Stupid car question.

This question is so stupid, it probably means that I’m too dumb to own a car, but here goes…

I bought a new car. It’s approaching 3,000 Km - I contacted the dealer to arrange for my first oil change and they indicated that I don’t need it after 3,000 Km - the new standard is 8,000 Km (at least for Volvos).

So - stupid question part 1:

Why the change? Have engines/oil/magical car pixies improved that much that 8,000 Km is now the standard?

Stupid question part 2:

I still have to check my oil, right? How often should I do it? With my older cars I did it every time I filled up - should I continue with that? Less often? Or should I just leave it to the dealer every 8,000 Km?



Yes, oil is better now.

Tolerances are more consistent in engines = less loss of oil = less checking (every month or so)

CHECK YOUR MANUAL. If it disagrees with the dealer, then you have concerns. Every one **should ** tell you to check and follow the manual/instructions/maintenance suggestions provided by the manufacturer.

They must be using synthetic oil.

And yes, you should keep checking for leaks like you normally would. Look for pools of oil on the ground where you park and for oil gunking up around gaskets on the engine itself, espcially if you smell oil.

An 8,000 km oil change interval does not necessarily indicate the use of synthetic oil.

Was a time when many cars had a first oil change scheduled at 1,000 miles. I don’t know of any cars that still call for that.

In the not-too-distant past, the common severe service (city driving) schedule had an interval of 3,000 miles (5,000 km) for most American cars, 3750 mi. for most Asian cars, with respective normal service intervals of 5,000 miles (8,000 km) and 7500 miles.

Nowadays most late-model cars have severe intervals of 5,000 miles (or more), and correspondingly longer normal intervals.

I’m curious where the notion of a 3,000 km interval came from. It doesn’t correspond to any interval I’m familiar with.

It still does make sense to check the oil level regularly. Probably every 1,000 miles is a reasonable frequency. The concern is normal oil use by the engine, and oil loss from an external leak. Both of these are rather unlikely to be a problem in a new, modern car, but it’s easy to check and it’s definitely the owner’s responsibility to ensure there’s enough oil in the engine. If the oil level should somehow get very low, major engine damage can occur.

Dunno - that just seems to be the standard around these parts. If you go to JiffyLube (or whatever) they give you a “Next Service Date” sticker for 3,000 Km or 3 months, which ever comes first.

Now I just have to figure out how to check the oil on this new beastie. There was a time (when dinosaurs walked the earth, and cars had carburetors) that I was actually sort of handy with cars. Now, not so much…

8000km seems like a fairly normal interval to me, 3000km is really short. In the US we used to go 3000 miles between changes, with old style engines. My last new car, '96 Civic, suggested 7500 miles between changes (normal not severe driving conditions*) and later models were even longer.

The rule I suggest is to read the manual, read it closely*, and follow the maintenance schedule they provide. Don’t listen to the dealer, your buddy the shadetree mechanic, or people on a messageboard (ok, maybe Rick since he trains people to fix Volvos). Volvo built it, they know how to care for it, and want it to last, people don’t buy second Volvo’s when the first one craps out early.

  • The manual often suggests a different interval for “severe” driving conditions, and a lot more people drive under those conditions than you’d expect. Stop and go traffic, short trips, etc. are often classified as severe, read the manual and pay attention to what it says.

Tolerances are more consistant? Is this something that occured year after year or was there some breakthrough? (tiny tangent–I was using oil API rated as SD/SE when I first started driving; what is it now, SM?)

I wish my Saturn had better tolerances–after 225 kmiles, it uses a quart every 600 miles. Been that way since the 50k mark.

Oils have gotten better, filters have gotten better, and engines have gotten better. New BMW’s, Mercedes’s, and Porches have computers that measure the oil quality and recommend when to change it, and often can go 20,000 miles between changes.

Studies have shown that changing synthetic oil too often can actually lead to increased engine wear (compared to leaving it in longer) - apparently the oil takes time to break in and reach maximum lubricating effectiveness.

Three thousand kilometers is way to frequent for normal oil change, unless you are driving a taxi, in a city with lots of hills, and heavy traffic. Jiffy lube has a slight conflict of interest in advising you on how often to come in and give them money.

What you really need is the nearly unobtainable, often thought to be truly mythical beast, a trustworthy mechanic. The genuine article won’t come cheap, but is a absolute necessity for anyone who doesn’t really want to learn a lot about cars. Then you follow his advice. Word of mouth is the only method for tracking down this elusive prey.


