When it comes to motor oil, the times, they are changing. It used to be that drivers were told to change their oil every three months or 3,000 miles. But with more sophisticated vehicles and new oil formulations, this “one-size-fits-all” approach to how often to change oil may no longer apply. Let the experts at Jiffy Lube® explain three reasons why.
1. New technology. Digital dashboards have done more than change the way drivers read maps and play music. If your dashboard has a digital oil life monitor, it can quickly and conveniently keep you updated about your vehicle’s motor oil.
The oil life monitor measures how oil is circulating through the motor, lubricating the moving parts and picking up debris that has collected in the motor. A lower “oil life percentage” generally means that the additives have degraded, reducing the oil’s ability to help your motor run smooth and clean. The monitor indicates the quality of the oil, not the quantity, so a low number on your oil life monitor won’t always be reflected by a low reading on your oil dipstick.
When the percentage on the oil life monitor dips, consult your vehicle owner’s manual. It may be time to replace your motor oil. Or, consult a trained Jiffy Lube® technician, who can access your vehicle’s maintenance schedule and motor oil recommendation.
Remember, the oil life monitor is a “tool” and is not designed to indicate specifically how often to change oil. To find out when oil changes are recommended for your particular vehicle, refer to the vehicle owner’s manual. This will give you a specific time/mileage interval, so you won’t have to rely on the old “Three months/3000 miles” rule. When you reach the time/mileage the manufacturer recommends, get your oil changed — even if the dashboard “change oil” indicator isn’t illuminated, and your car is still running smooth and steady.
Think of the importance of an oil change this way: the manufacturer recommends at least how often to change oil, and it pays to pay attention. Literally. Skipping an oil change indicated by the manufacturer could:
Cause engine damage, leading to costly repairs
Risk voiding your new-vehicle warranty
If you can’t find your manual, or if you’re receiving confusing or conflicting messages from your digital dash, play it safe and ask a Jiffy Lube® technician for expert advice.
2. Different oils, different additives. Today there are four basic types of motor oil, and the one you choose can have an impact on how well your vehicle runs and how often you need an oil change.
Synthetic motor oil. This crude or natural oil is chemically engineered, so the molecules are more uniform in shape. This means synthetic oil tends to have fewer impurities than conventional oil. Synthetic oils are usually specially formulated with additives to enhance performance in extreme temperatures.
Synthetic blend motor oil. A mixture of synthetic and conventional oils, it can resist oxidation and rust better than conventional oil. This makes it a popular choice for driving in extreme cold or wet weather.
High-mileage motor oil. Formulated with additives that reduce oil burn-off and leaks, high-mileage oil was created for late-model vehicles or newer vehicles with over 75,000 miles.
Conventional motor oil. This oil often works best in vehicles with simple engine designs and drivers with normal, as opposed to severe, driving styles. (More on that below.)
Which one is right for your vehicle? For specifications, refer to your vehicle owner’s manual. In addition to the oil type, the manual will recommend a viscosity (or thickness). If you can’t find your vehicle owner’s manual, or if it gives you a choice of options, consult one of the trained technicians at Jiffy Lube®. After all, Jiffy Lube® is known for motor oil! Because the importance of oil choice is equal to the importance of oil change, most Jiffy Lube® locations use Pennzoil® products which meet or exceed manufacturer recommendations.
3. Changing driving conditions. Manufacturers traditionally put the average driver into one of two categories: “normal” and “severe.”
“Normal” drivers are considered those who drive in almost ideal conditions. They ride along on primarily flat surfaces in a near-equal mix of local and highway traffic, and drive through four seasons of typical weather.
Jiffy Lube® technicians talk to drivers every day and find that many — MANY! — fall into the “severe” category. You do, too, if you often find yourself:
Stuck in stop-and-go traffic
Taking multiple short trips in a day
Towing a boat or trailer, or carrying heavy items on your rooftop rack
Traveling over mountainous terrain
Driving near construction or on gravel roads, which can kick up a lot of dust
Behind the wheel for extended periods of extreme summer heat or frigid winter cold
Naturally, your driving style has an impact on your vehicle maintenance, including the frequency and importance of oil change. For those lucky drivers who fall into the “normal” category and motor around in ideal conditions, perhaps just changing your oil only when recommended by your vehicle manual is enough. However, drivers who fall into the “severe” category may find more frequent oil changes are required.
Many of us slide from “normal” to “severe” and back again. That’s why it’s a best practice to frequently check your oil level. Why not do it every time you fill up your gas tank? Here’s a refresher on how to check/refresh your oil:
Locate your oil dipstick - it’s usually marked with an orange or yellow handle.
Be sure your engine is not too hot to touch - if it is, wait until it cools off before you proceed.
Pull the dipstick out and wipe away the oil with a rag or paper towel
Return the dipstick to its original position and remove it again
If the oil level is below the FULL/MAX line, additional oil should be added
Just as experts advise against skipping a scheduled oil change, you also shouldn’t feel you have to wait for the designated date, either. If you find you’re adding a quart or more of oil between your regular oil changes, it’s time to consider bringing your vehicle to your favorite Jiffy Lube® location.
GIVE YOUR VEHICLE THE PROFESSIONAL CARE IT DESERVES
When it’s time for your oil change, we hope you’ll come in for a Jiffy Lube Signature Service® Oil Change. Skilled technicians will:
Remove and safely dispose of the used oil
Replace it with new oil that meets the manufacturer recommendations for type, weight, and volume
Dispose of the dirty oil filter and replace it with a fresh, clean one
Top off vital fluids — including transmission, power steering, differential/transfer case, and washer fluid
Vacuum the interior and clean the exterior windows
Apply a window sticker to remind you when your next service is due, or reset your digital oil life monitor
Signature Service doesn’t end when you drive away. You can return to Jiffy Lube anytime within 3000 miles of your service for a free top-off of your motor oil and most other vital fluids. You’re also welcome to reach out to Jiffy Lube® technicians whenever you have questions. The world of preventative maintenance is ever-changing, and the technology can be hard to keep up with. The Jiffy Lube® team is here with the information that makes you feel empowered to make the right decisions for your car, SUV, minivan or truck.