How Often Should I Get a Diesel Oil Change on My Truck?

How Often Should I Get a Diesel Oil Change on My Truck?

Diesel Truck Repair | Fleet Care | Repair and Maintenance | 11/30/2023
Written by Stacy Conner

We had a customer come in and ask us an interesting question the other day. After finishing a comprehensive DOT inspection, the customer told us they were tired of spending too much money on oil changes.

“Can’t I just do it myself? How often should I change my diesel truck’s oil, anyway?” they asked. 

We told them very 3,000 to 10,000 miles, but it depends.

Fleet drivers, managers, and operators: with so many fleet vehicles and preventive maintenance plans to care for, knowing how often to change the diesel oil on trucks and heavy fleet equipment isn’t always easy.

And when you factor in time, cost of materials, and preventive maintenance programs? It’s no wonder it’s not easy to know how often your fleet equipment needs an oil change.

If you’re wondering how often to change your truck’s diesel oil, you’ve come to the right place. Welcome to Equipment Experts.

For over 20 years, we’ve been providing drivers, fleets, and businesses with comprehensive diesel truck repair services. 

If you’re looking for expert advice on how often to change your diesel truck’s oil, look no further. In this article, we’ll explain how often to change your diesel engine and the pros and cons of changing your oil yourself.

Key Article Takeaways:

Questions to ask before changing diesel oil

A maintenance technician helping an owner of a vehicle

Before changing your vehicle’s oil, you’ll want to ask yourself the following questions:

The answers to these questions will help you determine what’s needed to keep your engine running at its peak.

We’ll take a look at why each question is important in the following sections.

The environment can affect the oil change process

A truck on a highway against a backdrop of mountains

Here in Tacoma, Washington, we often drive on slick and salty roads, which means we likely change our oil more frequently. Depending on if you’re driving your truck in rain or shine, gravel or concrete, your environment can affect how often you’ll change your diesel truck’s oil.

Cold weather and rough terrain can cause increased strain on an engine. If you live in cooler climates, ensure your truck’s internal systems are well-lubricated and protected by taking your vehicle in for frequent oil changes.

Of course, how you use your vehicle will affect how often you should change your vehicle’s oil.

Vehicle type and usage

Semi trucks lined up in a row

Do you drive a diesel pickup? Perhaps an over-the-road semi-truck? How about a large cement truck?

Oil change frequency will change depending on the vehicle type. For example, if you own a semi-truck, or if you frequently haul heavy loads (which can add additional strain on your engine), you’ll need to change the oil on your vehicle more often.

As a general rule of thumb, light-use trucks can drive longer — up to as much as 10,000 miles — without needing an oil change. Diesel trucks that idle more, log fewer highway miles, and often tow large loads may need an oil change every three months — or as few as 3,000 miles.

If in doubt about how often to change the oil — or even what kind of oil your vehicle needs — check your fleet vehicle’s owner’s manual and manufacturer’s recommendation. We’ll discuss more about different types of oil in the next section.

Engine oil type: another factor to consider

A close-up of very bubbly oil

The type of oil you use will affect how often your diesel vehicle requires an oil change. The three most common types of oil include:

Your next oil change service could depend on which type of oil you tend to use to lubricate your engine. For example, vehicles using conventional need oil changes more often than vehicles using synthetic blend or full synthetic oil.

Keep in mind that how fast and far you drive can affect how often your vehicle needs an oil change. We’ll cover the topic of distance and speed in the next section.

Your oil’s friends: trip length/highway driving speed

A sedan next to a semi-truck on a highway

Some diesel vehicles drive at city speeds for cross-town deliveries. Others log thousands of miles at freeway speeds for multi-day trips.

The length of trip and speed of your drive can affect how often you need to change your oil.

When driving at slower speeds, oil can become “viscous,” or thick, as it slows down as it moves through the engine. Your engine has to work harder, which can cause strain on vehicle parts.

As a result, gunk accumulates in the oil, and more frequent oil changes are needed. Driving faster and longer allows your engine to keep the surface of the cylinder wall hotter. The oil left on the rings of the vehicle that fall off the cylinder wall is then burned off with greater ease.

The result of driving at faster speeds? More efficient use of oil and less frequent oil changes.

Oil change frequency varies based on oil type

A multi-colored liquid oil spill

When it comes to diesel oil changes, a standard oil change can give you 5,000-7,500 miles of driving. Synthetic blends can give you 7,500-10,000 miles, and full synthetic oil gives you 10,000- 15,000 miles.

If you’re towing or hauling heavy loads — or if you’re driving under extreme heat, cold, or off-road conditions — expect to change your oil every 3,000-5,000 miles with conventional oil. You’ll change your oil every 5,000-7,500 miles with a synthetic blend and every 7,500-10,000 miles with full synthetic oil.

We recommend checking your owner’s manual and manufacturer recommendations for when to change your vehicle’s oil.

Diesel engines run — but not without expert help

Equipment Experts, Inc.'s management team and fleet in front of their diesel fleet trucks

Most diesel engines need an oil change every 3,000-10,000 miles. We recommend bringing your vehicle to a diesel repair truck shop to make sure your oil change is done right.

With diesel prices at the lowest they’ve been in months, the timing couldn’t be better. Take advantage of an affordable oil change at your local repair shop. Why go with a repair shop, though?

Diesel repair shop technicians can help you make sure you’re using the right oil. As an added perk, they’ll also take into account diesel engine modifications on select vehicles as well.

Plus, a qualified diesel technician has the expertise to do an oil change on all different types of diesel vehicles.

They have experience with making strong oil change recommendations, disposing of messy discarded oil in a safe and clean manner, and keeping engines running smoothly for the long haul. It’s no wonder fleet managers, operators, and drivers keep coming back to us.

For more than 20 years, we’ve been providing quality engine repairs and oil changes for fleet teams.

If you’re looking to change your diesel oil, why not get some expert advice? Stop by our shop, or give the Experts a call anytime at (253) 365-6591 for help with your next oil change.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

A smiling sales technician with his arms folded in front of the Equipment Experts, Inc. logo

How often does a diesel engine need its oil changed?

In general, diesel engine oil should be changed anywhere from every 3,000- 10,000 miles.

You should also consider climate, terrain, type of oil used, driving speed, and distance driven to determine when to change your diesel engine’s oil. As always, make sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendations or your vehicle owner’s manual for specific instructions.

Can I change my own oil?

Yes. Changing your own oil does come with added risks and costs.

When changing your own oil, you’ll need to research which materials and equipment you’ll need. You’ll also have to purchase the right motor oil, change the oil, clean up, ensure proper disposal, and repeat this process throughout the year.

If you want to save yourself time, money, and energy, we recommend bringing your vehicle into a fleet repair shop for your next oil change. A fleet repair shop or diesel engine expert can:

What does healthy oil look like?

Most healthy motor oil is either caramel, tan, or amber in color. If your oil looks black, your engine may need an oil change.

But if your diesel engine is producing black-looking oil right after an oil change, your engine is using the oil to help fight off harmful emissions (Go oil, go!).

If you have other burning questions about professional oil changes or managing your fleet, don’t hesitate to contact us anytime.

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