Estimations vary concerning when you really need to change the motor oil in your car. Oil change time intervals rely on a lot of mitigating factors that determine when one should get their vehicle's oil changed. Figuring out which factors affect the cleanliness of your oil can help you make the best choice as to when you'll need to get around to changing it.
To see the oil change interval recommendation on a car you're looking at, you can turn to the owner's manual. If there's no manual, consider a Google search. Just enter the year, make and model of your car followed by the words "oil change interval," and it shouldn't be too hard to find the manufacturer's recommended interval for oil changes.
But what if you cannot check whether or not the seller changed the oil at regular intervals since there aren't any records found? This is a situation many deal with when acquiring a new car, and it can be a serious one. After all, lazy car owners might push a car well past its oil change interval, which can cause significant engine damage.
If there aren't any records, take the car to a mechanic for an evaluation before you buy it. That's because it's not easy to substantiate any details about the car's previous ownership history without any records, so a mechanical inspection is a really good option. While the inspection won't bring back those records, it'll at least give you a good starting point to figure out how much to budget for repairs and maintenance, and it's better than being left in the dark when purchasing a used car.
If the repair shop uncovers key issues -- or the seller's records show that he or she has been care-free with oil changes -- we recommend that you think about walking away from the car. Unless the vehicle is especially rare, there will be other models out there that have experienced a far better vehicle maintenance history.