Skip to content

Should You Get an Oil Change Before or After a Road Trip?

Under the hood of a car is an orange-handled oil dipstick.

Wondering if you should get an oil change before or after a road trip? No one wants to risk having trouble with their engine when they’re in the middle of a road trip, but you don’t necessarily have to get your oil changed before you head out on the open road. Here’s what you need to know about whether you should get an oil change before or after a road trip.

When Was Your Last Oil Change?An oily dipstick

Every automaker has recommended intervals for how often the oil should be changed in each of its cars. If you don’t know what’s recommended for your car, then break out your owner’s manual. Keep in mind this figure is a recommendation. If you drive in harsh environments where there are lots of particulates in the air, then you’re going to want to err on the side of caution and get your oil changed sooner.

If you’re over the recommendation, close to hitting the maximum number of miles, or will go over the recommendation when you’re on the road, then get the oil changed before your road trip. It’s better to get it done before you go rather than risk having to find a place when you’re in an unfamiliar town.

Check the Oil

Even if you’re within the recommended number of miles between oil changes and technically don’t need one, check your oil anyway. Not only is this a good idea so you know if you need to top it off, but it also lets you see if the oil is dirty enough to need a change.

Although it’s not going to be the perfect amber color it was when it was fresh, it shouldn’t look like black goo. If the oil is very dark or if it’s thick, then you should get an oil change before the planned road trip.

Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute

If you decide you do need to get an oil change before you head out, don’t put it off. Although it’s a straightforward process, you want to make sure everything is good to go by driving around where you live for a few days before you hit the road. Plan to have your oil changed about a week before your trip.

Changing Your Oil When You Get Home

There’s no reason to change your oil simply because you went on a road trip. As long as the oil looks clean and you’re within the automaker’s recommendations, then you don’t need to change your oil just yet.

A well-maintained car ensures your road trip isn’t sidelined by unexpected repairs. Checking your oil before you head out will keep you on track for your next road trip.

Check out all the oil change products available on NAPA Online, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information about getting an oil change, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Nicole Wakelin View All

Nicole Wakelin covers the automotive industry as a freelance journalist for a variety of outlets. Her work includes news pieces, podcasts, radio, written reviews, and video reviews. She can be found in The Boston Globe, CarGurus, BestRide, US News and World Report, and AAA along with lifestyle blogs like Be Car Chic, The Other PTA, and She Buys Cars. She is active on social media with a large following on both Twitter and Instagram and currently serves as Vice President of the New England Motor Press Association.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *