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Are 3K oil changes necessary?


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In reply to an earlier post on Jun 21, 2012 2:06:24 PM PDT
I think you are missing a few things here IMO. First what is an "older model"? Second the change interval is not the only consideration depending on how old the car is and the type of motor. What oil type are you talking about? Why is the 3K oil change figure appropriate after you define what an "older car" is?
If you have an OCI and feel it reliable and it is made for use with your oil (conventional or synthetic for example) fine. Also what filter are you using. If you don't have an OCI then there is usually more than one recommended change interval depending on driving environment which all may change depending on the oils and filters you use compared to what the factory is using to obtain those figures. For the comment about "most newer models use 5-30" have you seen what most of the European car viscosity requirements are? Finally viscosity can change if there are environmental variables such as extreme heat and cold.

Those are some thoughts that come to mind for me anyway.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 21, 2012 2:12:33 PM PDT
I don't think so either. The people that chime in with some specific mileage figure and no other information are some of the least helpful. They do not reference a vehicle or type of oil or filter either. It is often just some arbitrary figure that is supposed to cover all vehicles along with oils and filters.

Not that I would likely read close to 4000 posts myself but there seems to be little thought given to a lot of these answers.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 25, 2012 1:58:11 PM PDT
Seeker says:
Bravo!!!! The Corvette specialist I used to work with reused changed oil in his own rides as well. Some of his customers would come in for a change every 1k......with synthetic. Ridiculous, but it seemed more of a peeny extending situation so they could brag about their conspicuous consumption to all us "poor" folks that were laughing inside.........LOL

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 25, 2012 2:02:28 PM PDT
Seeker says:
Believe as you will, but there are several people here using conventional oil and changing at greatly increased intervals, and still driving on original engines with miles greater than your F150. But that is the point..........if you never test the limits, you never realize anything but what the oil vendors would like you to believe.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 28, 2012 4:19:14 PM PDT
Read your owner's manual. I purchased a new Jeep Cherokee back in 1992. The owner's manual said 7,500 miles....way back then!

Posted on Jun 30, 2012 4:42:44 PM PDT
Kenneth says:
Ken M in Indy:

Well there are a lot of good comments and a lot of good ideas...here is what I gather from all this: I put stock in GM & Ford's recomendations, and I hold to the old ways of frequent changes to keep dirt and acids from breaking down my oil and wearing my engine prematurely. I also like the oil testing idea to match oil degradation to each vehicle as needed. So now that we're done with the carburetors and have better additives in our oils, I had to change my MO when changing my oil.

OEM says 10K (they sell cars), oil companys say 3K (thet sell oil), and testing cost $. I guess I'm leaning toward following your own heart. Analyze your individual situation. Combine how much stop & go you do and how far you travel to work and how much short trip driving you do. Most will probably be around 8 to 10K.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 30, 2012 6:25:52 PM PDT
SpiderWebb says:
Ken> Not only are the oils better, The block machining is better. The bores are rounder. The rings seal better. The pistons are barrel ground and cam ground. The tolerances are closer to the design nominal or basic dimensions. The materials are better. Everything about the new engines is better thereby allowing the longer intervals between oil changes.

Stop and go is not as destructive as cold start-ups with short trips and the engine never reaching operating temperature. When the engine is cold, the tolerances are a little wider and the piston/bore clearance is wider. With stop and go, the engine is hot and the drive train and brakes get wear and tear more than the engine.

Posted on Jul 1, 2012 6:20:39 AM PDT
Mark Twain says:
Most vehicles have oil monitoring systems & are much more accurate than the arbritary "following your heart" method.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 2, 2012 9:32:24 AM PDT
Bravo! That resluts in (way) extended oil drains! Therefore, with enforced oil monitoring sytems (which are not almighty) and used oil analysis (let's analyze engine's blood) oil easily can be used for 15, 20 or even more k miles. And, do not forget: oil analysis is mainly made to check engine's health - not oil's. We always assume that engine is good but lets have proof on it! And, when proof is made and in addition it says that oil is good - why not to use it more. Do we throw away cup of coffee after just couple sips? That exactly is what are we doing with still good / usable motor oil. Try to imagine how many tankers we throw away just because of our customaries / beliefs / thoughts!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 2, 2012 1:33:27 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 2, 2012 1:35:52 PM PDT
Seeker says:
Jeeze............how far back? You must be ancient!!! LOL! The owners manuals back in the sixties recommended 6K in most cases.

