You can skip cleaning your car for a day, you can even over-run your car for a few hundred kilometers after the tread depth just recedes beyond the 1.5 mm safe limit, and you can even think of finding your way to the petrol pump on the last few drops of petrol/diesel. However taking chances with the engine oil has to be avoided at all costs. But how does define ‘taking chances’ in case of engine oil? To simplify that, we tell you when you should change your vehicle’s engine oil, depending on your driving style and conditions:
City traffic and/or a heavy right foot
Traffic is a potential disaster for cars because not only do you waste fuel without moving anywhere, the stop and go trend means the engine has to do a considerable amount of work, too. If your commute is limited to city limits and more often than not if you’re fighting your way out of traffic, the engine is being strained quite a bit. That means to keep it in shape, an oil change slightly earlier than what the manufacturer prescribes is the way to go. The same applies to those who drive rough, with big bursts of acceleration all the time.
Mixed traffic and less heavy right foot (Average)
By mixed traffic, it means there’s a variation, and your car gets some breathing space. For instance, if you drive about 60 % of the time in light city traffic and the rest on the highway, all at optimum speeds, your car is getting a good deal. This also means the engine isn’t just being strained, so sticking to the manufacturer’s mentioned oil change interval is right thing. Gentle inputs ensure that the engine isn’t being worked too hard, while occasional highway runs (as long as you’re in the speed limit and not necessarily hitting the redline in the rev counter) can give your vehicle the much needed break.
Low monthly mileage
If your vehicle’s service is more dependent on the time elapsed than the KMs run, it’s easy to decipher that your monthly mileage isn’t too high. Also, this means since your car is doing less work than usual, you can extend changing the engine oil a little (by a 1,000 Kms). Also, such users can stick to mineral or semi-synthetic oil rather than opting for the much more expensive full synthetic oil.
If you’re running any sort of performance upgrades or you do a lot of high speed driving, it’s absolutely necessary to reduce the engine oil change interval by 1,000-2,000 Kms. The manufacturer’s rated time period is for the standard car with a usual running pattern. Any deviation from the ‘standard’ part needs to be looked into, which is why a lot of enthusiasts stick to synthetic engine oils.
Synthetic engine oil
They’re bound to last longer and can also withstand higher stress. On the flipside, if you’re someone who sticks to the oil change interval mentioned in the owner’s manual only, then adopting to synthetic oil could be more harmful on the wallet without any actual benefit.
Who should opt for synthetic oils?
1. People with extensively modified cars.
2. People who drive hard, at both low and high speeds.
3. People whose cars spend most time in stop-go traffic.
4. People who want a higher oil change interval.
5. People with deeper pockets.
Should you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations?
First you need to understand that the predefined intervals are set in a way that it covers most owners who use their cars for everyday purposes (trackdays, ultra-long road trips, etc. aren’t included) – so for everyday driving they are okay. Second, leaving the performance upgraded cars and those living in extreme weather conditions aside, sticking to the oil grade prescribed by the carmaker is the right thing to do.
And what about the oil filter?
It’s not a very costly part to replace and should ideally last you slightly longer than an oil change. What must be kept in mind here is that even the new oil goes through the old filter, so if the old oil was dirty, the filter must have been dirty as well. So, replacing the oil filter every time you replace the oil is recommended.