Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

Oil change schedules — normal versus severe service

Oil change schedules — normal versus severe service

How often you change your oil depends on how you drive, which oil you use and the carmakers recommendations. In MOST cases, drivers change their oil according to the “NORMAL” service classifications when, really, they should be following the shorter schedule demanded by the “SEVERE” service classification.

Severe service defined


• Regularly driving short distance of less than 5 miles in normal temperatures OR less than 10 miles in freezing temperatures

• Extensive engine idling or low speed driving for long distances

• Frequently driving in stop-and-go conditions

• Driving in heavy traffic area over 90°F

• Driving as a patrol car, taxi, other commercial use (Door-Dash/delivery service) or vehicle towing

• Driving on uphill, downhill, or mountain road

• Towing a Trailer, or using a camper, or roof rack

• Driving on rough, dusty, muddy, unpaved, graveled or salt- spread roads

• Driving in areas using salt or other corrosive materials or in very cold weather

• Driving in sandy areas

Additional considerations for oil change intervals

The carmaker assumes you’ve used the recommended type of oil and the recommended oil viscosity. If you’ve used anything else, you can no longer follow the carmakers oil change interval recommendations. ALSO, the carmaker assumes you check your oil level and top off when you’re a half quart or more below the full mark. If you don’t check your oil and top off, all bets are off. Driving when you’re 1-quart or more below the full mark can reduce your oil life by at least 25%. The longer you drive on a reduced oil level, the more you wear out the oil in your engine.


Posted on by Rick Muscoplat

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