Rules of the Road

Car Care 101 Rules of the Road by Sears Auto

Back to Car Care 101

Severe is the New Average

Severe is the New Average

Most consumers know it’s important to change their oil routinely. What they don’t know is why it’s important, and how often it should be changed. Fresh oil lubricates the parts of your engine, transfers heat away from the combustion, and helps keep contaminants out of your engine. Over time, the additives in oil which help lubricate and protect your engine are depleted, including viscosity improvers and corrosion inhibitors. Routine oil changes keep the additives fresh and your engine protected from contaminants.

Oil Change Intervals

Vehicle manufacturers recommend intervals for oil changes in the vehicles’ manuals, both for average and severe driving conditions. However, according to the Filter Manufacturer’s Council, only roughly 20% of vehicles are regularly driven under “normal” conditions, while 4 out of 5 drivers fall into the “severe” category. As defined by AAA, the Car Care Council, and the Filter Manufacturer’s Council, “severe,” or as we should say, the “new normal” driving conditions include:

  • Trips of less than 4 miles, particularly in cold weather
  • Frequently idling for long periods of time or driving in stop and go traffic
  • Sustained highway driving in hot weather
  • Towing a boat or trailer or carrying heavy objects on a rooftop rack
  • Driving in above average hot and below average cold temperatures
  • Driving in dusty or dirty driving conditions, such as dirt or gravel roads
  • Driving on step hills or mountains on a regular basis

Normal vs. Severe Driving

If these are the “new normal,” be sure to refer to your vehicle manufacturer’s standard for severe driving when referencing the frequency with which you change your oil. Also check your vehicle’s manual for recommended oil types, as different oils do different things. Bring your car into Sears Auto Center for a multi-point inspection, including an oil level check, and ask one of our expert technicians about the best type of oil for your vehicle.

Related Articles

Need Oil Change?

Oil Change

We offer a complete line of vehicle services. Learn more about our oil change.

Schedule an Appointment

We offer complete auto service and maintenance.

Find a Store

Let us help you find your nearest Sears Auto Center.