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oil change miles?
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Leslie Thurston
(lesler) - F

Locale: right here, right now
oil change miles? on 03/09/2012 11:39:10 MST Print View

how often do YOU change your vehicle's oil?
i've always been taught every 3k, though many tell me 5k
(based on today's technology-- both cars and oil-- can endure?) truck gets noticeably sluggish at 3
(post tune-up/ regular maintenance).
curious to hear what others are doing?

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: oil change miles? on 03/09/2012 11:50:16 MST Print View

I change mine around 5K. If it were a new car, I'd change it more often, but I figure my 1997 camry with 230,000 miles on it won't know the difference!

FWIW, my mechanic is a friend of the family and used to work on Formula 1 cars with a racing crew. I asked him about several car manufacturer claims that say you only need to change your oil 5, 7, and sometimes 10K miles. He looked at me and flatly said, "bulls#it." Yes, the cars are more efficient with their oil now, but it still breaks down just as quickly.

Stick to anywhere between 3-5K.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Re: oil change miles? on 03/09/2012 11:57:38 MST Print View

New vehicles use a combination of how you drive, how long you drive for, long trips v.s. short trips, etc, to determine when you require an oil change and provide a maintenance warning. Most modern day autos can go as long as 7.5K miles before requiring a change with synthetic oil permitting as much as 15K miles.

The 3000 mile 'rule' was the brainchild of Jiffy Lube.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: oil change miles? on 03/09/2012 11:57:54 MST Print View

Every 5k as well. Why? It's easy to remember, and it's essentially the 'halfway compromise point' between conventional wisdom (3k) and car manufacturer recommendation (7k).

K ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: oil change miles? on 03/09/2012 12:05:27 MST Print View

On my Subaru that uses virtually no oil, somewhere around 5k.
On my little ford truck, which is what I use daily, with 225,000 miles and it does go through quarts of oil....maybe 20k or more.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: oil change miles? on 03/09/2012 12:33:06 MST Print View

"Every 5k as well."

Exactly. It is a nice round number. Easy to remember.

My car tries to direct me otherwise. It has an oil life indicator on the dash, and it estimates oil life based on how many miles I cover on each trip. I'm not sure that it would be very accurate.


Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: The Palouse
10k on 03/09/2012 12:34:21 MST Print View

my 4 runner says every 10k. synthetic...

John West
(skyzo) - M

Locale: Borah Gear
Re: 10k on 03/09/2012 20:40:02 MST Print View

I tend to change about every 4k. I do a lot of small mileage driving back and forth to work, so I figure change it a little sooner than usual.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Do a oil analysis on 03/14/2012 18:48:27 MDT Print View

The best way to see if you can do extended oil changes is to get an oil analysis done. Easily done, you buy a kit, send the sample in and get the results sent to you. Seems was around $20+- My Civic gets the Mobil 1 oil changed twice a year as it does not get enough mileage to change at a mileage interval and my Toy pu goes 3,000 between changes. I want to do an analysis to see if the 5W-30 I use instead of the 5W-20 is not having adverse effects. Supposedly, 5W-20 is not preventing wear and tear like 5W-30 does, but Honda says it is fine and is what they say to use. I cannot find any wear data to support what I have read though.

peter vacco

Locale: no. california
proper oil interval on 03/14/2012 22:45:28 MDT Print View

old times it was 3 to 5k, as the oil served to flush out dirt (mostly soot) and particles. 3k is not necessarily a product of jiffy lube marketing, older vehicles (particularly the very popular VW engine) would actually produce dirty oil in 3k, so it needed replaced. modern motors do not generate small bits of metal, and the ring package no longer permits excessive soot form entering the oil system. this in concert with longer lasting additive packages, allows extended drain intervals. you will notice many manufacturers use smaller filters now, as not much material remains to filter out.
for normal driving (ie : not on a farm) , just standard driving, one can usually go well over 15k with synthetics before they discolor.
while discoloration is not an Absolute Perfect indicator of needing replacement, but it is handy, it works, and it requires zero skill to check.
discoloration is a Practical indicator.
proper stewardship of a vehicle does not allow one to run filthy oil, which if done, it will taint the lube color from then onwards.

castrol produces a reliable full synthetic oil. the cost differential between std and full syn does not warrant using non-syn oil.

you can buy syn oil from Auto Zone, and after 5 over-20-dollar purchases (which it will be) they kick you back 20 bucks on your next purchase. it's effectively about a 15% discount.


