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How Often Should I Get an Oil Change?

Male mechanic performing an oil-change to a car for maintenance

For generations, the question of when to get an oil change had an easy answer: every 3,000 miles. This was the magic number that was not only widely accepted, but seemed to be ingrained in everyone’s mind. In recent years, however, auto experts have sought to counter the notion that every car must get an oil change every 3,000 miles.

The new recommendation is not a “one size fits all” number. Auto experts are now saying that you should consult your owner’s manual to determine when you need to get an oil change. This information is usually in the maintenance chapter of the manual. You may find that there are two service schedules listed – one designated for “normal” driving and another for “severe” driving conditions. Based on your driving habits, follow the recommendation that applies to you.

If you happen to drive a newer car, there’s a chance it may be equipped with an oil life monitoring system, a new technology that notifies you when it’s time to get an oil change. These systems rely on various sensors in your car to determine when exactly you need an oil change.

The days of relying on a windshield sticker to remind you to get an oil change are over. In case your car is missing its owner’s manual, don’t worry. CalRecycle (California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery) has a very handy database to help you look up the recommended oil change intervals for your car. To check your number, visit By knowing when to get an oil change, you’ll not only save money on service costs, but you’ll do the environment a favor, too.

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