By on December 18, 2013

messkicks

Oil changes.

Should they be done every 3000 miles? 5000 miles? 10,000 miles?

Or should you pay a premium and go for that ultra-long marathon of 15,000 miles with the right oil and filter combination?

Those of us who drive our cars for quite a while are usually focused on mileage above all else. But what about those vehicles that we rarely drive?

Should the Sunday drivers and infrequent haulers of rubbish be given the same regimen?

What about using time as a yardstick instead? 6 months… 1 year… 2 years?

Everyone thinks the answer is different. But for most vehicles, it’s the same.

Most vehicles on the road will be absolutely fine with an oil change every 5,000 miles or 1 year. Whichever one comes first.

There are a few exceptions, of course. Some late model vehicles can supposedly go with an oil change every 10,000 miles. While some of the higher end motor oils and filters can last as long as 15,000 miles.

But from my experiences, it’s usually better to just give it the 5k and go. Just make sure the oil passes the American Petroleum Institute Standards for that vehicle.

Nothing more. If you want to use synthetic, that’s fine. Over the years I’ve heard endless variations of what I like to call the, “Hallelujah synthetic choir.” The song of praise usually comes in an anecdotal ballad that sounds a bit like this.

“But… but… but Steve? I have a 1990 Eagle Premiere whose engine is as clean as it was when it left the factory floor. And I’m almost 110% sure it’s because I use synthetic!”

Well, I like synthetic too. But you don’t need synthetic oil unless your owner’s manual says it. Or in those few special cases (we’re talking less than 1% of vehicles out there) where there is some lubrication issues inherent within the engine’s design that make frequent changes with synthetic a better choice. A visit to an enthusiast forum for a given make and model will often help clarify that real quick.

From my experiences of buying, selling and financing cars, which now number well into the several thousands of vehicles, the type of motor oil makes no difference for the overwhelming majority of vehicles out there. Buy the oil that’s on sale. Buy recycled oil. Heck, if you visit this place on an infrequent basis, you will likely get the top quality oils at prices that are on par or less than conventional oil.

But for 99+% of you, it won’t make a difference. The socks you wear will have a greater daily impact on your life than the type of oil you keep in your car.

As for oil filters, I do invest slightly more in their ability to make a difference given the variants in today’s marketplace. A larger filtration area. Better filtration materials, and a solid design all help keep engine contaminants at a minimum.

With all that said, don’t go overboard with it. Most folks will once again be fine with the basic brands. Want to go up a notch? Do it. I have a liking for Purolator Pure One and AC Delco brand filters. They cost a few dollars more than the store brands and often times, that spread is negated by an oil change special which lowers the price of buying the oil and filter together.

A lot of older enthusiasts are now following the lead of their less caring car owners and opting for the Quickie Lube and 5k change oil places. After all, $20 for an oil change is often times cheaper and more efficient than buying all the materials outright, taking the time to do it yourself, and then transporting the used oil back so that it can be recycled.

If the lube place of your choice does a good job of bringing the oil to the appropriate level, and stands buy the product with some form of warranty, I would go for it with the one caveat of inspecting the undercarriage or driveway for oil leakage issues.

However, the better alternative in nearly all cases is to have an independent garage do it instead.

A shop that hires mechanics who look at automobiles all day can catch little problems far better than a quickie lube place that pays their people commissions by pushing unneeded maintenance services. Consider the extra money you pay a fair trade for a better set of eyeballs and less overall stress.

If that works for you, guess what? It works for me too. Then again the fun factor goes far south when you’re faced with doing 20 of them a month.

 

 

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181 Comments on “The Oil Change: Who, What, When, Where, Why… And… Huh?...”


  • avatar
    NormSV650

    My Verano Turbo 2.0T require synthetic blend every 7,500 miles but also holds 6 quarts. I put full syn in the last change and just follow the oil life monitor with my mostly hwy commute.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I agree with Steve’s advice. 5k miles is fine, IMO 10k miles is pushing it and is a number used to advertise low cost of ownership. Oil changes are cheap insurance, it doesn’t make sense to try and stretch them out.

    • 0 avatar

      I use OEM Mobil 1 synthetic in my 2014 Jeep SRT. Just changed the oil at 4000 miles – which I should have done at 3000, but I figured I could wait. Do you think I can run till 10,000 miles considering NYC doesn’t have harsh winters, and I don’t push it very hard regularly?

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Maybe, the book recommends 6,000 mile intervals for that engine, I’d stick with that. Since you’re capable, keep an eye on the level and make sure it’s topped up. With the MDS in your vehicle, clean, good quality API SM or SM/CF 0W-40 oil is a must.

      • 0 avatar
        sportsuburbangt

        I have a Magnum with the 5.7 Hemi. I have been doing Mobil 1 oil changes with the big Mopar oil filter(its the same filter for the small block ford) at 5K. I bought the Magnum with 32k on it and i’m at 142k now. The Hemi has been going through 1 quart of oil every 2500 miles since I bought the car. I drive a mix of highway and city. I think the 5k interval is fine. Just watch the oil level on these Hemi’s they like like their oil.

    • 0 avatar
      Swedish

      That depends on the oil and filter used, you maybe fine with 10K oil changes especially using a top tier synthetic. The only real way to know is to have a used oil analysis performed. I have run 10K oil changes using a Mobil 1 EP and Redline and have never encountered any lubrication issues.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Owners can always replace just the filter and top off with synthetic.

        Many military retirees I know who do their own maintenance and use synthetic do just that; replace only the oil filter and top off the oil.

        Maybe once every three or four years they may do a complete change of both oil and filter, if they keep the car beyond that time.

        I prefer to use conventional motor oil. My experience with synthetic was less than stellar so I’ll stick to conventional because it is cheap and plentiful.

        But none of my current vehicles requires a synthetic, either. That would be a game changer.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Topping off oil – synthetic or dino – and only changing filters, is some of the worst possible maintenance advice I’ve ever read anywhere.

          • 0 avatar

            Dead Weight.

            I agree. Problem is, there is so much disinformation, out there revolving around what the right interval to change oil is and how to simultaneously save money.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            I know.

            Oil change intervals, the kind of oil to use, the kind of filter to use…it’s the stuff of extremism one way or the other.

            I use a Purolator PureOne just because it has good construction, filtration and a nitrile ADBV that holds up, even though I doubt I’d be any worse off using a Motorcraft or Purolator Classic – but it’s only $2 more.

            I am still using a stockpile of 10W-30 Halvoline that I purchased for .97 cents a quart when O’Reilly’s decided to clearance it out. It’s great oil with a lot of moly in the additive cocktail, but again, I doubt I’d be worse off in any respect in using any decent API certified oil.

            There are rare instances where a very specialized piece of engineered exotica will actually thrive on
            some highly specialized (and genuinely special) oil/fluids, but that’s not so common, IMO.

            Most people would do well to focus on checking their oil level at least once a month & sticking to the manufacturer’s recommendation in OCI – these two steps, using even garden variety filters and oil (as long as its API certified) would probanly eliminate 50% or more of sludging or wear issues (from running the motor on too low a level of oil).

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            DeadWeight, it’s not what I do. I change the dino oil and oil filter in my vehicles every 3000-5000 miles.

            But changing only the filter and topping off the synthetic oil is exactly what the military and airlines do in their jet engines; and those engines are built to tolerances much tighter than any ICE engine in a car.

            Of course they also do spectrographic oil analysis based on hours run to monitor the metals suspended in the oil. If the amounts are out of spec, they rebuild the engine.

            Synthetic engine oil in a jet engine doesn’t get changed until the engine is pulled, stripped and rebuilt.

            At least that’s the way it was for the twenty years I was in. Granted, things may have changed since then, and I’d like to hear from people in the career field who use synthetic oil what the procedure is these days.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I agree most people might be fine with a 10k interval with a good filter and quality oil, but someone who changes everything at 6 or 7k is more fine.

        For the people I deal with who absolutely want the lowest cost of ownership for their beaters, I tell them to at least make sure there’s oil in it at bare minimum if they’re really too cheap to change the oil and filter. So the right time to change your oil depends on your situation and how much you care about your engine. If the answer is a little bit to none at all, never might work just fine.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    I made the mistake of following the maintenance minder on the TSX I had. “yeah, not quite 5000 miles yet, I got time!”

    …till the timing chain stretched and the engine ate itself.

    My anecdote, but almost $4000 out of pocket could have bought a LOT of oil changes. I’m a 3000 mile man for life now. No one on this planet will ever convince me otherwise.

    • 0 avatar
      Toshi

      An oil change would have done precisely nothing with regard to the timing chain.

      • 0 avatar
        bikegoesbaa

        Agreed, I’d love to hear more about how oil with 5k miles results in significantly more timing chain wear/stretch than oil with 3k miles. May as well blame the washer fluid.

        Also, I’m interested in theories as to why catastrophic timing chain failure doesn’t show up more regularly on cars with standard 5-10k+ oil change intervals. Seems like that’s something that would get attention if it happened frequently.

      • 0 avatar
        IndianaDriver

        Engine oil is used for lubricating the timing chain. I would think an oil change with fresh lubricant would affect the timing chain too.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          I was about to say “I don’t care how magical the timing chain is, 5kmi isn’t enough loss on the additive package to cause excess wear and chain failure”.

          Then I scrolled down and saw that the cause of failure was not “worn out oil”, but “oil consumption” and thus “under-oiling”.

          Which is an entirely different and completely plausible cause … but also no reason to go to a 1957-era 3kmi interval for changes; just check the oil level now and then and don’t let it get low.

          (I ran my old Mercedes at 10-12kmi intervals on M1 15w50, with top-offs – because those engines always ate a little oil, even in perfect shape.

          Reasoning:

          It was a stone annoying awful messy bitch to change the oil, since it was an under-mounted filter-in-cannister system. Every change meant my entire arm got coated in jet black oil.