Ty Ty

Locale: SE US
5K for my tahoe on 03/15/2012 08:08:43 MDT Print View

I do 5K on regular oil. If I used synthetic I would go 7K. I think 3K is for the oil change places.

Coworker of mine had a company Suburban and swore only needed when oil life indicator on dash was at 20%. He had to have a new engine at 120K miles. My tahoe has 140K and engine is running like a top.

Oil today is better as is our gas, much cleaner with additives to burn clean and detergents to clean things.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: oil change miles? on 03/15/2012 11:21:21 MDT Print View

I might as well chime in, since this is my area of expertise (my job).

Start by reading the Owner's Manual and/or the Maintenance Schedule that came with your vehicle. Pay attention the the "Severe Service" schedule. If your driving conditions match it, you need a more frequent service interval.

Use the viscosity and API classification recommended by the manufacturer.

Other considerations...

Most modern vehicles call for an interval that is well over 5,000 miles. Some luxury cars are now at once a year. However, the tire manufacturer usually recommends that you rotate your tires every 5,000 miles. I find it most convenient to change my oil every 5,000 miles and have the tires rotated at the same time, instead of dealing with 7,500 oil changes and 5,000 mile tire rotations. If I followed the manual I would have this to deal with.

5,000 mi = tire rotation
7,500 mi = oil change
10,00 mi = tire rotation
15,000 mi = tire rotation and oil change

That means dealing with maintenance 4 times, versus 3 times if I do 5,000 mile oil changes.

Now if you are driving something like a Mercedes or Corvette, it is more expensive because they recommend synthetic oil.

Some vehicles like Bob's use a Engine Oil Life System, where the computer looks at all kinds of driving parameters and then decides when the optimum time is to change the oil. Usually there is a read out on the dash that tells you the percentage of engine oil life left, and then turns on a light as you get close to 0%. Again, with this system it is not taking into consideration that the tires need to be rotated every 5,000 miles. If you opt for the 5,000 mile interval, then make sure the technician re-sets the EOLS computer. If he doesn't know how or does not have the proper equipment to do it, you took your vehicle to the wrong place!

Keep in mind that engine oil accomplishes 3 things: cleans, lubricates and cools. If you stick to the manufacturers recommendations and keep everything else maintained, it is not unusual to get 250,000 miles out of a modern engine.

When in doubt, more often is better than too long. Most modern cars are fine with 5,000 miles unless your severe service parameters call for something more frequent.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: oil change miles? on 03/15/2012 12:04:17 MDT Print View

"Some vehicles like Bob's use a Engine Oil Life System, where the computer looks at all kinds of driving parameters and then decides when the optimum time is to change the oil."

Actually, mine only looks at one parameter, the miles driven on each ignition cycle. If I drive three miles or less, it accumulates those against a 3000 mile oil life. If I drive over three miles, it accumulates those against a 7500 mile oil life. In my opinion, that is too simple. Since I drive some short trips and some long trips, I just get the oil change every 5000 miles.

I know a company executive who was given use of a company-leased Ford Mustang as a fringe benefit. He drove the car around 75,000 miles before he left the company. The company bought it back from the lease company and then decided to sell it. They looked at the auto service records, and apparently it had never had any oil change. Think about that. It was taken in for its first oil change and the oil plug was unscrewed. One quart was all that remained. Yikes!


Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: oil change miles? on 03/15/2012 13:02:32 MDT Print View

"Actually, mine only looks at one parameter, the miles driven on each ignition cycle. If I drive three miles or less, it accumulates those against a 3000 mile oil life. If I drive over three miles, it accumulates those against a 7500 mile oil life."

