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How Often to Change an Oil Filter? (And Other Oil Related Answers)

How Often to Change an Oil Filter? (And Other Oil Related Answers)

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While you should always reference your vehicles, mowers…owners manual the frequency of changing the oil filter is also dependent on whether or not you are running regular or synthetic oil.

Oil filters should always be changed when the oil is changed. Filters run anywhere from $4 to $10 which is super inexpensive and easy to swap out when the oil is changed. If oil filters aren’t changed every oil change you run the risk of any trapped contaminants re-entering the oil pan with the new oil.

If you are running regular oil in your engine the oil and filter will need to be changed more frequently. Regular oil and its the oil filter should be changed every 3,000 – 5,000 miles.

If you are running synthetic oil in your engine the oil and filter will actually last longer than regular oil. The difference between the two will be discussed further below. Synthetic oil and the filter should be changed every 7,500 miles.

Some say you can even push synthetic oil and the filter to 10,000 miles but for me, I’d rather keep my motor running smooth and not risk pushing my limits (this is especially true if you are harder on your engine with things like towing campers, trailers, boats…)

Synthetic vs Regular Oil

One of the biggest differences between synthetic oil and regular oil is the impurities. Synthetic oil has less impurities which allows it to have a higher viscosity. Not only does synthetic oil have less impurities but it is also able to function more efficiently at a much lower and higher temperature than regular oil.

Another positive note that synthetic oil brings to the table is that it is better for the environment. Regular oil isn’t as environmentally friendly.

So you can make the final decision for yourself, but for me it is pretty clear. Synthetic is just a win win oil. It has less impurities allowing it to have a high viscosity, better operating temperature range, better for the environment and gets more miles between the oil and filter changes.

While it is more money, it should always pay for itself in the end.

What Happens If You Put Too Much Oil in Your Car? (Over Fill Oil)

One of the biggest issues with putting to much oil in your car is that over time will will cause it to leak. This leak can be permanent causing costly repairs if you don’t run out of oil all the way which will result in basically having to replace your motor.

Plus, if you put to much oil in your car and it starts leaking in the front up high you could also have a mess on your hands. Between the air flowing through the front radiator and the radiator fan it could potentially blow oil all over the inside of the engine compartment.

Not only all over the inside of the engine compartment but gravity will do its thing and it will start to cause puddles, especially when you are parked.

To much oil in your car has also been known to do other damages. Things like getting into your clutch in which it will lose its friction and start slipping. For more information on how a clutch works and what it cost to replace or repair review this article all about clutches.

To much oil in your car is likely to cause other potential damages too. For instance, it can cause collapsed valve pipes, bent rods, foul out spark plugs, ruin the catalytic converter and in the worst case scenario require the entire engine to be replaced!

It is such an easy preventable fix. Always check you oil levels after you’ve either changed it or had it changed. Adding more is super easy and if you get to much then you will need to get the oil pan back out and pull the oil pan plug to drain some which is a headache, but well worth it then paying some of the other potential consequences.

How Often to Change Oil If Don’t Drive Much? (How Long Does Oil Last)

While there is no solid answer on this in any car manual the oil should still be changed sooner than the 3,000 or 7,500 miles if it is being stored or driven only a little. Most car enthusiast will tell you that a stored car should still have its oil changed about every 6 months.

If you don’t drive much and oil is left in the car over time it can in fact start to separate creating a sludge in the bottom of your oil pan. This happens due to moisture getting in the oil which breaks it down.

Sludge doesn’t happen to regularly driven cars because the oil gets so hot moisture can’t withstand it which keeps the oil from being diluted.

While a lot of oil manufactures don’t have documented expiration dates oil can expire. The oil must stay under optimal conditions in order for it to remain stable. So to be certain, it is best to acknowledge a shelf life of 5 years to ensure you are putting good oil in your engine.

Without proper lubrication you can really rack up the mechanic bills if your engine is properly taken care of. It is highly recommended that if you are running regular oil change the oil every 3,000-5,000 miles, synthetic every 7,500 miles or every 5-6 months, which ever comes first.

Can You Mix Oil Weights?

While it is always ideal to keep the same weight, viscosity and synthetic or regular oil in your engine there is always a possibility of car trouble requiring you to mix it in order to get by. You can in fact mix the weight and viscosity of oils to get by. In doing this your oil wont be optimal but in a pinch it is ok.

Once able, it would be recommended to do an oil change and fill it back up with all the same oil. This will give you your optimal running conditions with a confirmed manufacturers running temperature as well.

