Oil Changes in Vancouver: Guide to Understanding Oil Change Intervals

auto mechanics performing an oil change service

If you’re a driver in Vancouver, WA, you may already know how oil changes protect your vehicle. But while waiting too long between oil changes can have severe consequences, you might not know how often your car needs this crucial service.

If you’re ready to maximize the value of your oil changes then read on to learn all about finding the ideal interval for your vehicle — and determining when you require an oil change service ahead of schedule.

How Motor Oil Impacts Your Car's Engine

Roughly five quarts of motor oil are stored in an oil pan located at the bottom of your engine. Once you start your vehicle, your oil is pumped from the oil pan and flows through your engine, generously coating all its moving parts. This includes your valves, crankshaft, and even your piston walls. 

As your oil travels through your engine it reduces friction and provides cooling for the many parts that generate immense heat. Even when contaminants, such as carbon deposits, begin to build up in your engine, your oil can capture them and trap these contaminants in your oil filter.

As long as your oil is changed regularly, it will continue to protect your engine and promote longevity for your motor. 

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How Oil Type Influences When Your Car Is Due For An Oil Change

To keep your car running smoothly without overpaying for maintenance, you’ll need an oil change schedule that’s right for you. However, this involves more thought than simply finding a standard recommendation and following it to the letter.

When scheduling your next oil change, you’ll need to account for several factors — including the type of oil you use. Today’s most common oil types are:

Conventional Oil

Conventional oil originates as crude mineral oil, but this substance isn’t used in vehicles as is. Most commercial conventional oil is partially refined, boosting its viscosity and protective properties.

While conventional oil is cheaper than other oil types, it doesn’t offer an equally high level of performance — or an equally long life span. When you use conventional oil, you’ll need to schedule oil changes every 3,000 miles.

Full Synthetic Oil

Unlike conventional oil, full synthetic oil is an entirely artificial motor oil. This product is manufactured in laboratories and factories; as a result, it can protect engines more effectively than any other oil type.

Full synthetic oil costs more than conventional oil, but lasts considerably longer. If you use full synthetic oil in your vehicle, you’ll only need oil changes every 5,000 to 7,000 miles.

Synthetic Blend Oil

Full synthetic oil and conventional oil each come with pros and cons, which makes it challenging for some drivers to choose one of these options. Synthetic blend oil — a combination of the two oil types discussed above — can help.

If you use synthetic blend oil, you’ll get better performance than you would from conventional oil and pay less than you would for full synthetic oil. It’s best to get synthetic blend oil changed every 5,000 miles.

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How Often Should You Check Your Oil Between Services?

man checking the oil level in his car

Following an oil change service schedule that considers your oil type is a great idea. But that doesn’t mean things can’t go wrong between services — and if you’re facing problems ahead of schedule, you’ll need to know how to deal with them. A big part of this is understanding how (and when) to check your oil.

In the past, drivers had to check their oil once a week or so. Though you shouldn’t need to check your oil this frequently these days, it’s wise to inspect your oil every other week and ahead of any road trips you have planned.

The method you’ll use to check your oil can vary based on your car’s age. Most newer vehicles come with monitoring systems designed to measure oil levels automatically. If you drive an older car, you’ll have to measure your oil level with your vehicle’s dipstick.

When An Oil Change Emergency Can Arise

Once you’ve figured out how often you need to check your oil, you’ll want to read up on the red flags associated with oil trouble. Your car might be at risk of an oil change emergency if you:

  • Have a low level of oil. All vehicles need a certain amount of oil to work correctly. If your oil level is dangerously low, don’t wait until your next scheduled oil change — bring your car into our Vancouver auto shop for service right away.
  • Have dirty oil. Even if you have sufficient oil, it can’t do its vital job if it’s visibly dirty. If you find yourself in this situation, set up an oil change immediately to avoid severe engine trouble.
  • Notice smoke coming from your exhaust pipe. Old motor oil is a common cause of exhaust smoke.
  • Hear unusual engine noises. Do you hear a ticking sound when your engine turns on or knocking noises while it runs? Dirty and thin oil can create sounds like these.
  • Feel vibrations. Unclean oil often causes vibrations in vehicles, especially when they’re idling.
  • Spot an active dashboard warning light. Oil problems can activate your vehicle’s check engine light, and so can many other issues. You’ll need help from professional mechanics to find out why this light turned on.

