How Long Can I Wait To Get An Oil Change, Really?

How Long Can I Wait To Get An Oil Change, Really?

November 16, 2023    Car Care

It’s happened to all of us. A dashboard light is illuminated while you’re driving, letting you know it’s time to get an oil change.

It’s common knowledge that getting your oil changed is an important thing to do for our vehicles… but have you ever wondered how often you really need to get it done? The answer isn’t a completely simple one and depends on a few factors.


Vehicle Type

For many years, the common rule of thumb has been to get an oil change every 5,000 kilometres or every three months (whichever comes first), no matter what type of vehicle you own. Now, many newer vehicles are smart enough to know when an oil change is necessary and each different make and model will have different recommended times for when to get it done.

Vehicle Age

It may seem obvious, but older cars require more regular maintenance than newer cars – and that includes oil changes. Years of debris buildup can affect your car’s ability to use oil. Luckily, automotive design has changed quite a bit over the past few decades and modern engines are much more effective when it comes to using oil.

Oil Type

Not only do we have more efficient vehicles on the market – more efficient oils are also now available. Synthetic oil is more expensive (usually around double the price as conventional), but it can often double the time between each oil change. Even though synthetic oil has many benefits, always check to make sure it’s the right kind of oil for your car.

Driving Conditions

Driving conditions also play a role in how often your oil needs to be changed. This might come as a surprise, but long trips are easier on your car than short ones. Short trips can affect the car’s oil because the engine doesn’t have enough time to evaporate the contaminants efficiently. The temperature outside also affects how your vehicle works and as a result, you may need to get oil changes more often during extreme heat or cold.


As we mentioned earlier, the answer isn’t always black and white. The true answer to this question will be unique to you and your specific vehicle, but here are some good guidelines to follow:

  • First, check your owner’s manual to see what frequency the manufacturer recommends and use that as a baseline for creating an oil change schedule.
  • If your engine light goes on, it really is best to get your car checked out and not push it. Typically, your car will be able to go another 150 km or so, but it’s best not to try your luck.
  • If there are unexpected engine noises, smoke or strange vibrations along with the check engine light, definitely get your car checked ASAP.
  • If you change your oil regularly but notice that your oil levels keep dropping, there’s a possibility that your car is beginning to burn oil and your car may overheat. Head to a mechanic as soon as you can to get it looked at.


Putting off an oil change can end up costing you more money in the future. Oil has a lot of responsibilities including lubricating the engine’s metal parts and carrying away heat and dirt. The oil filter also helps to clear the oil of debris.

The longer oil is left in the car, the more the oil and filter will accumulate debris. Once they become too dirty, they are no longer able to do the jobs your car needs them to do. Sludge can build up, damaging your engine and costing you thousands of dollars in the long run. Plus, the quality of the additives in the oil (such as rust-fighters and detergents) will begin to decrease over time.


Whether you have a flat tire, your vehicle has broken down or you need an oil change, we’re here to help! As a Birchwood Credit customer, you have access to our Birchwood Service Centres – a reliable and convenient choice for your vehicle servicing needs. You can trust that your car is in good hands! Reach out to one of our helpful customer service representatives to get more life and value from your vehicle.

At Birchwood Credit, we specialize in helping all types of drivers including new Canadians and those with less-than-perfect credit. We want to find you a great vehicle that fits into your budget. Take a few minutes to fill out our online application form today. You can be pre-approved in less than three minutes!

Brandish Digital
Written by

Free Buyers' Guide

Download our New to Canada Guide

Download Now
Free Buyers' Guide