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(Consumer Reports)   Everything you think you know about car care is wrong. Including oil changes every 3,000 miles; it's more like 7,500   (blogs.consumerreports.org) divider line 371
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34749 clicks; posted to Main » on 25 Oct 2009 at 12:55 PM (4 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2009-10-25 10:19:45 AM
Yeah, Oil may be good for that much or even more, but your filter isn't. When it stops up you roll to a stop. Either because you saw your oil pressure drop to zero or because your engine exploded.
 
2009-10-25 10:27:47 AM
I use a synthetic and change it once a year, at about 10,000 miles.

Reality: It could take hours of driving to restore a battery's full charge, especially in the winter. That's because power accessories, such as heated seats, draw so much electricity that in some cars the alternator has little left over to recharge a run-down battery. A "load test" at a service station can determine whether the battery can still hold a charge. If so, some hours on a battery charger might be needed to revive the battery to its full potential.

Heated seats? I don't even have power windows or locks.
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2009-10-25 10:42:58 AM
I knew that. Manufacturers have been recommending longer intervals for a decade or more. I follow the advice of my car's computer, which allegedly keeps track of type of use in addition to miles.
 
2009-10-25 10:52:04 AM
I don't drive enough to hit the oil change limits so I just do it every fall before the winter sets in. That's the advantage of living downtown... I have a 10 minute drive or 20 minute walk to work.
 
2009-10-25 10:56:34 AM
My car's manual says to change the oil every 7500 miles. It uses full synthetic though.
 
2009-10-25 11:08:53 AM
Most of the problem is the oil change places want you to come back more often, so they'll stick that "See ya at XXXXXX on the odometer" sticker. Of course, they want you back in 3000 miles.
 
2009-10-25 11:17:46 AM
Kyosuke: Most of the problem is the oil change places want you to come back more often, so they'll stick that "See ya at XXXXXX on the odometer" sticker. Of course, they want you back in 3000 miles.

This.
 
2009-10-25 11:24:35 AM
my manual says to change my synthetic oil every 15,000 miles, but i do it every 7,500. my car takes 7 quarts of the stuff, so, with filter, an oil change ends up being more than $50 even when i do it myself!
 
2009-10-25 11:25:01 AM
Archie Goodwin: Kyosuke: Most of the problem is the oil change places want you to come back more often, so they'll stick that "See ya at XXXXXX on the odometer" sticker. Of course, they want you back in 3000 miles.

This.


I'll second your "This." Who the hell spends $30k on something and doesn't read the owner's manual?
 
2009-10-25 11:54:48 AM
Fluff Girl: I'll second your "This." Who the hell spends $30k on something and doesn't read the owner's manual?

Most car owners. Seriously.

It's pretty crazy how drivers get complacent with their automobiles. A car is an incredibly complex piece of machinery that utilizes several very distinct systems in conjunction. It's a triumph of engineering and complexity and it's a tribute to science that they're so reliable.

However, folks get so used to their cars just working that I believe they rarely take time out to maintain the vehicles so they continue to work over a longer period of time. Hell, it took me months just to get my wife to check her tire pressure!
 
2009-10-25 11:57:42 AM
The work vehicles get the oil changed every 3000 miles. One pickup has 256,000 miles on it, another 236,000 miles, and my work car just turned over to 170,000. All of the engines still run extremely well. Really good considering the pickups get run hard because they are seriously underpowered with a 2.2 liter 4-banger. 0-60 time is 28 seconds with all the equipment I haul around for work.

Majick Thise: Yeah, Oil may be good for that much or even more, but your filter isn't. When it stops up you roll to a stop. Either because you saw your oil pressure drop to zero or because your engine exploded.

Yup, I can tell on the pickups when the oil is getting old because I start loosing oil pressure. It's only a small amount of pressure loss, but the filter is most defiantly starting to get gunked up.

People spend tens of thousands on a car then then cheap out on oil changes. When your oil is black with grit in it, it needs to be changed. That happens WAY before 7,500 miles.

Kyosuke: Most of the problem is the oil change places want you to come back more often, so they'll stick that "See ya at XXXXXX on the odometer" sticker. Of course, they want you back in 3000 miles.

