Should I Change My Oil Before Or After A Road Trip?

Keeping your car mechanically sound when you’re hitting the road, this post is part of our car care and maintenance series

When it comes to planning a road trip, there are many things to consider. One of the most important is making sure your car is ready for the journey; you might be debating whether or not to get an oil change.

You might be thinking, “My car just had an oil change a few months ago; do I really need another one?” Or, “I’m going on a long road trip. Won’t my car need an oil change after all those miles?” Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Should you always change your oil before hitting the open road? In order to answer that question, you’ll need to take into account a few factors, such as:

  • How long will you be driving?
  • What kind of terrain will you be traversing?
  • When was the last time you changed your oil?
  • And what kind of car do you have?

If you’re unsure whether or not to change your oil, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and do so before embarking on your trip. That way, you can rest assured that your car is in good condition and ready for whatever lies ahead.

Is It Better to Get an Oil Change Before a Road Trip?

There are several compelling reasons to get your oil changed before embarking on a road trip. First and foremost, it’s important to keep your car well-maintained to avoid breakdowns. And what’s worse than being stranded on the side of the highway in the middle of nowhere? Nobody wants to be that person.

Another good reason to get an oil change before a road trip is that it can actually improve your gas mileage. When your car’s engine is properly lubricated, it doesn’t have to work as hard, which means it doesn’t have to use as much gas. And who doesn’t want to save money on gas?

Finally, if you’re planning a cross-country road trip, you might be racking up a lot of miles. Most experts recommend getting your oil changed every 5,000 miles or so. So, if you’re starting with dirty oil, you could end up doing more damage to your engine than good.

So, let’s run a hypothetical situation here. Suppose it has been about 2,500 miles since your last oil change. Your upcoming road trip will be around 1,500 miles. Now, it is recommended you change your oil every 3,000 – 5,000 miles.

So, doing some quick math, you are going to be at around 4,000 miles since your last oil change by the time your road trip is over.

Now, depending on your car, you could be fine. This is where knowing your vehicle is invaluable. If I were taking my 2010 Toyota Tacoma with 98,000 miles on this hypothetical road trip, I would be changing the oil.

Some people might wonder if it’s better to get an oil change before a road trip or wait until after. In general, it’s a good idea to get an oil change before you hit the road. This will help ensure your car is running smoothly and that you don’t have any problems while you’re on your trip.

If you do wait until after your trip to get an oil change, there’s a chance that some of the problems you encountered while driving could be attributed to the oil issue. So it’s always best to take care of this kind of maintenance ahead of time.

Maybe you are all set, though. You are just a few hundred miles since your last oil change. Should you change your oil when you get back from your road trip?

Should I Do an Oil Change After a Long Drive? 

If you’ve just completed a long road trip, your car may be in need of an oil change. Depending on how long you were driving and the type of terrain you were on, your car may have endured a lot of wear and tear.

If you’re not sure whether or not to get an oil change after a long drive, here are some things to consider:

Mechanic pouring oil into car engine. Should I Change My Oil Before a Road Trip - Should I Do an Oil Change After a Long Drive

How long was your trip? If it was a short trip, your car may not need an oil change yet. However, if you drove for a while on rough terrain, your car’s engine may have taken a beating. In this case, it’s best to go ahead and get an oil change.

Recently, we drove from Florida to Maine. It was a long drive for any car; the driving conditions were mostly highway miles, but there were some mountains and hills along the way.

All of that up and down puts added stress on your engine, especially when you are driving at 70-75 miles per hour.

Not to mention, our vehicle is ten years old. Show your car some love, and go ahead and get that oil change after such a drive.

In general, it’s always a good idea to get an oil change after a long road trip. This will help ensure your car is running smoothly and that any problems that occur while driving are taken care of.

Does oil last longer with highway miles?

Now, this is an interesting question. You are asking ‘If I am driving strictly on the highway, can I go longer between oil changes? Will I get more miles out of the oil in my engine now?

If we are speaking strictly of the oil in your engine, then the answer is ‘no.’

As we have established, you should get your oil changed every 3,000-5,000 miles regardless of the ‘type’ of driving.

If anything, with consistent speeds and electronically controlled engines, highway driving causes less wear and tear on your car. Regardless, the number of miles you drive will remain the same, and your oil will need to be changed. However, if you drive in stop-and-go traffic a lot, using a heavier grade of oil can help it last longer.

No matter what kind of driving you do, it’s important to keep your car well-maintained. This includes changing your oil regularly and using the right type of oil for your vehicle.

Final Thoughts…

So, should you get an oil change before going on a road trip? Ultimately, that decision is up to you. If you can afford it and you’re due for an oil change anyway, then there’s no harm in getting one before hitting the open road.

However, if you’re tight on cash or your car’s engine is still relatively new, you might be better off waiting until after your road trip to get an oil change. No matter what you decide, happy travels!

download your free road trip checklist click here button

© Family Road Trip

You might also like