Do All Cars Need Oil Changes? (Explained For Beginners)

You buy a new car; it looks good and cruises even better.

However, it’s your first car and you know there’s probably more to it than just filling up the tank.

All cars require maintenance and one of the most important is regular oil changes.

But do all cars need oil changes? Find out in this article.

Here’s the short answer to whether all cars need oil changes:

Technically, not all cars on the road need oil changes. Only cars with internal combustion engines would need the conventional oil change at intervals. Oil, in this context, refers to the engine oil.

Do New Cars Need Oil Changes?

New cars are usually in the best of conditions. However, to maintain optimum performance, it’s best to have a great start on maintenance.

One of the most important factors is when to conduct the first oil change.

When you drive your car out of the dealership, all components and fluids are usually intact and fresh. However, you’re going to need to change your engine oil sooner than later. Check your owner’s manual for the right time to change the oil of your new cars.

Consider changing the oil once your car gets to 500 miles. Do not exceed 1500 miles without changing the oil in your new car, unless your car manual disagrees. You could need to change it together with your oil filter.

Note that subsequent oil changes don’t need to be as prompt as the first. Modern cars can go on without an oil change for thousands of miles.

The reason new cars need a quick oil change is because of the factory effects. The early oil change helps get rid of scrap residue from the engine. This practice helps prolong engine life.

Do Hybrid Cars Need Oil Changes?

Hybrids require oil changes too. Yes, we mean engine oil changes. Newbies often mistake hybrid cars for all electric ones.

Hybrids have both internal combustion engines, like regular cars and electric motors like electric cars. Either of these components can power a hybrid.

Hence, a hybrid would need regular oil changes. In fact, a new hybrid would also need a prompt oil change at 500 miles or 1,500 miles. This is just like any regular gasoline-powered car, unless stated otherwise by the manufacturer.

That’s not to say the electric motor doesn’t require any sort of maintenance. More on that later on. Onward.

Do Diesel Cars Need Oil Changes?

Diesel engines are also internal combustion engines. The major difference they have with gasoline engines is that they’re powered by diesel, not petrol.

So although there are few other differences, they still need to have their oil changed at intervals.

Another distinction is that diesel engines use a different type of oil from gasoline ones. Not using the appropriate oil would lead to further complications.

Your oil filter will also need to be changed at intervals. However, it may not need to be as regular as the oil changes. You can replace the oil filters at 15,000 miles or, according to your owner’s manual’s specifications.

Note that not only is diesel engine maintenance more frequent, it’s also more expensive. Lubricating oils for diesel engines cost more than gasoline engines.

Do You Need an Oil Change If You Drive Very Little?

I don’t drive often, this means I can save immensely on oil that I don’t buy, right? Wrong.

Everyone needs an oil change at intervals. That includes ‘not so active’ drivers.

Whether your average yearly mileage is 15,000 miles a year or 7,000 miles a year, you’d need a similar schedule.

In such a scenario, you’d have to work with duration rather than mileage.

Oil gets old whether or not it performs its function vigorously. You also want your engine to respond well whenever you decide to revive full-time driving.

Note that low mileage doesn’t always translate to infrequent driving. You could drive every day but would only go to the store at the corner and back home. You still need fresh oil for such brief trips.

Perhaps knowing that the oil isn’t just for lubrication would help convince low-mileage drivers to change it when they should. The oil helps protect the engine from rust, maintains its temperature and reduces dirt. So, relax, you’re not wasting money when you change your oil.

What Happens If You NEVER Change the Oil on a Car?

Your engine inevitably gets damaged. You’d need a new engine or a new car. But first, let’s discuss all that happens in between.

Think of the oil as a wet rag and the engine as a long dirty table. At some point, the rag gets dirty. We’ve already established that the engine oil is a cleaning agent.

The oil cleans the dirt by absorbing it, and over time, it becomes thicker. The thicker it becomes, the more difficult it’ll be for it to pass through the filter. As you’ve probably guessed, this increases the friction in the engine.

Also, the oil components responsible for cleaning the engine become weak. This causes the engine to corrode and wear out prematurely.

