Talk to an “old timer” about cars and you’ll inevitably hear about how important it is to change your oil regularly. You know they are right. Regular oil changes are the single best thing you can do for the life of the engine which pertains to the lifespan of your car too.
Because many drivers take their oil for granted (because they do not check it every day), they come to view oil changes as a hassle and an expense. First, let’s take a look at the auto industry’s argument- it makes 5 primary points:
- Oil breaks down after 3000 miles
- Oil changes are excellent preventative maintenance
- 3000 miles is an easy number for the consumer to remember
- The 3000 mile interval is traditionally viewed as best by mechanics
- It is necessary due to the elements, driving patterns, and weather conditions
So let’s repeat this again for emphasis: Regular oil changes are essential to getting the most life out of your vehicle.
Having known this fact, you would not want to spend more on oil changes.
Highlighted below are some guidelines to help you maximize the benefit from oil changes while preserving the contents of your wallet and your bank account.
Three months or 3000 miles?
Getting a basic oil change for your vehicle every 3 months or 3000 miles will provide many benefits to your vehicle and your pocket. As explained above, “oil changes will prevent internal wear of your engine, enhance its performance, and improve gas mileage.” Even the cheapest priced oil change should provide an essential service by replacing the old oil with new oil, and you will see benefits in the long run.
Inside your engine, there are multiple moving parts. Crankshaft, connecting rods, lifters, and pistons are just a few of the internal parts that are moving at speeds of over 1000 RPM. Proper lubrication provided by having clean and good quality engine oil will reduce friction and lower operating temperatures. Reduced friction will prevent wearing of the internal parts, and lower operating temperature will improve the functioning of the cooling system such as the radiator, cooling fan, and water pump. Oil changes will increase the lifespan of your engine and cooling system.
As engine oil gets old, it gets ticker, oxidates, and won’t lubricate as well as when you have new engine oil. It will contribute to low piston compression and cause the engine to have less power, rougher idle, and poor acceleration. It is not uncommon to hear from customers that their cars run faster and have more power after getting an oil change. Timely oil changes can restore compression and improve engine power and performance.
After getting an oil change, if the customer uses the manufacturer’s recommended grade of engine oil, gas mileage should approve by 1-2 percent. Old, dirty, and thick engine oil will increase friction and cause decreased gas mileage. Getting an oil change will also keep catalytic converter to stay cleaner and more efficient, and a clean converter will cause the engine to have lower RPM, improving car emissions and also getting better gas mileage.
A Word on Oil Change Indicator Lights
While we believe most consumers can rely on these indicator lights, we decided to stick with the 3000 mile interval- to be safe and reflect the way most people drive. Typically, such systems continuously monitor everything from vehicle speed, RPM, oil, and coolant temperature- to calculate motor oil degradation.
Older vehicles, older recommendations
Want another reason to change the oil every 3000 miles? The median age of passenger cars in operation in the U.S. was 9.4 years in 2008, according to R. L. Polk & Co. Just over 41 percent of all cars were 11 years or older. Automakers recommended the 3000 mile oil change interval for most of those 100 million older cars and trucks.
“Based on the uncertainty of what the future holds, consumers are trying to keep their current vehicles running longer until their confidence improves,” said Dave Goebel, solutions consultant for Polk’s aftermarket team.
Different bodies support this fact:
- The Car Care Council
The most recent National Car Care Month check lanes found that 32% of vehicles failed the inspection because of low, over full, or dirty motor oil. “The Car Care Council recommends changing your vehicle’s engine oil every 3000 to 5000 miles depending on the vehicle’s make and model, how you drive the vehicle and the conditions under which you drive,” the Council stated. “Always consult the owner’s manual.” Regular maintenance involves more than oil changes, too. Routine maintenance helps keep the vehicle safe and can save money. “Since four out of five vehicles checked need some service, it is important to remind motorists that those who keep their cars, treat them as valuable investments and commit to regular vehicle maintenance, end up saving much more money,” according to the Council.
- National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE)
ASE’s mission is to improve the quality of vehicle repair and service through the testing and certification of repair and service professionals. ASE recommends changing our oil and filter as specified in your manual- more often if your driving is mostly stop-and-go or consists of frequent short trips. The Valvoline/ASE poll of the American Mechanic consistently finds that the nation’s top mechanics (ASE Certified Master Automobile Technicians) overwhelmingly recommend regular oil changes as the most important thing consumers can do to make their cars perform and last longer.
- A Leading Consumer Advocacy Magazine
A 2002 report documented problems with sludge about specific engines made by several manufacturers. The magazine recommended changing the oil on the “extreme” (or “severe”_ schedule to protect those engines from sludge.
As you can see, a 20 – 35 dollar investment to get regular oil changes on your vehicle will provide many benefits. Take the time to find a trusted automotive technician to do oil changes on your car every 3 months or 3000 miles, or make the investment to buy basic tools so you can do your own maintenance. Make sure you buy good quality oil and oil filters. You will save money and enjoy your vehicle for many years to come.