“Every 4800 Kilometres” and Other Oil Change Myths
You’ve heard it from your parents, your driver’s education instructor, and your car mechanics for years: change your oil every 4800 kilometres. So what would you say if you found out the 4800 kilometres rule doesn’t stand for every vehicle?The truth is, things people have been telling us for years about oil changes aren’t as true as we sometimes think they are. Let’s look at the facts.
Myth #1: The 4800 Kilometre Rule
First, let’s cut our parents, driver’s ed teachers, and mechanics some slack. The 4800 kilometre rule is meant to be a generalized guideline to encourage you to change your oil, not a hard-and-fast rule.
Of course, the 4800 kilometre rule does not stand for every vehicle. In order to determine how many miles you should go before changing your oil, you need to check your owner’s manual.
Most newer vehicles can go much longer than 4800 kilometres before needing an oil change. Some vehicles will even last up to 16,000 km!
However, the following factors may make more frequent oil changes necessary:
- Frequent stop-and-go driving
- Typical short distance driving
- Driving on rough roads
- Extreme humidity or cold
Is changing your oil too frequently a crime? No. But it’s an extra cost to you, and it also impacts the environment by using up more oil than necessary. So check your owner’s manual and assess your driving habits to determine when to get your next oil change.
Myth #2: You Don’t Need to Change Your Oil
On the extreme end of changing your oil too often is the myth that changing your oil isn’t really that important. Oil changes are just car mechanics’ way of getting you to shell out the money, right?
First, let’s remember why oil is needed in the first place. Oil helps the parts in your engine work properly. If you didn’t have oil, the heat created by metal moving parts would weld the parts together—and you’d say goodbye to a working engine.
So what if you never change your oil? The oil would become dirty and thick, causing wear on your engine. The oil would also lose its lubrication, making it more difficult for parts to work. You might start to experience the following problems:
- Engine noise
- Difficulty starting, stopping, or steering the car
- Bearings, gears, and other parts wearing out
The answer is clear: get your oil changed, or suffer a failing engine.
Myth #3: It’s Cheaper and Easier to Change Your Own Oil
There’s nothing wrong with changing your oil by yourself. But consider that when you change the oil yourself, you need to purchase a new filter and oil, which could cost nearly as much as the oil change in some cases.
You also need to have all of the following:
- Wrench (to remove drain plug)
- Oil-filter removal wrench
- Oil drain pan
If you’re experienced with car mechanics, you might feel comfortable changing the oil yourself. But if it’s your first time doing so, it may take a couple of hours depending on how quickly you learn the process. For some people, time is money and they’d much rather save time by taking their car to a mechanic.
Myth #4: An Oil Change is the Only Regular Maintenance You Need
A regular oil change is important, but it’s not the only thing you need to keep your car running smoothly. In order to prevent issues with your vehicle, you’ll want a mechanic to regularly check the following:
- Transfer case fluid
- Differential fluid
- Brake fluid
- Power steering fluid
- Engine oil
- Transmission filters and oil (check your owner’s manual to know how often to change your transmission oil)
- Windshield washer fluid
A mechanic may inspect these things when you get your oil changed to ensure everything is working properly. The well-trained eye can pick up on things you may not notice yourself and prevent problems from occurring.
Myth #5: You Don’t Need to Do Anything Until the Next Oil Change
In between oil changes, you should still check the oil level every few hundred kilometres. This ensures that there’s enough oil to keep your engine parts working properly. Here’s what to do:
- Remove the oil dipstick, clean it on a rag, then put it back in.
- Remove the dipstick again and check the oil level; preferably it should be at the “full” mark.
- If the dipstick is at or below the “add” mark, add a quart of oil.
- You can also add part of a quart if the dipstick is between the “add” and “full” marks; add the oil based on the original dipstick reading and note that the dipstick reading may not immediately reflect the added oil.
- Do not overfill the oil, as this will prevent the oil from reaching the car parts.
If your oil level is frequently low, talk to a mechanic.
Be Kind to Your Car
Our cars serve us every day by taking us to all the places we need to go. We often take our cars for granted and expect them to work at every moment. In order to keep them running smoothly, we need to be kind to our cars by taking them in for regular oil changes and other checks.
Find a trustworthy mechanic near you for your next oil change or for other needed maintenance.