Do You Really Need to Change Your Oil Every 3,000 Miles?

Oil_change

No, you don't, according to every auto manufacturer we've talked to. The main advocates of the 3,000-mile oil change schedule are those who would profit by it: repair facilities, quick-lube chains and service departments at some new-car dealers.

Years ago it was a good idea to change the oil and filter frequently, but because of advances in engine materials and tighter tolerances, as well as the oil that goes into engines, most manufacturers recommend intervals of 7,500 miles or more.

Ford, Volkswagen and Porsche, for example, recommend oil changes every 10,000 miles. So does Toyota on several engines, including the Prius' 1.8-liter four-cylinder and the Camry's 2.5-liter four-cylinder. BMW says owners can go up to 15,000 miles between oil changes (with synthetic oil).

The intervals vary by manufacturer and engines, so consult your owner's manual or maintenance schedule to see how often to change the oil in your vehicle and what type of oil to use. You may be surprised. We were surprised to learn that the Camry's 2.5-liter engine requires 0W20 synthetic oil, for instance.

Manufacturers suggest you change oil more often for "severe" driving conditions, such as frequent trailer towing, extensive stop-go driving or idling in traffic, driving in extreme heat or cold, or frequent short-distance driving in which the engine doesn't reach full operating temperature.

Some car companies, Ford and General Motors among them, equip most vehicles with oil life monitors that tell you when it's time to change the oil based on vehicle speed, engine temperature, climate conditions, number of cold starts and other factors. They can all cite examples from owners who say the oil-life monitors indicated they could go even longer than the recommended change intervals.

If you're nervous about going 10,000 miles or more between oil changes, then do it every six months, when you probably should also have your tires rotated (also explained in your owner's manual). GM says to change your oil at least once a year even if the service indicator warning light doesn't come on. With longer recommended intervals between oil changes, it's more important to check the oil level at least once a month to make sure you have enough.

But to change oil every 3,000 miles is probably wasting money. Environmentalists say it also adds to the glut of used oil that must be recycled or disposed, and the state of California is trying to discourage the practice.

If the guy at the quick-lube shop says he's only trying to help you when he recommends frequent oil changes, consider this: It is not in the interest of an auto manufacturer for you to suffer premature engine failure caused by worn-out oil. If that happens, they might have to pay for repairs under warranty and probably will lose you as a customer. Yet, they're the ones advising you to follow longer oil-change intervals.

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Why Are Oil Change Intervals Getting Longer?

By Rick Popely | April 10, 2013 | Comments (28)

Comments 

Thank's for sharing

Good to know. We had a feeling that it was a little early to do. Great article.

some cars have electronic systems to tell the owner when change oil!!!!

anonymous guy

I have always changed my oil at 5,000 mile intervals simply because it's easy to remember when it's time. Never had any problems and I put 25,000-30,000 miles a year on my cars.

Shorebreak

It's not the life of the oil that is worrisome but the oil filter losing it's filtration ability. FRAM retails four different oil filters. FRAM Engine Protection ratings are a ratio based on multiplying an oil filters dirt-trapping efficiency by its dirt-holding capacity and dividing the result with the same multiplication of another filter. The FRAM Engine Protection rating increases for filters that allow fewer particles to pass through it and when the filter contaminant holding capacity is higher. Engine Protection is the FRAM measure of a filter’s ability to not just trap dirt but hold it for the life of the filter.

toronado

"It's not the life of the oil that is worrisome but the oil filter losing it's filtration ability." That would be my concern as well.

DeBinder Dundett

For all you guys worried about the filter losing its filtration ability, the answer is to replace just the filter and then add some fresh oil to make up the loss. This is what they do on Jet engines where they use expensive synthetic oil.

I change the oil and filter on all my vehicles between 3000 and 5000 miles because I only drive short distances and the engine rarely warms up to operating temperature.

Six

Another tip - don't use FRAM oil filters.

More info:

http://www.google.com/search?q=fram+oil+filters+problem

One more point, if you are only changing your oil every 7k-10k miles, keep an extra eye out for leaks! Changing oil less frequently doesn't mean going longer between checking the dipstick itself, especially with an older car.

AL.G

Nice report Rick. I have a 05 Camry. My oil light comes on at 5000 miles. The manual says under some conditions the oil can be changed evey 7000 miles. I've been changing it at 5000 just to play it safe.

@Debinder and Six:
Good suggestions

M3

No way I'd let my car go that long between oil changes. I do my own, and it's cheap insurance against long-term engine damage.

Highdesertcat

Living in the desert Southwest, 26 miles from the nearest town, I change the oil AND oil filter myself at home every 3000 miles on all my vehicles - a 2012 Grand Cherokee V6, a 2011 Tundra 5.7 and a 2008 Highlander V6.

I use Castrol 5-30 for all of them and have used filters from Wix, Purolator and Fram. Never had any problems with any of them.

If you can do the work yourself, you'll do a better job and you save a lot of money.

It also allows you to change the other filters (air, cabin, fuel) when you want to change them and not be forced to buy something you don't need at the dealer or Jiffy-Lube.

Mark

The author says, "because of advances in engine materials and tighter tolerances" he uses that to support more time between changes. I believe this very statement encourages more frequent oil changes. If tolerances are tighter, the oil needs to be cleaner as a smaller particles in dirty oil are more likely to get stuck when tolerances are tighter and could block oil passages, especially if the filter has not been changed.

WTF

The best way is to send an oil sample off to a lab like Blackstone. Their analysis will tell you if you are changing your oil too often or too infrequently.