          Synthetic let it go longer without any real risk of damage (plus that OM617 was bulletproof), and let me tolerate changing it myself (because Joe JiffyLube could destroy the cannister by lack of care on reassembly, crushing it with the torque on the fixing bolt).

          And by general consensus of OM617 owners, synthetic really does quiet the lifters on those things, god knows why.

          Neither of my current vehicles gets synthetic, because none of those factors apply.)

      • 0 avatar
        kvndoom

        It was VERY low… and 6-speed TSX’s (perhaps Acura engines in general, from reading Acurazine, where many owners have been told a quart per 1000 miles is “normal”) are notorious for oil consumption. Yes it’s my own fault for not checking and topping off, but not waiting 5000 miles would have not let it get low enough to kill the engine.

        I learned my lesson. I check oil levels frequently on my cars now. But I still won’t go 5000 miles ever again.

        Assuming I kept a car 150,000 miles and an oil change was 50 bucks, it’d still only be an extra $1000 over the life of the car to change every 3k instead of 5k. I won’t notice it… helluva lot cheaper than $4000 all at once.

        • 0 avatar
          IndianaDriver

          I used to have a Honda Accord that would lose up to 1.5 quarts between the oil changes – so I’d have to keep an eye on it. I have not had another car brand do that. I wonder if it’s something with Honda/Acura engines.

          • 0 avatar

            My ’08 Civic, 1.8 liter uses ~1/2 quart every 3k, synthetic. I got it at 35k, it has 60k, the use has been steady.

            I had a ’93 Saturn, bought new, which was using a quart every 1k or so by the time it had 60k. Oil use was an issue with their twin cam engines.

          • 0 avatar
            dvdlgh

            I’ve had four Accords and have never had an oil lose problem. I would normally add about 1/4 to 1/3 qt between 3000 mile changes.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            My current 2013 Accord V6 is the first of my four Hondas I’ve owned to use any oil. Just a half-quart between 1,500 and 2,000 or so miles, then it stopped; likely from the variable-displacement stuff breaking-in, as I haven’t lost any more in almost 5,000 miles.

            My only question is if I need to top it off, or wait to see if it goes lower. I’m at 30% oil-life left, so I may end up with a year out of this unless the OLM drops. B&B, should I top-off, or just keep an eye on it? Engine is running just fine otherwise!

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          No low oil LEVEL (not pressure) light in your Acura? Even GM fits them to the lowly W bodies…

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            GM actually has a VERY good oil life algorithm for their oil life monitor too. As long as you use the specified oil, it should be very accurate. Saab used it as well, I was perfectly comfortable with the “up-to” 10K miles/1 year interval with 6qts of synthetic on my Saab 9-3SC. Mine would call for an oil change at around 9K in my usage – mostly long distance highway.

            My BMW uses a usage algorithm AND a physical oil quality sensor AND 7+ liters of synthetic to achieve an up to 18K OCI on their cars. Being the anal retentive type that I am, I did a break-in change at 3K, and have done changes at the 50% mark on the oil life monitor since. You can see that the oil quality sensor works by the fact that as soon as you change the oil and drive around a bit, the miles to change goes UP. And I don’t miss having a dipstick at all, much easier to toggle the readout on the computer to see what is in there. So far, it is using about 1/3L per 10K miles. The autobahn breakin seems to have agreed with it. BMW has now added a “or one year” addendum to the OCI, so it will now get once a year changes. That works out to be about 9-10K for me anyway, I have a lot of cars.

            Interestingly, the OCI on my FIAT Abarth is every 8K or SIX months on full synthetic, which seems very conservative to me. Given my car is stored for the winter, and only driven ~5K a year, I will probably change it once a year. It used no oil in the 5K miles before it’s first change at the six-month mark.

            The rest of my cars get changed once a year.

      • 0 avatar
        Aqua225

        Actually, it can, as I understand it.

        I own a K24 Civic Si, and I did a little research among those who already owned cars with the K24.

        Some K24s consume a lot of oil. Mine does not.

        However, there are a couple of screens on the K24 that protect the VTEC valvetrain phasing system. If these screens clog, the phaser doesn’t work correctly, and can stretch the timing chain.

        Not enough oil can cause the same symptom.

        I am changing my filter and topping off the 0w20 every 3Kmiles, no matter what the maintenance minder tells me on the Civic. I will also probably open the screen plugs at 100K and clean them manually, just to be sure oil is circulating OK. I do a filter and oil replacement when the maintenance minder hits 15%.

        I suspect something similar could happen in any variable valve timing system.

        • 0 avatar
          kvndoom

          You’re doing right. Whatever it takes to keep P0341 away!

          I wonder if the high compression ratio and tuning of the “performance” K24 variants lead to the excessive oil consumption. People with “pedestrian” Hondas like the Accord aren’t revving the engines as high, don’t require premium octane, and don’t see oil consumption issues. Those engines aren’t “tuned to within an inch of their lives”, as I like to put it.

          S2000, RX8, and many other high revving cars drank a lot of oil. Nature of the beast, I guess.

          • 0 avatar
            Aqua225

            I keep an eye on my oil levels, and my Civic practically came with my foot pre-pressed to the metal :)

            I burn about a quarter to half a quart between 3Kmile filter changes. This was less than the LS1 in my camao z28 (02 model). Another notorious oil burner :)

            I love the K24… I will bet there is much more HP to had, not sure how long it would hold together though without some bottom end balancing and stronger rods! I will report on that in about 5 years, if electrics haven’t taken over by then.

          • 0 avatar
            Aqua225

            Also, one thing I didn’t do: the 600 mile easy driving breakin period. I was kind of miffed that I didn’t know about that (salesman said drive it like you stole it, if that was how you were going to drive it).

            However, given mine has low oil consumption, perhaps this was the best path forward. The motor is strong, and I am a very satisfied Honda customer :) I did similar for my ls1 camaro, and the thing was getting *stronger* when I sold it. Not sure if that is a good sign or a bad one, but it was nice underfoot. The folks who broke them in properly still had high oil consumption, so I never worried.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        LOLLL.

        I was halfway through the second sentence of his comment and I was like whaaaaaat?!

    • 0 avatar
      strafer

      TSX doesn’t have timing chain tensioner?

  • avatar
    nine11c2

    Bull crap. I used to change every 3k miles like clockwork with only the best oil. I got 150,000 miles and more out of Camaro V-8′s and Chrysler Turbo 4′s with no sweat. My dad owned 3 gas stations for 20 years, so I have many, many cars from start to end of life in my history. The ones that got regular oil changes with decent dino … lasted longer.

    I’ve used Synthetic to go from 3k changes to 5-6k changes with the same result (long running cars). Hundreds of thousands of miles without a single open engine (both before and after Syn). When someone asks how does your 12 year old Pathfinder with 150,000 miles run, I said “just like when I bought it – because it did”. Same with a Porsche 911 with 160k.

    Use good decent priced (Mobil 1 at Walmart my preference). Who cares who changes it (show up with my own oil to quickie lube).

    You are right that most cars don’t need syn. But if you use real dino you change every 3k. I use syn dino so it may cost me a bit more – but I’m comfortable going 5,550 to 6,000 miles between changes, which saves a couple Saturday mornings a year.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      By your logic I should change my oil every 1000 miles, since more frequent = better. Bull Crap.

      The engine OEM tests their engine and determines very conservative specs for oil and oil changes; their oil weight and change intervals are designed to be absolutely idiot proof; the actual change frequency needed is usually far less frequent than the OEM specs.

      The only people who advise 3000 mile dino oil/5000 mile synthetic oil changes are oil marketers, and even they probably get a good chuckle out of the people who actually do it.

      BTW, commercial engines now go 50-75,000 miles (or up to 20,000 hours) between changes on synthetic oil and they work a lot harder than any Camaro.

      More frequent oil changes than your OEM recommends are a waste of time, resources, and money.

    • 0 avatar
      ATLOffroad

      Changing your oil every 3000 miles doesn’t hurt your vehicle, but that frequency is not required. With my experience of owning vehicles long term, changing lubricants according to the owners manual is all that is needed. I’ve owned three vehicles in my lifetime with over 200k miles and have never had an issue with any of them. Anything more than what the owners manual recommends is just for your personal comfort and isn’t helping the long term reliability of your car.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Yup.

        It’s not 1957.

        Oil is better.

        Engines are better.

        No manufacturer suggests 3kmi intervals for normal use cycles, do they?

        Even the guys doing “free maintenance” for CPO warranty reasons – where they’d have every incentive to do so, if it was of any benefit.

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      The thing is though that your lengthy experience is irrelevant because oil has gotten much better these days. Changing after less than 5,000 miles is a waste, even with conventional oil IMO.

  • avatar
    Jacob

    I’d agree that changing oil every 5000 shouldn’t hurt these days. According to Ford’s recommendation for the recent Fusions, you should should change oil every 5000 miles under “severe duty” cycle and every 7500 under normal duty. The oil can be conventional as long as it meets Ford’s spec (pretty much every conventional and nearly all synthetic sold at AutoZone and Walmart meets Fords specs). However, on newer cars I’d personally follow the oil life monitor.

    The BobIsTheOilG forum is a treasure trove for oil freebies. Last year, I picked up like 80quarts of free oil (QSUD, NextGen and G-Oil) thanks to them. However, this year we haven’t had too many freebies yet.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      With the recent Ford products I’ve owned, I don’t even bother trying to do it myself. Sure, Wal-Mart or any auto parts store sells Motorcraft oil and filters for under $30 total. However, the dealer never chargers more than $39.95 for an oil change. Frequently, its $29.95, and after four oil changes, the fifth one is free.

      I was used to doing it myself because I could save money. My GTI would have been $70+ at the dealer. I sold my Mityvac with my GTI.

      • 0 avatar
        Jacob

        Indeed. There are plenty of good ideals for an oil change out there. I always get grocery store coupons to do a 5quart oil change with conventional 5W30 at CarX or Midas for $20 (5W20 would cost a bit more) with tire rotation. I kind of don’t like some of those places because these guys are sharks. The oil change is just an excuse to con you into an expensive repair. The worst thing is that every repair I have done at those places had to be redone a year later.

