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The 3,000-Mile Oil Change Is Pretty Much History
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ALINA TUGEND, On Friday September 10, 2010

I STILL remember learning from my father how to carefully remove a dipstick to check the oil level in our cars. It was drilled into me — along with turning off the lights when you left a room and clearing the plates off the table after dinner — that oil needs to be changed every 3,000 miles or so.

I’m not sure what I thought would happen if I didn’t, but I vaguely imagined an unlubricated engine grinding to a halt.

Childhood habits are hard to undo, and that’s often good. To this day, I hate seeing an empty room with the lights on.

But sometimes, we need to throw aside our parents’ good advice. In March, for example, I wrote about how we should relearn the dishwasher and laundry soap habits we inherited from our mothers.

Add frequent oil-changing to that list.

“There was a time when the 3,000 miles was a good guideline,” said Philip Reed, senior consumer advice editor for the car site Edmunds.com. “But it’s no longer true for any car bought in the last seven or eight years.”

Oil chemistry and engine technology have improved to the point that most cars can go several thousand more miles before changing the oil, Mr. Reed said. A better average, he said, would be 7,500 between oil changes, and sometimes up to 10,000 miles or more.

The California Integrated Waste Management Board ran public service announcements for several years about “the 3,000-mile myth,” urging drivers to wait longer between oil changes. Although the information is a few years old, the board has a list of cars on its Web site and how often they need oil changes. The concern is not only the cost to drivers, but the environmental impact of throwing away good oil, said Mark Oldfield, a recycling specialist for the agency.

But the situation is not that clear cut, according to Robert Sutherland, a Pennzoil scientist who works at Shell Global Solutions.

Rather than picking a number, Mr. Sutherland said, he recommends following what your owner’s manual advises. I checked the manual for our 2007 Mazda5 and had to determine if my typical driving included a lot of stop-and-go driving, short distances, extended idling, muddy, rough or dusty roads or really humid or cold temperatures.

Hmm. Yes, to short distance and stop and go. So that meant I should get the oil changed every 5,000 miles. If I did a great deal of longer-distance highway driving, it would be every 7,500.

The different types of driving are usually known as severe and mild (which is also sometimes called normal), Mr. Sutherland said, which seems counterintuitive since most of us probably don’t think we drive in severe conditions. But we do.

The reason, he said, is that if you take a trip of less than 10 miles or so, the engine and the oil are not completely warmed up. And if the oil is still cool, he said, it cannot absorb the contaminants that come from internal combustion as efficiently.

“It’s designed to work best when fully warmed up,” Mr. Sutherland said. “If you’re running to the music lesson, to school, the gym, that’s severe driving conditions.”

Mr. Sutherland said he has a mild commute. “It’s 47 miles, all highway.”

What actually happens if you don’t change your oil? Well, it doesn’t run out, it simply gets dirtier and dirtier. It’s like mopping the floor with a bucket of water and detergent. The water starts out clean, but the more you use it, the filthier it gets. Eventually, you’re making the floor dirtier if you don’t change the water.

Some people remain attached to the 3,000-mile oil change and have a hard time trusting the recommendations in the owner’s manual. If you’re one of those skeptics, you can send your engine oil out to be analyzed. Blackstone Laboratories in Fort Wayne, Ind., one of the best-known places for engine oil analysis, will send you a free kit.

You send back an oil sample and for $25, they’ll tell you all sorts of things about your car.

“We would compare what your oil looks like compared to the average Mazda5 of that year,” said Kristen Huff, a vice president at Blackstone. If there is a lot more lead in my oil than in a typical Mazda5, for example, it means I have a bearing problem, she said.

Her lab runs about 150 samples a day and a fair percentage of those are consumers looking to find out how often they need to change their oil, Ms. Huff said.

“Very often, it is the case that they’re changing their oil too often,” she said. “They do what their dad did with his ’55 Chevy.”

Another way to get a more accurate assessment of your oil needs is to buy a car that has a maintenance minder, like a Honda. A light on the dashboard alerts the driver when the system judges that the oil has only 15 percent of its useful life remaining. The time between oil changes varies depending on the driver and driving conditions.

Honda has used such maintenance minders on most models for at least the last five years, said Chris Martin, a Honda spokesman. Previously, the owner’s manual suggested changes every 10,000 miles in mild conditions and 5,000 miles in severe conditions.

