Oil Change--How Often?

I have always changed my oil religiously every 3000 miles, mostly because my dad harps on it every time I go home. But the car’s manual (96 Beretta) and the Car Talk guys both say that it’s not necessary to do it that often anymore.

How often is really necessary?

Dr. J

PS: Of course, the guys at the garage say it should be every 3000 miles.

Well, what does the oil look like after that 3,000 miles? If it’s black and thick and the level’s been dropping, change it. If it’s thin and you haven’t lost any of it, don’t.

Yeah, the Car Talk guys say 5,000 for the newer engines. You could probably get away with that on your '96. If you have a lot of mileage, though, you’re probably putting more oil in there and it’s getting cruddy faster, and you should have it changed more often. 3,000 is safe.

The ultimate would be every day but,3,000 is a good compromise economicaly. click and clack recomend 3K, but do say 5K isn’t so bad.You are changing it yourself instead of paying some one $20.00 aren’t you? Besides the needless cost you get the chance to examine the oil as bart says. Also hot oil down your arm and on your glasses, and play the exciting ’ find the dropped drain plug at the bottom of the pan of hot dirty oil’ game.

Personally, I follow the recommendations in my car manual for stuff like this. If you have special circumstances (unusually high mileage or extremely difficult driving conditions), you could call your car manufacturers 800 number and ask if the manual’s recommendation still meets your specific needs.


Full of 'satiable curtiosity

I have always changed the oil on all my cars every 5000 miles because I considered it too difficult to track the mileage every 3000 miles without writing it down.

However…I use only synthetic oils when they became available, and I change the oil filter along with the oil, not every other time. I also check the oil pressure guage to make sure nothing is wrong and check the oil level often.

In thiry years, I have not lost an engine.

To get more than 100,000 miles, change it every 3,000 miles [approximate].

Oil contains lots of important things, additives, lubricants, etc. When it’s black, that means that it’s working. You can’t change it too often, but 3,000 miles is a great idea. Youll often find people with a car with 200,000 or more miles on it proclaiming they changed the oil every 3000 miles.

*mr john: You are changing it yourself instead of paying some one $20.00 aren’t you? *

I would if it were physically possible to do so. But my last 3 cars were so low to the ground (standard sedans, no sporty things), I couldn’t get under them! And the filter is so hidden in the maze of engine parts that I’m amazed I can touch it, much less hold it well enough to twist.

$20 isn’t so bad for a little convenience. Plus, the place I go will check a bunch of other things and tell me about them. I’ll say no to them fixing it, then go to Yates Auto Parts and fix them myself. (Last time was the air filter; $10 vs $34)

I bought a '93 Dodge Dakota back in Dec. of '92. Changed the oil every 3000 mi. for the first year or so then changed to every 5000 mi. This Mar. I bought a new Chevy Silverado and kept the Dakota as a farm truck, it still starts every time you turn the key and the odometer reads 165,000. New engines will last just about forever with regular changes and maintenance.

Handy writes:

Oil contains lots of important things, additives, lubricants, etc. When it’s black, that means that it’s working.

I don’t think “black” means it’s working. New oil is nice and translucent, and not black. The black is from carbon blow-by from the pistons, a by-product of combustion. I would’nt use the color of the oil as any indication of the viscosity of the oil! Now if it turns pink…

On a tangent.
I drive very rarely. I am lucky to get 1500 miles every three months. So should I change the oil every 3 months even though i don’t get anywhere near 3,000 miles?

Im so confused! :slight_smile:

I change the oil every 3 years or so, whether it needs it or not…

Handy is wrong, sorry to say. I drive an ambulance as a volunteer in my town. When I started doing my inspections at the start of my shift, I was shocked at how grey the oils were. Come to find out, that is how it appears. They are diesel engines ( I don’t know if that matters). I was told by the Captain that THAT is the proper color of the oil, right out of the bottle. Live and learn. I do change my own, when I have the time. Also, and this is just SO crucial, check the level AND color a lot- as you start to have it turn black, I change it- 3,000 miles or not. What is the cost of oil, compared to a blown engine??

My dad has worked as Parts/Service Manager for a few different car dealers for more than 30 years and he has said while changing your oil every 3k certainly will not hurt your engine, you can go up to 5k. BUT only if you do highway driving! And he is not not talking about taking I-95 to work and then as you approach the city - STOP. Crawl. STOP. Go. STOP. Crawl, etc. etc. (Fortunately, I live only 4 miles from work.) I change my oil every 5k and have 140,000 miles on a '93 Explorer - still get over 20mpg on the highway! Be sure to use the manufacturer’s recommended weight of the oil in your vehicle! Those in severe weather states (countries) may consider changing weights during colder months.

