Changing your car's oil every 3,000 miles is a myth?

2 replies [Last post]
Joined: 02/12/2009

Many new cars don't need oil changes every 3000 miles, and changing it too often is not financially or environmentally wise. This site lists each make and model to see manufacturers' actual recommendations...

Joined: 01/12/2004

I would agree with this, though several things are going on that need to be attended to with respect to oil changes and mileage.

Age of a car is a factor. As a car gets older often it may leak or burn a little oil and because of that the total amount of oil can be lower than normal. Then there is more wear per quart of oil and it may need to be changed more often. Of course if it burns oil fast or leaks fast then you end up adding oil which can extend the life/miles between changes.

Another factor is that with age comes increased wear of the engine which puts off particulate that gets in oil and clogs up the filter which lowers its efficacy. Plus, if you live in the mountains or San Francisco or haul lots of weight/people then that could be the same as aggressive driving to the engine.

I agree with the part of the site that says it depends on inspection for a BMW. The reason they say this is because BMW's are performance cars and as such people may drive them that way. How you drive a car has everything to do with how often the oil should be changed. Aggressive driving breaks down oil.

So you see there really is no easy answer, though changing your oil every 3000 miles is the best preventative maintenance you can do for a car short of changing the timing belt when it needs it. Oil get recycled these days, and it is much cheaper than an engine rebuild. Likewise people also forget that their transmissions need oil changes and often kill their transmissions and need a total rebuild which is way more costly than regular oil changes.

So there you have my two cents on the subject. Unfortunately it is a rare person that can look at the oil on the dipstick and say whether the car needs an oil change so to be safe if your car is new (1 to 5 year old or under 50,000 miles) and you drive non-aggressively follow the manufacturer recommendation. If your car or driving style doesn't fit into this description then you are better off changing your oil more often. That's safer then causing excessive wear that will shorten the life of your car and could cause unnecessary repairs. Repairs are always more costly than regular oil changes.


Joined: 02/12/2009

All great points to factor in. One more factor to consider: industrial collusion. I think the car manufacturers' back-room deals with oil companies might cause them to inflate their recommend oil change frequency.

Who owns Jiffy Lube? No surprise, "Jiffy Lube® International is a wholly owned, indirect subsidiary of Shell Oil Company."

For an example of the insane things that the car companies do to help the gas/oil companies (and tire companies), watch "Who Killed The Electric Car?" It's a disturbing expose of why the electric car, which uses less gas and no motor oil, was squashed despite it's clear potential and popularity. (One example, the car/tire companies conspired to kill Los Angeles public transportation.)

So we should believe these companies about how often we should change our oil? Let's see... the environmental hazard of oil disposal versus corporation profits? We all know how that usually turns out...

But car companies do want you to buy more of their parts and cars more often, so that could offset the collusion factor.

So I'd bet that the interval is more accurate if you shave a percentage, maybe 10-20%, off off the manufacturer's recommendations, then factor in Bill's points above.