do i need to change my car’s oil every 3,000 miles?

You nervously glance at the windshield sticker your mechanic meticulously placed as a glaring reminder that you should get your car's oil changed every few months. The time seems to be nearing for another visit to the shop, but your ride is still purring like a kitten. So what — if anything — should you do?

the 3,000-mile myth

If you're starting to wonder if the 3,000-mile mark is pretty arbitrary nowadays, you'd be correct. The thing is, this wasn't always a myth: there was a time when the 3,000-mile rule was a pretty good indicator of when your vehicle might need an oil change. However, the past few decades have seen huge strides in oil technology that significantly lengthen the intervals between changes — thus making the 3,000-mile axiom virtually obsolete.

The myth sticks for several reasons — the most prevalent probably lending to the simple fact that many of us have had the 3,000-mile "rule" engrained in us from the moment we got behind the wheel.

But why is it so prevalent? Well, not all drivers check their car owner's manual for the manufacturer's recommendation for their specific make and model. Instead, they rely on the 3,000-mile reminder sticker placed on the windshield by the service center (which is more than happy to welcome back frequent customers!).

how often should I change my oil?

Even many older cars can be driven between 5,000 and 15,000 miles before needing an oil change, according to CalRecycle, a state agency that promotes the importance of reducing waste.

As long as you don't drive under severe conditions on a regular basis, adhering to your automaker's recommended interval will not damage your car's engine, decrease its performance, or affect your warranty.

Plus, in case you had any question, CalRecycle offers a useful tool that allows you to check the oil change interval for most cars built since 2000.

modern oil technology

Most makers of 2013 (and newer) models recommend an oil change every 7,500 to 10,000 miles, with Jaguar topping the list at a recommended interval of 15,000 miles on all of its 2013 models. There are a few contributing factors to this incredible increase in oil longevity over recent years:

  • Oil-life monitoring systems: Based on some pretty spectacular technology, these systems are designed to notify you when your car needs an oil change based on the way you drive your car and the road conditions it encounters. The majority of 2013 and newer vehicles sold in the U.S. now incorporate these monitors.
  • More automakers are using synthetic oil: Designed to perform better under extremely high temperatures without breaking down or wearing on the engine, synthetic oil tends to increase the interval at which your ride needs a change.
  • Advanced engineering: Most modern engines have smaller gaps between their moving metal parts, which helps to decrease the amount of oil flow required to maintain lubrication between the bearing and shaft.

we have your back, too

Knowledge is power, but it won't help you if your car's broken down in the middle of nowhere. Luckily, emergency road service coverage from Esurance can help pay for a tow if your ride runs out of oil, gas, or water — plus it provides a multitude of other essential roadside services should you ever need them. And that's no myth!

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