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Q: Buying my first car, just looking for general advice.

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Hi, I'm about to buy a used 2004 Toyota Camry (V6, not sure of the liters), for my first car. It's in decent condition with 100,000 miles and completely new brakes and tires. My step dad (he is very rigid in his beliefs) says that oil has to be changed every 3000 miles and I have to manually check my oil once a week. I have looked online and found that oil changed aren't needed every 3000 and that the manual for the car should tell me about how often to do it. But do I really have to manually check the oil once a week? I thought cars have oil sensors nowadays. Also do you have any advice on maintenance in general? I want to take good care of it but I don't want to do anything redundant or unnecessary. Also whoever answers could do me a great favor by providing me with their credentials (i.e. if you've worked as a mechanic, have any degrees in the field, etc. My parents will question my newfound knowledge).
My car has an automatic transmission.

A: Hi there. Your step father is on the right ...

Hi there. Your step father is on the right track. He is correct when saying to change and check the oil on a regular basis. The intervals to change the oil on this vehicle is about 5000 miles. You should check your engine oil on a regular basis – once a week or every time you fill up the gas tank is a good practice. It only takes a few seconds to check your oil, so it’s a worthwhile step. Do not forget to keep some extra oil in your trunk in case you need to add some. The Toyota Camry takes 5w30 oil, but if you use a full synthetic oil you can go a little farther between oil changes. Still, I would not go more than 7000 miles on the synthetic oil. I would recommend following the owner’s manual for service suggestions at all times. Since you just bought the car I would recommend doing oil changes at the 3000 mile interval for at least the next three oil changes using conventional oil to see how everything is working. Then, you may want to go to synthetic oil after that if everything is operating smoothly. This will clean out the motor and prevent mixing oil types before switching.

In terms of credentials, I have been a master certified ASE mechanic for over 30 years with a BS degree in automotive technology. I follow these same intervals for my vehicle and have over 250,000 miles on it.

Congratulations on your first car purchase. Enjoy!

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