When a vehicle has an oil change many facilities place a vinyl cling on the windshield after service informing the owner of when the next service is due, recommendations from manufacturers and the government disagree with the recommendation. Instead, owners should follow the schedule for their vehicle or use the monitoring system to know when the next service is due.
Vehicle monitoring systems range from the simple to the complex. In early systems, a light came on at the predetermined interval reminding owners to service the car. Today, manufacturers often use more advanced systems that rely on monitors place throughout the vehicle to determine the right time for service. Many drivers with the latter systems are surprised at the recommended distance.
If your vehicle does not have a monitoring system, the best bet is to follow the schedule in the owner’s manual. Chances are the maintenance schedule is not going to agree with the window sticker. Many vehicles today are designed to drive 5,000 to 7,500 miles between changes.
Those who put few miles on their vehicle may need to re-evaluate their strategy for maintenance. Even though the auto may not drive the distance, the gasses that bypass the pistons can contaminate the petroleum based or synthetic lubricant.
If the owner is still unsure of the best time to service the vehicle, a lube analysis may be in order. It can reveal the condition of the lubricant as well as any problems with the engine. The test can reveal traces of fuel or coolant that are starting to leak and early signs of engine problems. The lab analysis should also recommend the number of more miles between servicing the vehicle.
Today, owners are also switching to synthetic oils. These oils are more expensive than those traditionally used in vehicles. However they can increase the miles driven between one oil change and the next.