Ike G

I spent decades in the Aircraft Maintenance industry and SOAP analysis was common there.

But to do it for a car? At the prices that Blackstone charges? It's cheaper just to change the oil every 3000 miles.

You can't go wrong with fresh oil and filter. Better to change oil too often than not often enough.

WTF

Yes. It's $25. One test could save you so much more by reducing the number of oil changes you do annually.

mk

Jiffy Lube put a "10,000" mile oil in my F-150 and now about 7500 ~ 8000 miles later it's making noise. Tbe Ford dealer says there is almost no oil in it. Waiting now to hear what the repairs will cost. Think I'll go back to every 4000 ~ 5000 miles maximum.

It is recommended to change the oil every 5,ooo miles. I have driven my cars long distances for many years and have always got the oils changed every 5k miles. That way it is lot more easier to remember. I don't know whether the car would have performed equally well if I had missed changing them.

Highdesertcat

I changed the oil and filter on my wife's 2012 Grand Cherokee before we went on our road trip, and again 3724 miles later after we got back from our road trip.

What had been clean, clear oil when first changed was nasty, smelly, sooty and black just 3724 miles later, even though all of the driving had been on Interstates and highways, with very, very little stop and go city driving.

If you value your car and its engine, changing the oil and filter is a small expense considering the investment in your transportation.

I simply cannot see any merit in keeping dirty oil in an engine for longer than is absolutely necessary.

There's no way I would ever go 7500, 8500, 10000 or 15000 miles between oil changes like some people advocate.

John

Once a year.
If it needs it or not!

shea

Important to consider in this is that our cars to not have 100% combustion therefore a portion of the fuel injected into the cylinder escapes past the rings and into the crankcase(oil). Since gasoline is a solvent and can shorten the life of gaskets it may be wise to change more often if you do not get the vehicle up to temp often. Since when the oil gets up to temp the gasoline is evaporated through the crankcase vent and is recycled into the intake.

Also in reference to the original post, car manufactures do in fact have a financial interest in telling you to pursue longer intervals. Since most automobile reviews give a "cost of ownership" for the vehicles they review it is in the interest of the manufacture to raise the intervals to drive their Cost of ownership below their competitors.

Additionally as you mentioned before environmentalist are against frequent oil changes due to disposal and recycling of used oil. This may cause political pressure to be put onto the companies to appease this audience. Or an and interest in profiting through perceived environmental consciousness.

Steve

Short trips, especially when it's cold is tough on engines. Cars driven like this should go every 3,000 miles max. to get rid of contaminates. Highway cruisers running for 1/2 hr or more each time can go 5,000 miles easily. Direct injection cars have a tendency to cause fuel dilution in oil and even highway cruising may not be enough to burn the fuel out of the oil. Cars are expensive, oil changes aren't. Easy for me to understand.

Jay Trader

I have been driving and changing my oils since 1970 at from 3500-5000miles or 4-5 months with any and ALL brands of oils--whatever was on sale--with a filter of course---and have NEVER had ANY engine problems due to lubrication issues--even overhead cams which used to have wear issues--so use a quality oil within whatever viscosity is called for and stay within 4000-5000 miles 4-5 maybe 6 months max and never look back!

Jay Trader

In general--synthetics easier flow on cold startups-----even at the same viscosity as dino oils due to molecular reasons-----lubricate better on cold mornings and that is where most wear comes from--as far as high heat they are supposed to do better but actually our cooling systems keep heat within an acceptable range as long as the thermostat does its job. Synthetics break down ALOT slower simply because of advanced additive package along with refining methods
if you don't at least take advantage of a LITTLE extra oilchange mileage than at least KNOW that synthetics----stay in way better shape during the life of your change period---whatever you choose to do

5 months/5000 reg oils
6 months/6000 syn oils

should do great for us all

Chris

The more you change oil the longer your engine lasts.
Motor Oil:
Lubricates
Cools
Cleans/traps particles
brought in from air intake and dirty gas.
if you do not allow your engine oil to wear, your engine will not wear.

I am not in the business of selling plastic 25 thousand dollar cars to you people every 5 years, so that's why I'm saying this.

just like

Change your ATF so your transmission doesnt die, skipper.

Change your power steering fluid so you power steering pump and $1000 rack and pinon doesnt die, Einstein.

Change your coolant, so your car doesnt blow up again (damit! another overheating/blown hose/head gasket because your coolant has turned into acid over the years, time to dish out another 25 grand for a brand new car, or wait, take another loan!!)

Then I walk on to the car lot, to find no cars are older than 6 years old, they are making megabucks through debt hyperinflation, I just want a stupid car that runs for a reasonable price that someone that can figure out stuff changed their fluids but everyone is totally stupid nowadays and believes the lies.

NY Lease Agent

Chris, were you aware that many people who lease their cars NEVER change the oil in their lease vehicles for the duration of their lease?

That's why so many manufacturers are including free maintenance on their new cars.

Allen

so, what is a PCV Valve for? Why is there a fuel filter on my 2000 chevy impala? Why do Diesel engines have 2 fuel filters on them? 3 months or 3 thousand miles....have you ever tore down an engine? its not a Myth!!! Obviously you are confused..better than saying you are an idiot I think.. shame on you.. Oil breakes down, synthetic more than most, however, there are more molecules in synthetic oil than in conventional - thinner oil..Wow, I don't get it, Why do you think oil gets BLACK...just beacause????Really??Come on Guys...Really???!!!

If you want to change engeine oil and engine oil filter you can DIY.
Follow this link to see how easy
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On this article you cand find how to do and what you need to have befor start this job.

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