Or perhaps it's the car companies want your engine to wear out so you have to buy a new car. Hmm, this kind of stuff could keep a conspiracy theorists busy for years.
 
2009-10-25 12:11:11 PM
Draconigena: My car's manual says to change the oil every 7500 miles. It uses full synthetic though.

My Jetta says 7500 miles for synthetic, too. But since I'm a road warrior (2006 Jetta w/nearly 200K miles), I pretty much stick to that.
 
2009-10-25 12:36:41 PM
There are a few things in that article that are still wrong, even after they 'corrected' them and a few that are mostly right, but not very clear.

Warming the engine up is not a big concern, but if it's extremely cold, sluggish lifters, either in a pushrod motor or under followers in an OHC, can cause valve/piston contact in close tolerance interference engines. 'Close tolerance' has nothing to do with it being a performance engine. It's a type of design on any given engine where closed valves sit very close to the piston in TDC.

The dead battery... the alternator doesn't rapidly recharge the battery after starting it because vehicles have a charging circuit independent of the size or output capability of the alternator that is typically restricted to 5-10 amps at 13.1VDC. This keeps the charge rate on the sealed batteries very low to prevent boil off. The power accessories or load on the alternator has nothing to do with it.

The fuel octane is correct. Octane serves no purpose what so ever except to serve as a rating for resistance to pre-ignition (spark knock, clatter, etc) under increasing heat or compression. If it runs fine on 87, anything higher is 'probably' a waste. By probably, I mean that if 87 is just borderline on preventing knock, but the knock sensor is retarding the timing to correct it, if a slightly higher octane is used, the ECM won't be required to retard the timing quite so much and will provide better acceleration performance. If that situation comes into play, the OEM likely already has the vehicle labeled for increased octane fuel.

Tire pressure. Keep pressures relatively close to OEM specs and withing tire maximums, but by increasing the front tire pressure and lowering the rear tire pressure on pickups and front-wheel-drive cars, irregular tire wear across the face of the tire can be almost eliminated. How much is relative to the vehicle weight distribution , tire compound, tire width and sidewall stiffness. It has to be experimented with and will likely take half the life of a set of tire to figure out. My Honda Accord LXE, for example, runs about 40psi in the front and 33 in the rear. Once calculated, only a drastic change in tire types or sizes will cause it to change much. Keeping the tire pressure the same will cause rear tires to wear in the center and front tires to wear on the sides. Look at your tires. You'll see it. Many OEMs now have recommended pressures that reflect this. Rotating tires also serves to cause the wear points to swap back and forth maintaining a fairly even wear over the life of the tires.

Oil. Hard, heavy, hot, and dirty driving... change it at at least 3000 miles or less for gasoline and 5000 for diesel. Beyond that, follow the OE specs. Don't, don't, don't, DON'T buy cheap, off-brand convenience store oils for your vehicle. Many are baseline oil products with minimal additives and believe it or not, many are still paraffin oils. For reasons I won't get into here, you don't want that. You just... don't. Synthetic oil technology is limited mostly by filter technology. Driving 15000 miles using synthetic oil will end up wrecking a vehicle driven under extremely dirty or demanding conditions, while one never exposed to a lot of dirt and heat will be fine. Older vehicles need oil changed more often regardless of the oil used due to gaseous blowby in the engine which contaminates the oil and can cause filter blockage and failures over long run times as well as breaking down the oil itself causing a loss in lubricative properties.

/the more you know
 
2009-10-25 01:00:24 PM
All of this stuff is in the damn owner's manuals. People could save thousands of dollars if they just knew how to read.
 
2009-10-25 01:01:38 PM
The only people advising others to change their oil every 3000 miles are, surprise, the people who make money charging for oil changes.

I'd rather trust the person who actually built my car. I always thought it was interesting that people in general are more likely to read the manual of their Cuisinart then their car, even though the later is the most expensive piece of machinery they'll ever own.
 
2009-10-25 01:01:59 PM
You're supposed to change the oil? Uh-oh.
 
2009-10-25 01:02:19 PM
TwistedIvory: A car is an incredibly complex piece of machinery that utilizes several very distinct systems in conjunction.

