How Often Should I Change My Oil?
The Motor Works
Here are my thoughts on the subject. I'll try to keep it simple, straightforward and practical:
- 10,000+ mile oil changes are not good for your engine. This is common sense and is just what your father told you. So why does the dash in my car tell me to go 10,000 between oil changes? There are lots of political, marketing, and environmental reasons to extend the interval. But none of those address the fact that extending the interval will drastically reduce the life of your vehicle. Replacing cars every 100,000 miles doesn't sound too "green" to me...
- Extending the oil change interval to 10,000+ miles is false economy and will haunt you in the long run.
- Extending service intervals means your tires, battery, lights, wiper blades and other safety items are going far too long between services.
- If you carefully read your Owner's Manual you will realize that you should be following the "Severe Duty" service recommendations. More on "Severe Duty" in a moment.
So when should I change my oil?
- We recommend using synthetic oil and changing it every 5,000 miles.
- Modern engines use low-tension piston rings which are highly vulnerable to dirty oil. Piston rings need to move freely and dirty oil causes piston rings to get stuck. When the rings get stuck you end up with premature oil consumption (burning). This oil consumption will lead to blue smoke from the tailpipe and problems meeting emissions regulations. Once again, not an environmentally sound approach; you really don't want to go down this road. Oil changes cost about $100. Engine rebuilds start in the many thousands of dollars.
- We recommend doing a Minor Service every time you change your oil. Your belts, fluids, battery, lights, tires, brakes, suspension are all critical components and need to be regularly inspected. Failure to inspect these items will cause unexpected breakdowns and contribute to expensive, avoidable repairs. You put fuel in your car before the vehicle runs out of gas. Why not deal with maintenance issues before they strand you or contribute to more expensive problems?
- Changing your oil every 10,000 miles is the "Standard" recommendation. Most of us run the air conditioning year-round and drive our cars short distances. This around-town driving is very hard on your vehicle. Local driving contributes to the build-up of water vapor, unburned fuel, and blow-by gases which dilute and contaminate the oil. That's why this type of driving qualifies as "Severe Duty". "Severe Duty" requires doing vehicle service and oil changes twice as often as "Normal Duty". And we're back where we started: service your vehicle every 5,000 miles.
We see lots of cars here at The Motor Works and the ones that are serviced regularly are still going strong at 100,000 and even 200,000 miles and beyond. Yeah, bringing them in for regular service can be a hassle, but the payoff is a safe and reliable car for many, many years.