Oil Change – Why Not Three Thousand Miles?

The three-thousand mile oil change rule is the old standby for protective dads and for times when other means of prediction were not available. To begin, most new off the lot vehicles when following owner’s manual guidelines can go seven thousand to ten-thousand miles before the first oil change is needed or even suggested. After that, there are different guidelines for different types of driving conditions, and being familiar not only with what type of driver you are considered to be and also with your owner’s manual can help you to safely put more time and/or miles between maintenance which means more cash in your pocket.

As this rule is ousted, be sure to read up on recommendations for other maintenance that may have previously been related to the three-thousand mile rule. One new rule that comes out of the shift is that a filter needs only to be changed every other time the lubricant is. If you are not sticking to the three-thousand mile rule, this rule is also a goner. A prevailing difficulty with this new idea is that owners previously were on top of preventative maintenance due to inspections made at regular lube-oil-and-filter checks, but a longer period of time between changes does not mean that the entire car can be ignored for longer periods of time, so be sure to stay on top of your vehicle needs regardless of the miles between changes.

The introduction over the last few decades of synthetic oils to the mass population is also a culprit for the lasting duration between preventative maintenance checks. It has been estimated by trusted scientific analysis that vehicles operating on synthetics can possibly go up to twenty-thousand miles before requiring the maintenance previously known as the three-thousand mile rule, and while this can be a responsibility load off of a car owner, again the time lapse can cause other maintenance needs to fall aside.

Today, lab analysis can be done on existing oil to make predictions about the needs of the engine lubricant. The check is comparable in cost to that of one regular change, and it can indicate, and usually does, that most drivers are apt to change the lubricant more frequently than needed. A check is not necessitated prior to every maintenance; one analysis will do if you’re driving conditions remain the same for the life of your car. If you tend to keep cars on the road until they are considered classics, the needs of the engine and other parts of the car may alter as the car ages, but for the typical driver who keeps a car from two to four years, one initial analysis of used fluid can help predict when an oil change is necessary for you.

Mastering The Basics: How To Change The Oil And Oil Filter

Not all of us can be a master mechanic and perform every service our car needs, but knowing how to perform basic services to maintain your car both saves you money and improves safety. When you know how your car works, you are better equipped to assess issues and possibly fix them without feeling helpless. One of the most commonly performed at-home maintenance services and one of the most important things you can do to keep your car in good condition is changing the motor oil and oil filter. Doing this yourself is relatively inexpensive and easy.

Don’t Ignore The Owner’s Manual

If you’ve always wanted to learn how change your car’s oil and filter, this guide can help! Just remember to always reference your car’s owner’s manual for any vehicle-specific details. The mileage intervals when they need to be changed are listed in the owner’s manual. Also in the owner’s manual is the grade and amount of motor oil you’ll need, as well as any requirements for the filter.

Necessary Equipment

Here’s what you’ll need to be an at-home mechanic, at least as far as the oil change is concerned:

  • Motor oil
  • Oil filter
  • Socket wrench
  • Oil filter wrench, in case you can’t loosen it by hand
  • Funnel
  • Oil pan
  • Mat, newspaper, or big, flat piece of cardboard to catch any oil spills under the car
  • Cleaning rags


  1. Drain the old motor oil.
    • Start your car and let it run for a minute or two, or drive it around the block so the motor oil warms up, which will allow it drain out smoothly. After the warm up, park your car in the driveway or garage, ON LEVEL GROUND.
    • If your car is too low to the ground to slide under, you’ll need to jack it up and place jack stands before you get under it (jack stands are a must!).
    • Prop up the hood and loosen the cap on the oil tank or else it won’t drain well.
    • Place your spill mat or cardboard under the vehicle and slide on under with the oil pan.
    • Locate the drain plug.
    • Place the pan on top of newspaper/cardboard below and slightly ahead of the drain plug (the stream will release farther out when you first remove the drain plug).
    • Loosen the drain plug with the socket wrench, turning it counterclockwise, and then remove the plug slowly by hand and let the motor oil drain out. Caution: Oil may be hot.
    • Once the oil slows down to a drip, reinstall the drain plug and tighten it with the socket wrench (just a quarter turn clockwise should be sufficient).
  2. Replace the oil filter.
    • Keep the oil pan under the car and find the oil filter.
    • Loosen it with the filter wrench and remove by hand.
    • Before installing the new oil filter, apply a little motor oil to the new gasket to optimize the seal and prevent the gasket from cracking or sticking.
    • Install and tighten the new oil filter BY HAND.
  3. Add the new motor oil.
    • Remove the cap of the oil tank, and, using a funnel, pour the new motor oil into the tank in the amount dictated by the owner’s manual. When finished, replace the oil cap and wipe away any spilled motor oil.
    • Start your engine and run it for a minute to allow the new motor oil to circulate thoroughly.
    • Time to check the oil level. Turn off the car and remove and wipe oil off the dipstick.
    • Insert and remove the dipstick and check that the oil level is correct. Assuming all is well, screw the cap back on and you’re done!
  4. Clean up and recycle your motor oil.
    • Pour the old motor oil from the pan into a used oil container and put the old oil filter into a plastic bag.
    • You cannot throw your old oil into the trash. Take it to a auto supply store or a lube shop to recycle.
    • Write down the date you performed the oil change and the amount of miles the car had so you know when your next change is due.

And you’re done!