autoDNA checks
engine oil

How often should you change the oil in Your car? Everything you need to know

3 July 2023

For the proper performance of the combustion engine in the car, it is necessary to regularly change the oil along with the filter. This is one of the most basic actions. How often should you change the oil in Your car? And how much does an oil change cost? – Our article as well as whether you can change the engine oil on our own.


What is 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 work intensively, vibrating and rubbing against each other, which could end badly for the car (risk of a lock-up) if it were not for the 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 too soon. Whether in gasoline or diesel engines, regardless of the engine type, the oil must not run out, because otherwise it leads to damaging the engine and the consequences can be very pricey.


Changing the oil in a car is one of the most basic tasks

Changing the oil in a car is one of the most basic tasks (Photo: Tim Mossholder/Unsplash)

It is worth knowing that a good engine oil protects the engine not only from a lock-up of the mechanism. It’s also an important operating fluid, as it:

  • reduces fuel consumption and thus the cost of operating the car (the cost of replacing the car oil does not compared to how much you would have to pay to repair the engine);
  • allows you to maintain the right temperature in the engine;
  • the engine oil has a cleaning function – it helps cleaning out any dirt, dust, and accumulated grease off the engine. In addition, it removes the varnish, that is, the residue which is a side effect of fuel combustion (which is why you also need to replace the oil filter each time);
  • protects against corrosion – you can choose such an engine oil whose ingredients have been developed to neutralise the acidic products of combustion;
  • the engine oil has also a sealing function – it guarantees tightness between e.g. the shafts and the cylinders. Thanks to this, the proper engine compression level can be maintained, which translates into its better performance.

For these particular reasons, changing the oil has such tremendous importance for the technical condition and the efficiency of the vehicle.


Pay attention

Therefore, it cannot be underestimated in any respect – especially since the cost of the oil, the cost of the oil filter and the oil change itself is really not high.


When looking at a car used before buying, it is necessary to check the level of engine oil, and make sure that the previous owner changed the oil on time. It is also worth making sure about the type of the oil, by checking whether the fluid used meets the requirements of the engine manufacturer. It is also good to check the vehicle history by ordering an extensive autoDNA report. All it takes to generate it is the VIN number itself.

Oil change – the cost of an oil change depends on several elements


Oil, a filter and some work - that's how much it costs to change the oil

Oil, a filter and some work – that’s how much it costs to change the oil (photo by Christian Buehner/Unsplash)

The necessity of oil change in a car – passenger or van, but also in trucks – is natural. It results from the very principle of operation of the combustion engine. Fortunately, it’s not very absorbing. How often you should change oil depends on how the engine is operated – however, it is assumed that changing the oil every 10-15 thousand kilometers is optimal. As a result, costs remain relatively low and the engine is adequately protected.



The cost of replacement depends on the workshop, location, but also the type of vehicle – the cost may also vary depending on whether you buy the oil ourselves (you bring your oil directly to the workshop) or you decide to assign the choice of car oil to a mechanic.



Oil change on your own? Nothing simpler – but there is one “but”.

You should not be scared of the cost of the oil change. However, nothing stands in the way of doing it yourself. Changing the oil in your car is almost trivial. Just unscrew the drain plug, pour out the old oil, remove the used filter and replace it with a new one, and then pour in a new oil – mineral or synthetic, depending on the model of the car and the manufacturer’s recommendations. So where is the “but”? In a few points:

  • it may turn out that you need the right set of keys to unscrew the oil filter – however, there are universal keys which work for most engines in use, and do not cost much;
  • the used oil should be disposed of – you cannot just “throw it away”, you need to first find a place where the used oil is taken in (it can be, for example, a Municipal Waste Selective Collection Center);
  • oil inspection – in the case of old cars, this problem does not occur, but in new cars which remind you of the need to change oil, it will be necessary to connect a computer and record activities in the system.

Having taken care of the above, you can safely carry out an engine oil change yourself.


Oil change – how often?

Until recently, the situation was clear – oil changes had to be carried out every 10-15 thousand kilometers driven or every year, whichever was sooner.


Regular engine oil change - what does it actually mean?

Regular engine oil change – what does it actually mean? (Photo: Jimmy Nilsson Masth/Unsplash)

Currently, the distance is extending due to the ecological issues (more attention is paid to the fact that the fuel combustion is dangerous for the environment), and introducing modern products to the market. This is why the production of Long Life oils has begun, which – as indicated by the manufacturer’s requirements – can be replaced after every 30,000 km driven. However, this is an extremely short-sighted and risky approach and it is no wonder that it arouses such great resistance.

