How often should you change the oil in your car?

19 December 2022

In order to ensure proper work of the car, regular oil change is necessary. The engine of your car will be grateful for this, as it will be protected from failures. Learn more on how often should you change the oil in your car?


The role of the engine oil in the car

The engine is a complex mechanism which consists of lots of moving parts – for example the camshaft and the timing belt, the crankshaft, the guide rollers and the tension rollers. These elements intensively rub against each other, vibrate and heavily tremble, which could end in a fatal way if there was no engine oil. It’s primary function is minimizing the friction, so that the moving parts of the engine have optimal glide and they don’t wear out.

However, a good engine oil not only protects them from mechanism friction. It’s also an important operating fluid, as it:

  • lowers the fuel consumption, and hence – the car exploitation costs
  • allows maintaining proper temperature within the mechanism of the car
  • the engine oil has a cleaning function – it helps cleaning dirt, dust, and accumulated grease off the engine. Apart from that, it also removes the exhaust carbon, which is a by-product of the fuel combustion.
  • protects from corrosion – you can choose such an engine oil whose ingredients were developed to neutralise the acidic products of combustion
  • the engine oil has also a sealing function – it guarantees tightness between the shafts and the cylinders. Thanks to this, the proper engine compression level can be maintained, which translates into into better performance.


Pay attention

For these particular reasons, changing the oil has such tremendous importance for the technical condition and the efficiency of the vehicle. Therefore, you should never disregard it – especially as it doesn’t generate huge expenses.



How much does the oil change cost?

You shouldn’t save up on the operating fluids change. The good news is that you don’t have to lose sleep over the cost of the engine oil change.

The costs of the oil change depend on whether the car owner decides to have it done at a car workshop or they want to it on their own. In order to ensure the correct level of the oil, a 4- or 5-liter oil bottle should be used, depending on the type of the car and the engine itself. Changing the oil involves also replacing the filter, whose price depends on the car model.

In the case of a visit at a workshop, the costs increase, however, the prices suggested by the auto mechanics for such services are affordable enough, so if a driver is not particularly good at cars, it’s worth using their help of professionals. Moreover, you can bring your own oil to the workshop and pay only for the labour.

The costs of changing the oil and the filter depend largely on the workshop you choose. If you bring your car to an authorised point, then the oil change might be very pricey – the driver might pay even three times more than usually.


How often should you change the oil in your car – after how many kilometers?

Until recently it was simple – the oil should have been changed every 10.000-15.000 driven kilometers. Currently, the distance is extending due to the ecology reasons (more attention is paid to the fact that the fuel combustion is dangerous for the environment), and introducing modern products on the market.

This is why the Long Life oils started to be produced, which need changing only after 30.000 driven kilometers. These products do not convince all drivers, as there are cases of failures of the engine elements which these oils had led to. Although the oil in those vehicles was changed according to the manufacturers’ recommendations, elements such as the main bearings were damaged.

It’s generally recommended that the oil change depends on the car exploitation intensity:

  • engines which are used to dynamic driving, driving in the city on short distances require their oil getting changed every 8.000-10.000 km
  • in the case of standard driving, the change is necessary every 10.000-15.000 km
  • in cars equipped with the lubrication system with high-capacity, the oil should be changed more less every 20.000 km.

Auto mechanics suggest, however, to do it once a year. It seems to be a good idea – especially because a car repair might be pricey, and the cost of the oil change is incomparable.


How long does changing the oil take?

If you decide to change the engine oil on your own, the time this “operation” will depends on your skills and the available tools. Also, you need to warm-up the engine, prepare a container into which you pour the old oil and put on work wear.

Changing the oil in a car workshop usually takes a couple of minutes. Due to the fact that mechanics conduct the oil change when the car is parked on the under-car pit, the waiting time for the service depends on the availability of the pit. However, when there are no other customers in the workshop, the whole service usually takes from several to 20 minutes.



The procedure consists of untwisting the drain plug, draining the old oil and possibly high-pressure sucking its leftovers out. Finally, the new oil is poured into the container. Then, the filter, whose function is stopping the pollution, is replaced.


