Stop Changing Your Oil!

Breaking the 3,000-Mile Habit


  • Dipstick

    Dipstick

    Oil technology has changed enormously over the last 30 years making the 3,000-mile oil change unnecessary in nearly all vehicles. | April 23, 2013

6 Photos

Oil chemistry and engine technology have evolved tremendously in recent years, but you'd never know it from the quick-change behavior of American car owners. Driven by an outdated 3,000-mile oil change commandment, they are unnecessarily spending millions of dollars and spilling an ocean of contaminated waste oil.

The majority of automakers today call for oil changes at either 7,500 or 10,000 miles, and the interval can go as high as 15,000 miles in some cars. Yet this wasteful cycle continues largely because the automotive service industry, while fully aware of the technological advances, continues to preach the 3,000-mile gospel as a way to keep the service bays busy. As a result, even the most cautious owners are dumping their engine oil twice as often as their service manuals recommend.

After interviews with oil experts, mechanics and automakers, one thing is clear: The 3,000-mile oil change is a myth that should be laid to rest. Failing to heed the service interval in your owner's manual wastes oil and money, while compounding the environmental impact of illicit waste-oil dumping.

Scared Into Needless Service
Part of the blame for this over-servicing lies in our insecurities about increasingly complicated engines that are all but inaccessible to the average driver. Pop open the hood of a modern car, and a mass of plastic covers wall off the engine. On some vehicles, the only thing an owner can easily access is the oil cap.

"Vehicles are so sophisticated that oil is one of the last things that customers can have a direct influence over," said Matt Snider, project engineer in GM's Fuels and Lubricants Group. "There's maybe some feeling that they're taking care of their vehicle if they change their oil more often."

The 3,000-mile myth is also promoted by the quick-lube industry's "convenient reminder" windshield sticker. It is a surprisingly effective tool that prompts us to continue following a dictate that our fathers (or grandfathers) drummed into our heads: It's your duty to change your oil every 3,000 miles — or your car will pay the price. But as former service advisor David Langness put it, the 3,000-mile oil change is "a marketing tactic that dealers use to get you into the service bay on a regular basis. Unless you go to the drag strip on weekends, you don't need it."

Car dealers' service departments are also guilty of incorrectly listing the mileage for the next oil change. We've seen them recommend a 3,000-mile oil change on a car with a 10,000-mile interval and also list a 5,000-mile recommendation on a car that has a variable oil change schedule.

Because busy car owners seldom read their owner's manuals, most have no idea of the actual oil change interval for their cars. And so they blindly follow the windshield reminder sticker, whether it's an accurate indicator of the need for an oil change or not. "I just go by the sticker in the windshield," one well-to-do, educated Denver Lexus owner said. "Otherwise, how would I know when to change it?"

A career Navy mechanic who bought an Edmunds.com long-term car just shrugged when he was told that the vehicle had safely gone 13,000 miles between oil changes. "I'll just keep changing the oil every 5,000 miles," he said. "It's worked well for me in the past."

Our oil-change addiction also comes from the erroneous argument that nearly all cars should be serviced under the "severe" schedule found in the owner's manual. In fact, a quiz on the Web site maintained by Jiffy Lube International Inc. (owned by petrochemical giant Shell Oil Company) recommends the severe maintenance schedule for virtually every kind of driving pattern.

The argument that most people drive under severe conditions is losing its footing, however. A number of automakers, including Ford and GM, have contacted Edmunds data editors to request that the maintenance section of Edmunds' site substitute the normal maintenance schedule for the severe schedule that had been displayed.

About the only ones that really need a 3,000-mile oil change are the quick-lube outlets and dealership service departments. In their internal industry communications, they're frank about how oil changes bring in customers. "Many people...know when to have their oil changed but don't pay that much attention to it," said an article in the National Oil and Lube News online newsletter. "Take advantage of that by using a window sticker system [and] customers will be making their way back to you in a few short months."

Another National Oil and Lube News article tied the frequency of oil changes to success in pushing related products and services. For a midsize SUV, the stepped-up oil change intervals will bring in $1,800 over the life of the car, the article says. "A few extra services [or oil changes] can go a long way toward increasing the amount of money a customer will spend during the lifespan we estimated here," the article concludes.

