It’s a question I get from listeners all the time on the Car Pro Show: “Do I really need to change my oil every 3000 miles?”
The query is certainly understandable given that many of us grew up being warned to change your oil every 3000 miles, and the consequences for not doing that seemed dire. I grew up being scared to go even 3100 miles without a complete oil change and a new filter.
All that said, the answer is simply no, there are no circumstances by which anyone needs to change their oil that often. The biggest reason for the longer intervals is a tremendous improvement in the quality of oil products. Over the past decade or so, technology has advanced greatly to enable oil to last longer and be more tolerant to heat. According to a 2017 American Automobile Association article
. most late model car engines today have recommended oil change intervals of 5,000 to 7,500 miles thanks to modern synthetic-blend oil. If your car’s engine requires full-synthetic motor oil, it could even go far as 15,000 miles between services.
If you are not 100% sure what your car’s manufacturer recommends as your oil change interval, you should find out ASAP. The car companies spend millions testing oil change intervals as well as the proper weight of oil. They have a vested interest in your engine lasting as long as possible. You should follow their recommendation. You can find it in your owner’s manual or scheduled maintenance guide.
One big mistake people make is basing the time to change their oil on that little sticker the lube place puts in the top left corner of the windshield. Many people think that is the gospel, but many lube places put the 3000-mile interval on the sticker, and you may not even realize it. If you use the same place all the time for oil changes, they have a good idea when the 3000 miles have passed, and they send you a somewhat urgent postcard, and they may even call you to further to add a little urgency.
You have to understand that for many “quick lube” places, the oil change itself is not the big issue, and many do oil changes at prices that are actually a loss. They know, however, that the more often they can see your car, the more often they have an opportunity to sell you something else.
More and more, newer cars are coming with oil life monitoring systems. In the old days, it was just a reminder based on time and mileage. Today, these type systems actually monitor the wear of the oil. Even I was skeptical at first, but many post-oil change studies of the old oil have shown these systems to be wildly accurate. I love these systems because it takes the elements out of the equation. In cases of extreme heat, for instance, this type of monitoring will keep you from changing your oil too soon or going too far.
Bottom line here, if you are still changing your oil every 3000 miles, you are wasting your money and only aiding the people that do the oil changes and the oil companies themselves. Fewer oil changes are also good for the environment.
Photo Copyright: otomobil/Shutterstock