What oil should be used for the gasoline engine?

When choosing the oil for your car, you shouldn’t pay attention only to its price. Low price does not always go hand in hand with good quality, therefore you should invest in a products of a renowned brand.

When buying the oil, pay attention to the following three designations:

  • SAE – it indicates the level of viscosity the oil maintains in both low and working temperature. You might come across designations such as 10W40 or 0W30. The information about the level of viscosity of the oil you should choose is included in the manufacturer’s indications and recommendations.
  • ACEA is a European norm which indicates the oil class. In accordance with this norm, fluids for cars with the gasoline engines are designated with the A letter, followed by a number. The higher the number, the better the oil.
  • API is a two-letter designation and an American norm which also indicates the quality of this operating fluid. In the case of the gasoline engines, the first letter is the letter “S”, and the second one varies – the further it is in the alphabet, the better the quality of the oil is.

The first step in choosing the right oil for a given engine is reading the car manual. In some cars there are elements such as the DPF filter which require using oils with specific ingredients.


What oil should be used for the Diesel engine?

The oil for the gasoline and the Diesel engines should be chosen following the manufacturers’ recommendations, however, in the case of the latter, it’s recommended to choose only the synthetic fluids. They are constantly being improved, unlike the mineral or semi-synthetic oils. The Diesel engines are often greatly overloaded, therefore it’s important to choose best-quality products.

The oils for diesels are designated similarly to the gasoline engines. In the API norm, there’s a “C” letter instead of “S”, and in ACEA, letters “B” and “C” are used.


Which oil should be used for LPG?

Being an owner of an LPG car usually does not require using a specific oil. However, it’s good to make sure that on the container of a particular oil there’s an information that it can be used for car with a gas installation.

The oil for LPG should most importantly neutralise the by-products of fuel combustion. Moreover, it’s recommended to use oils based on the light ester technology, which ensures maintaining the same level of viscosity of the oil.

You also should remember that the oil in an LPG car needs to be changed more frequently – usually every 9-10 months.


Long Life oil – advantages and disadvantages

To avoid frequent visits in a workshop and oil changes, certain fluids have been developed which do not need to be changed either once a year or every 10.000-15.000 driven kilometers. The Long Life technology was supposed to be a nod towards both the nature and the drivers.

These oils – according to the manufacturers’ promises – supposedly don’t have to be changed even until 30.000 driven kilometers. When the oil wears out, you’ll get informed about it by the computer. It analyses the work of the engine, and if any irregularities happen, it informs the driver about it.

This solution seems to be not only economic and convenient, but also ecological. Despite this, some drivers are skeptical about it and point out the disadvantages of these oils. The underline e.g. that not changing the oil frequently enough translates into increased engine wear, and the fact that the fluid after some time always wears out. Choosing this kind of products might result in e.g. damaging the turbocharger and the camshaft.


Full SAPS and low SAPS oils

The low SAPS oils have a low sulfur content (that’s why they’re called low SAPS – low levels of sulphate ash (SA), phosphorus (P) and suphur (S)) and they’re recommended to use them especially in the diesel engines. The decreased content of these ingredients means that metallic, incinerated sulphate particles do not accumulate on the DPF filter. Thanks to this the service span of this element is much longer.

The full SAPS oils are products of the old generation. These operating fluids are not covered by the sulphate ash content norms, and that’s why they might be dangerous for the filter and the engine itself. It’s estimated that using the full SAPS oils might reduce the service span of the DPF filter even by half. Such filter gets clogged with the ashes – and it has to be replaced or regenerated.


It is good to know

Did you like this article? Anything you’d like to ask in your comment? Feel free to share your feedback and comment at the bottom of the article. And remember – always before buying a car, motorcycle or even a trailer – check vehicle history with autoDNA based on the VIN numberVIN check is one of the most important things to do before deciding to buy a used vehicle. Thanks to this, autoDNA helps you make an informed decision.



How often should you change the oil in your car?
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How often should you change the oil in your car?
The engine of your car will be grateful for this, as it will be protected from failures. Learn more on how often should you change the oil in your car?
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