Traveling: Schedule Oil Change Before or After?

November 5th, 2015
Oil Change in Bloomington, ILAt Don Owen Tire in Bloomington, IL, we do a lot of oil changes…and we mean, a LOT of oil changes. 
Sometimes we see customers who are about to head out on a long road trip of several thousand miles, and they wonder if it’s best to have an oil change performed before or after the trip. 
The answer to that is…that there’s no firm answer. It depends on a few different factors. 
  • How many miles does the current motor oil have on it? How does it look on the dipstick? Highway miles are much, much easier on a vehicle. All the engine has to do is maintain a steady speed and steady RPM range, even if it’s a higher speed. That’s much less stress on the engine, transmission and drivetrain than stop-and-start city driving, meaning less stress on the motor oil. 
  • What type of oil are you using? Synthetic motor oil can go much longer and many, many more miles between oil changes. It’s not unusual to get 10-12,000 miles between oil changes for synthetics. Conventional motor oil needs to be changed much more frequently.
  • When it comes to motor oil, another advantage of long trips at highway speed is the fact that the engine stays heated up at normal operating temperature for hours at a time. Cold startups are one of the toughest things you can do to an engine, as oil has to make its way to all moving parts in the first few seconds. Trips where the engine never has a chance to warm up completely are especially hard on the engine and oil both. 
The upshot is…even if you’re using conventional oil, a 7,000 mile interval isn’t much of a problem if a few thousand of those miles are highway driving. If your current oil has already been in the vehicle for several thousand miles and is dirty brown on the dipstick, though, you’re better off having the oil change performed before the trip. 
Before your trip, of course, be sure to check everything else on your vehicle, including: 
  • Tire Pressure
  • Windshield Wipers
  • Lights and Mirrors
  • Engine Coolant
  • Transmission Fluid
  • Air Filter
And while you’re out on the road, it’s a good idea to check the oil level a couple of times. Once an engine gets past about 75-85,000 miles, it’s not unusual to burn a quart of oil inbetween oil changes. 
Still not sure about whether to have that oil change performed before your trip? Or is your oil already a little old and nasty? Give us a call at Don Owen Tire in Bloomington, IL and let us schedule an oil change for you before you pack up and leave! 
  Posted in: Auto Repair 101