Today's Oil Goes the Distance
While the car-servicing industry is clear about its reasons for believing in the 3,000-mile oil change, customers cling to it only because they're largely unaware of advances in automotive technology. Among 2013 models, the majority of automakers call for oil changes at either 7,500 or 10,000 miles based on a normal service schedule, more than double the traditional 3,000-mile interval. The longest oil change interval is 15,000 miles for all Jaguar vehicles. The shortest oil change interval is 5,000 miles in some Hyundai and Kia models with turbo engines and Toyota vehicles that call for non-synthetic oil. Toyota has been shifting its fleet to 10,000-mile oil change intervals using synthetic oil.

"Oil has changed quite a bit and most of that isn't transparent to the average consuming public," said Robert Sutherland, principal scientist at Pennzoil Passenger Car Engine Lubricants.

Synthetic oils, such as the popular Mobil 1, are stretching oil change intervals, leaving the 3,000-mile mark in the dust. "The great majority of new vehicles today have a recommended oil change interval greater than 3,000 miles," said Mobil spokeswoman Kristen A. Hellmer. The company's most advanced synthetic product (Mobil 1 Extended Performance) is guaranteed for 15,000 miles.

Today's longer oil change intervals are due to:

  • Improved "robustness" of today's oils, with their ability to protect engines from wear and heat and still deliver good fuel economy with low emissions
  • More automakers using synthetic oil
  • Tighter tolerances (the gap between metal moving parts) of modern engines
  • The introduction of oil life monitoring systems, which notify the driver when an oil change is required and are based on the way the car is driven and the conditions it encounters. Sixteen of 34 carmakers now use oil life monitoring systems in their 2013 model-year vehicles, including all three domestic automakers. That represents a majority of the vehicles sold in the U.S.

One GM car Edmunds drove went 13,000 miles before the monitoring system indicated the need for an oil change. We sent a sample of that oil to a lab for analysis. The results showed that the oil could have safely delivered at least another 2,000 miles of service.

Oil experts and car manufacturers are solidly on the side of the less-frequent oil changes that these formulation changes make possible. "If customers always just stayed with the 3,000-mile recommendation, there'd be these great strides in the robustness of oil that oil companies have made [that] wouldn't be utilized," said GM's Matt Snider. Consumers, he said, would be "throwing away good oil."

Chris Risdon, a product education specialist for Toyota agreed, adding that oil technology advances that permit fewer changes are a tool to protect the environment. "If you're doing it half as much, that's 5 quarts of oil times 1.7 million vehicles a year — that's a tremendous amount of waste oil that's not being circulated into the environment."

Waste oil is a problem exacerbated by too-frequent oil changes, according to the California Integrated Waste Management Board, which has campaigned against the 3,000-mile dictate. The agency says that 153.5 million gallons of used oil is generated in California annually, but only 59 percent of it is recycled.

Our Fit Gets Taken for a Ride
Before the initial publication of this article in August 2010, we took a 2007 Honda Fit to Jiffy Lube for an oil change to see what might happen to the average car owner. The car had an oil life monitoring system, and the system had recommended the past two oil change intervals at 5,500 miles and 7,600 miles on non-synthetic oil. In both cases, an engine oil analysis revealed that the oil could have provided at least another 2,000 miles of service.

On this occasion, we told the Jiffy Lube service advisor we were considering synthetic Mobil 1 because we heard it could extend our oil change intervals. The service advisor said the synthetic oil could enable the Fit to go 4,000 or 5,000 miles before the oil "burned out." The Mobil 1 oil change had a price tag of $92.39. The technician also took the opportunity to upsell us, recommending a cabin air filter for $49.99. The total for our visit, after a $15 coupon, was $132.72.

When the car was returned to us, the sticker in the window called for an oil change in 3,000 miles, not the 4,000 or 5,000 miles the service advisor had promised.

If we had been foolish enough to follow Jiffy Lube's 3,000-mile change schedule (which is essentially the advice given by all quick oil change outlets and dealership service departments), the Fit would have undergone four unnecessary oil changes per year (assuming 15,000 miles per year of driving), wasting $369 and 15.2 quarts of perfectly good oil. Over five years of the car's life and 60,000 miles of driving, this would have amounted to $1,847 and 125 quarts of wasted oil. This does not include other "upselling" items at each visit, such as cabin air filters.

