Sunday, September 12, 2010

3000 mile oil changes are bullshit

Penn and Teller ought to do a show just on this. Ok, maybe not. This article I saw online today was only news to me in the sense that most "news" is news - that it was reported, not that it was known.

I have been driving since I was 16 years old (really, a little before that, but only in Driver's Ed). In all that time, I have NEVER gotten an oil change more often than about 7500 miles - and usually less often than that. And I've never had any issues. Now, perhaps this is because of the cars I have driven - all Hondas - but I think it is true of most cars. Getting an oil change more often than that is just a waste of oil and a waste of money. I've known this for over 20 years and I am someone who knows next to nothing about cars.

My car's manual (I have a Honda Civic, 1998) indicates regular maintenance every 7500 miles. I figure they are conservative, so I stretch it out to about 8000 miles or so. My car runs great and has never had any problems. I just take it to the dealer every 8000 or so miles and let them do whatever is next on the schedule. That is also the only way I ever get any oil changed.

So here's a great money saving tip for anyone who doesn't know - change your oil every 8000 miles or so - really, do what the article says and look up the information for your particular car.


BadTux said...

There's a board called "Bob is the Oil Guy" where people post their oil analysis reports. One thing that has become clear is that modern engines run amazingly clean and their oil stays clean too, and modern oil is amazingly good, maintaining its viscosity well past 7500 miles. My Jeep has an older engine and the recommendation in the owner's manual is to change the oil every 5,000 miles for "normal" duty, which I do because there is other service I need to do every 2500 miles (pump grease into various orifices that don't exist on modern vehicles but do exist on this antique) and it's easier for me to keep track of everything if it's on 2500 mile boundaries, but oil analysis even on that vehicle with its antique engine shows that at 8,000 miles, even standard 10W30 oil (not synthetic) has barely lost any viscosity and the oil filter has kept the oil nice and clean.

In short, there's third-party confirmation that this article is true. Which is important, because the automatic assumption for anything you read in any media today is that it is false until independently verified. Siiiiiigh!

- Badtux the Car Penguin

DBB said...

Oh, I don't believe everything I read on the internet... This article just inspired me to write about my own experience with oil changes - more than 20 years worth - and the fact that I've never changed my oil after less than 7500 miles, not with any of my cars over the years (ok, which amounts really to just two, both Hondas).

surakmn said...

The 3000 mile oil change USED to be standard operating procedure, but we're talking about years and years ago. Over the last decades engines and the oil going into them have both advanced considerably.

Modern oils hold their viscosity well, it's more a question of their ability to suspend particulates and how long the filters hold out.

Unless you are doing some really, really serious abuse to your engine there's absolutely no reason to change oil below the normal service interval recommended by the manufacturer. In the case of my TDI, which require synthetic, that is 10,000 miles.

bzyglowi said...

I tend to change mine every 3,000 miles or so... but I only drive about 8,000 miles per year so that's still only twice a year, which I figure is as good a time as any to do other maintenance. Keeping this in mind, though, I'll probably kick it up to about 5,000 miles before I change it.