Still, some people stick to the 3,000-mile changes, because “the Jiffy Lubes of the world have done a good job convincing people,” Mr. Martin said

It’s not just the fast oil change outlets. My sticker from my trusted mechanic states that I’ll need a change in 3,000 miles or three months. But Jiffy Lube, the largest quick oil change company in North America, is now under pressure to change its automatic 3,000-mile recommendation.

For about a year, the company has run a pilot program with some franchises across the country suggesting that instead of a blanket recommendation, mechanics tell customers what the manufacturer recommends under mild or severe driving conditions.

“By this time next year, every Jiffy Lube will do it,” said Rick Altizer, president of Jiffy Lube International. And the little sticker on your windshield will no longer simply state when the next oil change should occur, but, “I choose to change my oil” at a specific mileage.

“It’s so it’s not some arbitrary technician saying this,” Mr. Altizer said, but the consumer’s decision.

Mr. Reed of Edmunds.com said car owners often got conflicting messages because of an inherent tension: “The car manufacturers want the reputation that it makes cars that last a long time. The dealership wants to see you every three months.”

But he acknowledged that “3,000 miles strikes a deep chord with the consumer,” adding: “It feels good to get an oil change. If you fill up the car with gas, wash it and change the oil, it runs better. Of course, it doesn’t. But it’s the perception.”

Although Mr. Reed is doubtful that most drivers fall into the severe driving category and fears mechanics will use that to push drivers into paying for more oil changes than necessary, Mr. Sutherland said he wouldn’t want “to second-guess the manufacturer.” Vehicles, he said, “are a substantial investment and changing fluids is how you protect that investment.”

So before you go in for your oil change, dig out your owner’s manual and see what it says. And when the mechanic slaps on a sticker that gives the next change date in 3,000 miles, ask questions. And then, go get the car washed. That’s one thing that always seems to be needed.

Like the ?55 Chevy, the 3,000-Mile Oil Change Is Pretty Much History - Yahoo! Finance

I change my oil when the car tells me its time...:thumbs:
 

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I always use synthetic oil, which they say can go longer than 3000 miles between changes. In any case, I drive my car so little and it gets so hot in South Fla especially in the summertime, I stick to the 3000 mile rule. That's mainly because it takes me forever to break the 3000 mile interval. I bought my Sky in July 2009 and it currently has 8600 miles.

Maybe I don't need to do it so often either, but I like to be safer than sorry.:)
 

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I didn't bother reading that whole pile of cr#p, but I can tell you what reality is...

I've seen motors with less than 20k miles so sludged up you'd think it was the 60's again. I've seen motors with NO oil in them that still showed 70% on the oil life monitor.
I've seen oil changed at 3k miles that looks as black as if it came out of a diesel.
I've seen many, many variable valve timing motors with stuck actuators and plugged up solenoid valves because of oil not being changed often enough.

Yes, I agree that the bottom ends of most GM motors are the best they've ever been as far as durability, and aren't as likely to have oil related problems, but the top ends of these motors, and the fuel delivery systems have made oil quality WAY more important. Direct Injection, VVT, DOD or AFM, multiple little valves with lighter springs that stick and leak easier than older, big 2 valve heads used to, all need good clean oil.

I've been around long enough to know GM (and the so-called experts) don't always know what's right. GM says to run regular gas in motors with 10:1 compression, so that they get so much KR they run deep into the low octane tables, does that seem right? No. They do that for one reason and one reason only. MARKETING. If car A makes 300hp and car B makes 300hp but they say it has to have premium fuel, guess which car sells? If car A can go 50k miles without anyone ever opening the hood, and car B needs clean, good quality synthetic oil every 3k miles, which one will people buy? Get it?

If you care about your car, ESPECIALLY if it has VVT, DOD or AFM, Turbo or Supercharged, or Direct Injection, change your oil at least by 4k mile intervals, and only use a good synthetic. If it's a leased car or you plan on getting rid of it before the 100k warranty is up, go by the oil life monitor and don't worry about it. If it blows it's free.
 

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My Mercedes on board said to change ever 10k miles and 15k miles for my BMW. 15k miles just seems ridiculous, so I do it at 10k as well.

I'm only around 1.5k into my Sky right now, I'm going to be doing it around 6k most likely on the GM.

One thing I did hear was something that is not required in Canada (where I am) but apparently, and correct me if I was told wrong, when you buy a car in the U.S the automakers are now required to list the total costs of maintenance of the car over some x period of time. To reduce the costs on these figures they increases the distance between oil changes. Not sure if this is true of not. I would assume with my BMW to raise the miles to 15k per change was because they were offering free oil changes with their cars for the warranty period.
 