Defending the 3,000-Mile Interval
The quick oil change industry justifies its perpetuation of the 3,000-mile standard by saying that most people drive under "severe" conditions. Jiffy Lube's quiz, mentioned earlier in this article, is one example of how that notion is reinforced in drivers' minds. An oil change company representative said the 3,000-mile recommendation is meant to be just that — a recommendation.

In 2010, Scott Cudini, innovations manager for Jiffy Lube, repeatedly called the 3,000-mile interval a good "fallback position," meant to be a guideline but not a hard-and-fast rule. He added that Jiffy Lube technicians would initiate a "dialogue" with customers about the oil change intervals that apply specifically to their cars.

"In most cases," Cudini said, "even if customers' cars have been plastered with that 3,000-mile sticker, they may have been told by the service advisor that, 'By the way, Sir/Madam, your interval is 5,500 miles.'" Based on our experience with the Honda Fit at Jiffy Lube, as well as at other quick-change outlets, technicians rarely initiate dialogues that could provide accurate information about oil change intervals. In fact, according to a Jiffy Lube spokesperson, the system for supplying technicians with answers only gives them information from a vehicle's severe schedule.

Turning Over a New Leaf?
Nearly 10 months after we first published this article, Jiffy Lube announced that it was undertaking a "new approach to oil changes that helps customers access and understand their vehicle manufacturer's recommendations, and choose the oil change schedule that is best for their needs."

We witnessed Jiffy Lube's "new approach" firsthand when we took one of our long-term cars in for an oil change in March 2013. When the sales representative approached us, we told him we didn't know if we needed an oil change or not. We said we weren't sure what the intervals were.

The technician looked up the oil change interval on his computer and said it was either 5,000 or 7,500 miles depending on how we drove the car. This, of course, is the traditional severe-versus-normal driving schedule. In the past, quick-change oil shops have tried to get everyone on the severe schedule because it means more business for them. But now, the technician said, "We can set the sticker for whatever you decide." This is just what we wanted to hear. No more 3,000-mile intervals glaring at us from the little sticker in the corner of the window.

But this was only a sample size of one. And even if all Jiffy Lube locations are onboard with the new approach, there are still hundreds of quick-lube shops that do things the old-fashioned way. Their deep fallback argument in favor of frequent oil changes is that they are a hedge against trouble. You can't hurt your engine by changing your oil too often, so doesn't that imply that it might actually help it? Well, no.

Steve Mazor, manager of American Automobile Association's Research Center, said that more-frequent-than-necessary oil changes will not "gain any additional life for your engine or any improved fuel economy." He added, "In reality it will make little or no difference to the performance of the vehicle."

The Right Time To Change Your Oil
So where does this leave the car owner who was raised on the perceived wisdom of the 3,000-mile oil change? For a full discussion, your next stop should be our related article, "When Should You Change Your Oil?," which will save you hundreds of dollars over the next few years and fully protect your car and its warranty, while limiting the use of a natural resource.

The short answer, meanwhile, is to consult your service manual or Edmunds' maintenance section to learn your car's actual oil change schedule. If your car has an oil life monitoring system, don't try to second-guess it. Understand how it works and follow its guidelines. To probe more deeply into this subject, consider sending a sample of the oil from your next oil change to a lab such as Blackstone Laboratories, for an inexpensive analysis. Our last suggestion? Rip that sticker off your windshield.

Comments

  • wwilber1 wwilber1 Posts:

    My 2006 honda crv which I have services at curtis ryan honda in shelton, ct. has a maintainance schedule in my book of oil change- 10000 miles automatic transmission- 120,000 miles fluids= most 120,000 miles. Now the service tech insists that I must change all fluids and transmission at 30,000 miles which is my current mileage. They also say that the oil change should be 5000 miles- I originally went 7800 miles but it was down a quart so I figured I should probably change it at 5000. They also always try to sell me a new battery since the car had 24000 miles on it.

