Ask The Car Chasers: Oil & Gas
Producer / Writer
In an age of sky-high gas prices and cash-strapped consumers scrimping and saving every spare dollar, caring for an automobile comes with important questions.
These include: how do you really know when to change your car's oil? And is paying extra at the pump for premium gas a rip off, or is it really worth it?
We posed these questions to Jeff Allen, Flat 12 Gallery owner and the star of CNBC Prime's "The Car Chasers." He gave some interesting answers that might go against what your manufacturer is telling you.
When Is It Time for an Oil Change?
When it comes to oil changes, common knowledge likely varies according to the decade in which you grew up.
"When I was growing up, I was always taught that you changed your oil every 3,000 miles, right, or every three months, whichever came first. I think that was a little too frequent," said Allen.
"As the cars got newer and more sophisticated, you see it go to 5,000 miles," he added. "Now, we have cars out there that they're saying you don't have to change your oil until every 15,000 miles. I think that's too long."
Allen says a simple rule to follow is to change your car's oil—no matter how new or old—every 5,000 miles. But, if your car runs on synthetic oil, change it every 10,000 miles.
New oil starts out as a golden color. As it's reused by your car's engine, it gets darker and darker until it will eventually turn into "a black goo" if not changed. So a simple way to keep your car running smoothly is to keep the oil clean.
Simple things like changing your car's oil and rotating its tires can keep a car running for a very long time, Allen said.
Is Premium Gasoline Worth It?
With prices rising steadily for some time now, gas has remained a hot topic for most consumers. Now more than ever, you might be wondering—is paying extra at the pump for premium gasoline worth it?
Allen thinks it is. He says he uses high-grade gas in all of his cars.
He recommends that you read your owner's manual to see what type of gas the manufacturer requires. If your car calls for the higher octane gas, then you should use it all the time.
If not, a good rule of thumb to follow is to fill up your car's tank with premium gas at least once a month. Doing so will help "flush out" your car's system, to rid it of any deposits that could potentially be left behind by the lower grade gas.
"Let [the premium gas] go in and cleanse out the motor a little bit more. And it gives [your car] an extra little pep or performance," Allen said. "It's like giving it a B12 shot in the gas tank."
(CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that premium gasoline burns faster and hotter than other grades of gasoline. It actually burns more slowly.)