The 3,000 Mile Oil Change Myth

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The 3,000 Mile Oil Change Myth

Postby Evan G » Jun 17, 2008 1:43 pm

The 3,000 Mile Oil Change Myth
By Bill Siuru, Greencar.com: Org. Art.:
http://autos.yahoo.com/articles/autos_content_landing_pages/586/the-3000-mile-oil-change-myth/;_ylc=X3oDMTE0cnVqb3Q4BF9TAzI3MTYxNDkEc2VjA2ZwLXRvZGF5BHNsawMzMDAwLW9pbA--

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According to a recent study by the California Integrated Waste Management Board, 73 percent of California drivers change their oil more frequently than required. This same scenario no doubt repeats itself across the country. Besides wasting money, this translates into unnecessary consumption of $100-a-barrel oil, much of it imported.

Using 2005 data, the Board estimates that Californians alone generate about 153.5 million gallons of waste oil annually, of which only about 60 percent is recycled. Used motor oil poses the greatest environmental risk of all automotive fluids because it is insoluble, persistent, and contains heavy metal and toxic chemicals. One gallon of used oil can foul the taste of one million gallons of water.

It’s been a misconception for years that engine oil should be changed every 3000 miles, even though most auto manufacturers now recommend oil changes at 5,000, 7,000, or even 10,000 mile intervals under normal driving conditions.

Greatly improved oils, including synthetic oils, coupled with better engines mean longer spans between oil changes without harming an engine. The 3000 mile interval is a carryover from days when engines used single-grade, non-detergent oils.

For several years, automakers like General Motors, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz have installed computerized systems that alert drivers via an instrument panel light when it’s time to change oil. As an example, the General Motor Oil Life System (GMOLS) analyzes the engine temperature, rpms, vehicle speeds, and other driving conditions to calculate the rate of engine oil degradation. Then, software calculates when the oil needs to be changed. Other systems work similarly.

Because of the many external conditions and parameters that have to be taken into account, calculating the precise maximum service interval using mathematical models alone is difficult. Now, Daimler AG has developed a more direct and precise way to monitor oil quality directly on board a vehicle.

Daimler uses a special sensor integrated into the oil circuit to monitor engine oil directly. Oil doesn’t wear out, but rather dirt and impurities cause oil to lose its ability to lubricate properly, dictating the need for a change. Daimler uses the oil’s “permittivity,” that is, the ability to polarize in response to the electric field. If the engine oil is contaminated by water or soot particles, it polarizes to a greater extent and its permittivity increases.

To evaluate the quality of the oil, permittivity is measured by applying an AC potential between the interior and exterior pipes of an oil-filled sensor to determine how well the oil transmits the applied electric field.

Because not all impurities can be measured with sufficient precision via the electric field method, Daimler also measures the oil’s viscosity to detect any fuel that may have seeped into the oil. Daimler researchers measure viscosity while the vehicle is in motion by observing the oil's side-to-side motion in the oil sump. The slower the oil moves, the higher its viscosity. This movement is registered by a sensor and the viscosity is calculated on this basis.

A single sensor, along with the information already monitored by on-board computers, is sufficient to determine the various parameters of the engine oil. Daimler will likely use the technology first on its commercial vehicles. Here, large oil reservoirs mean larger quantities of oil can be saved. Plus, a predicted 25 percent increase between service intervals and reduced downtime will be of interest to fleets, and thus justify the added cost of installation.
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Re: The 3,000 Mile Oil Change Myth

Postby NZcaver » Jun 17, 2008 4:36 pm

Interesting.

So I shouldn't feel too guilty about clocking up more than 5,000 miles before doing my last oil change? :tonguecheek: There were extenuating circumstances after all - that was the distance of my recent road trip. Being as the thieving extortionists local service facilities charge at least $50 for a simple oil and filter change here in Anchorage, I did it myself for $10 in oil and a few dollars for a filter. The old oil was in surprisingly good condition. I didn't look much different from the new oil I put in!

