Oil change intervals can be confusing, especially with modern vehicles. Many manufacturers now recommend extended oil change intervals that may be more frequent than the older, traditional advice. On the other hand, changing your oil more frequently isn't harmful, so which advice should you follow, and should you ever consider changing your oil more often?

As with many car maintenance topics, the answer can be complex. There's never anything wrong with changing your oil more often, but there are some situations where following an extended oil change interval may be inadvisable. If any of these three reasons apply to you, you may want to consider more frequent oil changes.

You Meet Severe Maintenance Criteria

If you look in your vehicle's owner's manual, you'll likely find two maintenance intervals: normal and severe. The normal interval usually includes a longer oil change replacement schedule, while the severe interval may be much lower. Which one applies to your particular situation? It depends on your particular driving conditions.

In general, severe intervals cover situations where your engine rarely reaches full operating temperatures. For example, taking many short drives in cold weather can reduce your engine's ability to boil off excess water in your motor oil. Excessively dusty driving conditions may also warrant following the severe service schedule. In these cases, changing your oil more often can help protect your engine.

You Delayed Your Previous Oil Change

Since manufacturers already recommend extended oil change intervals, waiting even longer to change your oil is rarely advisable. Unfortunately, life often gets in the way, and many people may wait a little longer than they should between service appointments. Waiting too long to change your oil cause small amounts of sludge to form in your engine, even clogging tiny oil passageways.

The good news is that one deferred oil change is unlikely to cause much damage, but you may want to consider another change soon. Clean oil and a clean filter will capture more of the gunk left behind by your old oil, which will make the new oil become dirtier much quicker. Flushing this oil will help remove these deposits and help undo some of the effects of a deferred oil service.

You Analyzed Your Oil

Many services provide low-cost oil tests for car owners. These tests can tell you a lot about the internal condition of your engine, and they can also let you know if you're changing your oil too infrequently. Sending your oil in for a test, especially on an older car, can be an excellent way to adjust your maintenance schedule based on objective data rather than feeling.

Most oil analyses also include some information to help you understand the results. If these results point to problems, more frequent oil changes can help. The good news is that you can continue to test your oil with your more frequent service schedule, helping you find a good balance between cost and engine protection. 

For more information about getting an oil change, reach out to a local auto service.