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I don't care what the oil life meter says I won't go over 5000 with synthetic in a gas motor or 7500 in a diesel. Its just not that big a cost to be worth the risk.
 

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There have been studies and reports done, by the military I think, were they have found that oil works better the longer it's used. They've done test vehicles where oil that has 10k on it has better lubricating factors than new oil does. They concluded that changing your oil often is the worst thing you can do. They would just change the filter at regular intervals and add needed oil to keep it full.
 

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You may do your oil every 6000 to 7000 , but if your car is an oil cooled turbo. You should do it every 3000. Turbo's do not like dirty oil. Turbo's are not cheap. The last thing to go by is the oil life meter. That runs off run time and not the oils condition. Its just a clock.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
And how long does your filter last?
I change that out with the oil...
with of course the best quality available at the time,
or the OEM for the Sky, if I let them do it, which BTW,
is a pretty good one....:thumbs:

Also, as far as the other replies, as we can see, most are personal opinions..., not based on facts...:dunno:
which is cool, I respect that, I expected some will say that the 'experts' don't know shlt,
nor the makers of these cars,..
I will go by what 'experts' say, and what the car manufacturers say...

Once poisoned in your mind the 3K is the way to go,
I know these people will not change, :skep:
But that's OK, it's your wasted money...:willy:

The Jiffy Lubes and the car makers, they will continue to spread the 3k myth, it is in their interest to perpetrate this fraud...:skep:
They love the 3 or 4k crowd, it is free money for them,
a waste of resources IMHO, and more important, a waste of your dollars...
 

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There have been studies and reports done, by the military I think, were they have found that oil works better the longer it's used. They've done test vehicles where oil that has 10k on it has better lubricating factors than new oil does. They concluded that changing your oil often is the worst thing you can do. They would just change the filter at regular intervals and add needed oil to keep it full.
I think Ford wrote and SAE paper on that, but it wouldn't surpise me if the Military also wrote something as well.

You may do your oil every 6000 to 7000 , but if your car is an oil cooled turbo. You should do it every 3000. Turbo's do not like dirty oil. Turbo's are not cheap. The last thing to go by is the oil life meter. That runs off run time and not the oils condition. Its just a clock.
It's a little more than just a timer. It looks at a few things mainly, rpm and oil temp. If oil temp is hot or cold it factors a penalty into the formula that will expire the oil life at a faster rate. Oil temps on the LNF are typically very stable due to the oil cooler.

When it comes down to it though each person will have their own opinion on how often to change the oil.

FWIW I use the OLM.

edit: It should be noted that if you have an engine that is known to sludge up then by all means replace the oil sooner than having that occur.
 

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I was planning on changing at 3000 but have to check my warranty to see if going over the 12 months is also a warranty infraction.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
I think Ford wrote and SAE paper on that, but it wouldn't surpise me if the Military also wrote something as well.



It's a little more than just a timer. It looks at a few things mainly, rpm and oil temp. If oil temp is hot or cold it factors a penalty into the formula that will expire the oil life at a faster rate. Oil temps on the LNF are typically very stable due to the oil cooler.

When it comes down to it though each person will have their own opinion on how often to change the oil.

FWIW I use the OLM.

edit: It should be noted that if you have an engine that is known to sludge up then by all means replace the oil sooner than having that occur.
What is OLM??:huh:

ANY Toyota, I can vouch for that... :yesnod:
(especially RAV 4's..):willy:
 

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I cannot speak with first-hand experience for the turbo engine, but testing has proven that for the NA engine conventional oil is still effective at 20% (ca 6,500 miles) and Castrol Syntec is still effective at 0% (ca 10,000 miles).

Filter dissection in both conditions revealed no appreciable blockage or excessive contamination.

But don't let me cloud your opinions with facts.
wspohn : I was planning on changing at 3000 but have to check my warranty to see if going over the 12 months is also a warranty infraction.
If you are referring to your Solstice, the maintenance requirement is 0% or 12 months, whichever comes first.
 

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Geezuz christ people believe whatever internet crap you want but here's the reality of this... (like I already said)

In my stall, AS I TYPE THIS, is an '06 G6 with an NA Ecotec. 60K miles, customer has changed oil by the oil life monitor. Oil is black and sludged, BOTH cam solenoid valves are plugged and stuck, hopefully the cam actuators themselves will work once I change the valves. About $500 job to change valves and try to flush out the crankcase, WAY more if it also needs actuators.

Do whatever you want but 3 decades of seeing the inside of motors with my own eyes, not repeating what some ________ says on the internet, is what forms my opinion.
 