  • g556 g556 Posts:

    hey guys and girls maybe you can help with my problem.i have a 2009 mazdaspeed 3 bought new with 13miles on it.i drive 22 miles of mixed speeds between 10mph to 60 on a good day.well i started having a tapping in the engine with 34,800 miles brought it in to the dealer.I change my own oil and filters at 5,500 intervals.they said from my records i missed an oil change by 3,ooo miles or less.long story short they voided my 3-36 warranty and my extended 6year-100,000 warranty.i call foul ball to no avail.i work at a ford dealer16 years and never heard of anything like this.only mods are cold air intake,push button start,and street unit blow off valve.not one of these things would make any true dealer void a persons warranty.and by the way i'm 54 with grown kids and never raced or drag race tracked my car.what kind of zoom zoom is this?HELP if you can but i know i cannot be the only one who this has happened to. THANKS FOR YOUR TIME GOD BLESS

  • rolotr rolotr Posts:

    Most car oil should be changed between 7,500 and 20,000 miles!!! My Acura dealer used to set the oil change reminder sticker at 5,000 miles which I tought was reasonable for synthetic blend oil but when I checked the manual it says to rely on the Maintenance Minder system or change the oil once a year. The Maintenance Minder calculates the life of the car oil based on the revs of the engine and not the actual miles. Based in the Maintenance Minder, I get close to 8,000 miles.

  • rolotr rolotr Posts:

    Most cars' oil should be changed between 7,500 and 20,000 miles!!! My Acura dealer used to set the oil change reminder sticker at 5,000 miles which I tought was reasonable for synthetic blend oil but when I checked the manual it says to rely on the Maintenance Minder system or change the oil once a year. The Maintenance Minder calculates the life of the car oil based on the revs of the engine and not the actual miles. Based in the Maintenance Minder, I get close to 8,000 miles.

  • lashelle lashelle Posts:

    I have been reading that some Toyota models have had reports of sludge. Since I own two Toyotas, I feel more comfortable with changing my oil more often. It's less costly than an engine replacement. I feel the article was very informative, but how can one ensure that he or she is getting a synthetic blend or synthetic oil when I go in to get an oil change; can this be requested, and what are your thoughts on sludge reports in Toyotas?

  • jkownacki jkownacki Posts:

    Just checked the 2010 Nissan maintenance schedule. It lists "severe" conditions as anything that isn't continuous highway driving, which means most cars probably DO drive under the "severe" schedule. And it calls for oil changes at every 3,750 miles on the "severe" schedule, or 7,500 miles if you only drive on the highway. So much for the 5,000+ mile universality. Also, wouldn't NOT changing the oil every 3,750 miles give Nissan an excuse to void my warranty?

  • rroeber rroeber Posts:

    There are a variety of engine oils and many tests to determine how well each perform. The problem with engine oil monitors on modern vehicles is that they do not actually test the oil. So, they are just guessing that if you haven't changed the oil by now, then you should. The cost of changing engine oil too soon is much less than fixing problems caused by engine oil failure.

  • jimmyjets33 jimmyjets33 Posts:

    With this type of information going around, it's a wonder that any car will make it to 100,000. Just 10 years ago One major car company had an engine that if you extended your oil change it would cost you an engine. You see it's the heat of the engine that helps break down the oil, and with out a better way to keep it cool the thermal breakdown of the oil will continue. Now some cars will work out better but not all. And unless you want to be responsible for all future engine replacements you need to keep quiet untill all engines can do that.

  • lar01 lar01 Posts:

    I only used about 2,000 miles during a year with my 2009 Accord. The dealer service department insisted that I did not need to change my oil, especially since the maintenance reminder thing showed that the oil was still good. I changed it anyway. Do you think I just wasted my money as this article says?

  • bobcat825 bobcat825 Posts:

    Hi, I have been going 25,000 miles or one year,for 33 years using Synthetic Oil,and going by the recommendation of the oil manufacturer! And on my equipment with By-Pass Oil Filters and with Oil Analysis used to find Problems, first of all before they become disasters! Secondly to determine that the oil is ready for change,or perhaps changing just the filter(s) is all that is necessary. True today,engines are far and above what they were in the last century,period! Different alloys,tighter tolorances,lower oil pressures,and lighter oil vicosities(0w-20,5w20,0w-30,and 5w-30) for the most part.Diesel engines are also capable of going much further with oil analysis (20,000 miles plus),and propane,natural gas etc. change only by analysis,and with filter changes more often than not draining the oil. Air filtration is extremely important as well,that is how dirt is injested. Until a large particle cake of dirt is on the filter,the small partcles are subject to go thru,mixing with the fuel ultimately become the "Brown Carbon" in the combustion chamber. I have been using "Foam" as a means of catching and preventing the dirt from reaching the engine,using a spray that dries ,not an oil that wicks out. Normal maintenance is a must as well!

