Is The 3,000-mile Oil Change Outdated?

March 29, 2012 by staff 

Is The 3,000-mile Oil Change Outdated?, Do you change your oil every 3,000 miles? The majority of drivers on the road have been bombarded by advertising that recommends changing their car’s oil every 3,000 miles, but the truth is that interval is no longer really necessary.

¬†Yes, engine oil does get dirty, and when that happens, it can clog engine parts, but if you’re driving a car that’s less than five years old, you’re probably wasting money – and oil – if you change it as frequently as that.

Yes, knowing when to change oil is not as simple as some ad campaigns would have you believe. Changing the oil in your car every 3,000 miles was necessary in the 1970s, when most cars used 10W-40 oil, which tended to wear out within about 3,000 miles.

Thanks to improvements in high-quality lubricants and tighter tolerances in the assembly of automotive engines, the 3,000-mile baseline simply does not apply to many cars on the road today; in fact, automakers now recommend you change oil at 5,000, 7,000, 10,000 or even as high as 15,000 miles for newer models under ideal driving conditions.

For example, Toyota recommends you change oil at 5,000 miles for a 2005 Tacoma pickup, Honda recommends 7,500 miles for its 2002 Odyssey, General Motors suggests 7,500 miles for its 2007 Chevrolet Malibu, and Ford recommends 10,000 miles for its 2011 Fiesta. A 2008 Porsche Boxster can go 12,000 miles between changes, and a 2010 BMW 3 Series can go up to 15,000 miles before you change oil under ideal conditions; with this kind of complexity, it’s easy for consumers to be confused.

Almost 15 million Californians change their motor oil every 3,000 miles or more often, using more than 150 million gallons of motor oil each year – enough oil to fill 255 Olympic-sized swimming pools, according to a recent study by CalRecycle. CalRecycle spokesperson Jeff Danzinger says their studies indicate the state could reduce total motor oil consumption by as much as 10 million gallons per year if motorists were to change oil according to manufacturer recommendations. “If you’re changing your oil too soon, you’re needlessly creating waste oil and putting a strain on the system and supply,” Danzinger explains.

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