Tuesday, June 7, 2016 1:14 pm

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If you pay attention, you can save some money

It’s common for many car owners to check their owner’s manual the first month after buying or leasing the vehicle to see when the oil needs to be changed. Then, they will drive to the lube shop, and then go by that little sticker the shop puts on the windshield.

But if you pay attention, you can save some money. First, the oil change shop typically puts a sticker on the windshield that says you need to come back in 3,000 miles. The truth is that very few cars and trucks today need to have their oil changed every 3,000 miles like in the old days.

Back to the owner’s manual. Check it. Different car companies specify different oil-change intervals. And even the same company will specify different oil change intervals for different models because engines are different. Some cars today have their oil changed every 10,000 miles. Ford Motor Co., for example, recommends that vehicles built after 2008 should have their oil changed every 7,500 miles or every six months, whichever comes first. Vehicles built before 2008, Ford says, should have the oil changed every 5,000 miles or every six months.

Some companies, like Volkswagen, specify using synthetic oil. This is more expensive than standard oil, but it also lasts longer. VW, for example, says you can go 10,000 miles in between oil changes in its Passat model. When you change the oil, it is best to also change the filter and get your tires rotated.

Are these rules hard and fast? No. If you drive your vehicle hard–a lot of daily stop-and-go traffic, driving lots of miles in hot weather, frequent towing or hauling payloads–you should check your oil yourself more frequently. If you’re driving, especially with an older car built before 2008, then check your oil on the dipstick every 2,000 miles. And when you do, make sure you check the car while the engine is cold, or after it has rested for at least five minutes.

If your car says your oil change needs to happen every 10,000 miles, it is best to check the oil level and color after 5,000 miles and again at 7,500 miles to see if your engine is performing well. If the oil is short of the fill level, carefully add some of the same kind of oil to your car. Do not over-fill, because you can risk blowing out gaskets and causing an expensive repair. And do not use a different weight oil. If you have 5W-30 in your car, don’t add 10W-40. Use the same kind of oil that is already in the engine. Add a little at a time, and check the dipstick until it reaches the “full” level.

Take care of your engine, and it will take care of you.

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