Maybe, maybe not. Most of the simpler systems use algorithms taking into consideration the engine type, transmission, final drive, ambient temperature, length of each trip, operating temperature reached, miles driven, average speed, etc. Usually a General Motors system will recommend an oil change somewhere in the 7,500 mile to 8,500 mile range. I have seen less and more than this average.

Some of the more complex systems used today by some manufacturers are using direct measures of oil condition instead of the GM method described above. They can measure water content, oil thickness, soot concentrations and electrical conductivity. Pretty complex and interesting stuff.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"oil change miles?" on 03/15/2012 13:13:44 MDT Print View

I drive an '86 Toyota Landcruiser w/ 318,xxx on the odo, oil is changed whenever it starts sounding more unusual than normal under the hood. ;-)

Thanks for the reminder, I'm actually several months/miles overdue.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: oil change miles? on 03/15/2012 13:56:06 MDT Print View

"Maybe, maybe not."

Nick, if my description is the same as what is in the shop manual, then why doubt it?


Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: oil change miles? on 03/15/2012 14:05:20 MDT Print View

It also gets your car looked at from underneath to spot any upcoming issues.

We had a saying at the shop. If you want to drive, you're gonna pay.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: oil change miles? on 03/15/2012 15:35:18 MDT Print View

"Nick, if my description is the same as what is in the shop manual, then why doubt it?"

Probably doesn't matter if you are changing every 5,000 miles anyway.


Not knowing what make, year and model you have it is hard to say what strategies are employed, nor do I have the inclination to research it if I had the information. But for a quasi-science discussion lets say that you and I both had a earlier year GM Tahoe with an engine oil life system. And lets say we both drove from San Francisco to Chicago and back using mostly I-80. I followed you, but I am towing a 5,000 lb trailer. I will be in lower gears more than you, often I will be running at higher engine RPMs, at times might have a little higher engine operating temperature, and you may be driving a little differently when driving through towns as I am towing a trailer, etc. So before we get back to San Francisco it is likely that my "change oil" light will come on and yours won't.

I am not saying that the shop manual is incorrect, but my experience with many OEMs is that they do not provide all the information in their manuals. Several reasons for this. One is they do not want to divulge too much information that could be used by competitors, and secondly they write their manuals for the lowest common denominator of technicians, as they want to control and standardize diagnostic routines under warranty in an effort to minimize warranty expenditures.

In the earlier years of computer controlled vehicles I found this quite frustrating. The diagnostic equipment did not provide a lot of information and the diagnostic trees were long and involved, not explaining exactly what the computer was looking for and how it would adapt to different conditions. The shop manuals provided too little information, sort of like the Government's "need to know" mindset. So I bought non-OEM diagnostic equipment, a Wyse terminal and Wyse terminal emulation software, running the output from the diagnostic equipment through my notebook computer. While the OEM diagnostic equipment would only let you look at certain things and only one at a time, I could watch up to 28 simultaneous outputs and often found the strategy was somewhat different than the simplified explanation in the manual. Using this method I never had to go through the recommended procedure of replacing a component with a "known good unit" and re-testing, or go through every single step in the tree, as I could see all the parameters. Now why would I want to go through all this learning and extra expense? Because I got paid by every hour billed. The quicker and more accurately I could fix vehicles, the more hours I could bill (billing is done by a labor time standard, not how much time it takes). We call this "flagged hours." I always flagged more hours than everyone else. Most averaged around 8 flagged hours per day, it was not unusual for me to flag 16 or 20 yours per day... obviously I made twice as much money as most the other technicians. :)

Not being argumentative here, I find the technology advances since the "point and condenser" era to today's vehicles which have numerous on-board computers to be quite interesting.

Steven Hanlon
(asciibaron) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Mobil 1 on 03/16/2012 08:40:40 MDT Print View

i use Mobil 1 and change the oil every 5,000 miles. i have a Subaru boxer engine and they don't behave like in-line or V designs. before moving to Mobil 1, i would change the oil every 3,000 miles.

my wife's Prius (she gets it in May) is recommended every 10,000 miles. crazy.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Mobil 1 on 04/03/2012 22:14:34 MDT Print View

Interesting information on changing oil. As I had suggested previously, 3-5K miles is a marketing ploy for most people. Save your cash: