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Oil Change Recommendations
Checking and changing the oil is essential to keep today's engines working properly and efficiently. Check the oil level with the engine off and the car parked on a flat surface. Open the hood, remove the dipstick, wipe off with a cloth towel or paper, then place it back into the oil tank. Pull it again and see if the level is within the acceptable range marked on the dipstick. If you add the oil yourself, do not over fill. Over filling can damage the engine.
What most of us think is "normal" driving is actually "severe service" driving. This includes frequent short trips (less than 10 miles, especially in cold weather), stop-and-go city traffic driving, driving in dusty conditions (gravel roads, etc), and sustained highway driving speed during the warm season.
What About The Oil Filter?
To reduce the costs of vehicle ownership and maintenance, many car makers say the oil filter only needs to be replaced at every other oil change. Most mechanics will tell you this is not the case.
The oil filters on most engines today have been downsized to save weight, cost and space. The "standard" quart-sized filter that was once common on most engines has been replaced by a pint-sized (or smaller) filter. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that a smaller filter has less total filtering capacity.
Replacing the oil filter every time the oil is changed, therefore, is highly recommended.
If you perform your own oil changes, make sure you get the correct filter for your engine. Many filters that look the same on the outside have different internal valving. Many overhead cam engines, for example, require an "anti-drainback" valve in the filter to prevent oil from draining out of the filter when the engine is shut off. This allows oil pressure to reach critical engine parts more quickly when the engine is restarted. Filters that are mounted sideways on the engine typically require an anti-drainback valve.
Used motor oil should be disposed of properly. The Environmental Protection Agency does not consider used motor oil to be a hazardous chemical, but it can foul ground water and does contain traces of lead. The best way to dispose of used motor oil is to take it to a facility for recycling. Your old oil will either be rerefined into other lubricants or petroleum products, or burned as fuel.
Do not dump used motor oil on the ground, down a drain, into a storm sewer or place it in the trash. Many landfills will not accept used motor oil even if it is in a sealed container because it will eventually leak out into the ground. Service facilities that perform oil changes all have storage tanks and recycling programs to dispose of used oil.