Nothing will shorten your car's engine life faster than missed oil changes. Changing motor oil is a simple, inexpensive service that’s widely touted as the single most important part of your car’s maintenance schedule.
Motor oil’s primary function is to cut friction. Over time, oil accumulates contaminants and loses viscosity and the resulting friction causes engine parts to rub together. Parts wear out faster and the damage caused is largely irreversible without an engine overhaul or replacement.
But advances in technology and increased consumer awareness have created some confusion regarding the proper interval between oil changes. So, how often should you change your oil? It really comes down to the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule for oil change intervals as their guidelines are designed to keep your car in good running condition for a long time. To make life easier, car manufacturers now have computerized maintenance reminders on your car’s dashboard and, for the most part, these reminders tend to be reliable.
The type of driving you do also affects your oil change needs. Frequent cold starts, extreme heat, and towing are all examples of driving that can shorten the life of motor oil. Also, repeated short trips is one of the most overlooked enemies of oil life which can shorten your service interval by 25-40% depending on the severity.
Finally, don’t buy cheap motor oil. If you have opted for something inferior, you may be adversely affecting the manufacturer’s recommendation.