Checking the oil on a Toyota vehicle here in Westbury, NY.

How Often Should You Be Changing Your Oil?

Posted at Fri, Aug 9, 2019 9:00 AM

At one point in time, the question of how often you need to change the oil in your vehicle was met with a standard answer: Roughly every 3,000 miles. Nowadays, however, the answer to that question varies, based in large part on changes made to engines over the years, as well as the type of oil being used. Driving habits and frequency, as well as the age and make of your vehicle, also come into consideration when it comes to how often oil changes need to happen. For the Toyota driver that may not be all that maintenance savvy, we here at Westbury Toyota have got you covered; we’ve listed the best approaches for oil changes regardless of what kind of vehicle you’re driving.

An Easy Answer for Owners of Newer Cars

If you’re driving a newer Toyota vehicle, the best way to check when you need to change your oil is by reading the owner’s manual. Some people tend to make assumptions based on previous vehicles they’ve owned, but that’s not advised because every vehicle runs differently. Adhere to the guidelines in the owner’s manual and don’t worry because even if you forget, most newer cars have monitors that will notify you once it’s time for an oil change.

Older Cars and Different Driving Habits

In the event that your Toyota is an older model, the recommendation for when you should change your oil changes, explains the writers of Angie’s List. If you have fairly typical driving habits and your vehicle is a 2008 or newer model, it’s strongly recommended that your oil be changed every six months or every 7,500 miles (whichever comes first). For cars from or older than 2007, that recommendation is every six months or 5,000 miles (again, whichever comes first). These recommendations change a bit with less typical driving habits, which include:

  • Towing or hauling heavy loads
  • Off-road driving
  • Driving in dusty, dirty conditions
  • Driving long distances at low speeds
  • Excessive idling

Driving habits such as these dictate oil change frequencies as follows: For vehicles 2008 or newer, every 5,000 miles or six months and for vehicles 2007 or older, every 3,000 miles or three months.

Do You Need to Change the Oil Frequently If You Don’t Drive That Often?

It’s a common misconception that the less often you drive your vehicle, the less often the oil needs to be changed. That’s not true, explains Patrick Olsen of Consumer Reports, because the oil needs to be kept fresh regardless of how often your car’s being used. Even if you drive your car only once or twice a week, it’s still a good idea to have the oil changed at least two times a year. The reason for this necessity is that oil loses its efficiency as it ages, which can have a detrimental impact on the engine over time.

Synthetic Oil or Conventional Oil?

If you’re taking your car into the shop for oil changes, the technicians will know what type of oil to use based on the make and model. If you’re a do-it-yourself type of vehicle owner and prefer to do the oil changes yourself, you’ll need to know what type of oil to use. There will be a manufacturer recommendation in the owner’s manual for most modern vehicles. Conventional oil is a choice that many people go with because it’s cheaper than synthetic oil, but synthetic oil is usually a better choice for a couple of reasons.

  • Temperature extremes: If you live in an area that experiences extremes in cold or hot weather, synthetic oil is going to be the better choice.
  • A lot of hauling and/or towing: Synthetic oil holds its efficiency for longer than conventional oil, which makes it a better choice for vehicles that are doing a lot of heavy duty work.
  • Sludge: Some vehicles, older ones in particular, have issues with sludge build up over time. Synthetic oil helps to reduce the accumulation and creation of sludge, which is beneficial to the engine.

Keeping Up with Oil Maintenance

As we’ve explained above, keeping up with oil maintenance in your Toyota is paramount to keeping your car or truck running in smoothly. It’s not hard to do if you stick to the recommended guidelines, and with newer cars you’ll even be given a reminder as to when it’s time to change the oil. Ensuring that the oil is changed regularly will keep your Toyota's engine in good working order and lengthen the lifespan of your car overall.

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