Where do you live, Canada? Does the sticker specifically say 3000 km?

JiffyLube is headquartered in the U.S. I’d WAG it’s their company policy to recommend a change every 3000 miles, and somehow this didn’t get converted properly at your Canadian JiffyLube.

Like others have mentioned: Read the manual for oil change intervals.

Being it’s a new car I don’t even think I’d bother checking the oil. I don’t know many people that do these days. If your car loses enough oil a light will come on. If there’s a pool of oil under your car where you park your going to notice. If you have the oil changed as scheduled they’re going to notice low levels and leaks also and let you know.

Yes, I live in Canada. And I’m not actually going to have my oil changed at JiffyLube - I’m going to have it changed at the dealer.

It’s totally possible that the 3,000miles/3,000Km thing is a conversion glitch, but I just asked a few random people around my floor (being all scientific like) and they agreed that 3,000Km is how often you change your oil. About 4 times a year.

Additionally, I’m going to have repairs and what not done at the dealer, as opposed to a private mechanic. For one, the car is under warranty for the next 3 or 4 years or something. Secondly, Valentine Volvo has an excellent reputation. Thirdly, Rick knows the mechanics at Valentine and has sent them a message telling them to be nice to me. He also said he would beat them up if they weren’t.

Ok, that last part is fake, but the rest is true. :slight_smile:

I suspect it’s just evolution of machining - they just get gradually better and better at holding tolerances, and before you know it, there’s a vehicle sitting in my driveway that specifies 5w20 oil in its 5.7 liter MDS (multi-displacement) HEMI engine.

That’s roughly as thick as what, flat Coke? The manufacturer is adamant that a 10-weight oil is too thick. (Who am I to argue? The dealership gave me free lifetime oil changes.)

Alice The factory recommended interval for oil on your car is 12,000Kkm. However due to Calgary’s extreme temp variations the dealer there recommends 8,000km. I double checked this with the factory technical specialist for Western Canada to make sure I had my ducks in a row. He said that Calgary probably has the greatest temp changes of anywhere in North America. He does not have a problem with the dealer there recommending an 8,000km interval.

As far as why can you go so much further now than before, the metallurgy of the engines is better, the machining tolerances are much better, pollution controls limit the contamination of the oil, and the oils have gotten way, way better than they used to be. All of this adds up to longer intervals.

As far as checking it goes, every fill up is way more often than you need to. Once a month is probably plenty often. I doubt if you will go though a liter in 8,000km. I check mine when I think about it. Maybe once a month.

As far where is everything under the hood, open your owner’s manual, there is a nice big color picture of the under hood area identifying everything you will ever access as a driver. The oil dipstick is an orange/red ring that you can put your finger trough to pull out. Cryptically enough it says “Engine” on it. :slight_smile: When checking the oil either do it when the engine is cold, before starting (best way) or when it is fully warm, after at least 10 minutes of driving. If you check it warm, leave the engine off for 2 minutes, it takes time for all the oil to drip back down into the pan. Needless to say, either way the car has to be parked on a flat surface to get a correct reading.

As far as oil quality goes, any good quality oil (SAE grades SL or SM) is acceptable. Synthetic is fine, in fact the car came from the factory filled with synthetic. It isnot necessary to continue to use synthetic. If you want to fine, don’t feel like you have to.

Absolute have you got a cite for those studies? I have never heard of this.

Triskadecamus I have passed the word of mouth to Alice. I know all the technicians at Valentine, and told them to take care of her, she is my buddy. They are very good at this dealership.

Actually, the last part isn’t fake. :smiley: I threatened them with great bodily harm if you don’t get good service from them. The service writers I have no control over, the technicians I do (or did anyway)

Click and Clack recommend 5,000 miles (5 000 miles = 8 046.72 kilometers.)

I am picturing Jiffy Lube insisting on 3000 mile oil changes in the U.S., 3000 km changes in Canada, and probably something like every 3000 furlongs in some backwater republic. It probably helps make the training consistent back at headquarters. “Just say every 3000, the rest doesn’t matter!”

12,000km/year isn’t much. I believe the average in the US is closer to 12-15,000 miles per year average. I’ve only every heard 3000 miles as the old standard, with 5000 miles becoming the new standard.

You know, I probably just should have just e-mailed you, because you are the Volvo MASTER. However, I didn’t want to pester you too much.

Let me reiterate here, that you rock. You are da MAN. You are the Mack Daddy. The King. Other people who rock bow to your rockitude.


Ok, I’m done now. At least for now. :slight_smile: