Keeping up with your car’s maintenance will help to ensure that your vehicle will last during a road trip.
This is why you probably wonder whether you should change the oil before or after a road trip.
So, Should You Get an Oil Change Before or After Your Road Trip?
If your car reaches the time interval or mileage for the needed oil change during your road trip, you should change the oil before heading down the road. You don’t want issues when far from home, that may interrupt your road trip plans. However, if you have lots of miles to go until your next oil change after taking into account the extra miles driven on your road trip and the time for an oil change won’t be due until after your road trip, you don’t have to change the oil. Generally, a road trip is not a reason for an oil change, only the miles traveled.
Three Factors For Determining When to Get an Oil Change
You don’t necessarily have to change the oil before heading on a road trip.
Here are some factors to consider to help determine if you should change the oil before or after a road trip.
1. When Was the Last Oil Change?
All automakers have recommended intervals on how often you should change the oil in each car.
The period is indicated on the owner’s manual, so you can check your vehicle’s recommended oil change interval if you aren’t sure.
However, remember that this figure is just a recommendation.
If you are driving in harsh environments with many particulates in the air, you should consider getting the oil change as soon as possible.
If you are above the recommended interval, close to hitting the maximum number of miles, or you will hit past the recommendation on the road trip, you should change the oil before the trip.
It’s better to have it changed before you go rather than risking having to find a station to change the oil when in an unfamiliar town.
2. Check The State of The Oil
It is best to check your oil even if you are in the recommended number of miles between the oil changes and you don’t technically need one.
This will help you determine if you require to top the oil off as well as see whether the oil is dirty enough to warrant a change.
While it won’t be in its typical fresh amber color, it should not be very black and thick.
If the oil is very dark and dense, then ensure you have it changed before heading out for a road trip.
3. Plan Ahead for An Oil Change
If you decide you need to change your car’s oil before going for the road trip, don’t wait until the last minute.
While an oil change is a straightforward process, you will want to ensure everything is seamless by taking frequent short drives around your place for some days before hitting the road.
Therefore, scheduling your oil change a few days or a week before the road trip is better.
What Is the Best Interval for Oil Changes?
There is much contradictory information about engine oil, its kind, and how often it should be changed.
Most car technicians are no longer firm about their 3,000 miles interval oil change.
However, they all agree that car owners should follow the recommended oil change interval on the owner’s manual. Another clear sign is when the oil change light appears on your car.
Today, the oil chemistry combined with enhanced engine technology in recent years has lengthened the interval for oil changes considerably.
Based on the model and make of your car, the recommended oil interval could be between 5,000 to 15,000 miles.
Therefore, ensure you check out your manual.
What Are the Pros of Changing Your Oil Before a Road Trip?
Now that you know it’s best to change your oil before your road trip, let’s look at the advantages of changing your oil before your trip.
1. Keeps Your Engine Strong
Ensuring you have clean and fresh oil ready before you head out for a road trip will keep your engine strong.
2. Saves On Fuel
You probably have a travel budget for fuel if you plan to go on a road trip.
However, you should remember that an engine with fresh oil operates more efficiently and consumes less fuel per mile.
This will increase your MPG and save you cash on the process.
3. Maintains An Efficient Engine
There is a reason why the saying goes, ‘running like a well-oiled machine’.
Having the engine well-oiled will help the engine to operate smoothly and more efficiently.
For the different engine moving parts to work in perfect harmony, you will need to have good quality, amount, and quantity of oil in the engine at all times.
Changing Your Oil After a Road Trip
As long as you are within the recommended automaker limits, there is no need to change your oil immediately after a road trip.
You should only change the oil after a road trip if you are within the set limit on the user manual or the oil looks highly dark and thick. Otherwise, your car is still good to go.
But even if the vehicle is not due for a scheduled oil change for another few hundred miles or months, it is a good idea to have it changed after a long road trip, although it’s not a must.
Car Maintenance to Do Before a Road Trip
Besides having an oil change, it would also be wise to ensure all your car systems are functioning at peak efficiency before you start your road trip.
Check tire pressure, engine coolant, lights, mirrors, windshield wipers, air filter, and transmission fluid.
However, it is risky to have the service done just before the trip.
For instance, the drain plug might be left loose, causing oil leakage.
To avoid such incidents, as you plan for your road trip, ensure to schedule the needed oil change and maintenance service about a week before you hit the road.
A properly maintained car will ensure your road trip doesn’t get put off by unpredicted repairs.
Inspecting the oil before heading out will help ward-off unforeseen predicaments on the road trip.
To be safe, you should get an oil change a few weeks before embarking on a road trip to ensure everything is seamless.
It’s also wise to schedule an auto repair and maintenance to ensure other car components and fluids are in perfect condition.