Oil Change: Does 3 months trump 3000 miles?

My husband got a new car in May. He wants me to have the oil changed. The car only has 1500 miles on it. I think this is a waste of (my) time and (his) money. What’s the Dope on changing oil? Can it wait till 3000 miles (which I understand is a conservative marker and some wait till 5000 or even 7500) even if it takes six months or more to put it on?

Read your owner’s manual and go by what the manufacturer says. Mine says 5000 miles for normal use, 7500 for mostly highway use and those are the numbers I use. The businesses that provide oil changes have a vested interest in you changing your oil as often as they can get you to do it.

Click & Clack recommend changing the oil every six months even under light usage …

I would follow the owner’s manual if it is a new car. Mainly because if you don’t, and if you have problems. The dealer may try to void the waranty claiming you didn’t follow normal maitnance procedures causing the damage. I have heard of this happening, but never heard of them actually being successful of denying the waranty because of it.

Now saying that, I change oil every 7500 miles, but I also have my oil tested by a company that does oil testing for large fleets. I get a report that specifies the weight of the oil, vecosity, and wear metal found for my sample. Also get the average from what they find in similar engines of my type. Based on these reports I could probably go 10K or 12K between oil changes, but 7500 isn’t too often, and makes me feel better than making it any longer.

If the car came with a special break-in oil, it might be too soon to change it. Check with a dealer or your owner’s manual to see if that might be the case.

That aside, the month/mileage recommendations for oil changes are necessarily averages that apply to common driving patterns. The only way to know for certain if an oil change is needed is to do an oil analysis, which is not feasible for routine maintenance. The practical approach is to adjust the month/mileage recommendations to your particular situation.

If those 1500 miles are from a lot of short trips (a few miles), I would change it at the 4 month mark. Alternatively, if they’re from a few long highway trips, 6 months may be fine.

We can’t give you a precise answer to when the oil should be changed in this particualr car. Just be aware that short trips can degrade the oil rather quickly, and if that’s the predominant driving pattern, erring on the side of caution is probably the better approach.

Read your owner’s manual sparrow, because you didn’t say what type of car you have. A Toyota Echo & a Mac truck aren’t quite the same … & the idea of 3,000 miles is way old by now.

The time interval is for low milage usage, if you don’t use the car much you could get condensation in the engine and into the oil which may cause it to break down a bit. The rule I heard is that it is X miles or Y months whichever comes first
Where X is the miles you plan to change it
Y is the recommended time (in months) for X miles to change it

They work together, in harmony, ensuring a long and happy life for your motor.

It’s a Subaru Impreza. He uses the car to go to and from work every day (about 5 and a quarter miles) and that’s about it, so it’s a lot of short trips and we live at the top of a pretty steep hill.

The owner’s manual says “Your vehicle requires an initial engine oil and filter change at 3000 miles or 3 months, whichever first occurs.” Then it says “The frequency of scheduled inspections and maintenance services as set forth is minimal.” Then they suggest you take it to your friendly Subaru dealer, big surprise. I’m as suspicious of that as I am of the oil change places. I admit I am kind of leaning toward this recommendation.

sigh I guess I should take it in. But 1500 miles? Sheesh.

Well, you HAVE been starting up and driving the car at least twice a day for 3 months, given that it’s new, and the manual says “whichever first occurs”, take it in.

I’m surprised that the manual doesn’t even offer a suggested timeframe. Are you sure there’s nothing in there? Your husband’s short trips mean that the car won’t build up mileage very quickly. Changing your oil on mileage would result in your car having old oil in it. Cars now often suggest mileage of 7,500 or 10,000, you won’t hit those numbers for over a year, that’s a long time to have oil sitting in your car.

don’t change your oil…thats just a marketing ploy dreamed up by some backroom boys at mobil…seriously tho i go about 7500 miles

If it’s the very first oil change, you should do it rather quickly. In a brand new engine, the oil will get metal particles in it rather quickly. Those hurt.

Okay, okay, I’m convinced. I’m taking it in Thursday. The manual says 3000 miles or 3 months, whichever comes first, and it’s been three months.

I drive a BMW 528 and they will not service it until four green lights on the dashboard go out. I’ve now been driving it for over a year and only two of the lights are out. I realize that the oil must be synthetic, but, still, doesn’t this seem like an unreasonable amount of time between changes?

