Oil Change Controversy: 3000, 5000, or 7500 miles?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Drew Bethel, Apr 18, 2002.

  1. Drew Bethel

    Drew Bethel Screenwriter

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    Because I do a lot of highway driving I'll probably change mine at around 6000/7000 miles. I think we all no the reason why the corner oil change outlet would like you to change every 3000 miles.

    Here is an excerpt from usatoday:

    So how often?

    Every 7,500 miles is enough for most cars, says Champion of Consumer Reports. "If you are running in hilly terrain, hot climates, fully loaded or a lot of stop and go, then probably you need to change the oil more often," he says.

    No one drives under so-called normal conditions, so every car's oil should be changed every 3,000 miles, according to Jiffy Lube, which has oil-change shops throughout the country. "Normal driving conditions are virtually non-existent," says Jiffy Lube spokesman Ray Scippa.

    "Jiffy Lube recommends 3,000 miles. Manufacturers recommend 7,500.

    The truth is probably somewhere in the middle," says Tony Molla, a spokesman for the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, which trains and certifies auto technicians. About every 5,000 miles and more often if you drive under severe conditions, says John Nielsen, director of AAA's repair network.
     
  2. Kevin P

    Kevin P Screenwriter

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    I'd go by what the owner's manual recommends. If you drive a little 4-cylinder, these run at higher RPMs and need more frequent oil changes (my Saturn manual specifies every 3 months/3000 miles). If you're driving a big V-8 and not abusing it, you can probably go 5-6000 miles between oil changes.

    Some newer cars actually monitor oil usage and will light up an indicator when the oil is approaching the end of its useful life. The indicator is based on how the car's driven (perhaps based on total engine revolutions, temperature, number of cold starts etc. rather than just miles). So city drivers would need more frequent oil changes than highway drivers.

    KJP
     
  3. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Just follow your car's owners-manual. Also, many newer cars are intended to have 5k oil changes. Whereas my '93 Escort calls for 3k, and I try to follow that.
     
  4. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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    I agree with the part about the truth being somewhere in the middle.

    I run a varying schedule:

    2002 Acura TL-S: Mobil 1, changed every 5000 miles.

    1980 Z28 (heavily Modified engine): Mobil 1, changed every 3000-4000 miles.

    1995 Honda Accord EX: Pennzoil dino-juice, changed every 4000 miles.

    The Z28 sees many trips to redline, so I need max protection. The Acura is also a higher strung engine (7000rpm redline, although cruises at 1700-2000rpm). The Honda is my work commuter, and sees no unusual usage.

    I also have a rule that, if the car is being driven, the oil gets changed every 6 months regardless of mileage.

    IMO, Oil contamination is a big factor in how often you change it. If you frequently start and stop the engine, make short trips such that the oil cannot heat up, etc, then it should be changed every 3000 or so. Note that older engines will contaminate the oil much faster (not due to mileage or age, but due to the fact that fuel washdown is higher in older, more loosely built engines).

    I must be doing something right- the bottom end of the Z28 is 22 years old, and there are no significant scuff marks on the bearings or cylinder walls. It has seen many, many (>250) trips down the quarter mile.

    If you'd really like to know what's best for your car, take a drain sample during an oil change, and send it for analysis. It's not too expensive, IIRC, and they'll give you details of exactly what's in the oil.

    Todd
     
  5. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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    Sorry to jump back in, but following the owner's manual may not be best- just ask any number of Toyota 3.0 V6 owners.
     
  6. SteveA

    SteveA Supporting Actor

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    Owner's manuals recommend less frequent oil changes because the manufacturers don't want your car to run forever. They want you to have to buy a new car every 5 years.
     
  7. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    I have a 2000 Altima GXE. If I change right at 3000, the difference is not very noticeable. But one a couple of occasions I've gone to 5000-5500 between changes, and the difference is very noticeable in the way it drives. For my car, I try to do it at around every 4000 miles.
     
  8. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Having lived with higher-RPM motorcycle engines for decades, I've concluded that one can never change oil too much. In bikes, I've used the synthetic oils and changed it every thousand miles. And I'm inclined to change a car's oil about as often.
     