        Having said that, I like to change oil myself because I like to learn how all mechanical and electronic things work. There is some financial benefit too since I often end up picking up oil basically for free. Even if such deals don’t ever come back, there are often deals like 5 quart synthetic oil jug + good filter for $20+tax at places like NAPA or Advance Auto. I can’t resist those.

  • avatar
    FordRangerFTW

    1. Don’t discuss Religion, Politics, or Motor Oil with anyone you haven’t seen naked.

    2. RTFM

    3. Drive more, worry less.

  • avatar

    Cheap oil filters should be banned from the market. They can occasionally fall apart into the engine. Just browse through the SubReddit of /r/justrolledintotheshop and you’ll see all sorts of oil-changing horror stories, usually with ill-fitted oil filters and cheap cans thrown on.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Beware of the quicky oil change places using the .89 cent “Mighty” ebay oil filters or such (I won’t even use Fram, AC Delco eCore or some other major manufacturer filters; I’m not find of poorly glued cardboard Mercado and such).

      I’d actually go a step further and recommend staying away from the monkey pits like Nifty & Uncle Ex’s, too, since their “techs” “forget” to, you know, actually change the oil and/or filter and/or put the oil fill cap back on a disconcerting % of the time, not to mention the slimeball tactics they use to upsell gullible customers on needless services or products.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The owner’s manuals that nobody reads usually include two recommended intervals: the normal one, and a second one with more frequent intervals for those who drive under “severe conditions.”

    Virtually everyone belongs to the second camp. Stop and go driving, frequently driving short distances, and extreme temperatures (hot or cold) will land you on that list.

    • 0 avatar
      slow kills

      Yup, anything beyond cruising around at constant speed is ‘severe.’

      “The socks you wear will have a greater daily impact on your life than the type of oil you keep in your car.”
      Fact. Wool over-the-calf is the way to go.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      I thought the “severe” conditions were if you were in a dusty environment (desert etc) or had real extremes of temperature. Normal commuting and sub-urban driving would be normal.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Honda says that frequent short trips (under five miles, ten miles when freezing), extensive idling and “long periods of stop and go driving” are severe, and specifically notes that all Canadians should follow the severe schedule.

        Ford says that “normal commuting ***with highway driving***” is normal, while extensive idling is severe.

        The average metro area slog is probably going to be on the severe list. Add dust and/or temperature extremes, and it’s sure to be severe.

        I would presume that one of the problems here is that odometers are not necessarily a good proxy for engine hours. We probably should be using engine hours rather than mileage as a primary criteria, but nobody provides a gauge for that. Idle time obviously isn’t measured by an odometer.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Some vehicles that are commonly sold to fleets often have them, like the Ford Super Duty, E-series and even the Crown Vic PI had hour meters. Of course they’re the exception, it would be nice to see engine hours at least buried in the information centers of modern vehicles somewhere.

          • 0 avatar
            mike978

            Thanks for the extra information. Engine hours is an interesting metric to use.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            And that is part of what engine oil “monitors” use to determine oil life. Hours, cycles, engine temp, ambient temp, trip length, etc all combine to form the look up tables that the manufacturer feels is adequate protection. I change before the maintenace minder, but the 5K/ 1 year makes sense for pretty much everything modern. Don’t forget to check the oil level. A stupid coworker proved that after 60K without a change, a Vulcan V6 will have used up all the oil, and seize the engine.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          All of these factors are used by oil life monitor algorithms, which really are the way to go. Baffles me that more companies don’t include this functionality. The ecu already knows about how the car is driven, it should be trivial to add.

    • 0 avatar
      Monty

      And, for us more northern types, add cold starts at -30F or -34C. Synthetic is a big difference maker in the severe cold.

      My father, who was a mechanic for part of his working career, always says to never worry about changing the oil too frequently, as it’s an investment in extending the life of your car.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Steve, I generally love your work, but every time you write about oil, you know you are starting a crap-storm. Please stop inciting the masses.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      The funny thing is, sometimes I learn something new when the forces fo debate and discussion begin to swirl.

      So long as I don’t have ruggles informing me of the vital importance of oil change franchisees, I should be okay.

  • avatar
    S197GT

    Follow the manual.

    You (being anyone) don’t know better than the manufacturer. You just don’t. I don’t care how many oil changes or miles you have under your belt. They have more. Way more. Just swallow your pride on this one.

    (Watch Ford’s torture test of their Ecoboost F150. NOBODY has tested their F150 like Ford has.)

    My wife’s car is a 2006 BMW 330i sedan. Oil change by the CBS monitor. Dealer oil change about every 18-20k miles (highway driven). Now at 130k miles. Runs great. BMW knows… BMW knows…

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Oil change intervals are being stretched out to advertise low cost of ownership, which has been a popular metric to be tossed around int he last few years.

      Yes, engine friction needs are less nowadays, the 3,000 mile oil change is out of date, it was probably always excessive. Changing at 5-7K is a much better metric than 10k plus as some manuals recommend because:

      - It doesn’t hurt anything to change the oil more often
      - Even good sealing modern engines will consume quite a bit of oil over 10,000 miles. The majority of customers never check their oil level as the owner guide also recommends to do. Sticking to a 5-7k mile schedule generally ensures the level doesn’t get too low, and is much easier for the average customer to follow than checking every fuel stop, topping up etc.

      • 0 avatar
        S197GT

        First: I completely agree that it doesn’t hurt anything (other than your pocketbook) to change your oil more frequently.

        Second: I don’t really think that increased oil change intervals are being advertised as all! I have never seen a car commercial talking about extended maintenance intervals. I have never heard a salesman mention it. I HAVE heard commercials advertising FREE maintenance.

        No one buys a car because of fewer required oil changes. NO ONE.

        FREE maintenance certainly helps (especially for leases). But no one has ever said, “I chose vehicle A over vehicle B because of the 2k extra miles I get in-between oil changes.”

        Also, considering that oil changes are basically given away for free at most dealerships and independent shops (to make money on other problems found) I don’t see it being a cost factor.

        The fact of the matter is oil changes to the average driver are the last thing they think about. If anything extended oil change intervals are a selling feature based on CONVENIENCE and that is it. But you don’t even hear THAT being mentioned. Oil change intervals simply aren’t mentioned at all. Because no one (except a small vocal minority) gives a crap at all…

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Longer oil change intervals by themselves aren’t typically advertised, however Cost of Ownership is a metric that is advertised and compared frequently.

          Those Cost of Ownership calculations take into account all regularly scheduled recommended maintenance. If OEMs stretch out recommended maintenance intvervals, their models fare better in Cost of Ownership metrics when compared to other OEMs that recommend more frequent maintenance.

          Many people do turn to Cost of Ownership comparisons when considering vehicles.

          • 0 avatar
            S197GT

            I have seen third party measurements (e.g. Edmund’s True Cost to Own) but I still have never seen it advertised by any manufacturer.

            If it is advertised or considered (by OEMs) at all you have to admit it the effort is minor.

            And “many people” is relative. As a percentage of overall potential buyers? I’d guess <5% consider oil change intervals a an important factor. Ask anyone on the street… be pretty hard to find anyone if you could at all.

          • 0 avatar
            S197GT

            Also, I completely agree that people consider (to vastly varying degrees) cost of ownership when making purchasing decisions. (e.g. Many people are scared of purchasing a German vehicle because of maintenance and repair costs.)

            However, the specific topic of this discussion is oil change interval (OCI).

            I don’t see the OCI having a substantial impact on the cost of ownership. A manufacturer increasing the OCI a couple of thousand miles is going to have a very minor impact on cost of ownership.

            Again, the truth about car buying (hmmm… a new website idea?) is that more than anything it is an emotional decision. Not just by “many” people but MOST people. How it looks, how it drives, what it says about the owner…

            So few people care about OCI, I just don’t see the marketing department of OEMs caring what the R&D and Warranty departments sets them (OCI) at.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            OEMs have made mention of True Cost of Ownership in the past. It’s not just oil change intervals, but a lot of mainenance schedules have been altered to affec the TCOO metric. We justhappen to be talking about oil change intervals.

            Most car buyers are far more methodical than simply just buying on emotion. This is a big part of why bland, appliance like cars are the best sellers. More car buyers than ever research every aspect of a vehicle before making a decision.

            The need for a vehicle is often the most emotional aspect, people use all the information available to them to rationalize the purchase or one vehicle over another, emotion is only one factor.

          • 0 avatar
            TTACFanatic

            I’d say longer oil change intervals are being advertised, just not directly. It seems that every brand that rolls out a “free scheduled maintenance” program drastically changes the maintenance schedule immediately after introduction.

            3 yrs./36,000 miles of scheduled maintenance now amounts to a couple of oil changes and some wiper blades, but it makes a great selling point.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “And “many people” is relative. As a percentage of overall potential buyers? I’d guess <5% consider oil change intervals a an important factor. Ask anyone on the street… be pretty hard to find anyone if you could at all."

            It's a huge consideration to fleets who are all dollars and cents. Whether it's high or low on the importance list of some, most or all individual buyers isn't of much consequence. If an OEM can demonstrate an advantage over another, they'll push it, even if it's trivial to some.

      • 0 avatar
        Truckducken

        I’ve not seen longer oil change intervals tied to TCO. Seems like a trivial item in the grand scheme of ownership costs. But I have seen long intervals touted by manufacturers for their environmental benefits. Less waste oil and all that.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Here’s an example of an OEM touting cost of onwership tied to maintenance for those who haven’t seen this done.

          http://www.autonews.com/article/20130114/RETAIL03/301149961/behind-in-mpg-gm-says-its-trucks-cost-least-to-own#axzz2nqRCOggl

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        @Danio3834

        BMW also has an oil level and oil quality sensor, and they specify a relatively HUGE amount of oil to allow those intervals safely. There is no need to “check” the oil, the car is smart enough to tell you when you need to add a liter, and even at that point there is a ton of oil in the sump. Seems like the smart way to go.