Keep on truckin’

“Quoth the Raven, ‘Nevermore.’”
E A Poe

“Also hot oil down your arm and on your glasses”

mr john makes a good point here.
You should drain the oil as soon as possible after shutting off the engine, and let it drain completely. That way most of the “stuff” is still in suspension and goes out with the oil. Most oil change places are in too big a hurry to take the extra time.
Oil and filter, every 3,000 miles. Cheap.

Frankie: I’m getting about 3K a year! I change the oil every 6 months since a year is too long to wait for the standard 3K miles. If I drove more I’d do it every 3K or three months, which ever came first.

OK… Personally, I think you are all the victims of great marketing. If you look at a car manual from the '60’s, you’ll find almost exclusively that the recommended change was every 6,000 miles. Hmmm… were the great engineering minds in Detroit wrong? Probably not… but changing it 3,000 miles is twice as good as 6,000 miles (at least to the oil companies) so, why not? It won’t hurt to change the oil more often… the question is, is it necessary?

A friend of my father’s has (this is hard to believe, I know) NEVER changed his oil in any vehicle he has owned. Instead, he changes his filter every six thousand miles and adds one quart of new oil. And he’s had vehicles run over 100,000 miles. Would I do it? Hell no… but it does make you wonder just how much you DO need to change your oil.

I think this is one of the great marketing scams of our time. Remember the ad campaign for orange juice? (It’s not just for breakfast any more.) Same idea… if they could get everyone to drink another glass of orange juice for lunch or dinner, just think how much sales would increase… this could be the same thing going on here.

“OK… Personally, I think you are all the victims of great marketing. If you look at a car manual from the '60’s, you’ll find almost exclusively that the recommended change was every 6,000 miles”

What you fail to mention is that those older manuals state 6000 miles is ok for ‘normal’ driving conditions, their definition of normal is hiway only, never stop and go and no traffic jams, no dusty roads, you know the type of driving we are lucky to do once per oil change. Otherwise they suggest that you change it at 3000.
Is 3k/3m a scam? is it still nesessary? I don’t know, but it is a kind of status symble to change the oil at 3k or 3m whatever comes 1st, regardless of what the OM says. I try the 3k/3m but usally streach it out to 4k/4m, just a little lazy, but at lease i do it myself, AND DONT FORGET TO GREESE THOSE FITTINGS WHILE YOUR DOWN THERE.

3,000 miles or every four months. So, Frankie, you should do it a little more often.

Also folks, don’t forget that when you add oil, you are putting in some clean oil, which is nice.

Most of you forgot the idea of ‘planned obsolescence.’ Like a washing machine is supposed to last to wash clothes for just so many years before the manf wants people to get another one. Cars, as you can probably guess, have it set at a stupid 100,000 miles. So, the manual states change the oil every 5-6,000 miles, youll get 100,000 miles that way, which is what they promise. So, cheat, change it every 3,000 miles get 200,000 miles. :slight_smile:

But don’t forget if your engine over heat and something breaks and they[manufacturer] can prove that the oil hasn’t been changed in 15000 miles you’re on your own.

Formerly known as Nec3f on the AOL SDMB

It won’t hurt to change the oil every 3000 or 5000 miles. But it will barely help anything. A waste of time, money and resources. All new cars will easily last 15000+ miles between oil changes with no harm. Recommendations are usually every 7500 miles by manufacturer’s now, except for dusty conditions, etc. But this is merely a precautionary overkill by the manufacturers, with nothing to lose by overkill. Sooner or later, the EPA will be using oil consumption in its total fuel economy calculations and the oil change interval will be of importance. GM will have onboard oil condition sensors on some models which measure essential oil properties such as acidity, oxidation, viscosity etc. The actual oil change time will be precisely determined, no sooner, no later.

Oil always blackens with use, its lubricating and protection are not necessarily diminished in relation to this “property” alone. This is another scam that oil change “mechanics” use–they show the blackened oil on the dipstick and scare the owner into an unnecessary oil change, or worse, an engine oil “flush”. Many people will pay the unnecessary expense because they don’t know the facts and find this “evidence” hard to counter.

Oil changes in the near future will be easily be as infrequent as every 25000 miles. The goal is the 100000 mile interval. Remember that trans oil used to be recommended changed at 25000 miles. New cars now routi9nely have 100000 mile trans oil change intervals. The 3000 mile change intervals are for old pre 90’s clunkers, are out-moded, and only are for car nuts with nothing better to do, and other obsessive-compulsive types.