A Guide: The Right Time to Change Your Fluids


 Responsible auto owners know developing a good auto care routine will help save you money on repairs in the short-term and help keep your car in working order for years to come.

Part of maintaining your vehicle’s health is regular maintenance of its fluids.

Krietz is here to offer a break-down of how often your fluids need to be topped off.


Motor Oil


We’ve all heard the old slogan about changing your oil. “Every 3,000 miles just bring it into…”

Clever piece of marketing, but is this advice sound?

Apparently this well-known adage is based on old information. Back in the day, engines used a much more basic oil that came straight from the earth and burned much less efficiently.

Today’s oil, combined with all of its many additives, is a different fluid entirely. That, combined with advancements in the technology of your car have made that old saying  all but obsolete. 

“Oil chemistry and engine technology have improved to the point that most cars can go several thousand more miles before changing the oil… A better average... 7,500 between oil changes, and sometimes up to 10,000 miles or more,” said Philip Reed of Edmunds in this 2010 article from the New York Times.  

Modern car-owners also often choose synthetic or “refined” motor oil over conventional, and it generally only needs to be changed between 5,000 and 15,000 miles on the road.

As with most things however, one size does not fit all. Many mechanics now suggest that the time to change your oil can vary greatly from person-to-person, vehicle-to-vehicle. 

If a vehicle is being used for things like racing or towing, and in extreme weather conditions, its oil should be changed more frequently.



Another popularly held belief is that coolant (a mixture of antifreeze and water), is good for the lifetime of your auto. Not quite. After time, antifreeze can turn acidic and begin to start eating away at the metal surfaces of your engine. This causes things like system leaks that can cause major damage if not monitored over time. This does take a while though, so don’t race out the door for this one just yet.

The best time to change your coolant really depends on the make and model of your car, so check your manufacturer’s guidance for your particular vehicle. According to Mercedes Benz, for example the interval can range anywhere between 30,000 miles or upwards of 120,000 to 150,000 miles for different models.



Transmission Fluid 

This one’s up for major debate. Unlike motor oil, transmission oil is one thing most drivers never actually think about.

But it does deteriorate over time from hard use, such as heavy hauling, tractor towing, and stop-and-go city driving. For automatic transmissions, a lot of car companies won’t even suggest changing the transmission fluid for at least 100,000 miles--well beyond the time period most people own their vehicle.

Manual transmissions require more conventional gear oil rather than ATF and tend to be on a different maintenance schedule entirely.

So all things, it’s best to consult your owner’s manual first and then your regular mechanic. 

If you’re on the lookout for that local Frederick-area expert, be sure to visit us here at Krietz Auto.

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