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For a RL using Mobil 1, if the car is "put up" for the winter, would y'all recommend an oil change in late fall before storage or after storage in the spring when it's ready for use again? It only gets about 4k miles per year.

My question goes to potential condensation over long term storage versus fresh oil coating for that storage.
 

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For a RL using Mobil 1, if the car is "put up" for the winter, would y'all recommend an oil change in late fall before storage or after storage in the spring when it's ready for use again? It only gets about 4k miles per year.

My question goes to potential condensation over long term storage versus fresh oil coating for that storage.
I'm not sure what is recommended. I think there is a thread on winterizing the car somewhere pinned but I can't find it this second (I'm probably blind).

I left the oil that was in the car in the car since it had plenty of life left in it. First drive out of the garage was to the dealer for an oil change. That's what I did. I know other people that do a change when they put it away and then again when they take it out. If someone has other input I'd be interested to hear it.
 

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27rings : For a RL using Mobil 1, if the car is "put up" for the winter, would y'all recommend an oil change in late fall before storage or after storage in the spring when it's ready for use again? It only gets about 4k miles per year.

My question goes to potential condensation over long term storage versus fresh oil coating for that storage.
I do not think that it makes any difference. That said, I would change it before storage to remove any acids, etc that could (however unlikely) be in the oil. Any condensation that forms during storage will be boiled out the first time the car is driven.
 

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gmtech16450yz : Geezuz christ people believe whatever internet crap you want but here's the reality of this... (like I already said)

In my stall, AS I TYPE THIS, is an '06 G6 with an NA Ecotec. 60K miles, customer has changed oil by the oil life monitor. Oil is black and sludged, BOTH cam solenoid valves are plugged and stuck, hopefully the cam actuators themselves will work once I change the valves. About $500 job to change valves and try to flush out the crankcase, WAY more if it also needs actuators.

Do whatever you want but 3 decades of seeing the inside of motors with my own eyes, not repeating what some ________ says on the internet, is what forms my opinion.
60k miles using the OLMS would mean around 10 oil changes. That amount of sludge is not going to occur suddenly, which means that either the person doing the changes was incompetent or the oil changes were not actually being done. It also points to the possible existence of another problem.

With regards to modern engine technology as it relates to oil changes, I think that your first decade and a half of experience is pretty much irrelevent. It is the existence of closed loop engine controls and the extensive engine monitoring provided by OBDII that makes longer change intervals a reality, and those are a relatively recent technology.
 

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Geezuz christ people believe whatever internet crap you want but here's the reality of this... (like I already said)

In my stall, AS I TYPE THIS, is an '06 G6 with an NA Ecotec. 60K miles, customer has changed oil by the oil life monitor. Oil is black and sludged, BOTH cam solenoid valves are plugged and stuck, hopefully the cam actuators themselves will work once I change the valves. About $500 job to change valves and try to flush out the crankcase, WAY more if it also needs actuators.

Do whatever you want but 3 decades of seeing the inside of motors with my own eyes, not repeating what some ________ says on the internet, is what forms my opinion.
While I read lots on the internet I rarely act upon it because as you said lots of BS on the web. I read SAE papers, and and talk with the fuel and lube group if I have questions. Many of us here will probably continue following whatever path we've been on regardless of what anyone says, it's just human nature to do so.

There are many things that can cause sludge:
  • heat (helped via use of synthetic)
  • fuel
  • water
  • acid
  • coolant
  • blow by
  • Soot
  • dirt
  • crappy ass oil
  • driving styles
  • Not changing the filter
The list is much longer but those are some of the heavy hitters. Even how you change the oil will affect this. If the engine is cold you won't get the same amount of contaminants out as if the oil (not coolant) oil is hot.

Changing the oil frequently will help flush the contaminants out, but saying that the extended change is what caused it, could be wrong too. For instance if I do a bunch of short trips and never warm the car up I'll get all kinds of water and unburnt fuel in the oil which will destroy it much faster than I realize or even the OLM system can comprehend (I'm guessing as I don't know 100%, also oil takes a lot longer to warm up than coolant). A small coolant leak will also degrade the oil faster as well (not comprehended by the OLM system). I'm not saying this happened on the car you worked on today and others in the past I'm just playing devils advocate.

There are two ways to look at your oil in between changes: fill cap and dipstick. If you notice sludge change the oil ASAP.

Bottom line (IMO): If you want to change more often go for it (I won't fault you for it in the slightest), if you want to use the OLM go for it, use good oil and filters, but do not go over the OLM.
 
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