Oil Means You Need To Change It

Fresh oil is usually amber in color and some people advise changing it when it turns dark. But just because the oil in your car is black does not mean that it needs to be changed. Oil will turn dark as it lubricates the engine. This simply means that it is doing its job. Instead, change out the oil per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Myth 7: Synthetic Oil Is Always The Better Option And Improves Gas Mileage

Motor oil.

It is true that synthetic oil is less viscous than petroleum-based oils and is generally superior. But the margin between the two is fairly small and purchasing the more expensive synthetic oil may not be worth the price. There is little evidence to support the idea that synthetic oil improves fuel efficiency. If you are on a budget, spending that extra cash for synthetic is probably unnecessary.

Myth 8: Always Change Your Oil Prior To A Road Trip

It is a good idea to check the oil before you go on a prolonged road trip. But changing the oil may not be required. If your car will need an oil change during the trip then it is better to get it done ahead of time. But if the miles do not put you over the limit then your car will be fine on the trip. If you have to change the oil, consider doing it at least a week in advance to ensure everything is running properly.