Have You “Checked Your Number” Lately?

What's your car's "number?"

What’s your car’s “number?”

By Julia Au, Pollution Prevention Specialist, San Mateo County Environmental Health

I was recently reminded by my mechanic that I’m overdue for an oil change, but when I checked my service manual it turned out that I actually had a few thousand miles left before my next service.

If you own a car like I do, keeping up with servicing your car is important, which includes routinely changing the oil. But do you know how often your car really needs an oil change? Most people think it’s every 3,000 miles, however that is no longer the norm.

Today’s new technologies allow many newer cars to go longer intervals between oil changes. Some vehicles can go 5,000, 7,000 or even 10,000 miles between oil changes under normal driving conditions (mine is 7,500). Frequent oil changes don’t necessarily mean better performance or longer engine life, and changing your oil less means half as much oil and oil filters have to be used.

“Checking your number” and changing your motor oil according to manufacturer recommendations can help lower the country’s motor-oil demand, save precious resources, and protect the environment in the process. In addition, it will save you money. It’s a win-win-win!

Whether you do it yourself or take it to your local shop, see when your car needs a regular oil change by checking your owner’s manual, or go to CheckYourNumber.org to find out what your number is!

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