Find The Best Oil Change Vancouver Has To Offer

No matter what oil change interval best suits your vehicle, you shouldn’t go just anywhere in Vancouver to take care of this critical maintenance task. Instead, you should find an auto shop boasting full-service oil changes, ASE-certified mechanics, and valuable oil change coupons.

At Gaynor’s Automotive, we deliver all these perks and more. If you’re ready to start planning your next oil change, set up an appointment today!

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Oil Changes in Vancouver FAQ

Can I use full synthetic oil in a high-mileage car?

Absolutely! Full synthetic oil provides the highest degree of protection for every engine — including high-mileage engines. Some people argue that it is bad to suddenly switch a high-mileage vehicle from conventional oil to synthetic, but we push back on that notion. Others recommend synthetic blends instead of full synthetic oil.

Truth be told, synthetic blend oil is a great option for high-mileage engines. This type of oil often contains special detergents and sealants that aim to combat some of the problems that high-mileage engines face. While this oil is a great choice for high-mileage engines and provides more protection than conventional oil, the synthetic blend does not offer the full spectrum of protection that you'll find with full synthetic oil.

Because synthetic oil offers more protection and leaves your engine cleaner than conventional and synthetic blends, full synthetic oil is technically the best protection you can provide for your engine. Switching from conventional to full synthetic oil will not damage your engine. Instead, it will provide superior protection, and aid in your engine's longevity, fuel economy, and performance.

Do engines last longer with synthetic oil?

Using synthetic oil will not automatically make your engine last longer; however, using synthetic oil throughout your engine's life can help protect your engine and promote long engine life. Synthetic oil offers superior protection and better lubrication and can withstand oxidation at higher temperatures, meaning your engine will operate with superior protection over conventional oil.

Synthetic oil burns cleaner than conventional oil, leaving virtually no deposits behind when it burns off. This leaves your engine cleaner and free of engine sludge. Engine sludge and carbon build-up can play a significant role in engine breakdown. However, because synthetic oil does not leave engine sludge and carbon deposits behind, like a conventional oil can, engines tend to last longer and perform better on full synthetic oil.

Additionally, synthetic oil is more oxidation-resistant, offering longer change intervals.

How many miles can you go on full synthetic oil?

Because of synthetic oil's ability to withstand breakdown, it features longer change intervals than conventional oil. If your vehicle receives a synthetic oil change, you can expect to only need oil change services every 7,500-10,000 miles.

Despite that, there are instances where we recommend that you change synthetic oil more frequently. Though synthetic oil can withstand extreme temperatures, you won't know when it has oxidized, so extreme conditions can leave your engine with limited protection. We recommend performing synthetic oil changes more frequently if your engine has been tested to its limits — especially if it uses a turbocharger. Turbochargers use exhaust gas to power a spool that forces air into your engine, which generates more power. These spools can spin up to 350,000 rpm and generate immense heat. We recommend changing your oil more frequently if you do some of the following activities:

  • Racing
  • Towing
  • Off-roading
  • Regular mountain driving
  • Extended urban driving

Should I go by oil life or mileage?

When it comes to your engine oil, you never want to skimp on protection. We recommend using the “whichever comes first” method to gauge your oil change intervals and provide the most protection for your engine. Many oil change facilities will put a sticker at the top corner of your windshield with a date or recommended mileage to return for a subsequent oil change. However, some vehicles feature a unique amenity to provide more accurate insights.

Some vehicles monitor various engine parameters, such as engine speed, engine load, idle time, and more, to provide the most accurate estimate of how much life your oil has left before a change.

While these are great tools for determining when you should receive an oil change, we recommend that you take the whichever comes first approach. Because your engine is one of the most expensive components of your vehicle, changing your oil sooner ensures that it's always protected. At Gaynors Automotive, not only do we perform synthetic oil changes in Vancouver, but we also feature oil change coupons to help you save money.

When should you get a high-mileage oil change?

High-mileage oil is a synthetic blend oil specifically formulated for engines that have over 75,000 miles. These oils are great for higher-mileage vehicles because they are formulated with the needs and concerns of these vehicles in mind.

What's special about high-mileage oil is that it typically contains special detergents to break up carbon deposits that tend to form over an extended period, along with special sealants to help prevent gasket leaks common in aging engines.

If your vehicle typically runs on conventional oil and you want to switch to high-mileage oil, we recommend starting around 75,000-100,000 miles. Switching to a high-mileage oil is a great way to provide lasting protection for your engine and ensure it continues running like new, even as it ages.

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