The oil becomes clogged and eventually starts being more solid than liquid. This means the oil can’t freely reach all parts of the engine.

That causes engine parts to rub against each other roughly. Your engine performance deteriorates drastically. The engine eventually overheats and gets damaged, just like we said earlier.

With that in mind, never changing the oil isn’t an option at all.

Related: 4 Great Cars Without GDI Engines (Gasoline Direct Injection)

Do Electric Cars Need Oil Change?

They do not, or at least not like regular gasoline and diesel cars.

An electric car does not have an engine nor does it have a fuel tank. It is powered only by a battery.

Think of the battery as its fuel and the electric motor as its engine. The motor simply uses the energy from the battery to move the car without pistons or valves.

Since there’s no clanking of metals together, there’s hardly a need for lubrication. There’s also little or no debris, so there’s no need for intensive cleaning.

This does not mean electric cars do not require oil or maintenance at all. The gear reducer needs oil. It is practically the transmission of an electric car.

However, the oil for the reducer doesn’t need to be replaced as often as engine oil in ICE-powered cars. Your dealer would do the replacement if needed during check-ups. Your car manual may instruct that you check your reduction gear oil at certain intervals.

EV owners really don’t have a lot to worry about regarding maintenance. However, there are a few other fluids that are helpful for optimum performance.

EVs have coolants that help regulate the battery temperature. This prevents the battery from overheating. The coolant is to the battery what oil is to an engine.

You would also need to check your brake fluid at some point. Typically, every year.

Ultimately, consult your car manual for information on what to do. Different brands use different technologies and their cars have different maintenance needs.

Related: Are Diesel Pick-Up Trucks Good For Road Trips (Explained)

How Far Can You Go Between Oil Changes?

This number increases by the day as newer technologies are being introduced in the automobile industry.

The frequency of oil changes partly depends on the type of fuel, whether gasoline or diesel. It also depends on driving habits. The oil type also plays an important role, as we’d explain in a moment.

Different car manufacturers have different schedules for oil change. There are different intervals for both the gasoline and diesel engines. However, from their manuals, diesel engines usually need an oil change more often than gasoline ones.

Manufacturers recommend intervals ranging from 5,000 miles to 10,000 miles for diesel engine oil change. From our observations of different car brands, 7,500 miles seems to be a fair mileage. Most gasoline powered engines today can go 10,000 miles before requiring oil replacement.

Don’t be frightened if your car manual permits you to drive 15,000 miles without changing your oil. Some cars paired with certain oil types can last that long.

Even though you stick to the rules as much as you can, don’t panic and change your oil too quickly. Mechanics don’t always have your best interest at heart.

Related: Do All Cars Rust Eventually? (Here’s What To Expect)

What About Synthetic Oil?

Synthetic oil sure has a lot of advantages. However, it is usually more expensive than regular car oil for good reason. It is more effective as a cleaning agent and lasts longer than other oil types.

Another major advantage is that it helps against sludge build-up. This is because it is less likely for it to solidify after several cycles of cleaning. It is also better for engines during extreme temperatures, whether cold or hot.

However, even with all these advantages, it isn’t advisable to allow synthetic oil to overstay its welcome.

Recall that it’s about twice or thrice as expensive as regular oil. This means you won’t get your money back if you’re considering longevity (because you’d still follow regular oil change schedules).

Hence, synthetic oil is more effective but wallet draining. Only use it if your manufacturer recommends it or if you use your vehicle for strenuous towing.

Final Thoughts

At the time of this writing, cars can go as long as 10,000 miles without an oil change. Two decades ago, it was rare. Cars only used to last about 3,000 miles before needing an oil change.

We expect that in the future, with the innovations arising rapidly in the automotive industry, cars will last even longer without needing oil changes.

These days, automakers have also made the job pretty easy. Modern cars have monitoring systems that alert the driver on when it’s time to change the oil.

Even with this development, it’s great for you to maintain the habit of checking your oil level and color regularly. You never know when the system might malfunction.


5 Things to Know About Oil Changes for Your Car | Consumer Reports

What Happens When You Skil Oil Changes | US News

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