The whole point is that ignorance is rampant and most people can be sold unnecessary service through fear.........

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 2, 2012 8:26:07 PM PDT
TH says:
So how come I never hear anyone except one or two serious gearheads talking about changing the automatic transmission fluid? I've been hearing folks harping on about 3K oil changes for most of my life. Don't get me wrong. I think any maintenance is good maintenance. However as a self appointed car expert, I have made it my personal mission to educate the layman about the virtues of changing the tranny fluid. Most cars on the road are automatics, and compared to the engine oil, the ATF has a much harder job to preform. I've seen far more cars go out of service due to a blown transmission than a blown engine. I guess the automotive industry makes more money from selling new transmissions / new cars, than from selling ATF.
Everything I own gets a drain plug installed in the transmission pan, and a tranny cooler. I usually do an oil change about every 4K, but my work truck gets a tranny service every 10K. This might be overkill, but it works for me.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 2, 2012 8:28:11 PM PDT
Carl G says:
Transmission fluid has been discussed in this thread but it isn't as critical as motor oil because of its lack of association with fuel and combustion.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 3, 2012 3:09:23 AM PDT
SpiderWebb says:
TH> Thanks for reminding me. I've got a '90 Chevy PU beater I've had since new. I've never changed the ATF because it's still red and it doesn't leak. I figure why mess with it if it ain't broken. It's a 350 CID with the towing package and I drive it carefully. One tip I learned a long time ago was not to use passing gear when hauling any kind of a load.

I've always used Mobil 1 in the engine and it's still running strong with no leaks. I change oil and filter every 10K. I had to fix a problem with my exhaust manifold but that's it! All other problems were general maintenance items.

The tailgate hinges are almost rusted through and the ends of the back bumper have almost rusted off but Old Blue keeps on going!

Posted on Jul 4, 2012 8:05:52 AM PDT
I use synthetic oil and go 15K before I change every time. I have never had wear related problems. Everyone knows car manufactures like bringing in as much money as they can. Like Mercedes suggest you replace many many things that still have tons of life left in them. They told me I needed a new battery and I went over 2 more years on it. They told me I needed a new fuel pump, 3 years ago. They say I should change every 10, but my ML computer says at 15K it requires maintenance.I think I could go 20K still with no problems. On synthetic oil, if you feel like you need to change early then change your filter. It's proven that synthetic oil doesn't break down like conventional oil, so it's a waste of resources and money to change before 10-15K. Mobil 1 guarantees 15K protection out of some of their oil. They wouldn't do that if there was a possibility they were wrong. I have several friends who go longer than me on changes and they to have never had wear related motor issues.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2012 10:15:35 AM PDT
Sgt Bob says:
Good post Mark. I have the same oil monitor in my Camaro, based on engine revolutions, temp. and miles driven etc. Not just time in use. Most synthetics can go a lot longer. NOTE: not trying to sell anything note -- You can go 25,000 miles with Amsoil and a filter change at 12,500 in ideal conditions. You can go up to 10,000 miles with Mobil 1 but I always changed it in my CTS at 7500. I had my oil tested using both and still had the recommend viscosity level with no contamination. I can't find those reports otherwise I would quote more. My Camaro uses the new, a synthetic blend with the dexos 1 certification. The car is new so I have not changed the oil. The system will calculate the oil life. I believe it will go 5-7,000 miles. The new car technology is amazing. But I think I will do the first oil change at 5K and then follow the Engine Oil Life System of the car. In driving in ideal situations it could go for up to a year. YOU SHOULD ALWAYS CHANGE YOUR OIL AT LEAST ANNUALLY!

Posted on Jul 4, 2012 10:41:52 AM PDT
BNA says:
The surprising truth about motor oils

Our 4-1/2-million-mile test with a fleet of New York City taxicabs turned some conventional wisdom on its head.

Mobil commercial claims its oil "has been in more Indy 500 winners than any other oil." Quaker State shows an engine with a terminally corroded inside what they imply could happen when you use another oil. Exxon's commercial for its Superflo oil urges motorists to "rely on the tiger."