Have you met the guys that repair these things?

It's a triumph of engineering and complexity and it's a tribute to science that they're so reliable.

Ever heard of planned obsolescence?
 
2009-10-25 01:02:26 PM
HA! I went 30,000 miles between oil changes before. Thirty THOUSAND! And that engine still runs good at 200,000 miles. Only thing it did was increase the gas mileage to around 32 MPG.

/1998 Mustang V6 by the way
 
2009-10-25 01:02:54 PM
and black is white, up is down and short is long...
/obscure?
 
2009-10-25 01:03:13 PM
Well, there ya go.
 
2009-10-25 01:05:12 PM
I drove a Nissan Sentra for 7 years till I traded it in and never changed the oil
the thing ran fine :-)
 
2009-10-25 01:05:54 PM
I used to work in an ExxonMobil laboratory. One of chemical engineers I worked with confirmed that changing your oil every 3,000 miles is a waste of money and that it's nothing more than a way for the the oil industry to get rich by using scare tactics. He said every 7,500 or 10,000 if you are using synthetic.
 
2009-10-25 01:06:04 PM
Black is white, up is down and short is long...
 
2009-10-25 01:06:31 PM
I get an e-mail update from Onstar. They read the car's computer, and it tells you exactly how much oil life is left. Usually there's still a good 50-60% left by my "due date" put on by the oil change place. I'll usually pull the dipstick at 3,000-4,000 and check the level, color, and viscosity - with an automatic changing at 4-5k regardless.
 
2009-10-25 01:07:10 PM
Kyosuke: Most of the problem is the oil change places want you to come back more often, so they'll stick that "See ya at XXXXXX on the odometer" sticker. Of course, they want you back in 3000 miles.

I always am amused at those stickers because I literally drive maybe 400 miles in a year. My 85 year old grandmother drives more than I do and she gets her oil changed more often than me.
 
2009-10-25 01:08:11 PM
Eyebleach

Awesome. Thank you.
 
2009-10-25 01:08:20 PM
Majick Thise: Yeah, Oil may be good for that much or even more, but your filter isn't. When it stops up you roll to a stop. Either because you saw your oil pressure drop to zero or because your engine exploded.

Or, more likely, the bypass on the filter opens and the pressure stays the same or higher. Your engine doesn't explode, moran.
 
2009-10-25 01:09:15 PM
Proper orientation is also important. Your vehicle will run much better if it is oriented properly than if it is not. Improper orientation may even void the manufacturer's warranty.

Refer to this handy illustration:


i105.photobucket.com
i105.photobucket.com

.sd1ǝɥ ʇɐɥʇ ǝdoH
 
2009-10-25 01:09:25 PM
The simple rule of thumb is if your engine is designed to use synthetic oil then changing the oil every 10,000 miles or so is acceptable. Personally I change my oil every 5,000 miles on synthetic but I beat on my car like it's Tina Turner. If you use dino oil then 3,000 is the more appropriate interval.
 
2009-10-25 01:09:59 PM
I use synthetic oil and hardly ever change the oil.

Synthetic is also better if you live in really cold places; it makes the car a little easier to start. And sometimes you need all the help you can get.
 
2009-10-25 01:10:41 PM
jiesenPSD: and black is white, up is down and short is long...

RaisingKane: Black is white, up is down and short is long...

And everything you thought was just SO IMPORTANT doesn't matter...
 
2009-10-25 01:10:59 PM
Hagbardr: I use a synthetic and change it once a year, at about 10,000 miles.

Reality: It could take hours of driving to restore a battery's full charge, especially in the winter. That's because power accessories, such as heated seats, draw so much electricity that in some cars the alternator has little left over to recharge a run-down battery. A "load test" at a service station can determine whether the battery can still hold a charge. If so, some hours on a battery charger might be needed to revive the battery to its full potential.

Heated seats? I don't even have power windows or locks.


I rode in a veh with heated seats, it felt like I pooped myself.
 
xCh
2009-10-25 01:11:32 PM
From what I heard, the synthetic oil lasts a real long time (like 30K miles?), but the reason you still need to change it around 7500 is because the additives (detergents, anti-foaming, viscosity tweaks) break down.
 