        @S197GT

        BMW also makes a very big deal of their lower TCO due to the included scheduled maintenance and longer service intervals. Every dealership has big posters showing the savings vs. competitors, and they also have had TV ads about it occasionally.

        Note, while I think they have done a good job with OCI, I think they are completely NUTS on their other service intervals for things like diff and gearbox oil. They have recently backed off on “lifetime fill” (yeah, the life of the gearbox, which will be short), and are now saying 100K mile intervals. But I feel even that is too long for most use, and will use the old school 30K intervals, and I did break in changes when I got it off the boat from Europe. They use a pretty standard 2yr interval for brake fluid and 4yrs for coolant. One big reason I like doing annual oil changes is it gives me a chance to get under the car and look for impending issues, clean the drains, clear out dirt traps, that sort of thing. All of my cars get an annual maintenance day.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          It would be nice if everyone else included all of that along with their oil life monitors. The standard systems that only count based on algorithms give a false sense of security in my opinion. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen vehicles with the low oil light on before the monitor gets near 0%.

    • 0 avatar

      I’d like to see a torture test montage available for EVERY NEW VEHICLE on their website. I’m really interested in knowing how they iron kinks out.

  • avatar
    jaydez

    Steve,
    How do you feel about oil life monitors that go well past 10,000 miles? I have a 2012 Focus. The last time i changed the oil I was just over 10,000 miles and the oil life monitor never said the change the oil. I opted to change it at that point because even though I use good oil, i don’t trust any oil that long.

    Would you suggest not obeying the electronics and still hanging oil every 5000 miles or do you think the computer knows best?

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      The oil life monitors take into account many variables and are programmed generally conservatively in consideration to estimating the degredation of the oil over that period under those ideal condtions. The problem is they don’t measure oil consumption or actual oil condition. Many customers will end up with a low oil light before the oil life monitor gets to 0%, and that’s just not how I like to run my engines or the engines of the people’s cars I work on.

      You could get in the habit of checking it at fuel stops as the owner guide recommends and keep topping it up until the oil life monitor indicates to change it. But with some vehicles, by that point, you’ve already done an oil change but left same filter.

      I prefer the 5-7K regimen as Steve recommends.

      • 0 avatar
        jz78817

        eh. I let the oil life monitor in my car tell me when it needs it. seems to go between 7,000-11,000 mile intervals depending on time of year and usage. It uses no oil, so I’m not worried about that.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        With my last Accord, a 2006 (and first year with OLM), I sent samples to Blackstone Labs at 15% of remaining life. Results: 15% of additives left.

        According to Blackstone Labs, the Honda “Maintenance Minder” is up with the GM OLM in terms of accuracy–right on the money!

  • avatar
    Cabriolet

    Good article and very good advice. I change my own oil every 6 months. Since i retired my mileage has been cut in 1/2. I can buy VW approved oil online with a factory filter for about $38.00. Takes me about 1/2 hour to change the oil and filter and the job is done right. My 24 year old Miata with 76,000 miles is changed with dino oil twice a year and always comes out crystal clear. Oil is the life blood of the engine. Not only does it lubricate but it cools the engine.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    Oil doesn’t matter. My company uses 15w-40 recycled oil in EVERYTHING. Be it Sprinter vans, Izuzu’s, to large trucks. The manufacture tells everybody else if you stray you void the warranty, but they make an exception for us. I have yet to see, or heard, of any problems with the oils we use. You’d think those little Mercedes diesel engines in the sprinters wouldn’t take it, and what’s in the owners manual is nowhere near the specs of what we put in; but nope, never had any problems.

    I have one car that hasn’t seen a oil change in years, but I don’t even drive it a 1,000miles a year. In my older cars that I drive more often, before the oil change I pour some diesel down into the crankcase and let it run for a bit. Maybe go for a short trip into town or so. Then I do the oil change, and put about a 1/2qt of ATF back in the engine. The new cars I follow it to the book, but on the Mustang with the direct injection engine, on every oil change I run a can of throttle-body/intake cleaner through the intake piping while the engine idles.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Viscosity is something that shouldn’t be toyed with. With all the new and different technologies in modern engines, viscosity is carefully chosen to meet the needs of the engines. Fleets and lube shops love to use the same oil in everything because its cheaper for them to buy one viscosity in bulk, and just use that. Your fleet may have narrow enough variation that you can get away with it, but it’s a bad rule for the general populace.

      The fact of the matter is that some modern engines absolutely require the specified viscosity. Some engines won’t even run if something different is used.

      • 0 avatar
        pragmatist

        I remember reading an article about Michigan? State police using the same oil across vehicles with 2different engine spec …results were not good.

        I would trust recommendations from manufacturers and large fleet operators over car dealers or individual owners.

      • 0 avatar
        AMC_CJ

        We use 15W-40 recycled oil in everything. We’re pretty much the largest in the world at what we do, and one of the largest vehicle fleets in the world.

        Granted, I don’t think large diesel engines are very finicky like perhaps, say a “premium” modern car. If this stuff was ruining several thousand dollar engines they would of made some kind of change by now. Most of our engines make it to the half million mile mark before being sold, some double that.

        Now ATF; we use specific fluids on that. The Allison transmissions take their special synthetic blend, and it’s not cheap.

        Still, as I said, I wouldn’t dump the stuff in my personal vehicle, well, not that I’m allowed to anyways. On the new cars I only change the oil about once a year. Being that the Mustang is still under warranty, I buy everything from the dealer.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          Hmmm.

          This company rhyme with “Ed Fex”, by chance?

          • 0 avatar
            dvdlgh

            I think the other one has the larger ground fleet.

          • 0 avatar
            AMC_CJ

            Lol, no. I’m not going to out myself, just because. It’s not like I’m anybody exceptionally important, but I don’t want to represent them.

            Fed Ex, UPS, they’re big…..but they come to us. Good customers though. Seriously, we’re huge, but unless you’re in the industry, you wouldn’t know it.

    • 0 avatar
      jz78817

      motor oil is an engineered fluid. using the wrong viscosity or certification level, or dumping idiotic additives into it can cost you more in problems than you save on the oil.

      yeah yeah yeah, “I’ve never had a problem.” Well, people eat garbage for most of their lives because they’ve “never had a problem.”

      Then they find out they’re diabetic and now have a dozen prescriptions to take.

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    Oil changes don’t have to be complicated. Just do what the manufacturer says.

    On anything reasonably modern I just do a change every 5k with whatever oil and filter meets that OEM’s recommendation and is on sale at the auto parts store that week. I picked 5k because it’s within the manufacturer recommendations and easier to remember than 3k or 7,500. Simple, cheap, and matches what the guys who built the car say to do. Done.

    I have a theory that complicating, much less arguing about, oil and oil changes is a reliable indication of imposter/incompetent “car guys”. Since it’s the simplest mechanical procedure to do on a car it makes non-car-guys feel like real gearheads and they cling to their oil changing expertise as evidence of their knowledge and enthusiasm. This despite the fact that they will never do anything more ambitious with a car, and pay a dealer to replace headlamp bulbs.

    Then five years later when their car still runs right with 70k total miles on it they have the “proof” that whatever they do is best and proceed to educate everybody else on the right way. Meanwhile the real car guys are building/improving/racing/restoring things rather than worrying about the minutiae of basic maintenance.

    Do you think doctors sit around and argue about whether Tums work better than Rolaids?

    The biggest benefit to doing oil changes yourself is that it gives you a regular up-close look at the underside of the car, so it’s easy to spot changes or developing issues before they become real problems.

    If I were doing 20 oil changes a month for business purposes I’d do it with a vacuum through the dipstick and put the filters on a longer change interval.

  • avatar
    highrpm

    As soon as I saw the title of this I knew you were going to get A LOT of responses.

    Name any car (or bike) forum. Do a search for oil and oil changes. It always gets heated, whether you are talking Chrysler minivans or Volkswagen 1.8 liter turbo engines.

    My rule of thumb is 5k miles also. The new SN rated oils are very good so you don’t need synthetic.

    I buy a cheap winter beater every fall and sell it in the spring. For that car’s oil change, I use the Mobil 1 from the wife’s Odyssey that has 5k on it. I figure that the oil is probably half used up so it is still fine for duty in a $2000 beater.

    • 0 avatar
      Geekcarlover

      The oil question will always get a heavy response. Some people feel the need to defend their choices with an almost religious fervor. But if you really want to set off the masses, bring up additives. Go to BITOG and search Marvel Mystery Oil for one. Jews vs Muslims in Israel is a more civilized argument.

  • avatar
    mfgreen40

    I just read an article where a large percentage of bulk oil does not meet specifications. I take it to mean 55 gal. drums and this is what you would get at quicky type lube places. A friend has a 6 L Gm V-8 with 250K miles and gets its oil changed at the dealer when the monitor says so. No oil added between changes but it is probably down a quart.

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      That’s a myth. I know Valvoline and Mobil say on their web sites somewhere in FAQs that the bulk oil and their conventional product in bottle are identical. You can ask the quick lube places who is the manufacturer of their oil. For example, Car X uses bulk Mobil and Firestone the same vendor who produces Motorcraft. I think all of them use major brands. Now if you find someone using some unknown brand like “bulls eye” then stay away.

