When should I get an oil change?

The Car Doctor answers automotive questions from readers.

Always refer to your manual, but as a rule of thumb, the 3,000-mile oil change is so you can keep old clunkers lasting forever.
Always refer to your manual, but as a rule of thumb, the 3,000-mile oil change is so you can keep old clunkers lasting forever. –George Kennedy/Boldride

How do I know when my car needs its oil changed?

Q. I have a 2016 Subaru with 40,000 miles on it, and the dealership where I purchased the car told me the vehicle uses one quart of oil for every 3,000 miles I drive. They also suggested I change the oil every 3,000 miles rather than 6,000 as recommended in the vehicle owner’s manual. What do you think? When should I get an oil change?

A. An engine — even a new engine with low mileage on it — can use some oil. In fact, using a quart of oil every 3,000 miles is certainly within the expected industry standards for any vehicle. I would follow the standard oil-change recommendation using the factory-recommended oil and add more as necessary. I would also keep a log of when the oil is changed and when you need to add oil. If the vehicle’s oil consumption gets worse, you can go back to Subaru with documentation of the problem and ask for a solution.

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John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor. He has over 40 years of experience in the automotive business and is an ASE certified master technician. Email your car question to jpaul@aaanortheast.com.

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