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How Frequently Does my RV Need an Oil Change?


RV maintenance issues can be a constant process, but one of the most important to keep everything else working well is ensuring that your engine oil is regularly changed. But how often does it need to be changed? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t a simple one and must take into account the environments you’re driving in and similar factors. Keep reading to find the best answer for your circumstances.

How Frequently Does My RV Need an Oil Change?

Of course, part of the answer will depend on your specific engine. Diesel engines require less frequent oil changes than gasoline engines, and synthetic oils last much longer than conventional oils, but no matter what type of fuel you use, the manufacturer will have the final say in recommended oil change intervals. But why do you have to change your oil in the first place?

What Happens to the Oil In Your RV’s Engine?

Your engine oil lubricates your engine and keeps it operating smoothly. But over time, it picks up dust and dirt as it circulates through your engine, breaks down due to heat and heavy usage, and undergoes similar issues that can either allow it to last longer or shorter periods of time. How quickly it breaks down depends on the type of driving you typically undertake.

What Kind of Driving are You Doing?

The type of driving that you do can drastically impact how long your engine oil will be able to be used. You can gain some additional time by using synthetic oils, stretching maximum intervals for gasoline engines from 5,000 to 15,000 miles, but the largest impact on how long you can use the oil will depend on your driving conditions.

  • Dirt Roads: Because dirt roads tend to have a lot more dust and dirt in the air, your engine oil becomes dirty more quickly. Dirt and dust in your engine oil can increase the rate at which your engine parts wear, so changing your oil more frequently protects them from additional damage.
  • Mountain Highways: It takes a lot of work for your engine to move your RV up the mountains, even if you can coast down them. This extra work means extra heat built up in your engine, and the oil breaks down faster due to this heat, which causes your engine oil levels to fall. Though you could add more oil to the engine, it won’t necessarily provide the same level of protection.
  • High Temperatures: Desert driving and going through parts of the deep south can be really hard on your engine oil, specifically because the high heat can cause it to break down faster. Though some people who spent a lot of time in these climates simply move to a higher oil weight, it’s a much better idea to contact the manufacturer for recommendations in this situation.
  • City vs. Highway Driving: Much like fuel economy, city driving is just harder on vehicles. You’re spending a lot of time idling and changing speeds rather than simply accelerating to one speed and maintaining it. If you do a lot of city driving, plan on changing your oil earlier in the process to continue protecting your engine.
  • Towing: If you have a toad vehicle or haul toys behind your RV, you’ll need to change oil more frequently. Towing puts additional strain on the engine, which often creates a lot more wear and tear on the oil that’s trying to lubricate it. This is one area where you’ll need to check with the manufacturer for oil change intervals.
  • High idling situations: Idling causes your RV’s engine to heat up. Even though you may have an effective cooling system, spending a lot of time at an idle can cause more wear and tear on your engine oil, as it tries to keep the engine lubricated while it breaks down in the heat. If you spend a lot of time idling, you’ll want to decrease your oil change interval.

In any of these situations, you’ll want to drop the oil change interval by half. This means that you’ll want to change your oil every 2,500 miles using conventional oil or every 7,500 miles for synthetic oil. That being said, you’ll want to check with your RV manufacturer and make adjustments accordingly if you start with a different oil change interval.

Similarly, diesel pusher RVs will often have a longer oil change interval due to the heavier weight of the original engine oil. But why do diesel engines use heavier oil? Because they run at higher temperatures. Because they’re built to deal with higher loads, they can continue with longer oil change intervals, though with the above situations, you’ll still want to consider decreasing the oil change interval to protect your engine.

Why is it Important to Change Your RV Oil Regularly?

It can be very tempting, especially given the amount of oil that a typical RV engine requires, to put off your RV oil change as long as possible. However, putting off this important maintenance can cost you a great deal more in the end, as wear and tear on the engine components can cause the engine to fail prematurely.

A worn engine is going to operate less efficiently and cleanly, so you’ll see a related drop in your fuel economy and performance. Eventually, this kind of neglect can lead the engine to fail, requiring very expensive repairs. Consider carefully the amount of money that you’ve invested in your RV. Isn’t it a great idea to keep up with its regular maintenance so that you can get as much out of it as is possible?

If you’re in need of a tune up or any additional service work done on your RV, click here to find a La Mesa Service Department near you.