Go with what your owners manual recommends. My Lincoln says 5000 miles and that is what I do.

I have owned over a dozen new cars over the last 50 years and I always change the oil according to the owners manual and I have never had a motor problem.

Most dealers suggest 3000 miles or less for it’s money in their pocket.

If it is a new car, I’m assuming you have a warranty. In which case, follow that manual to a t, and it would hurt to keep a service record, either. You really don’t want to give the manufacturer a reason to void the warranty, because they will.

Having said that, once that warranty has expired, 3/3,000 is not as necessary as marketing makes you think. Most cars/oils are desinged to go about 7500 miles in between oil changes in normal driving now days. You certainly don’t hurt anything with 3/3,000, but it isn’t necessary.

Ring, your BMW has a computer which “analyzes” your oil and tells you when to change it. Usually, it works well. Problem is, it doesn’t analyze your oil so much as it uses algorithms to determine, based on how the car is driven, when an oil change is necessary. Occasionally, the computer figures incorrectly since it doesn’t actually physically analyze the oil. If you are getting uncomfortable, trust your gut and get the oil changed early.

Grr. correction-wouldn’t hurt

Also, Ring, I guess if the warranty requires a BMW dealership to do the service, you’re best just listening to the service department, because if you lose the engine because they refused to change the oil, they are on the hook. If they just require certain types of oil/oil filters, then change. I’m not familiar with BMW’s warranty.

As posted earlier water does accumulate in oil. Under normal driving the engine will be hot enough that the water in the oil will boil off, and be vented out the crankcase breather tube. With short trips like you said is driven then the engine probably dosen’t get hot enough to boil off the water in the oil, and it just keeps accumulating. How much water depends on you local weather. Here in Vegas where 20% humidity is considered outragous there wouldn’t be a problem where somewhere with 90% considered normal you may have problems.

Of course YMMV and IANALubrication Professional.

I’m not trying to pick on ** olefin**, but I constantly hear this statement from people to justify their oil change intervals, whatever they are.

The implication that the lack of engine problems is directly related to following the oil change recommendations is invalid. This is partly the logical error of post hoc, ergo propter hoc and partly simple anecdotal (therefore scientifically worthless) evidence. There are too many variables beside the oil change unaccounted for.

With no control (at least one other identical vehicle, treated exactly the same as the test vehicle, except with a different oil change interval) there’s no reason to think that a longer oil change interval wouldn’t have been just as effective in protecting the engine.

For example, if the manual said change the oil every day, whether you drive the car or not, you could very likely report “It’s worked for me for 50 years.”

The question is, what is the upper limit for oil changes beyond which engine damage is more likely to occur? Like olefin I think it’s longer than 3,000 miles for most modern cars. A lot longer.

Oh, and BTW, Gary T, manufacturers no longer use break-in oil. The practice ended years ago. Cite.

commasense, aside from his experience, olefin probably gets his oil change (and other services) paid for directly by Lincoln (up to 36,000 miles, anyway). I’ve been getting my oil changed every 5000 miles for this very reason.

My previous car – a Bonneville – had an oil change indicator built into the computer, kind of like Ring’s, except it spouted oil life as a percentage. It was an algorythm; nothing analyzed. That car, though, I took to the local quick lube places since it was a lease and I didn’t care about it that much (plus no other services were ever due).

And when it comes to warranties, it’s not the dealer that will invalidate them; it’s the manufacturer. The dealer’s usually generally happy to do the work regardless of who pays – you or the manufacturer.

Perhaps for some manufacturers. I see evidence that Honda, at least, uses a special oil for the “factory fill” and advises leaving it in for a while.

From here: http://www.chicagotribune.com/classified/automotive/columnists/chi-0307130039jul13,0,7621796.column

“Honda, for instance, insists that you leave the factory fill in the car a prescribed number of miles. It is reminiscent of the ‘break-in’ oil of many moons ago.”

And from here: http://forums.evolutionm.net/showthread/t-8881.html (from what is said to be a Honda technical service bulletin)

“The factory fill oil has special additives, so it should be left in the engine until the first oil change: 7,500 miles, under ‘normal conditions’.”

That last piece ignores the time aspect of maintenance interval recommendations, but does illustrate that “normal” service to car manufacturers is what might be termed “mostly highway use.” Typical city driving, with short trips, stop-and-go traffic, etc. is usually called “severe service.”