2009-10-25 01:13:01 PM
Blame teh womenz

www.avolites.org.uk
 
2009-10-25 01:13:38 PM
Also, please check your oil level. A car will not run for 2k miles if they did not add oil, people.
 
2009-10-25 01:14:09 PM
I've got a 2000 Grand Prix GTP. It's got over 156k on it, and I add 100 miles each day.
Since day one, I've put M1 synthetic in it and only change it when the computer says it should be changed.
There was a recall on it a couple years ago for a gasket leaking because they put that Dexcool crap in them from the factory. I had a mechanic friend of mine do the work. When he was finished he asked me what kind of oil I used. I told him and he said that it was the cleanest engine he'd ever worked on. There was no sludge, no buildup, no grime. At the time the engine had around 125k on it.
He said most cars with 75k or more that use conventional oil look like crap. He was sold from that moment on with synthetic.
I've always used premium fuel (like the manual says) and synthetic since the day I drove it off the dealer lot. According to the computer I'm getting around 32mpg highway and 23 city.

/Cool story, I know.
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2009-10-25 01:14:50 PM
TwistedIvory

People like your wife, or me at 25, are part of the reason the federal government will require low tire pressure alarms in new cars.

Way back when, I took my car in for an oil change and the mechanic said something like "hmm... never seen this before." I had been running at low tire pressure without rotating the tires and developed a really odd (bad) wear pattern.
 
2009-10-25 01:14:58 PM
FloydA: Proper orientation is also important. Your vehicle will run much better if it is oriented properly than if it is not. Improper orientation may even void the manufacturer's warranty.

Refer to this handy illustration:

.sd1ǝɥ ʇɐɥʇ ǝdoH


LOL! And this is why you're on my favs list.
 
2009-10-25 01:15:37 PM
eddyatwork: Kyosuke: Most of the problem is the oil change places want you to come back more often, so they'll stick that "See ya at XXXXXX on the odometer" sticker. Of course, they want you back in 3000 miles.

I always am amused at those stickers because I literally drive maybe 400 miles in a year. My 85 year old grandmother drives more than I do and she gets her oil changed more often than me.


Heh, I have a truck I use occasionally in my business (less than 1500 miles/year) and the mechanic this last time wrote "See ya next year" in the return date half of that sticker. State inspection time is a good time for the oil change.
 
2009-10-25 01:15:39 PM
Man... Quite a few farkers here don't drive much.. I've been laying low the last year or so, but I average about 2-3k/month. Just so much cool shiat to see. That, and military TDYs. It isn't that I mind flying, but if my destination is less than a 24-hour drive, I'll take the cost of the plane tickets and drive.
 
2009-10-25 01:17:23 PM
From TFA:

Myth: A dealership must perform regular maintenance to keep your car's factory warranty valid.

Reality: As long as the maintenance items specified in the vehicle owner's manual are performed on schedule, the work can be done at any auto-repair shop. If you're knowledgeable, you can even do the work yourself. Just keep accurate records and receipts to back you up in case of a warranty dispute on a future repair.


Real world reality: Have other shops do the work, or do it yourself, and even if you have accurate records, prepare to fight the dealer/car manufacturer because they will claim something wasn't done, or done on time, and though they may eventually lose, it will cost you time, money and aggravation.
 
2009-10-25 01:17:55 PM
The engine may be alright with the oil, but is the oil alright with it? I live in the desert and drive lots of dirt roads; I can't imagine the oil's maintaining its molecular integrity after 5K miles.
 
2009-10-25 01:18:11 PM
generaltimmy: Also, please check your oil level. A car will not run for 2k miles if they did not add oil, people.

This! I know so many people that assume that the 3000/7500 mile oil change interval means that they don't have to check their oil for 3000/7500 miles. And, if you own a 90s Saturn, that is a death sentence for your car. Low oil means little lubrication for the timing chain in those cars, and they are interference engines. I check my levels every 500 miles or so, since I do a lot commuting during the week.
 
2009-10-25 01:18:33 PM
ZAZ: I knew that. Manufacturers have been recommending longer intervals for a decade or more. I follow the advice of my car's computer, which allegedly keeps track of type of use in addition to miles.