  • I have always liked the idea of using synthetic oil mostly because of the extended service changes. I have specified that Mobil 1 be used in my 2008 Toyota Sienna but the service department says that not all engines were made to use synthetic oil. I checked the maintenance manual and it isn't mentioned. Toyota service says that I should check the oil cap for the proper viscosity and use synthetic oil only if it is marked 0-10. Can anyone confirm this?

  • yukito098 yukito098 Posts:

    It's true that I haven't checked the owner's manual for my 2000 Dodge Neon in a while, but a quick read through of the manual for the 2004 Neon (the oldest available on Dodge's site) revealed that the recommended oil change interval if the car is run under pretty much any kind of stress (including stop-and-go driving) is 3,000 miles, with a maximum ("under no circumstances should the interval exceed") 6,000 miles. So for *older* cars the 3,000 mile guideline isn't just a myth. By contrast, the recommended interval for the new Dodge Dart is every 10,000.

  • andrew00 andrew00 Posts:

    When I got my first cars, starting in the 80s, I changed the oil religiously, often doing it myself. My experience was that the cars lasted much longer and needed much less service. I also remember a telling line from 'Car Talk' where they said, "Changing the oil is the only way to get dirt out of the engine." That notion stuck with me. While I agree oil and engine technology have evolved you still have metal on metal parts moving against each other at high RPMs and high temperatures lubricated by a substance that breaks down. If allowed to breakdown those parts start wearing at a much higher rate.

  • rockcreek rockcreek Posts:

    Why don't you guys quit stating the obvious, such as, "consult the owner's manual, and say something worth listening too. There is a lot more in depth information than using terms like 'additive pack' and so on. Make it worth listening too.l

  • jeff238 jeff238 Posts:

    People have to realize that car companies want to sell cars, and oil companies want to sell oil. With the advances in motor oil and engine tech., the 3000 mi standard recomended by quick change oil centers is outdated. The extended drain entervals recomended by car manufactures in some cases is way too far. example cadillac cts had a recall to have the computer reflashed to shorten drain entervals. Why? timing chains going out. If your car only last till the warranty is out, the car manufacturers would be glad to sell you a new car. So I would say go somewhere between the vehicle recomendation and the service center recomendation.

  • kristy13 kristy13 Posts:

    And if you either go over the 3000 mile mark or change the oil yourself(or hubby does it), the technicians at Jiffy Lube will rake you over the coals and give you the third degree. Which is why I no longer go to Jiffy Lube.

  • tstengel tstengel Posts:

    Here's the truth. ALL engines are designed differently, with different oil clearances to be designed for a specific oil. And, when you buy a car, they give you a very accurate estimate on when you should change your oil, and if you don't follow that estimate, you will void warranty on your car. Why? Because as oil gets dirt in it, it becomes more abrasive. It will tear apart your engine from the inside out if you don't regularly change it like you are supposed to. And also, do you really think that you don't fit into the "Severe" driving conditions? I don't know a single person who doesn't drive under "Severe" conditions. If you drive up to a stop sign, and follow the law and stop, that's severe conditions. The only thing that is NOT severe is interstate driving, which is why people say, "Well, my vehicle has got 150,000 miles, but they are all highway miles." My point is, I will NEVER buy a car, unless it's had regular oil changes AS FOLLOWED by the manufacturer. Also, I think millions of people who actually know this truth, will not buy your vehicle either. Invest a hundred extra dollars a year to change it when you are supposed to, and you will keep up the value of your car when you decide to sell it. Don't listen to this idiot. Oil is the MOST important maintenance you can do to your vehicle, don't skip out on changing it. For christ's sake....