  9. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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  10. CameronJ

    CameronJ Stunt Coordinator

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  11. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    i think i remember hearing click and clack (the car talk guys) discuss this.
    basically they said the 3k number is on the conservative side. they said about 5k may be more accurate.
    but, the way i look at it...it only costs about 25 bucks to change your oil. at that price it's a deal. i'd rather change my oil too often than not often enough.
    having said that, i try to change mine about every 4k. can't say i'm religious about that though...
     
  12. Evan S

    Evan S Cinematographer

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    I've been a car owner for 15 years and have never (knock on wood) had a problem with oil changes on my normal schedule (which is between 5-6000 miles). I read the Consumer Reports issue where they did an A/B with a Toyota Camry I think and bought two identical cars with zero mileage for testing. On one, they changed the oil every 3,000 miles. On the other, every 7500. Using normal driving conditions, in all types of weather and seasonal changes (they do their testing in Connecticut)...they drove the cars for 100,000 miles and then broke down the engines looking for different signs of wear between the two vehicles.

    After doing very close inspection, they disserned no visable difference in the engine wear between the car that was changed at 7500 and the one at 3000.

    Seeing it's much better for the environment to NOT change every 3000, I usually meet the mileage requirements in the middle and change between 5-6000 miles, giving me peace of mind that it's not hurting my car or the environment.

    Using this strategy, I got my last car...a 1990 Acura Integra to go about 174000 miles before I had to get rid of it...and it could have gone longer. And that is a high torque engine...very high RPM's, even at idle.
     
  13. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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  14. Brian Perry

    Brian Perry Cinematographer

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    Here's the other side of the spectrum...

    My BMW has 30,000 miles on it and the oil has been changed twice. Not because I have been negligent (all my other cars were done at 3,000-4,000 intervals) but because BMW has a computerized system for telling you when to change the oil. According to other people on the BMW forum I frequent, 12-15k between oil changes is common.

    So the question is, why is BMW's interval so long? Is it because regular maintenance is included in the warranty and therefore it would cost them to do it more often? Or is BMW's computerized system that good that it can determine the proper/safe interval based on engine loads, fuel consumption, oil cleanliness, etc.? Is the 3,000 mile interval that's ingrained in our heads a wasteful scam?

    I haven't heard of any engine problems with BMW, so maybe they're on to something.
     
  15. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    Just because your car says to change the oil, doesn't mean you have to/should listen to them. The oil indicator on your BMW tells you when BMW will pay for your oil change, not necessarily when you should do it. Having said that, since I do most of my commuting by bike in the last year and a half, I say I changed the oil in my '97 328i about once every 3-5k miles until I switched to synthetic. Or actually, once BMW switched to synthetic. Now I do mine once a year which would be like 7-8000 miles of fairly local driving.

    If you do get an oil change at a BMW dealer, you'll realize just how expensive they are. Plus, my E36 takes 6.9 quarts of oil!!! multiply that by the cost of synthetic, which in my case is $3.85 per quart from the dealer, you'll see that just the oil is about $27. The oil filter itself is like $8.

    However, changing oil on the car is super simple, you don't even need to jack up the car, although I'll usually jack up the driver side just to get most of the oil to drain out the plug.

    Jay
     
  16. Ryan Wright

    Ryan Wright Screenwriter

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    I use synthetics and change every 5k, roughly.
     
  17. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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  18. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    Todd, if you're really interested, you could try to post something on www.bimmer.org, I know some people over there are gearheads and have their oils analyzed. Although, I doubt any of them wait 15k miles to change their oil, you never know....
    Jay
     
  19. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    BMW interval is so long because they use a very large filter and 7 quarts of oil, and they come with either Castrol or Mobil 1 synthetic oil from the factory.
    I'm using a 7500 mi interval for our 2001 E46 with Mobil 1 synth, but I have always used 3000 for all my other cars (2 Civic Si's, '95 Integra GSR, '00 Integra Type R), eventhough I also use Mobil 1 on them as well. I would NEVER let ANY car go 15K without an oil change. The Civics both went over 100K before I got rid of them, the GSR was at 98K and running strong, and the R, well the R is gone...
    There is no real harm in going 5K, as long as you do it consistently. Older, higher mileage engine, I would stick with 3K. Newer engine (less than 5yrs old) 5K should be no problem at all.
     
  20. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    hehehe, the oil barely fit in my 7.5qt catch container when I changed it. The e46 3 series has to be the easiest oil change I've ever done.
     

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