  • avatar
    jco

    i have been going about 12k miles on Mobil 1 in my V8 toyota truck. and by the time it’s ready for a change, it has consumed very little. that motor has over 100k without complaint. seems to me that if you check your stick often, watch for consumption and overall oil condition, you can optimize your engine’s need for change intervals. i think the manual is a good guide, but it’s up to the user to see how well that guide is working in their own specific application. everyone uses their vehicle in a different manner and environment. i don’t think it can be a strictly one size fits all situation.

    my father, who is both cheap and generally uninformed regarding maintenance, took his cars to the cheapest place possible. the places that would offer $10 specials in the neighborhood circulars. well.. the toyota 3.0 V6 was NOT happy with it. engine developed terrible clattering noises. i immediately swapped out that oil for a quality oil, and the noise went away. but i think the damage had already been done, as the rear main seal developed a leak. under the conditions used and the mileage on that motor, i blame the poor quality probably used oil that the ‘shop’ put in it. because no way would that seal have failed on that car otherwise, not so early in the car’s life.

    edit to add: i think that although it is time-consuming to do the changes yourself, i believe it is time well spent. this has happened to me on numerous occasions, where i’m doing this simple maintenance, but because I am already poking around under the hood i take another minute or two and look around with a flashlight. i’ve caught leaking seals, corroded or worn lines and hoses, and even just accumulations of dirt/grime in a place where it’s easy to clean up before it causes an issue. in a lot of these cases the vehicle was still under warranty and the issue was dealt with at the dealer free of charge. i also think that going to your dealer to get the oil change on new-ish cars develops a relationship with that dealer that will help you out when bigger issues come up.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      In the battle of anecdotes, I’d like to point out that my 94 Toyota Pickup made it past 280kmi with nothing fancier than Random JiffyQuickOiler changes, on the Toyota 3,750 mi interval.

      Engine was not noticeably worn (though the rest of the truck was) when I traded out.

      (I’m not sure used oil can cause seal failure, though, or we’d see a lot more seal failures from people “just adding oil”.

      Wearing out the additive package shouldn’t ruin a seal, I’d think…)

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        What caused the rear main seal to go was the sludge caused by the crap oil plugging up the PCV system and causing too much crankcase pressure.

        Some engines are just plain robust enough to take anything in stride. Old Toyota 4s, old Volvo 4s. Some engines are NOT. Saab fully shot themselves in the foot by specifying a 10K OCI with dino oil on the 4cyl turbos in the ’99-’04 time frame, along with having an inadequate PCV system to start with. Those motors sludged left and right, and plugged oil pump screens caused lots of bearing and timing change failures. Eventually they went to a 5K OCI with synthetic and no more problems. And they fixed the PCV system, for the most part. For an extreme case, use anything but the specified oil in a PD VW TDI at your peril – the fuel pump is driven off the camshaft lobes, and needs very specific oil additives to stay bumpy.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    When Mobil 1 was introduced, they touted that it only needed changing every 25,000 miles. What has changed since then? My own formula is a Wix filter with the $5 Mobil 1 from Costco every 5k. Works for me. Probably better than my cars deserve, but it makes me feel good. Like running 36 pounds air pressure.

    • 0 avatar
      jz78817

      “When Mobil 1 was introduced, they touted that it only needed changing every 25,000 miles. What has changed since then?”

      probably nothing. Oil doesn’t wear out (unless overheated and coked) just gets dirty. but some of the additives do deplete over time like the ones who contribute to the total base number (TBN.) But if you’re not taking lots of short trips where the engine doesn’t get to fully warm up, even that lasts quite a while.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        From my 20 years in the Air Force I recollect that Jet Engine oil was also a synthetic very similar to Mobil 1 and that the oil was rarely changed. They did replace the filters on a routine maintenance based on hours run.

        One of the programs that was also used as part of the maintenance routine was SOAP or Spectrographic Oil Analysis Program. If the bearing metals and other contaminants in the oil were found to be outside of specs, the whole engine was pulled and rebuild, at which time new oil was put in.

      • 0 avatar
        tonycd

        One thing that’s changed since then is Mobil 1.

        It’s a completely different, cheaper and inferior formulation compared to the original. It’s now “hydrocracked” oil derived from mineral oil. If you want fully synthetic oil similar in composition to the original Mobil 1, you’ll only find it in Amsoil or one of a few other smaller brands.

        Thank Castrol, which sold the adulterated oil as “full synthetic” and defeated a lawsuit for the right to continue doing so. After that happened, school was out.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        “Oil doesn’t wear out”.

        Well, people keep telling me that physical wear will shorten the hydrocarbon chains over time.

        I am not sure this is actually true, but it is certainly commonly believed.

        (I am also not at all sure that it’s *important* as a source of change even if it’s true; the loss of additive package is more important.)

    • 0 avatar

      I run the 36 lbs too. I’ll have to check the $5 Mobil 1 at costco.

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      You can check on Mobil’s web site. They recommend 10,000 miles for regular Mobil 1 and 15000 miles for Mobil 1 EP.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      @olddavid

      In small print they also used to say that the filter still got changed at X (3K?) intervals, which means 1qt or so of fresh oil was added every X miles. Lots of people still use this regime with success. Some engines are easy on oil, some are definitely NOT. You could probably run a red block Volvo motor on urine for 200K miles, but don’t try that on a T7 Saab turbo motor!

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    The reality is: it depends. Not very satisfying, I know.

    But the only way to REALLY tell how often you should change your oil, for the vehicle and service conditions in your particular regime, is to get an oil analysis done. (Yup, I’m a chemist.)

    That may cost you $25 or so (maybe $50 nowadays), but it tells you the metal content (which measures wear), and the best labs include a Ph measurement and viscosity number to show oxidation of the oil itself; particulates (that got missed by the filter); and water content (from blow-by).

    For a while, BMW was saying 15,000 miles or 1-year for their specially modified Castrol synthetic. But we all knew that was horsefeathers. They scaled that back to 10,000 miles this past year in a service bulletin. Yes, you could go theoretically 15,000 miles in a mild climate if you virtually drove, at operating temperature, non stop from NY to LA and back three times, but who does that?

    For a general rule-of-thumb with modern synthetic oils (and Mobil 1 is a good example, which I have used since its inception) in a mixed winter/summer climate, and intermittent vehicle use , I would recommend 5,000 miles and TWICE per year (Spring and Fall). For “warm” states in the USA, perhaps 7,000 miles and once per year would be OK.

    But without an oil analysis to document your particular use, this is just hand waiving stuff. If you really want to know what’s going on in your engine, get an oil analysis.

    ———————

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Mine is a dusty environment with many unpaved roads and very high speed driving on the Hwy. My use could easily be classified as Extreme.

      Rather than pay for an expensive analysis I’d rather opt for the worst possible finding and change the oil at the worst-case interval.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        highdesertcat – - –

        Yup. In a way, you have already done your de facto oil “analysis”, just be surmising the intake of abrasive dust that would occur. God, I hope you also changing your air filter every 3 month/3000 miles too! And yes, your case is “Extreme”, just like the folks who north of the Arctic Circle and never can get their engines really warmed up: for them, it’s 1000 miles or 1 month, whichever comes first!

        ——————

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          NMGOM, I use a K&N air filter. Every time I change the oil the K&N gets washed in gasoline and recoated.

          • 0 avatar
            NMGOM

            highdesertcat – - –

            Great. I put a K&N filter system on my ’96 Doge Ram. And then I wrapped it with an ordinary 15×24-inch (unframed) furnace filter’s fiber-glass mat, which I treated with the K&N oil too. Amazingly, that “pre-filter” already catches “90%” (my estimate) of major particulates (leaves, plant fuzz, maple seeds, road dust, etc); and takes the wear & tear off the K&N. The very open mesh of the furnace filter mat does not reduce breathing of the K&N. When I took this pre-filter off to change it and the K&N filer after one-years use, the K&N was still its original oink color, so I just replaced the furnace filter. Just a suggestion…

            —————-

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            NMGOM, yes, I’m very familiar with that procedure of wrapping a furnace filter fiberglass mat around the core filter. Others use sponge-foam.

            My dad did that way back in the late fifties and early sixties when he was racing cars and dragsters at Riverside Raceway in CA.

            Back then, he used no core filter but only the fiberglass mat, or a similar material that he used for mats on his boat.

            Spray a light coat of oil on that stuff and see how quickly the dirt adheres to it. And a little bit of gasoline washes it clean off.

          • 0 avatar
            jz78817

            uh, why would you bother with any of that crap? Unless you’re constantly driving at or near wide open throttle, the restriction from a paper air filter element is small enough to be essentially insignificant. The throttle plate presents far more of a restriction than even a filthy air filter.

            K&Ns are a waste of money and effort.

          • 0 avatar
            NMGOM

            jz78817 – - –

            Yes, the K&N system is a bit expensive, but the greater air-flow potential and power gain seems to be real at less than full-throttle positions. My 318 V-8 was rated at 175 HP; with the K&N, that went up to about 182-183 on a local dyno; when I also installed a Flowmaster “Super 40″ muffler as well, that went up to about 190. No, these gains are not huge, but my gas mileage was unaffected, and the difference is noticeable when driving. It’s just more comfortable in accelerating and going up hills in a higher gear (I have a manual) than I had done without the conversions. Of course, using Shell V-power WITHOUT ethanol helps too!

            —————–

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I agree with this very much. I sent a sample to Blackstone when I did the change at 9K on my e91 328i. The results verified that the BMW CBS was spot on.

      Out of curiosity, what BMW does your wife drive? Assuming it is one too old to have the oil quality sensor and algorithm? And it probably has a dipstick. :-) I do find it interesting that for the CBS cars they have supposedly backed off to allowing for a 1 year override on the CBS recently. That works out to about 9-10K for me. But my car also almost never does short trips or any sort of stop and go, since I don’t commute. Most of the miles are on 200-400 mile highway trips.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Hi krhodes1 – - -

        I don’t know if you were addressing me or not, but I don’t have wife any longer (deceased). But I am driving a 2006 325i and a 2007 Z4 3.0 si.

        —————-

  • avatar
    TybeeJim

    For the DYI newbie, make sure you have the correct drain plug. Many moons ago a friend with a Renault (yes, a Renault fwd sedan) mistakenly drained the transmission, overfilled the oil and got away with it for 2 days before the thing locked up. I towed it to a garage for him. Fortunately, no permanent damage was done. The oil was changed out and the tranny refilled and all was good. Not so sure that would be the case today.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    One thing you didn’t mention, Mr. Lang, and it’s important. That’s the oil drain-plug crush washer. If you haven’t heard of grease monkeys stripping the thread in your drainplug, then you just haven’t been out much.