Oil companies spend millions of advertising dollars each year to convince you that their oil can make your car's engine perform better and last longer. And purveyors of motor-oil and engine "treatments" assert that their products offer engine protection that oil alone can't provide. In our most ambitious test project ever, we set out to discover whether such claims are fact or fancy.

One way to gauge the performance of motor oils is to test them on the road. We did just that, using a fleet of 75 New York City taxicabs. Indeed, the oil industry itself tests its oils in New York City taxis.

For 22 months, we tested the performance of 20 popular motor oils. Each of those oils met the industry's latest standards, as certified by a starburst symbol on the container.

We also tested Slick 50 Engine Treatment and STP Engine and Oil Treatments.

In addition to the taxicab tests, we had the oils' chemical and physical properties analyzed by an independent lab. We also surveyed our subscribers about their oil-changing experiences and preferences, and we sent shoppers to quick-lube centers across the country to assess the service
Testing the oils

We put identical rebuilt engines with precisely measured parts into the cabs at the beginning of the test, and we changed their oil every 6,000 miles. That's about twice as long as the automakers recommend for the severe service that taxicabs see, but we chose that interval to accelerate the test results and provide worst-case conditions. After 60,000 miles, we disassembled each engine and checked for wear and harmful deposits.

Our test conditions were grueling, to say the least. The typical Big Apple cab is driven day and night, in traffic that is legendary for its perversity, by cabbies who are just as legendary for their driving abandon.

When the cabs aren't on the go, they're typically standing at curbside with the engine idling - far tougher on motor oil than highway driving. What's more, the cabs accumulate lots of miles very quickly, making them ideal for our purposes. Big-city cabs don't see many cold start-ups or long periods of high speed driving in extreme heat. But our test results relate to the most common type of severe service - stop-and-go city driving.

Each of the 20 oils we studied was tested in three cabs to provide meaningful test results even if a few cabs fell out with mechanical problems or because of accidents. (Six of the 75 engines did, in fact, have problems, none apparently related to the oil's performance.)

Our shoppers all across the country bought hundreds of quart containers of oil. Some brands had slightly different formulations in different areas, but all the oils included a full package of additives.

The independent lab helped us identify the most representative formulations of each brand. Our engineers transferred containers of that oil to coded 55-gallon drums and hauled them to the fleet garage for testing.

Ideally, oil should be thin enough to flow easily when the engine is cold and remain thick enough to protect the engine when it's hot. The lab analyses of each oil's viscosity characteristics - its ability to flow-indicate that motor oils have improved since 1987, when we last tested them. This time, far fewer test samples failed to meet the viscosity standards for their grade - and those were typically outside the limits by only a slight amount. No brand stood out as having a significant problem.

We tested oils of the two most commonly recommended viscosity grades - 10W-30 and 5W-30. Automakers specify grades according to the temperature range expected over the oil-change period. The lower the number, the thinner the oil and the more easily it flows.

In 5W-30 oil, for example, the two numbers mean it's a "multiviscosity" or "multigrade" oil that's effective over a range of temperatures. The first number, 5, is an index that refers to how the oil flows at low temperatures. The second number, 30, refers to how it flows at high temperatures. The W designation means the oil can be used in winter.

A popular belief is that 5W-30 oils, despite their designation, are too thin to protect vital engine parts when they get hot. However, one of our laboratory tests measured the viscosity of oils under high-temperature, high-stress conditions and found essentially no difference between 5W-30 oils and their 10W-30 brand mates. But at low temperatures, the 5W-30 oil flowed more easily.

Viscosity grade is important, so be careful. Recommendations vary with the make, engine, and model year of the car, so check your owner's manual and ask the mechanic for the proper grade of oil.

Of the 20 oils we tested, nine were conventional 10W-30 oils, and eight were 5W-30. We also tested two synthetic oils, Mobil 1 and Pennzoil Performax, and one synthetic-and conventional blend, Valvoline DuraBlend; all three were 10W-30 oils.
No brand performed best

If you've been loyal to one brand, you may be surprised to learn that every oil we tested was good at doing what motor oil is supposed to do. More extensive tests, under other driving conditions, might have revealed minor differences. But thorough statistical analysis of our data showed no brand-not even the expensive synthetics-to be meaningfully better or worse in our tests.

