Do I need to check my car’s oil level between changes?

Question:

If my mechanic changes the oil every three months, can I assume that the fluid level is adequate?

Answer:

A quarterly (every three months) oil change is a great way to maintain a healthy car, especially if you are disciplined about it. And for some people, depending upon the conditions, the quarterly oil change is an adequate way to monitor your oil. But there are at least three situations in which you should check the oil level MORE OFTEN than every three months:

  • If you become aware of a leak (big or small)
  • If you notice that the car is burning oil
  • If you are driving an older vehicle

Another condition that might prompt more frequent checks: a vehicle with high mileage. Anything over 150,000 is getting up there. Some vehicles have a dashboard light that illuminates in the case of low oil levels. If you see that light, it’s probably not urgent, but you should check it at your earliest convenience.

Bottom line: Depending upon conditions, you might need to add another quart of oil between oil changes; and you can confirm checking your oil level a couple of times between changes. That way, you establish a sort of base line, just to assure that you have a good idea how much oil your car is really using.