Oil change: More important, 3000 miles or 3 months?

Ok. You’re supposed to change your oil every 3 months or 3000 miles, right? So… I’m coming up on the three month mark, but I don’t drive much, and I’ve only gone 1000 miles. I figure the milage part is probably more importand, and figure I can delay until I get to at least 2000 or 2500 miles.

If it helps any, I mostly take short and medium trips (5-10 minutes) and rarely idle… but the car sits in extremely cold temperature all the time.

im not a mechanic, but i wouldn’t risk it. An oil change is about $6 if you use store brand filters & oil, about $9 if you use name brand filters & oil.

$9 isn’t that big a deal, i say go for it. It usually says ‘3000 miles or 3 months, whichever comes first’ on oil change manuals too.

The best advice IMHO, is to follow the guidelines in the Owners Manual. Unless it’s an older car, I doubt they suggest 3000mi/3mo. That timing was used back in the 50’s when cars weren’t nearly as well built as today, oil change companies continue to suggest it as a way to keep revenues up.

Check the OM to determine if your driving pattern is “severe” (it doesn’t sound it) and follow the suggested schedule. I personally wouldn’t bother with more often than 5000mi or 6mo, unless specifically stated.
Oil change thread

SenorBeef, what is the make, model & year of car & how many miles on it?

Follow the guidelines in your manual.
Oil degrades with use and over time.
If it says 3,000 miles or 3 months change your oil which ever comes first.

I’d suggest that this is a harsh driving condition – in five to 10 minutes your car probably doesn’t get heated up enough for the oil to get thin enough to do everything the oil’s supposed to do.

Err on the side of caution.

I agree with the above. I think most manuals classify frequent short trips (less than 10 mi) as severe conditions. It’s better to change the oil than to have to change the engine.

Have used the 5,000 mile intervals with trucks having 200,000+ miles on them.

However, this answer to Click and Clack the Car Talk guy is more applicable to your situation.

April 1995

Dear Tom and Ray:

As a faithful practitioner of the 3,000 mile oil and filter change rule, I believed that my reliable 1988 Toyota Corolla and I would be together for many more years to come. Now, to my chagrin, I have been told by a friend that this may not be a certainty. My situation is this: I drive the car sparingly (approximately two miles a day), so my last oil change was in October of 1994. I am writing to you in April of 1995, and I still have 1,000 miles to go before my next oil change. Now, however, I’ve been told that all of this short distance driving can be more damaging to my car’s oil than harder, longer drives. Is this true? And if so, what should I do?
Tom: It is true, Mark. Driving short distances all the time IS harder on your engine.
Ray: When you start the car in the morning and drive only a mile or two, several things happen. First, the engine runs rich when it’s cold, so there’s extra gasoline pouring into the cylinders. And not all of that gas gets burned, so some of it sneaks past the rings and ends up mixing with the oil.
Tom: Second, water is a by-product of combustion. So you also get water sneaking down past the rings and diluting the oil.
Ray: Normally, that’s not a problem, because when the engine reaches operating temperature, the gasoline and water are vaporized and purged through the crankcase ventilation system. But here’s the rub: When you only drive the car a mile or two, the engine never reaches operating temperature, so that excess gasoline and water never get out. Instead, they stay in the crankcase and dilute the oil.
Tom: That’s why we, and most manufactuers, recommend a mileage or a time based oil change interval. We recommend 5,000 miles or six months, whichever comes first (we used to recommend three months or 3,000 miles, but oils have gotten so much better, and disposal of old oil has gotten so much more difficult, that we’ve updated our numbers).
Ray: So in your case, if you change the oil and filter every six months, your Corolla should be fine. In fact, you’ll probably be driving it well into the second Clinton administration… CHELSEA Clinton’s second administration, that is.
Spending a little money now on “preventive maintenance” can save you big bucks down the road. Find out how by ordering Tom and Ray’s pamphlet “Ten Ways You May Be Ruining Your Car Without Even Knowing It!” Send $3 and a stamped (55 cents), self-addressed, No. 10 envelope to Ruin, PO Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.

© 1995 by Tom and Ray Magliozzi and Doug Berman Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

1988 grand am, 55000 miles.

Oops, I see from another thread in another forum that I shouldn’t of posted the entire article.

1988 Detroit Iron? Then, yes- I’d say 3000 miles or 3 months- but you can stretch that 3 months to maybe 4 if you have only driven 1000 miles.

However, modern cars, with better engines (and better oils, too- the usual 10w40 is better now than 20 years ago) can go to 5000 miles/5 months, like “Tome & Ray” said. Use fairly good oil, and follow your owners guide- but err on the side of changing more often.