ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WTSP) – Just how often should you get your oil changed? For years, we have heard the mantra of “every three months or 3,000 miles”, but with advancing technologies in both engines and oil is that still the case?

“That old adage was: 3,000 miles, every three months, and for some cars that could still be true. But a lot of newer cars have different maintenance schedules and that’s something that really varies from model to model,” said Josh Carrasco, a AAA Spokesman in Tampa Bay. “A lot of times newer engines can go five to even 7,000 miles, some cars with full synthetic can go up to 15,000 miles, it all depends on the type of calls that you have.”

For instance, if you drive an older car, AAA recommends “severe service” intervals which account for factors like climate and the type of driving you do.

“I think 3,000 miles is a real, good figure. If you’re running some of the newer synthetics or the nicer high-dollar oil like Mobil 1 you can stretch it five or 6,000 is alright,” said mechanic Mark Kuhlman who owns MH Auto in St. Petersburg. “If you’re every day in this stop-and-go traffic and this heat it’s a good idea, every 3,000. Plus, it gives the mechanic a change to look the car over.”

And it’s not just the frequency you should be paying attention to. What type of oil you put in your engine is just as important as how often you do it.

“If you like your car and it’s a nice car, you want to stick to a synthetic or a better-quality oil, especially in Florida with the heat and the breakdown,” added Kuhlman. “You definitely want to go with the oil that the car manufacturer recommends. I normally use a synthetic blend as a base oil for most cars, most oils these days are a synthetic blend.”

“We found that, actually, full synthetic oil protects your engine better than conventional oil does,” said Carrasco. “Especially if you’re driving short distances or in a lot of stop-and-go, the full synthetic oil will actually perform better as far as getting rid of some of those engine deposits and protecting your engine.”

“Really the most important thing you can do is consult your service schedule and your engine manual, that’s going to give you the recommendation by the manufacturer,” he added. “As long as you’re going by that, your engine is going to perform fairly well. If you can afford the few extra dollars, the full synthetic will just give you that extra boost.”

And, what about the “every three months” part of that old adage?

“I’d go by mileage more so than time frame,” said Kuhlman. “Unless the car, if you happen to live up north during the winter months and you’re coming down here and you haven’t done anything to your car in nine months, sure, get an oil change. Other than that, I go by the mileage.”

Not only that, but regularly checking oil levels in between oil changes can be an important step in preventing major engine damage.

“Believe it, it happens a lot more than you think. I get a lot of cars in here to change oil and there’s nothing – it’s like, 'Wow, were they lucky,'” said Kuhlman. “A lot of people don’t even know how to open their hood, but they should at least know how to check their oil and keep an eye on their oil and their pressure gauge and their temperature gauge, especially in Florida where it’s hot.”

“If you’re not sure how to check your own oil, take it to your mechanic and he’ll show you how,” he added. “He’ll show you where the low, add mark is and where the full mark is and he’ll show you where the dipstick is and how to check it.”

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