Angie's List Report: When to Change Your Car's Oil

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Updated: 5/15/2013 5:00 pm

Does your car need an oil change every 3,000, 5,000 or 7,000  miles? In this Angie's List report, how often the oil should be changed depends on a variety of factors.

Annie Adams has the oil changed in her car every 3,000 miles.

"My car is a fairly new car so it has a computer that tells me that it's time for the oil to be changed. It's pretty simple," Adams said.

There was a time when three months or 3,000 miles was sound advice on when to change your oil, but times have changed.

"Years ago the time to change your oil was really simple - every three months or 3,000 miles. With the improvements made to engine oil as well as cars you need to depend on your owner's manual for the best recommendation of how frequently your car may need an oil change. It could be 3,000, 7,000, even 10,000 miles," said Angie Hicks, creator of Angie's List.

Vehicles that use conventional motor oil should have their oil changed between 3,000 and 5,000 miles. Those that use synthetic motor oil can go up to 7,000  miles. If you're not sure, check your owner's manual.

Where and how you drive your vehicle can also play a role. If you're in extreme climates or in stop and go traffic frequently, you may want to increase your oil changes to help out the engine.

Regular oil changes are a critical in ensuring your car's engine runs properly and will have a long life. If you ignore this maintenance item, damage can occur.

"If you skip a lawn treatment you can always catch up and recover your lawn, but your engine will wear and you won't get that back," said auto shop owner, Jim Trump.

Checking under the hood and vehicle during an oil change can also help your mechanic spot needed repairs or services before major work is needed.

"Develop a good rapport with a regular mechanic who works on your car because that trusting relationship will help you in caring for your car" Hicks added.

A common complaint consumers make when getting their oil changed is the upselling. Your best defense against being upsold is to know what the manufacturer recommends at specific intervals for your car.

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