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Is It OK to Drive When You Need an Oil Change?

It can seem like every time you hop in your car that the “change oil” reminder pops up on the screen. At first, it acts as a polite reminder that it’s almost time to get your oil changed.

However, after a few more miles, the reminder turns into a more aggressive demand.

So, is it okay to drive when you need an oil change? Let’s see.

How Often Should Oil Be Changed?

We’re always told to change our oil every 3,000 miles for decades. Due to the advancements in technology, manufacturers have pushed this back in recent years. Depending on the vehicle, some recommend oil changes every 7,000 miles to 10,000 miles. 

It’s important to note that many quick lube and other oil change locations still recommend changing our oil every 3,000 miles.

However, we recommend that you follow your manufacturer’s recommendations and not a company directly profiting from every oil change they do. The more you change the oil, the better it is for their pocketbooks. 

Pro Tip: Don’t know what to do with your oil after you change it? We uncovered Can You Dispose of Used Motor Oil at Walmart?

Is It OK to Drive When You Need an Oil Change?

Oil keeps your engine lubricated and ensures it’s able to function optimally. We strongly recommend that you follow the routine maintenance schedule of your vehicle.

However, we get that life happens, and oil changes typically never come at the most convenient times.

If you have to drive your vehicle for a couple of hundred miles past the maintenance schedule, you’re not likely to have any issues. It typically only becomes an issue if you’re running low on oil or pushing it to thousands of miles past the maintenance schedule.

By catching issues early, you can save yourself a significant repair bill down the road.

Couple driving old truck
Changing your oil might seem tedious, but it is necessary to keep your engine running smoothly.

Can You Drive With Oil Change Light On?

When your oil change light comes on, you need to change it soon. You can drive a few hundred miles before any problems or damage might start occurring.

However, if the light is coming on due to low oil pressure, you could ruin your vehicle’s engine. If you’ve never had to replace a vehicle’s engine, it’s much more expensive than a simple oil change. 

How Long Can I Go Without An Oil Change?

A typical vehicle can go anywhere from 5,000 miles to 7,500 miles before needing an oil change. However, we see some vehicles with oil change intervals every 10,000 miles to 15,000 miles. You’ll likely want to reduce the intervals between oil changes if you’re towing heavy loads or constantly battling stop-and-go traffic. 

Oil changes are a rather budget-friendly maintenance task that can save you thousands of dollars in repairs. It would be better to err on the side of caution and change your oil too often versus not enough.

Pro Tip: Do you use your vehicle to tow your RV? It’s important to know Should You Change Oil Sooner If You’ve Been Towing? We uncovered the truth for you!

Do I Need to Change Oil If I Don’t Drive Much?

Even if you’re not logging thousands of miles on your car, you should change your oil a few times each year. This helps ensure the oil in your engine is fresh and doesn’t break down.

Oil that breaks down can cause issues for your engine and result in damage. So even if you’re not driving regularly, you should still have your oil changed every six months.

Father and son changing oil on vehicle.
Typically after 5,000 to 7,500 miles you will need to change your oil.

How Much Does An Oil Change Cost?

The cost of an oil change will vary depending on the type of vehicle. Trucks use much more oil than cars, so oil changes naturally cost more.

If you take your car to a quick lube location, you can typically expect to pay $30 to $50 for an oil change. However, if you’re driving a large diesel truck, it can be upwards of $150 to $200, especially if you take it to a dealership service center.

Can Car Oil Expire?

Automotive oil typically has a shelf-life of around five years. Some synthetic oils and blends can last seven or eight years. However, the lifespan of car oil will also greatly depend on the environmental conditions where it’s stored. Harsh conditions and extreme heat can cause oil to break down prematurely and shorten its life.

Can I Do an Oil Change Myself?

If you have the right tools, you can change your oil yourself. The process will vary depending on the type of vehicle and the engine type. However, due to the marvelous world of YouTube, there’s a good chance someone’s made a video that can teach you how to do it.

Doing your oil changes yourself can save you a few bucks and help you avoid unnecessarily sitting at the mechanic shop. If you don’t have the tools or space to do it, the financial savings isn’t that much to just pay the professionals.

How often do you change the oil in your vehicles? Tell us in the comments!

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