    And one of the ways manufacturers extend the service intervals is by using a really big sump. The 3.2 liter v6 in my C-Class Mercedes-Benz holds 9 quarts of oil.

    • 0 avatar
      ktm_525

      Good point. My Land Rover has a 9+ quart sump , runs some special Castrol synthetic blessed by Land Rover and has a $50 cartridge filter. It gets changed yearly or 20k kms (12.5k miles). The LR4 has a special sump drain to be attached to a vacuum device so the entire process is from the top side. No removing two skid plates etc. Yay.

      My old B5 Passat was the opposite . With a sump of 3.5L and a hot turbo it is no wonder this thing (1.8T) produced turbo turds and sludge. Every 8k kms for that one.

    • 0 avatar
      JREwing

      I had it happen to me, and had to have the oil pan replaced this spring because there was no way to fit an oversize plug to it. It was $600 in parts and labor to replace it. DIY for me from now on (even if it’s against my apartment lease).

  • avatar
    oldowl

    Oil and filters are cheap; engines are expensive. I probably have the cheaps changed too often; doesn’t hurt. I use a local independent mechanic and his shop. We had used a quick change outfit. Once, the old oil was drained, but the “tech” forgot to put the new oil in. Fortunately, we caught it immediately. The owner of the franchise later told me that he likes to hire people recently released from prison. That may be economical for him and even good social policy, but…

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      On a side note, do cars still warn you about low oil? I did drive out of quick oil change outfit and the LOW OIL light popped on. It was left 2 quarts low, but this was an ’89 Mustang. I found my ’04 F-150 was 3 quarts low when my valves started clattering. No big deal, but I hear people complain all the time that they ran their newer car out of oil and ceased the engine. What’s the deal?

      • 0 avatar
        kvndoom

        Like I read all the time here, “cars are more reliable today than ever before!”

        Gotta get some out-of-warranty money out of folks somehow. ;)

        Just like highly-integrated radios that will cost thousands to replace by dealer only, instead of 200 bucks at Best Buy.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      old owl, I’m with you on this, “Oil and filters are cheap.” When I kept my vehicles until the wheels fell off, I changed the oil every 3000-5000 miles on them.

      But even with my current 2008, 2011 and 2012 vehicles I still do the same today. Old habits are hard to break.

      I do the work myself and I can’t recall the last time someone else changed the oil and filters on any of my cars, it’s been so long.

      OTOH, I have a buddy who changes the oil and filters in his three vehicles himself once a year whether it needs to be or not.

      He rarely drives more than 5000 miles a year on all three vehicles combined. And this has worked for him for decades. Maybe that’s why he still drives a 25 year old sedan and a 21 year old truck. Maybe his Grand Cherokee will last this long as well.

      Best place I found to buy filters is Amazon. Cheaper than any place around where I live and no tax plus free shipping. Can’t beat that.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Unless I’m in love with the car/truck and gonna keep it forever and ever, 25,000 to 30,000 mile oil change intervals are about right. But if I am that in love with it, it’s not a daily driver and rarely driven anyways. Full synthetic of course with OEM filter, and always let it warm up before driving. Always. And an occasional hard hammering, up a steep mountain road. I don’t know if this shortens the life of engines or extends it. I don’t keep them much over 200K miles to find out. It’s someone else’s problem if so. So what’s the big deal about swapping in a used engine? I do it for friends all the time. But who can you trust to give you the real truth about engines and service intervals?

  • avatar
    JD321

    Rotella T5 10w30 and OEM filter every 10K miles. Done.

  • avatar
    IndianaDriver

    I don’t think there’s a big difference between synthetic and non-synthetic oils, but I can’t agree with the statement that less than 1% of cars require synthetic. I have 2 newer cars that both take 0W20 motor oil, which is only made as synthetic. I bet there are a lot of the new cars in this same boat and it surely brings the synthetic required percentage up over 1%.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      I agree that MANY more cars today do actually require synthetic – specifically, turbocharged cars. The turbo bearing gets literally smoking hot; it is cooled by the oil, and non-synthetic oil will break down there and gunk up the return line.

      VW 1.8T, I’m looking at you!!!!

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      New Hondas use 0W-20, which is a little hard to find outside the Honda dealer, which is why I haven’t topped mine off–down half a quart, but almost at the first OCI.

  • avatar
    frozenman

    Am I wrong to think that I am doing good for the environment by extending the oil change intervals on my rides cause I use synthetic and quality filters? Less used oil/filter waste, and time, is a bonus as I do my own servicing. A shout out to Subaru engineers for designing drain plugs into the differentials/auto and manual trans of their cars :)

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      As long as you recycle your used oil it probably doesn’t make much difference either way.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Mine goes into the furnace for heat. Now that’s recycling.

      • 0 avatar
        highrpm

        Like I mentioned earlier, my used oil goes into my winter beater (Mobil 1, 5k miles on it) as the beater’s “fresh” oil. I use the winter beater’s oil to top off any cars that I am working on or selling.

        Basically I never have to deal with recycling old oil because it gets used somewhere.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Who makes a vehicle that doesn’t have a way to drain the transmission or diff oil? My 4Runner diff oil is pretty simple. Remove top plug, remove lower plug, oil drains, install bottom plug, fill oil to level of top plug, install top plug.

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        Many automatic transmissions do not have a drain plug; you have to remove the pan to let the oil drain.

        • 0 avatar
          George B

          Mityvac type fluid evacuators can suck fluid out of anything with an opening on the top. Just measure what you remove and start by adding the same amount of fluid back, following manufacturer fluid specification. Really should periodically drop the pan and replace the filter, but changing part of the fluid is cheap and easy. Dropping the pan is either messy or somewhat expensive.

        • 0 avatar
          Quentin

          Hmmm. Intersting. The only ATs I’ve owned have been Toyotas and both have had ATF drain and fill plugs.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        No diff drain plug on non-M BMWs, you suck it out through the fill hole with a vacuum pump. Annoying. Lots of cars are this way.

  • avatar
    jhefner

    How about this scenerio:

    The Blue Goose does have an oil leak in the rear main seal. I drive roughly 850 miles a week of mostly highway driving, and it looses a quart in that week’s time; so that by 5K I have in theory already added 5 quarts of oil to it.

    I was thinking the other day it would seem like I could go out to 10K between oil changes. That is still roughly every three months. I am constantly adding oil, so additive wear is not an issue; nor is running low between oil changes. I use either Ford or sometimes have an K&E oil filter ordered for it, so I keep a good filter in it.

    The main issue would seem to be water and other contaminant accumlation. Oil color looks good and smells fine, the metal under the oil filler cap still looks shiny; and very little accumulation on the inside of the oil filler cap.

  • avatar
    George B

    I change my oil at 5000 mile intervals. Could probably go a little longer, but planning for 5000 miles keeps the oil from getting too dirty if I forget for a month. I used to use Mobil 1 religiously, but now I mostly use Walmart Supertech oil. Bob Is The Oil Guy says it’s made by Citco. I’m currently using their synthetic oil which costs about $18/5 qt. I’m assuming “synthetic” means better cold start lubrication for an extra $5 per oil change.

    I’m surprised at the number of people that change oil every 3000 miles, but never change the automatic transmission fluid. If you like changing fluids early, give the transmission a drain and fill every other year. Lifetime automatic transmission fluid means change the fluid with every very expensive rebuild. Much less expensive to replace the fluid before it fails.

  • avatar
    mankyman

    I have more of a question than a comment. I have a Passat B5.5 with the 2.8L 30 valve V6. The manual says the damm thing requires 5W-40, which only seems to come in the Castrol variety in quarts at my local Autozone.

    The clerks call it the German car oil. It costs about $8/quart. The car seems to burn oil at an alarming rate. Basically, if I didn’t check the dipstick every month or so (about 1000-1500 miles), I would run out of oil. I am continually adding a quart at a time. Otherwise, the car runs fine. I was told by the dealership the engine is designed to burn oil at this rate.

    So why does this particular engine burn so much damm oil?
    Thanks!

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      mankyman – - –

      5W-40 oil is 5-weight oil with an advanced poyl-acrylate thickening polymer that unravels to maintain good viscosity at high temperature. What you are experiencing is the lower molecular weight components in the 5-weight oil getting past the rings/valve stems to be burned. You may want to ask about using a 10W-30 or 10W-40 weight oil. Castrol is not the only oil manufacturer: try Mobil1 or Penz-oil synthetics for less costly options. And that 5W-40 does not matter whether its “German”: it’s just a viscosity designation.

      You didn’t say what area of the country you are in, or how many miles your car has on it. But if your over 10 years or 50K miles in a hot climate, the higher viscosity base oil would be justified anyway. If your consumption is less than 1 quart every 1000 miles, the car maker (here VW) may/will claim that that is “within spec” (which we all know is malarky…)

      ——————-

      • 0 avatar
        Jacob

        Actually, German oil specifications do not truly match the API viscosity specs. These days they do not say “you need 5W40″. They say you need BMW Long Life oil, or VW spec oil, etc. For example, there exist 5W40, 0W30, and 0W40 products all three matching correctly the spec for the identical BMW engines.

        I really doubt that the 5W part of the 5W40 oil is what’s causing oil consumption. One of the best oils for German cars is Mobil 1 0W40 and I have hardly ever heard of this oil being known for consumption issues. In my opinion, 1 quart consumption every 1000 miles is simply bad engine. Either bad design from factory or it’s just worn out. Most car manufacturers are assholes with regards to oil consumption issues. Most of them say that 1quart every 1000 miles is “within parameters” so the engine won’t be serviced under warranty. I suspect that those B5 engines are just like that. The 1.8T engine in B5 Passats is alternatively known as the “sludge monster” and the V6 may have some issues too.