After each engine ran about 60,000 miles (and through 10 months of seasonal changes), we disassembled it and measured the wear on the camshaft, valve lifters, and connecting-rod bearings. We used a tool precise to within 0.00001 inch to measure wear on the key surfaces of the camshaft, and a tool precise to within 0.0001 inch on the valve lifters. The combined wear for both parts averaged only 0.0026 inch, about the thickness of this magazine page. Generally, we noted as much variation between engines using the same oil as between those using different oils. Even the engines with the most wear didn't reach a level where we could detect operational problems.

We measured wear on connecting rod bearings by weighing them to the nearest 0.0001 gram. Wear on the key surface of each bearing averaged 0.240 gram - about the weight of seven staples. Again, all the tested oils provided adequate protection.

Our engineers also used industry methods to evaluate sludge and varnish deposits in the engine. Sludge is a mucky sediment that can prevent oil from circulating freely and make the engine run hotter. Varnish is a hard deposit that would remain on engine parts if you wiped off the sludge. It can make moving parts stick.

All the oils proved excellent at preventing sludge. At least part of the reason may be that sludge is more apt to form during cold startups and short trips, and the cabs were rarely out of service long enough for their engine to get cold. Even so, the accumulations in our engines were so light that we wouldn't expect sludge to be a problem with any of these oils under most conditions.

Variations in the buildup of varnish may have been due to differences in operating temperature and not to the oils. Some varnish deposits were heavy enough to lead to problems eventually, but no brand consistently produced more varnish than any other.

The bottom line. In our tests, brand didn't matter much as long as the oil carried the industry's starburst symbol

Beware of oils without the starburst; they may lack the full complement of additives needed to keep modem engines running reliably.

One distinction: According to the laboratory tests, Mobil 1 and Pennzoil Performax synthetics flow exceptionally easily at low temperatures - a condition our taxi tests didn't simulate effectively. They also had the highest viscosity under high-temperature, high-stress conditions, when a thick oil protects the engine. Thus, these oils may be a good choice for hard driving in extreme temperatures Note, too, that a few automakers recommend specific brands of motor oil in the owner's manual. You may need to follow those recommendations to keep a new car in warranty.

Oil changes: How often?

The long-time mantra of auto mechanics has been to change your oil every 3000 miles. Most automakers recommend an oil change every 7,500 miles (and a specific time interval) for "normal" driving, and every 3,000 miles for "severe" driving - frequent trips of less than four or five miles, stop-and-go traffic, extended idling, towing a trailer, or dusty or extremely cold conditions. Many motorists' driving falls into one or more of those "severe" categories.

In our survey, almost two-thirds of our readers said they had their oil changed every 3,000 miles or less. They may be following the thinking expressed by one of our staffers: "I have my oil changed every 3,000 miles because that's what my father did, and all his cars lasted for many years."

To determine whether frequent oil changes really help, we changed the oil in three cabs every 3,000 miles, using Pennzoil 10W-30. After 60,000 miles, we compared those engines with the engines from our base tests of the same oil, changed every 6,000 miles. We saw no meaningful differences. When Mobil 1 synthetic oil came out, Mobil presented it as an oil that, while expensive, could go 25,000 miles between changes. That claim is no longer being made. But Mobil 1 is still on the market, selling at a premium (along with pricey synthetic competitors from several other companies). And synthetic oil's residual reputation as a long-lasting product may still prompt some people to stretch their oil changes longer than the automaker recommends.

Determining whether synthetic oils last longer than conventional ones would require a separate test protect. To try to get some indication, we put Mobil 1 synthetic into three cabs and changed their oil every 12,000 miles.

We intended to compare the results of these tests with those from the three taxicabs whose Mobil 1 was changed at our normal interval, every 6,000 miles. Unfortunately, two of the three engines using the 12,000-mile interval developed problems. (We couldn't attribute those problems to the oil.) The third engine fared no worse than the three whose oil had been changed at 6,000-mile intervals.

The bottom line. Modern motor oils needn't be changed as often as oils did years ago. More frequent oil changes won't hurt your car, but you could be spending money unnecessarily and adding to the nation's energy and oil-disposal problems.

