In our last blog, we talked about how quick-service lube centers and some dealership service departments have perpetuated a myth regarding the necessity of oil changes every 3,000 miles. In this second of two parts, we’ll talk about the how and the why of motor oil advancement, as well as give you some recommendations on how to know when to service your vehicle.
While the car-servicing industry relies on the 3,000-mile oil change to keep service bays filled and money coming in, customers tend to hold on to that myth because they’re largely unaware of advances in automotive technology. Among 2013 models, the majority of automakers call for oil changes at either 7,500 or 10,000 miles based on a normal service schedule, which turns out to be more than double the traditional 3,000-mile interval.
According to an online survey, the longest recommended oil change interval is 15,000 miles for all Jaguar vehicles. The shortest recommended oil change interval is 5,000 miles for some Hyundai and Kia models with turbo engines and Toyota vehicles that require non-synthetic oil. Toyota has been shifting its fleet to 10,000-mile oil change intervals using synthetic oil.
In addition, synthetic motor oils such as Mobil 1 are stretching the length of oil change intervals, leaving the 3,000-mile mark in the dust. In fact, the company’s most advanced synthetic product, Mobil 1 Extended Performance, is guaranteed for 15,000 miles.
But how has technology changed oil, a natural by-product, or fossil fuels to allow for longer intervals? Well, today’s longer oil change intervals are due to:
- Improved “robustness” of today’s oils, with the ability to protect engines from wear and heat and still deliver good fuel economy with low emissions.
- More automakers using synthetic oil.
- Tighter tolerances of modern engines.
- The introduction of oil life monitoring systems, which notify the driver when an oil change is required and are based on the way the car is driven and the conditions it encounters. Sixteen of 34 auto manufacturers now use oil life monitoring systems in their 2013 models, including all three domestic automakers; that represents a majority of the vehicles sold in the U.S.
According to the California Integrated Waste Management Board, waste oil is a problem only made worse by too-frequent oil changes. The agency, which has campaigned against the 3,000-mile directive, reports that 153.5 million gallons of used oil is generated in California annually, but less than 60% of that is recycled. Oil experts and car manufacturers agree that less-frequent oil changes can help alleviate some of the excess waste.
So, where does this leave the driver who has been indoctrinated to the 3,000-mile oil change myth by years of exposure? The short answer is to consult your service manual to learn your car’s actual oil change schedule. This could save you hundreds of dollars over the next few years, while still fully protecting your car and its warranty, and limiting the over-use and waste of a natural resource. If you happen to have a car with a built-in oil life monitoring system, respect it and follow its readings to determine your service schedule.
So, there you have it – the 3,000-mile myth has been busted and your eyes have been opened to the truth! At the very least you learned a little something new to consider. Either way, let us know what your thoughts are in the comments section below! We always appreciate your feedback!
*image: oemebamo on Flickr