  • kurt013 kurt013 Posts:

    This article is correct, if you change your oil at the recommended intervals your auto manufacturer GUARANTEES that your engine will last 50,000 miles and in some cases up to 100,000 miles. If you want it to last longer than that you might not want to run on broken down oil. Calculate the miles you plan to drive your car and compare the cost of a few extra oil changes to the cost of a new engine before you follow the advice of this article.

  • bstock1 bstock1 Posts:

    I do my own changes but it was hard breaking the old 3000 mile rule. I finally did it about 10 years ago. If I purchase a car that does not have synthetic factory fill I change the dino oil after 1,000 miles and replace it with Mobil 1 fully synthetic & use a Mobil 1 filter for the extra capacity and quality. I am quite sure most synthetics are as good as Mobil 1 so this is not a add for M1. I put Mobil 1 in all my autos from my Hyundai's to Corvettes and GTO. With synthetics, engine temperatures do not break down the oil like regular oil. The Corvettes oil temp can get to 220 & that’s one of the reasons they are M1 factory filled. You must use them in these cars. My Hondas call for 7,5000 miles on regular oil so I would feel very confident going longer with synthetics but still change at around the 7,000 mile mark. Five quarts of M1 & a M1 filter can be found on sale for $30. That’s a great price for quality protection. If you don't do your own changes any place that has a $19.99 or so promotion will have to charge you that if you tell them to keep their oil & filter and use the M1 provided by you. Still comes to only $50. Once a year when my lift is tied up because of winter storage use I take my Hyundai's to the dealer and they install my own product for a charge of under $10 because they do not stock M1 or M1 filters. Happy Motoring

  • bstock1 bstock1 Posts:

    g556 and all others. Save your receipts of your oil & filter purchases and your all set in case a dealer tries to not honor your warranty b/c of lack of oil changes.

  • Whoa! Hang on! Synthetics are far and above better than regular oil. Cost more? Well, if you use Amsoil Signature Series with an Amsoil oil filter, you can go 15,000, and with an oil analysis, up to 25,000 mile before an oil change. It will cost about $85-$90 to do this. However, at $45 per oil change at 7500 miles with base oil, the "higher costs" of quality synthetics is worth the cost beyond compare. Best oil-research based and data proven is Amsoil Signature Series 0-30.

  • soakee_ soakee_ Posts:

    Engine oils certainly have gotten better and will probably last beyond 3,000 mles. However, filter technology has certainly NOT kept pace with advances in oil technology. Most if not all oil filters are done by 3,000 miles and need to be changed. It makes little sense to change only the filter at 3,000 miles.

  • magyart magyart Posts:

    How much synthetic oil is in the blend, 1%, 3%, 10% ? Do all blended oils have the same % of synthetic oil ?

  • I change my oil every 7500-10000 miles, it now has 160,000 miles on it and runs just fine, no oil leaks, no smoke, runs great. The 3000 mile oil change is perpetuated by an industry that survives on marketing to the gullible. Nearly every motor oil you can buy on the shelf sticks to the SL standard, from exotic synthetics to bargain store oil. The difference? packaging, promotion, celebrity endorsements. You will always find obsessives who beg to differ. There are entire message boards dedicated to lubricants.

  • bounty123 bounty123 Posts:

    I agree with much of the article and have revised my schedule to either (1) changing the oil when the car tells me to on the Oil Life Indicator, or (2) changing it at 10,000 miles. Short of that, I've also switched to Full Synthetic which is taking max advantage of the latest technology. While I agree most people change oil too often, I think the article should also aim for accuracy. Jiffy Lube is not owned by Shell but by Pennzoil/Quaker State. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pennzoil)

  • raygarcia raygarcia Posts:

    I can only talk from experiece and having HIGH milage vehicles, a car is like a person and oil is the life blood, our bodies manufacture new blood, therefore give the vehicle new oil. Vehicles owned: 87 Merkur xr4ti--300K+ still running, 95 Taurus-360K-Transmission died, 2000Honda Odyssey 180K still purrs, 03Honda Accord 260K,daily driver runs like a champ. I took the engine on the Merk out for a re-build (I bent valves from a broken belt) and the cylinder crosshatches were still showing. All oil chnges were done at 3k-4kmi. Agreed that synthetics can go further, but in as far as thermal breakdown concerned, particulates still need to be removed. This article doesn't even explore the posibility of replacing oil filters as a means of extendng the life of the oil. This article only talks about saving money by NOTchaging oil, it does not have back up or claims of an engine showing the effects of wear from 20K oil changes after 100K. This article is advocating disposable vehicles: What is the effect in landfills when an inordinate amount of cars start to get dumped?