Even in the severe driving conditions that a New York City taxi endures, we noted no benefit from changing the oil every 3,000 miles rather than every 6,000. If your driving falls into the "normal" service category, changing the oil every 7,500 miles (or at the automaker's suggested intervals) should certainly provide adequate protection. (We recommend changing the oil filter with each oil change.)
Testing Slick 50 and STP

We also tested Slick 50 and STP Engine Treatments and STP Oil Treatment, each in three cabs. (Slick 50 costs $17.79 per container; STP Engine Treatment has been discontinued.) All three boast that they reduce engine friction and wear.

The engine treatments are added with the oil (we used Pennzoil 10W-30). They claim they bond to engine parts and provide protection for 25,000 miles or more. We used each according to instructions.

The STP Oil Treatment is supposed to be added with each oil change. It comes in one formulation (black bottle, $4.32) for cars with up to 36,000 miles, another (blue bottle, $3.17) for cars that have more than 36,000 miles or are more than four years old. We used the first version for the first 36,000 miles, the second for the rest of the test-again, with Pennzoil 10W-30.

When we disassembled the engines and checked for wear and deposits, we found no discernible benefits from any of these products.

The bottom line. We see little reason why anyone using one of today's high-quality motor oils would need these engine/oil treatments. One notable effect of STP Oil Treatment was an increase in oil viscosity; it made our 10W-30 oil act more like a 15W-40, a grade not often recommended. In very cold weather, that might pose a risk of engine damage.

On the basis of our test results, we think that the commonly recommended 3,000-mile oil-change interval is conservative. For "normal" service, 7,500-mile intervals (or the recommendation in your owner's manual) should be fine. Change the oil at least that often to protect your engine and maintain your warranty. Even for the severe service experienced by the taxis in our tests a 6,000- mile interval was adequate. But some severe service - frequent cold starts and short trips, dusty conditions, trailer towing - may require a shorter interval. Note, too, that special engines such as diesels and turbos, which we didn't test, may need more frequent oil changes.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2012 11:39:08 AM PDT
Carl G says:
Consumer Reports Article
The surprising truth about motor oils
July 1996, pp 10-13

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2012 11:42:38 AM PDT
JackV says:
I love how this topic repeats itself over and over and over and over and over and over ....

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2012 12:39:03 PM PDT
Mark Twain says:
HUH....Whad'ya say?

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2012 12:42:32 PM PDT
Mark Twain says:
& then there's amscam oil with all of their "in house" white papers that "prove" their oils are superior to anything on this planet...even their fertiziler and vitamins are claimed to be the best in the universe...for chumps.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2012 1:33:43 PM PDT
Carl G says:
I love it when people don't cite the source of their information and write it so that it appears they are the original source.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2012 1:35:20 PM PDT
Carl G says:
I have yet to find an independent and unbiased source of information on Amsoil.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 5, 2012 12:39:08 AM PDT
I have noticed that too. They have more than enough advertising on their own. What bothers me most though are the tests that have the appearance of being independent but are actually just thinly veiled tests sponsored by Amsoil.

Posted on Jul 6, 2012 11:16:37 PM PDT
Modern oils of all common types easily last longer than 3000 miles and a full synthetic will last up to 15,000 miles. So, NO, 3000 is a bit too soon unless your motor is suffering from massive oil consumption. (Consumption also introduces breakdown products that damage your oil, yes adding fresh oil constantly is great, however your oil filter is catching a lot of flack and needs to be changed (so do your oil at the same time).

Posted on Jul 10, 2012 11:42:04 AM PDT
toolyou says:
There are many variables that need to be considered when speaking of oil change intervals. How much total capacity for the oil? Is the vehicle turbocharged? Does the engine have blow-by? Does the engine burn oil?
Audi offered "free maintanance" in the late 90's early 2000's. They had 1.8 liter turbo engines with only 3.5 qts oil that they only wanted to replace oil(non syn) every 10k. Guess what, alot of those engines now have expensive to fix oil pressure problems and oil caking in head.
So you want to talk about diesel engines. They have gallons of oil, run at very constant rpms and temps, and very large oil filters. Compare that to an older Honda engine with only 3.5 qts, that may burn 1 qt per 1000 miles. Do the math. If you don't top up every 1000 miles and TRY to run to 5-7k,,, well good luck. You can do what you want but in the end you will see the results of what you do.
Many automotive places run specials for oil changes, like 20 bucks, you cant even buy the oil and filter for that. It can be a loss leader.
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