I considered taking the car on a road trip to Baltimore this coming weekend. I ended up buying train tickets instead, but I had the car in mind for a while. So I started considering what sort of maintenance the 1996 Camry would need for a 1,200 mile round-trip. Probably need the CV joint looked at. Fuel filter, too – oh, and see if that recurring shuddering is the EGR valve.
And when’s the last time I got my oil changed?
Craning my neck forward, I took a look at the sticker in the top left of the windshield. Apparently, I was due for an oil change in October.
I had a surging moment of adrenalized panic, as if my car had been fueled by ignorance for the last six months and knowing the date would set the engine on fire. Then I double-checked the sticker.
The nice folks at Valvoline had recommended I come in for an oil change in October – at 145,000 miles. My car just hit 144,000 this winter.
I did some simple math. Mechanics and dealerships insist that you change your oil every three months or 3,000 miles (even though the actual requirement’s closer to 6 months and 5,000, respectively). This would mean I last got my oil changed in July 2008. If I’d only put another 2,000 miles on in that time, I probably wouldn’t hit 145K until July 2009 – three months from now.
Holy hell. When did I start driving fewer than three thousand miles in a year?
Moving to Davis has offset so much of my transportation costs. I take the subway and shuttle 3 days a week and I rarely drive on the weekends. My closest friends all live near the Red Line, or at least within walking distance. I could make do without a car if I absolutely had to.
Of course, I should still get the oil changed anyway – nine months is a bit too long to go without oil changes if you use your car with any regularity. But it’s good to get that last bit of proof that I’m a city boy at heart. I couldn’t get away with driving fewer than three thousand miles in a year outside of a city, unless perhaps I lived on a farm.