  • david283 david283 Posts:

    Oil changes at shops like Jiffy Lube expose your car to major dangers. Incompetent technicians for exmple. Do you really want a high school dropout working on your $30k vehicle? You take less of a chance by extending your oil change interval to the max. At least you're minimizing your exposure. Also, do you really know what kind of oil they're putting in your car? You can ask for a specific type of oil, but how do you know you're getting it? They usually pull everyone's oil from a large drum. Also, what kind of oil filters are they using? Probably the cheapest ones they can find. You really don't know what you're getting. Did they even change the oil/filter or just give you a new sticker? For these reasons I have always changed my own oil. I'm confident that I have the right stuff in there. Maybe that's a reason that my 1989 Corolla is running strong a 285,000 miles.

  • david283 david283 Posts:

    Manufacturers recommended oil change intervals will no doubt cause the engine to last beyond the warrantee period. Many cars might even last that long with no oil changes at all. This works fine for many people, especially those that only keep a car a few years. But what if you're the type of person that drives a car until the wheels fall off? If that's you then you'd better change your oil more often. Think about it, car makers are in competition with each other. They may not see long engine life as the top priority. If one manufacturer extends their oil change interval the others will have for do the same. Otherwise their products will stand out as "low quality" or "high maintenance". Therefore, you'd better do some research on your own by sending oil samples to a lab for analysis, or simply change it more often than recommended just to safe.

  • swoose1 swoose1 Posts:

    '91 Pontiac Bonneville. 370,000 miles. Mobil 1 Extended Performance (15000 miles). Fram XG filter (10000 miles). Oil change every 14000 miles, filter change every 7000 miles. It neither burns nor leaks oil. The engine will outlast the car. The article is correct. I use this oil, filter and change schedule in all my vehicles. My 2005 Neon has over 200000 miles and runs like a swiss watch, and noticeably smoother on the synthetic. When the tranny had to be rebuilt the dealership changed the oil with regular stuff, and I noticed it immediately, and changed it again the following weekend. Castrol Syntech courses through the veins of my '95 Kawasaki Concours, an it also runs like a top. Nuff said.

  • rollresist rollresist Posts:

    So I just read Philip and Donald's article from 2010 and read the comments. Owned 2 quick lubes for 25 years, switched to a 5000 mile sticker about 5 years ago or 2008. Been an engineer 40 years. Bottom line is the guys are right, and wrong. They did not mention dirt load in the oil, but some comments picked up on that I am glad to see. Filter technology has not improved as much as oil technology. So dirt load, or oil condition, can be the reason to change the oil. That is two criteria, not one, and it is whichever comes first. Old engines make more dirt, goes past the rings as "blow by". Chemical contamination occurs this way as well, but for simplicity sake, let us ignore that. Point is: old engines usually need oil changes based on dirt load in the oil before the oil wears out, which it will eventually even with no dirt. Seat of pants recommendation is do not let your oil turn black with dirt. That usually means the filter is in "bypass". I use 7500 miles as a newer car synthetic recommendation, and 5000 miles for non full synthetic. Could you get away with 10,000. Probably. But when to start shortening the schedule as the dirt load accelerates? And once sludge buildup starts it 's buildup is exponential, very had to stop, and there is a huge spike in engine wear. I've seen too many blown motors with grey crud that used to be oil to think that it is responsible to push to the last mile. Most of these had 15,000 to 30,000 miles on their "oil", and long past sludge start. Realistically, no one is going to send their oil out for analysis, unless the machine has 30 gallons and moves rock at a coal mine. And the engine computer oil change recommendations are useful, but artificial, and not foolproof against problems discussed above.

Leave a Comment
ADVERTISEMENT

Featured Video

Get a Vehicle History Report

AutoCheck

Used Car History Report

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Have a question? We're here to help!
Chat*
Chat online with us
Email
Email us at help@edmunds.com
*Available daily 8AM-5PM Pacific
Phone*
Call us at 855-782-4711
SMS*
Text us at ED411