How Often Should You Get An RV Oil Change?
We are all aware of the importance of an RV oil change. Your RV engine oil is its lifeline. It allows for smooth operation and must be monitored for optimal performance.
Engine oils perform a very important role in lubricating moving engine components. Low oil levels or dirty or contaminated oil can lead to eventual or even immediate engine failure!
All manufacturers will have a recommended schedule and oil type, and it’s important to follow a regular RV oil change schedule.
When do you need to get an RV oil change?
The frequency of oil changes will depend on a few different factors. This includes the number of miles traveled combined with engine run time (think idling time for various reasons), the driving environment including towing vehicles, mountainous roads, or extreme temperatures, and engine age and condition.
The average suggested time between oil changes under normal circumstances is no more than 5,000 miles for traditional oils, and can be up to 15,000 miles for full synthetic oils.
Again, this won’t apply to everyone due to the factors mentioned above. If you tow with your RV or travel in areas that require your engine to work harder, more frequent oil changes are required.
Oil breaks down over time as it is heated and circulated through an engine. The harder an engine is working, the faster it will break down.
Older worn engines often don’t run as clean and efficient, which will limit the life of your oil as well. Engine oil will darken as it is exposed to sludge and impurities. This can be seen by checking the level on your dipstick. Dirty oil is better than no oil, but it should be changed.
If any of the above factors are present in your RV, consider shorter oil change intervals. Perhaps you will be doing a change every 2,500 miles if needed. Oil changes are cheap insurance, so more frequent is always better.
Additional things to consider
When checking your oil level, also look at the color and condition of the oil. Dark oil is dirty, and this may shorten your time between changes. Be especially concerned about oil with a milky appearance as this signals engine coolant is likely contaminating your oil and should be dealt with immediately.
Keep in mind if your oil level is consistently low, oil changes won’t help this. It is important to keep levels topped up, but simply adding more new oil won’t fix this problem. Further issues are causing this drop in oil and should be taken care of.
If your RV is only used periodically each year and mileage stays below the suggested schedule, it is still a good idea to change your oil out. Moisture accumulates in sitting engines and this can also be problematic for engine oil.
An RV oil change twice a year is recommended regardless of mileage, just to be safe.
Should you use synthetic oil?
Synthetic oils are considerably more expensive than traditional oil, but are they worth it?
For many years, millions of vehicles operated with traditional oil without issue. Today, engines are more complex, and some manufacturers recommend synthetic. For warranty reasons, it is important to adhere to these recommendations.
If you travel a lot of miles, tow a vehicle, or are in extreme temperatures or hilly areas, synthetic is probably worth considering. The cost per change is higher, but fewer RV oil changes will be required.
Should you do your RV oil change yourself?
Oil changes are a pretty simple project in most cases. If you choose to do it yourself, here are a few things to consider.
You will need some specific tools and items to perform an RV oil change yourself.
The job can be a little messy, so consider what oily hands or some oil in your driveway is worth to you.
A big factor to consider is where you will dispose of the used oil. Once drained, you will need to have a large drum or container to transfer the oil to, or fill your now empty oil jugs.
Proper disposal of engine oil is needed. Before starting, check your area for locations you can take used oil to for discarding.
The cost of an RV oil change is pretty reasonable, so consider the value of your time. The cost of the oil and filter are there whether you do it yourself or not, so consider your time in the cost.
In the case of Class A diesel motorhomes, oil changes can be pricey, but many are afraid to try it themselves. The steps are basically the same, so if you do want to save some money, it is doable for most RVers.
Track your RV maintenance
Oil changes are the most important maintenance you will do on your RV. Track your RV mileage and monitor your driving conditions to ensure you are keeping your engine oil in top condition.
Make sure you keep track of all your RV maintenance and repairs with an online tool such as Maintain My RV from RV LIFE. Not only can you keep all of your documents in one place, but you’ll also receive timely reminders when maintenance is due to help you avoid costly repairs and potentially serious accidents.