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      Have you tried changing oil? Sometimes it helps. For example, Mobil 1 0W40 meets most of German car specs. Ask on forums to be safe. It’s an excellent oil, and people have done 10-15000 mile runs on it in BMWs and other import cars with excellent used analysis reports. Oh yes, buying oil in quart bottles is always expensive. But now, most Walmarts carry Mobil 1 0W40 in 5 quart jugs, priced at like $25 each. Great value.

      • 0 avatar
        mankyman

        Thanks for all your comments guys. I’m amazed at the technical knowledge and writing skill displayed by people on this board.

        I had heard the 2.8L V6 in these cars was a notorious oil burner and it was because the engine ran hotter, but the polyacrylate polymer stuff is new to me. I only have 60K miles on the car and it gets fairly standard driving conditions (temperate climate, mix of city + highway, etc), so I’m just surprised at the consumption. One thing it seems wise to avoid is to assume that you can just put off doing oil changes altogether because there will be a concentration of certain components in the oil that’s left.

        Yeah, I should probably change oils; I’m just terrified to do so after all I’ve read on VW forums. My A4 ran fine on different varieties of oils.

    • 0 avatar
      pdog

      Are you sure it’s not leaking out through some seal somewhere? I’ve had cars with leaking seal issues where there wasn’t a visible leak. That might be more likely than burning oil (and much cheaper to fix). If it’s actually burning the oil, you should be able to verify that by looking at the plugs. A compression test might also be of use, but I think it’s possible to have good compression while having bad oil control rings.

      Also, you may want to try a different oil. You shouldn’t be limited to Castrol 5w30, as VW publishes its VW 502 list of recommended oils, which are suitable for VW gas engines of that era. If the oil is VW 502 approved, it will indicate so on the back of the bottle somewhere. I know you can use Mobil 1 (Ow-40 only) in the $25 jug from Walmart, or some Lubrimoly synthetics which cost a bit more ($40-ish) from NAPA. You may need a bit more to fill the larger engine in your Passat.

      In my aging VW (with the 2.0 non-turbo gasser) I use Mobil 1 0w40 (VW 502-approved) with the recommended 10K interval, using a slightly upsized filter from the diesel version, which adds about 0.5 quart capacity to the system. I was skeptical at first (always did the 3K thing with previous cars) but I’m at 230K miles now with little to no consumption. The O-weight part is great in the winter, too, since it flows so much better on cold starts.

      I think the main issue with these extended intervals is how easy they make it to run very low on oil if you aren’t checking it regularly, and that can be catastrophic. A relative just killed his 90s era “indestructible” Civic by running the oil too low. I try to check every time I fill up, since I’m standing around with nothing better to do anyway. But I never see anyone else doing this, even if the gas filler says “Check Engine Oil” in huge letters. I wish manufacturers would include an “oil slightly low” indicator on the dash (maybe newer cars have this?), as, by the time the red oil can light comes on, oil pressure is generally catastrophically low.

  • avatar
    Slow_Joe_Crow

    My Saturn uses so much oil that in 3000 miles, I have replaced all the oil in the engine. I’m hoping the new valve cover gasket helps.

  • avatar
    IHateCars

    Ahhh….oil change discussions. Religion and Politics discussions are far less volatile. Personally, I go with the mfg’s recommendations and I buy whatever syn happens to be on sale with a WIX filter.

    Steve…almost as volatile as oil discussions is using regular 87 octane gas versus hi-test 91 and above….especially in a performance and/or higher priced vehicle. Those are always entertaining discussions as well!

  • avatar
    Ubermensch

    I do the 5K mile/1 year OCI on our only car as we only drive it about 6K miles per year. Non-turbo Subaru’s are easy on oil so I buy whatever decent oil I can get on sale and just use that with a Purolator filter.

  • avatar
    Demetri

    I’m a high mileage believer. 15,000 mile intervals on synthetic with a Wix filter. Engine gets the same fuel economy and runs as well as when it was new. Maybe if you have an engine that’s prone to sludge, it’s not such a good idea, but I’m not convinced that shorter intervals make a difference.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      There was a comprehensive study done IN 1992 (I think it was ’92) by Consumer Reports having to do with New York City Yellow Cabs, and the conclusion was that even with the long idle time and severe duty taxis had to withstand, conventional oil at 5,000 mile OCI was more than adequate.

      Personally, I’m of the belief that as long as a decent quality oil & oil filter is being used, ensuring that the proper oil level is maintained at all times is the most critical aspect of oil “dilemma-”

      Way too many people never bother to check the level of their oil in between changes, and add to that the fact that way too many people run their vehicles for a crazy number of miles in between oil changes, and this is the really significant cause of oil related engine issues (i.e. sludging and/or running motor dry).

  • avatar

    So, why do engines require synthetic? I have HKS 700E, which requires synthetic. Fine, but what’s exactly different about synthetic oils? The HKS is designed to cruise at 5800 r.p.m. (which is higher than redline of my other engine, Chrysler EGG), but how is this actually relevant to oil delivery to journals and cylinder walls?

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      Pete, without getting into the religious debate about whether this is “necessary,” one of the signature traits of synthetic oil is that its thickness changes less as the temperature changes.

      So, synthetic doesn’t turn to molasses in subzero cold, flowing more freely to protect more immediately on cold starts that are one of the biggest occasions for engine wear. And it doesn’t thin out as severely in summer heat or stop-and-go, or under the extra stress imposed by the high RPMs of turbos.

      Being from the great Midwest, I’m more concerned with the former. Does any of it matter? Everyone answers to their own god on that one.

      • 0 avatar

        Tony, thanks. But what do the two numbers mean, then? I thought one was hot and one was cold. The HKS is currently filled with 10W-30. Does thickness of synthetic 10W-30 differ from conventional 10W-30 too?

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          In simplified terms, the “w” number is the cold weight, the other number is the hot weight. So a 10w-40 oil acts like a 10 weight oil when it is cold (thin) and a 40 weight oil when it is hot (thick). “Synthetic” oils have a couple of advantages over conventional oil. They can maintain that viscosity range over a wider range of temperatures. And they can maintain it for a longer interval. Synthetic base stock usually needs fewer additives to meet the viscosity range too, which helps the longevity. Note that with today’s technology it is possible to make an oil that acts like a true synthetic oil from conventional base stock – this was really the issue with the Castrol oil mentioned. True synthetic oil was never a liquid in the ground for the most part, it is created from natural gas typically.

          Here is a good link with explanation in some depth: http://www.synthetic-oil-technology.info/

          Even though a conventional and synthetic oils may be rated “10w30″, if you leave both out overnight in subzero temps then try to pour them the difference is utterly amazing. Conventional 10w30 is like goop when it is 0F, synthetic M1 pours like it is 75F. Now imagine a sump full of conventional oil in your car on a 0F morning… Conversely, at very high temperatures the conventional oil starts to break down a lot sooner. If you live in a place with a mild climate, drive gently, and never do anything to torture the car then it probably doesn’t matter too much, as long as you change the conventional oil often enough. But under those conditions you could run synthetic for really long intervals too.

      • 0 avatar
        bryanska

        In Minneapolis, synthetic oil made my Honda Fit and my Olds Alero start quicker. I don’t think battery was a variable, but it could have been. When I drove the Miata in the winter, the valves were quieter upon startup.

        I believe in the cold weather benefits of synthetic.

  • avatar
    SC5door

    Oil changes are done at the dealer every 5K. They “recommend” every 3,000 but the manual says around 6,500 I believe. Cost is usually between $20-30 bucks, and they had a Black Friday special for $19.99 not long ago….plus I ended up getting a note from Sirius saying that I got 2 months free for having service done there.

    The other thing is that I found a KIA TSB for engine noise by using an “aftermarket” oil filter, one more reason to use OEM parts.

  • avatar
    Johannes Dutch

    I follow the manufacturer’s instructions, in my case for a Toyota turbo diesel. Oil (7.4 liter), oil filter and air filter change every 15,000 km. (9,375 miles) Maintenance by the Toyota dealership, since day one.

    240,000 km on the clock now, routine service last week.
    240,000/15,000 = 16 oil changes since feb. 2002.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    I’m not saying you need to be an expert in this field to make a solid case one way or another, but I’m just wondering what exactly you’re basing your case on? You just make this bold proclamation that its 5,000 miles, regardless of the type of oil or filter. Based on what?

    To me, this article is no different than the example your bashing for saying you should always use synthetic because his engine looked clean when he did it that way.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    I have been recommending synthetic for my Mom who drives very little. My reasoning is that it will hold up better over time in our humidity and allow her to stretch her oil changes out to 6 months since that can be as little as a thousand miles for her.

    Any thoughts on that?

    • 0 avatar
      AJ

      I tell my mom the same thing, for the same reason using Mobil 1, but I tell her to change it once a year. Her car is one I use to own and I’ve always followed 8,000 miles or once a year with Mobil 1. There was a private study I read sometime ago that recommended that. They said you could extend the change if the car does burn oil as you’ll be adding fresh oil. But her car (with 135k) nor do my cars burn any oil.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      As I understand it, the issue with “time” for oils is getting water in them – as you mention – and oxidation.

      I’m not sure synthetics are any better on either score. It’s not like a synthetic oil stops water condensing into the engine oil, is it?

      (That said, I doubt it really *needs* more than once a year, no matter what’s in it, if it’s driven now and then.

      Especially if the car isn’t an heirloom, but an appliance.)

  • avatar
    AJ

    I was recently putting a Jeep away for the winter. The dealer recently changed to require an appointment for an oil change and told me to basically kiss off one Saturday morning even when I was first in line. So I left, and for the first time I went to a nearby Jiffy Lube thinking how bad can it be? I brought my own oil as I always do (Mobil 1 which cost me $25 at Walmart). Interesting is that they want about $40 more to use their synthetic!

    Being a new customer of theirs they got excited and wanted to check everything for some good up selling, hoping I was a bad owner. I wasn’t happy, and told them to leave it all alone. They even pulled out a nearly new air filter and waved it in the air at me. I said, “What is your point? Put it back in.”