If I immediately changed the ink cartridges in my printer when the little light on it says they're empty, I'd be spending $1000 a year on ink. This has made me suspicious of all recommendations from machines.
 
2009-10-25 01:19:06 PM
Eyebleach: Oil. Hard, heavy, hot, and dirty driving... change it at at least 3000 miles or less for gasoline and 5000 for diesel. Beyond that, follow the OE specs. Don't, don't, don't, DON'T buy cheap, off-brand convenience store oils for your vehicle. Many are baseline oil products with minimal additives and believe it or not, many are still paraffin oils. For reasons I won't get into here, you don't want that. You just... don't. Synthetic oil technology is limited mostly by filter technology. Driving 15000 miles using synthetic oil will end up wrecking a vehicle driven under extremely dirty or demanding conditions, while one never exposed to a lot of dirt and heat will be fine. Older vehicles need oil changed more often regardless of the oil used due to gaseous blowby in the engine which contaminates the oil and can cause filter blockage and failures over long run times as well as breaking down the oil itself causing a loss in lubricative properties.

.

xCh: ...but the reason you still need to change it around 7500 is because the additives (detergents, anti-foaming, viscosity tweaks) break down.

Also QFT. Yes, the breakdown of additives & other byproducts of gradual oil degradation is very acidic, and will accelerate wear & tear.

I used to be religious about the 3K change, but I started slipping over the years, and still have never lost an engine, even though one of them runs un-naturally hot due to poor design. I am also a very firm believer in the oil filter change, but lets face it: if yer gonna change the filter, you might as well do the oil while you're at it. You're going to get dirty any way, so why not?

Speaking of which, I really should go down and change the tar er, oil in my VW fleet today since it's so nice out!
 
2009-10-25 01:19:55 PM
Steve Zodiac: Real world reality: Have other shops do the work, or do it yourself, and even if you have accurate records, prepare to fight the dealer/car manufacturer because they will claim something wasn't done, or done on time, and though they may eventually lose, it will cost you time, money and aggravation.

Damn right; they'll look for any reason not to pay up and having a non-dealer service your car is good enough for them. In the end, the farkers know you ain't going to fight it.
 
2009-10-25 01:20:07 PM
generaltimmy: Also, please check your oil level. A car will not run for 2k miles if they did not add oil, people.

2005 sunfire drives from Paducah ky to Neworleans every 2-3 weeks. Always use synthetic oil and Wix oil filters. Never have to add oil.Do all my own changes. I change them every 7500.
 
2009-10-25 01:20:54 PM
The owner's manual for my car says to change the oil every 7,500 miles. The farking Jiffy Lube guys' computer says 3,000. Who's lying here?
 
2009-10-25 01:21:41 PM
What is the story with those "DON'T SWITCH FROM STANDARD TO SYNTHETIC OIL OR YOU'LL RUIN YOUR ENGINE" (or vise versa) stories. Any truth to that? Sounds like BS to me.
 
2009-10-25 01:22:13 PM
FlashHarry: my manual says to change my synthetic oil every 15,000 miles, but i do it every 7,500. my car takes 7 quarts of the stuff

Porsche? Or?

I've heard the Boxsters are advising that long, but that (along with having no "hood" and only a couple dipsticks as access to the engine) kinda scares and confuses the car caveman in me....

One note though: While longer intervals are usually ok, not all cars/trucks are the same. Turbochargers have ridiculously-close tolerances and rotate at incredible speeds, right in the hotest part of the engine... 3,000-5,000 mile changes intervals don't seem unwarranted if you have one of those and you care about it. Big ol' loose-tolerance, low-rev American V8s? Sure... once or twice a year is probably fine, and your oil pressure gauge (what? you have an idiot light? what else aren't you paying attention to?) may be a reasonable indicator....

As for octane... I'm tired of having the "it's all a waste of money!" argument. All cars are different. Do what your manual says. You could put near pond water in my ancient truck and there'd be no difference but if I lent you my old, tweaked Audi, I'd know--almost immediately-- if you put the cheap stuff in.

/ are there really people that never check or change their oil? Really?
 
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