While it is not recommended, you can also mix synthetic with regular oils creating a synthetic blend. No synthetic oil is 100% pure so adding regular oil you are just also adding additives.

In doing this you will not get the 7,500 miles a synthetic has to offer. While it isn’t recommended you would definitely want to change the oil every 3,000 miles should you go against the advice of not mixing regular and synthetic oil.

These are desperate measures. Always follow your owners manuals specified oil to get the maximum mileage and life out of your engine.

Do You Check Oil Hot or Cold?

It is always best to check the oil when the engine is cooled. This is because the oil will have had time to rest and return to the oil pan to give you the most accurate reading.

You can also check the oil while it is hot but you may not get as accurate of a reading. This is because your oil hasn’t had time to fall back down into your oil pan. There is a high probably there is still oil up on the heads which would give you a lower, less true, reading.

How Long Can an Engine Run Without Oil Before Damage?

Chances are, you will have damaged something if you run your engine without oil. Even if it was a few seconds and no damage is visible you are at high risk for some underlying damages.

Don’t run your engine without oil. Take the time to call a tow truck to get it to your closest mechanic for service.

What Happens When Your Car Runs out of Oil?

Most likely your engine will seize up. If this happens there is likely no repair and you will need a new engine all together. Always stay on top of your oil levels which should be easy these days as everything is digitally monitored in your cars display.

How Many Miles Are Left with 15% Oil Life?

This again correlates back to whether or not you are using regular oil or synthetic. If you are using regular oil then the following is an approximate mileage remaining vs percentage of oil life left.

Regular Oil Percentage vs Approximate Remaining Miles Based on 3,000 Miles

  • 5% Oil Life – 150 Miles
  • 10% Oil Life – 300 Miles
  • 15% Oil Life – 450 Miles
  • 20% Oil Life – 600 Miles
  • 30% Oil Life – 900 Miles
  • 40% Oil Life – 1,200 Miles
  • 50% Oil Life – 1,500 Miles
  • 60% Oil Life – 1,800 Miles
  • 70% Oil Life – 2,100 Miles
  • 80% Oil Life – 2400 Miles
  • 90% Oil Life – 2,700 Miles
  • 100% Oil Life – 3,000 Miles

Synthetic Oil Percentage vs Approximate Remaining Miles Based on 7,500 Miles

  • 5% Oil Life – 375 Miles
  • 10% Oil Life – 750 Miles
  • 15% Oil Life – 1,125 Miles
  • 20% Oil Life – 1,500 Miles
  • 30% Oil Life – 2,250 Miles
  • 40% Oil Life – 3,000 Miles
  • 50% Oil Life – 3,750 Miles
  • 60% Oil Life – 4,500 Miles
  • 70% Oil Life – 5,250 Miles
  • 80% Oil Life – 6,000 Miles
  • 90% Oil Life – 6,750 Miles
  • 100% Oil Life – 7,500 Miles

How to Flush Engine Oil?

While changing the oil in the car is always good sometimes it is also necessary and or a good idea to flush the engine as well. This will allow you to get the rest of the impurities out, cleaning any other deposits of the engine out and bring it back to more of a factory clean operating engine.

  • Ensure the engine is off
  • Remove the oil fill plug
  • Pour in engine cleaner, Liqui Molly Engine Flush or similar
  • Re-insert oil fill plug
  • Start the engine and let it run for 10 minutes
  • After 10 minutes turn the engine off and proceed with a normal oil change

To change the oil in your car follow the following steps

  • Ensure the engine is off
  • Remove the oil fill plug under the hood
  • Put a oil collection container under the oil pan
  • Remove the oil pan bolt and allow the oil to completely drain
  • Remove the oil filter
  • On the new oil filter, put a little oil on the seal
  • Install the new oil filter
  • Put the drain plug back in to the oil pan
  • Fill the engine back up with the recommended oil and quantity
  • Start the Engine for 1 minute
  • Turn the engine off and check your dip sticks oil level (most likely will go down due to the oil filter filling up with oil)
  • Fill as necessary
Checking the dipstick after an oil change

This should complete your flushing of the engine along with your oil change. Flushing your engine probably isn’t necessary until you are way over on mileage between oil changes or your vehicle is over 100,000 miles.

How to Reset Your Oil Life?

Resetting the oil life in every car is different. Usually there is a menu button on your dash that will all you to cycle through tire pressure, oil life…Simply find the oil life option and hit the right arrow on either the dash or steering wheel.

This should then ask to confirm you want to reset it. Hit OK and it should resent to 100%.

Again, all cars are different so if yours is setup different please refer to your owners manual in which it should also guide you through this step.