    Then driving away, I noticed I was getting some smoke, so I pulled over, and they let oil drain all over the oil pan skid plate and didn’t clean it up.

    I use to change the oil myself, and looks like I’ll be doing so again.

  • avatar
    Numbers_Matching

    Another vote for synthetic oil here. I added an additional 120K to an already well maintained-100K ‘used and cosmetically abused’ ’04 500E 4Matic Wagon (I had a 120 mile daily commute…I know) that ran as new when I traded it in. Mileage actually improved to a whopping 21 mpg!

    Mobil 1 5W-40 synthetic with Mann+Hummel filters done in my garage every 6K – no questions asked.

    The majic-carpet ride wagon still lives-on somewhere in the San Joaquin Valley – AFAIK.

  • avatar
    dartman

    If you know that Carter AFB is not an Air Force Base in Georgia and Holley is not a Christmas decoration, then listen up. Way back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, internal combustion engines relied on things called “carburetors” and “distributors” to maintain as close as possible to an ideal air/fuel ratio (stoichiometric). The ideal ratio was/is approximately 15 parts of air to 1 part fuel, anything less was “rich” anything more was “lean”. Both present problems. Rich fouls spark plugs decreases mpg and eventually dilutes the oil. Lean is even worse as it could eventually lead to detonation (pre-ignition) and catastrophic engine failure; therefore rich was considered the lesser of two evils. Frequent oil changes and tune-ups would help lessen accelerated engine wear to poor lubrication, hence the 3 months or 3,000 mile recommendation. Plugs, points and wires were good for about a year or 12k miles before transistorized ignitions.

    Fast forward to today. Your engine control module ( ECM) has more computing power than all computers used by the whole federal government in 1969; including the ones used to send the man to the moon by NASA. Even the Neanderthals in NASCAR have switched to electronic fuel injection, spark plugs last to 100k miles, and really, how many of you even know what a dual point distributor is? However the myth of 3 mos. or 3k persists. Steve is right, any brand name oil of the proper viscosity is fine if you follow the manufacturers recommended interval. Now if you want to experiment and “go long” then oil analysis and top of the line synthetic is the way to go. That’s what real hot-rodders have always done… Found a better way…and it isn’t by wasting natural resources because CorporateLube recommends it.

    • 0 avatar
      IHateCars

      Very good point and totally makes sense! I think a combination of old school thinking and marketing claptrap has kept the myth alive.

    • 0 avatar
      GS 455

      Great comments. The 3K OCI started back when men wore pants that came up to their chest. I love that people still do it because I buy my cars used. If the owner tells me they followed 3K I know at least the oil was changed regularly. It’s easy to tell if they’re lying about it. Just challenge them on the need to change oil every 3K. If they launch into a holy roller rant about it I’m writing a check.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    Got tired of all these over-the-back fence type conversations and I also wondered if the Intelligent Oil Life Monitor on my Ford was any good, so I sampled at 5K and again at 8300 miles when the monitor went off.

    To make a long story short, the IOLM was eerily accurate and also quite conservative. In the second test, basically the oil was well within spec and plenty of additives left, merely my short-haul driving had caught up with it (The car needs a certain amount of time at operating temperature to let the additives work). If not, the acids begin to build up anyway, despite the good chemical composition of the oil.

    Its not true that the lubricating ability of the oil degrades gradually over time. For technical reasons it lubricates better and better as the additives are deposited to the cylinder walls –until it fails rather abruptly. That’s not an argument in favor of going to the bitter end so much as an argument against a premature oil change on the assumption that it’s at least a little beneficial.

    Its easier and cheaper for me to take it to the Ford quick lube place when the IOLM goes off or when they have a good sale, whichever comes first.

    A better use of my time is to attend to the cosmetics of my car. That’s really more important to the value of the car and my continued enjoyment more than a series of premature oil changes.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I’ve owned VW TDIs for several years and stick to VW’s specified 10000 mile change interval with decent oil. For my 2000-2003 TDIs, I use either Shell Rotella T 5w40 (available at Walmart) or Mobil 1 Turbo Diesel Truck, and a Mann filter purchased online. No problems in the ~200000 miles of ownership among those cars.

    For the modern common rail TDIs, you can use any oil you want as long as it’s a low SAPS oil which is VW 507.00 approved (so you don’t destroy the expensive particulate filter). I just used some Pennzoil Ultra Euro L on my first oil change on that car. Along with a quality Mann filter, it should be good until 30000 miles.

    I figure the engineers specify 10000 mile intervals on synthetic oil, so why should I change it prematurely? If I were to read thread after thread about TDI engines being destroyed even though the right oil was used then I might change it sooner. But I’m going to trust the German engineers and just use high quality oil and filters and not think about it until the next 10000 mile interval comes along. Drive more, worry less!

  • avatar

    Pretty much stick to 3000 with filter here and what ever oil is on sale. I do drive more than most people (average of 400 miles a week) and my commute is rather hard on cars since I have two choices. Highway 120 from Highway 6 to Highway 395 and then to June Lake or Benton Crossing from Highway 6 to 395 south of Mammoth Lakes. Both roads have steep grades ect ect ect. Not to mention snow and ice in winter and baking temps in summer.

    Since all of the fleet has oil pressure gauges, we monitor them like hawks. So far over 225,000 on the 2.8 GM V6 it has lost 4 pounds at idle hot. Still 65 off idle. The Legacy EJ22;s numbers have perhaps minusculely since we got the car 60,000 miles ago. Currently at 209,000 and the car that gets the most abuse.

    Now the EA81 Subaru motors is a different story. There oil pressure at 250,000 miles is all over the place. But if the engine has stuck to the 3000 mile changes it is much better and not as drastic as hot temperature drop as one that has had deferred changes. They also seem to last a heap longer. Those little engines are very hard on there oil I might add. They only hold 4 quarts and think about how hard they have to work to move a 4 wheel drive wagon.

    Now on the big 72 ford 100 truck with the 360 and a 2 BBL with a 4 speed (and nothing else, yes no vacuum assist drums, no power steering, and yes it has a heater) I change it at 7500 miles since it holds 7 quarts and dun have to work to hard to haul around a little short bed truck with 4:11′s It also gets driven little so it is the 1 year or 7500 miles rule. (Truck now has almost half a million, 1 timing chain 1 valve job 4 clutches) Everything else gets driven to the point it is 2 to 6 changes a year.

    So far it works for me. Most folks I say 5000 miles less they are hard duty, and on stuff. With larger oil systems that hold more oil. Up to 7500. But never 10,000. Don’t bother with synthetic unless it is called for. And find a good mechanic or quick lube and use only them to do your changes.. and for the love of god log it! That way you know when to change it next.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    My dad always has advised me to use Fram filters. I’m thinking the shop [independent] I take my cars to uses AC Delco.

  • avatar
    CopperCountry

    Dartman nailed it: advances in fuel control are probably the biggest factor in extending drain intervals. Modern engines, in addition to being more precisely machined, spend very little time in “open loop” operation, all of which results in less oil dilution/contamination. Aside from the well-known examples of engines with inadequate PCV systems (DCX 2.7L and TMC 3.0L V6s,) there’s absolutely no reason not to follow the mfr-recommended intervals.

    Want to experiment with 15K intervals? Go ahead an look at the data (by which, I mean actual oil analysis test results, not someone’s testimonial of “I have XXXk miles on my Dorbzelj SS …changed the oil every 3k, and no problems!,”) and you’ll find that modern full-synthetics, when not driven under ‘extreme’ conditions, can go the distance. But if early oil changes make you feel better (a mental health benefit,) then don’t stop just because the data indicates you may be wasting your time/money.

  • avatar
    kuponoodles

    Why are people obsessed with intervals, numbers and metrics?

    Step 1) pop you hood and check your dipstick once a week.
    If it looks low, top off, it it looks darker than death, change it.

    if you can’t remember,
    Set one of your trip odometers to record how many miles you’ve driven.
    and every 1k miles driven or so, repeat step 1.
    are people That effin lazy?

  • avatar
    Power6

    if you have a turbo subaru…every 3750 doesn’t matter what type of oil, keep that turbo oil feed banjo screen clean…ask me how I know.

    Also any Subaru only use OEM filters…Subaru uses a bypass valve opening pressure different that the default that *every* other mfr uses (well excpet for late Mazda RX8 you can use those filters too)

  • avatar
    ArizonaSE

    I’ve thought about the topics outlined in this article extensively, and at the end of the day I think the best thing to do is to simply follow the owner’s manual (re: oil viscosity, intervals, etc.). As for oil brand, the best oil is…new oil! Although I must admit I never buy the store-branded generic motor oils myself. I also agree that it is better to have an honest ‘real’ mechanic change the oil. They are more likely to find other issues needing attention. We have 3 cars:

    -2004 Acura TSX 6spd. 122k miles. I change the oil every 5k miles because that’s the ‘severe’ schedule. I still bring this car to the dealer because, for whatever reason, the Acura dealer charges reasonable amounts for oil changes. Only $35 dollars and that includes a car wash. Last I checked, the dealer uses 5w-30 Pennzoil synthetic blend.

    -2011 Lexus IS250 auto. 26k miles. Owners manual calls for 0w-20 with 10k oil changes using synthetic. 10k does seem like a while, but that’s what the owners manual specifies. Lexus dealer here wants $200 for an oil change. That is CRAZY. I take this car to an independent mechanic who specialized in Toyota and Lexus. Use Mobil 1.

    -2005 Jeep Wrangler 4.0 6speed. 29k miles. The Jeep is rarely driven (1k-3k miles a year). I change the oil once a year with 10W-30 Valvoline dino oil and a Wix filter. No sense in wasting money on anything more fancy with this Jeep engine which is tough as nails. Given that this is an older engine design, if it were a daily driver I probably would change the oil closer to 3-5k miles but would still use dino oil.


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