There are tons of different opinions out there about oil changes! Many car manufacturers say you can go 10,000 or even 20,000 miles between oil changes, especially with synthetic oil. However, I recommend going against that trend and sticking to the tried-and-true oil change schedule.

You should change your synthetic oil every 3,000 miles, regardless of what the manufacturer recommends (unless they say to change it more often. Changing your oil every 3,000 miles will not only keep the oil operating as it should, but it will also help you catch more significant issues that you may not have otherwise, such as oil leaks, damage to the underbody, and other more extensive problems.

Ultimately, oil changes have become the primary time that most people take their vehicle in for maintenance, and pushing that out further than needed gives more possibility for bigger concerns to go unnoticed.

With that said, let’s dig into what affects how often you should change your oil.

1. Synthetic Oil Type

Much like everything else in the world, synthetic oils come in all different types and brands. You will want to always read through the documentation of the bottle and your car’s manual to determine how best to handle oil changes. 

If you are going to stick to something other than the 3,000-mile increment we talked about earlier, at least follow the lower mileage recommendation from the manual or the oil bottle.

2. Your oil filter matters

If you hope to extend and optimize your oil, the filter you install matters more than many other aspects. The last thing you want is a bad seal, or a low-quality oil filter, as both can cause leaks and blockage (driving more significant issues down the road). 

You can generally count on a more expensive oil filter to handle the flow of oil better, get a bit more life out of your oil, and keep your engine running better.

3. Driving habits have a significant impact.

The breakdown of oil is caused primarily by continuous changes in amounts of heat. Driving erratically, constantly being in stop-and-go traffic, or making sudden stops and starts will cause oil to heat up and lower in temperature frequently. 

This then causes the oil to break down and lose its lubricating characteristics. If you drive this way, you should count on changing your oil more regularly than someone that doesn’t.

4. Your vehicle age

Older vehicles tend to have more build-up on the inside of the engine, and they run less efficiently than new vehicles. Because of this, oil breaks down or becomes contaminated more quickly than you would find in a more modern car.

If you have an older vehicle, I recommend changing your oil more often than the vehicle manufacturer recommends when new.

5. Towing trailers heat oil

As discussed earlier, engine oil breaks down when the oil is run at a higher temperature, and towing will heat your engine considerably more than most other activities.

The heavier the load, the more heat is generated in your engine, and this means you should look at getting an oil change more often. Remember, gas and diesel engines run on contained explosions, which generate heat—the more explosions, the more heat, and the more breakdown occurs between oil changes.

6. The Oil’s Age

While most people think about mileage as the main factor when it comes to oil changes, the age of the oil is also a significant factor. After 6 to 12 months of being used in a vehicle, regardless of the mileage on the car, you should get your oil changed. 

This will not only get you fresh viscosity in your aged oil but will be a great time to check if any gaskets of dried and lost their sealing capabilities as well during that time.

4 Ways To Know You Need An Oil Change

There are several ways to know if it is time to change your oil!

  1. The oil looks dirty or is challenging to see through
  2. You can smell the burning scent of the oil
  3. The oil level does not display within the acceptable level on your dipstick
  4. The oil change light is lit up on your dash (do not rely on this light)

Frequently Asked Questions

What is synthetic oil?

Synthetic oil is still made from crude oil; however, it has been chemically modified from its original form to a more artificial compound than the regular oil you are used to.

Can you go back to regular oil after you have used synthetic?

While there was a rumor that you could not return to regular oil once you have used synthetic, it has come to light that this is a myth. You can efficiently utilize regular oil after using synthetic. High-mileage oils are a mixture of traditional oil and synthetic oil.

What is a synthetic blend oil?

A synthetic blend is usually found in high-mileage marketed oils; these will give you a higher mileage between oil changes and gives you a lot of benefits from both types of oil.

How much does synthetic oil cost?

Synthetic oil is generally more expensive than regular oil; however, its benefits typically pay off in the long term. For the synthetic alternative, you can count on a $40 bottle of regular oil to cost around $50.


While synthetic oil does promise lengthier times and mileage between oil changes, I recommend sticking to the 3,000-mile interval between oil swaps! This will help you catch any issues, such as low oil levels, leaks, and other concerns, before they become a bigger problem.