It’s generally recommended that the frequency of oil changes depends on the car exploitation intensity:

  • engines which are used for dynamic driving in the city on short distances require their oil getting changed after every 5.000-10.000 km driven,
  • 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.

In the case of heavily loaded sports engines, the oil should be changed even more often – because it directly translates into the efficiency and service life of the unit – but even in the case of an average engine, you should not delay the oil change. The cost of oil change is nothing compared to, for example, the cost of repairing modern diesel engines.


How long does oil change take?

The whole procedure lasts from a dozen to 20 minutes – depending on the skill of the person carrying out the change.


Just a dozen minutes - that's how long it usually takes to change the oil

Just a dozen minutes – that’s how long it usually takes to change the oil

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


Which oil should be used for the gasoline engine?

When choosing oil for any vehicle – whether for older cars, cars with small or large engine capacity – you should not be guided only by the cost. Low price does not always go hand in hand with high quality (although basic oils do not have to be bad at all).


Above all, engine oil must comply with the manufacturer's recommendations

Above all, engine oil must comply with the manufacturer’s recommendations (Photo: Robert Laursoo/Unsplash)

When buying individual oils, you should pay attention to three markings:

  • SAE – it indicates the level of viscosity the oil maintains in both low and working temperature. You can find its designations such as 10W40 or 0W30 (they are popular types of oils). Whether you should choose oil with high viscosity or low viscosity, results directly from the indications and recommendations of the car manufacturer
  • 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.

It is also worth checking whether a given oil meets the manufacturer’s requirements – information on this can usually be found on the oil label. In case of doubt, a trusted mechanic will help you choose the oil suitable for the capabilities of the engine, and will tell you which type of oil fits perfectly to a given unit.


What oil should be used for a diesel engine?

Oil for gasoline and diesel engines should be selected according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, however, in the latter case it is recommended to use only synthetic oils adapted to the new exhaust gas purity standards. The diesel engines are often greatly overloaded, therefore it’s important to choose best-quality products.


For modern diesel engines only synthetic oil

For modern diesel engines only synthetic oil (photo: Skica911/Pixabay)

The oils for diesels are designated similarly to the gasoline engines. In the API standard – developed by the American Petroleum Institute – instead of the letter “S”, the letter “C” is used, while the letters “B” and “C” are used in ACEA.


Which oil should be used for LPG?

Being an owner of an LPG car usually does not require using a 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

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

Long life oil

Long Life motor oil is not liked by users (Photo: Hussain Ali/Unsplash)

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.

They 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 becomes contaminated. Changing the oil is one thing, but in addition to the oil, it is also useful to change the filter. These, in turn, DO NOT have more capacity or are in any other way adapted to the “technology” of Long Life.

Reaching for products of this type may result, among others, in damage to the turbocharger and camshaft, so it is definitely better to follow common sense and not risk premature engine wear.


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 be used especially in the diesel engines. The decreased content of these ingredients means that metallic incinerated sulphate particles do not accumulate on the DPF filter.

SAPS - what is full SAPS and low SAPS motor oil

SAPS – what is full SAPS and low SAPS motor oil (photo: Ronald Plett/Pixabay)

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 and free VIN lookup with autoDNA based on the VIN number. VIN 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.



Changing the engine oil every 10-12 thousand kilometers driven or a maximum of a year is optimal, although you can find much longer intervals in the operating instructions of new cars. And although the intervals between replacements can be shortened or extended to some extent, replacing the oil in the long run; is the quickest way to speed up wear and shorten the service life of the unit.

The engine and transmission have different conditions. There are other requirements for oil as well – and here we mean not only a certain level of viscosity but also other parameters. This means that engine oil and transmission oils cannot be used interchangeably.

The quality of each oil determines a number of parameters, and it is these that should be followed when choosing one. A higher price does not always mean a higher quality of oil – in this case, it is better to replace it regularly than to buy the most expensive products.

How often should you change the oil in your car?
Article Name
How often should you change the oil in your car?
How often should you change the oil in Your car? And how much does an oil change cost? – Our article as well as whether you can change the engine oil on our own.
Publisher Name
Publisher Logo