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Car Oil Change Guide

It’s probably one the simplest things you can do to keep your car in tip-top shape – but also one of the easiest to put off until later. Well, not anymore. This guide provides all the info you need to know including when to change your car’s oil, what kind of oil you to use, and where to get it done if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself.

Why changing car oil is important

Sure, we all know we are supposed to change our car’s oil regularly (and the little sticker on our windshields serves as a constant reminder), but why is it so important? There are plenty of benefits for changing the oil in your car:

  • Cleaner emissions. We all want to do our part for the environment – and regular oil changes can actually help your car produce less noxious engine emissions.
  • Improves gas mileage. We’ve all been feeling the pinch at the pump. With rising gas prices, regular oil changes have never been more important. They can mean getting more mileage out of every litre.
  • Extended engine life. Keeping your car’s engine filled with clean, debris-free oil can go a long way in the extended the life of your car.
  • Engine performance. Each and every one of the previous points all lead to overall performance. The more your engine is kept up-to-standard, you’ll see better gas mileage, cleaner emissions and extend the life of the car itself.

Engines are complex machines filled with moving parts. Oil helps to reduce the friction and, in turn, the heat they create. Fresh oil keeps everything moving smoothly. It also means less dirt and debris that can harm your engine over time. Changing the oil in your car can prevent car oil leaks from happening as you or the service technician can check for worn out seals, damaged oil pans, loose plugs, and many other causes of leaks. Altogether, this means your engine can be working in peak condition for years to come.

Should you choose synthetic or regular oil?

When you show up at your car service provider for an oil change, the first question they may ask you is if you want synthetic or regular oil. Some readers may even be surprised that there are different engine oil types for your car. So, which should you choose? Let’s break it down.

Car oil types

  • Regular (or conventional) oil is derived from crude oil, refined, and then additives are introduced to increase performance.
  • Synthetic oil, as the name suggests, is an artificially created chemical compound, combining both conventional oil and human-made oil.

It’s always good to check which car oil you should use based on what the manufacturer suggests, but studies suggest that synthetic oil has a longer lifespan than conventional oil, provides better performance for your car’s engine, and produces less pollution into the air. However, synthetic oil can cost two to three times more than conventional oil. The most common question after ‘which oil should I get’ generally tends to be ‘does car oil expire’. Well, it does, but for both regular and synthetic oil, the shelf life is roughly 5 years.

How much does an oil change cost?

The price of an oil change for your car will vary depending on where you get the service done (more on that later on) and which oil you choose. In Canada, a conventional oil change averages out at about $60 (with a range usually around $42 to $73), while the average cost of a synthetic oil change is around $100 (ranging from $66 to $137).
While owning and maintaining a car can be expensive, this is a small price to pay in order to keep your car’s engine running smoothly and avoid more costly repairs down the road.

How often should you change your oil?

The frequency of your car’s oil changes can depend on how often you drive and the conditions in which you are driving. Your vehicle’s owner’s manual will also provide guidelines for oil changes and a suggested schedule.
If you use your car regularly, for instance going to work every day and maybe a long-distance road trip once in a while, it is recommended that you can get an oil change from 8,000 to 12,000 kilometres, or every six months.

However, if you drive in severe conditions (including extremely hot weather, stop-and-go traffic, dusty roads, trailer towing, and track diving), you should consider getting an oil change every 5,000 kilometres.
To make it easier to remember, most car service providers still put a handy little sticker on your windshield with both a date and mileage for when you’re scheduled for your next oil change.

Where should you take your car for an oil change?

If you aren’t sure how to change your car’s oil, thankfully you have plenty of options when it comes to getting an oil change, from big-name car service providers to your favourite local mechanic to your own garage.

So, how long does it take to get an oil change? Many car service providers promote their one-hour oil change so it’s simple enough to do on your lunch break or as part of your weekend errands. But if you time your oil change with tire swaps, it’s best to be prepared to wait if you’re heading to a place that doesn’t take appointments; there’s a good chance there will be long lines.

The CARFAX Canada Car Care app can also help your find nearby service stations, check out reviews to find the one that’s right for you, and keep the oil change schedule for your car managed for you.

We hope this guide has helped with the when, where, and why of getting regular oil changes. Follow this guideline and you can prolong the health of your car’s engine.