So being a little tardy with oil changes (within reason) might be another way to reduce our consumption of crude oil. Guess I'll be pretending that's the real reason I've been over-mileage with many of my oil changes. :big grin:
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Re: The 3,000 Mile Oil Change Myth

Postby Squirrel Girl » Jun 17, 2008 6:22 pm

A couple years ago, I heard an American call from Britain to the radio program "Car Talk." Apparently in Britain they refused to change her oil after just 3000 miles. They wouldn't do it until 5000.
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Re: The 3,000 Mile Oil Change Myth

Postby NZcaver » Jun 17, 2008 7:05 pm

Plus one to the Brits. :wtg:

Now that I've taken a closer Iook at the manual for my vehicle, it recommends oil changes every 5,000 miles of regular use. However it does recommend 3,000 mile intervals for heavy use conditions, like with taxis and utility and public safety vehicles. But not for your average vehicle owner.

So I wonder why so many vehicle service facilities in the US insist on 3-month oil change cycles, regardless of what the manuals say? I wonder... :roll:
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Re: The 3,000 Mile Oil Change Myth

Postby Scott McCrea » Jun 17, 2008 7:54 pm

I read an article a couple years ago (I can't find it now) about a guy that sent his used oil some where to be tested. He started about 5k and the tests showed the oil in near perfect condition. He went to 10k, 20k and on. Each test showed that the oil degraded very little. I suppose that if your engine is in good shape and doesn't add contaminates, the oil will last a long time. A caver buddy of mine bought a new Isuzu Trooper, put 80k miles on it. Only changed the oil once, right before he sold it.

Consumer Reports tested oil a while back. "The conclusions: Regardless of brand of oil or weight, no measurable differences could be observed in engine wear."
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Re: The 3,000 Mile Oil Change Myth

Postby fireman1904 » Jun 17, 2008 8:31 pm

I have a 2000 F150. I got it with 24000 miles on it. I changed the oil when it had 110000 miles on it. That is when i got to thinking about when the last time I had changed it. I came to the conclusion that it was only one other time and that is when i got new tires at about 95000 miles. I am a little better now though i put the mobil one 15000 mile oil in it and i changed it at 125000 like i should have. But I dont think I needed to since the oil still looked pretty clean after 15000 miles. I also had a Ford Ranger one time that I put 140000 miles on or so and I only remember changing the oil 2 maybe 3 times and I never had a bit of trouble out of it. I wouldnt recommend that anyone do this but I dont see 10000 miles as a bad thing for oil change intervals and even more when you use good synthetic oil. I think its just a marketing scheme to tell people they need to change the oil every 3000 miles. Before I got my latest job if i changed it that often i would have been changing it more than once a month on average... i think thats a bit much.
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Re: The 3,000 Mile Oil Change Myth

Postby tncaver » Jun 17, 2008 8:51 pm

Supposedly it is the dirt and contaminants that get in the oil by getting past the piston rings that will ruin oil and
the engine. I agree that 3000 miles is probably too soon for an oil change unless the oil is very dirty and black.
Dirty oil can cause a build up of sludge. A fellow at work had 75,000 miles on his Ford truck and he said he had
never changed the oil. I told him it would probably blow the engine soon. Within a month it did. Like most situations,
common sense and monitoring can probably prevent engine damage. Synthetic oils are less likely to suds up or burn
so they should last longer. Having a dual oil filter would probably make oil last three or four times longer because the
oil would be cleaned twice each time it passed the two filters. So why don't manufacturers put two inline oil filters
on engines? As much as vehicles cost these days, they should.
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Re: The 3,000 Mile Oil Change Myth

Postby Ron Fulcher » Jun 18, 2008 6:54 am

3000 miles is a really long time to go between vehicle inspections and that is what you want with that oil change. Most folks do not bother to check their oil let alone the tire pressures, filter conditions, noises, and the rest of the fluids. The real myth is that these engines need lots of oil, why I'll bet you a dollar I see two that are running on just a couple quarts of really black oil, it is a conspiracy between the auto manufacturuers and the oil companies that you need so much oil like say 5 quarts :tonguecheek:

So what am I really saying? There is a lot more involved with a quality oil change besides oil and for the most part todays driver checks very little on their auto. That makes having someone check it out on a 3000 mile basis critical to maintaining a safe and fuel conserving means of transportation. The oil change is a very low profit margin service for the garage and your best bang for the buck.
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Re: The 3,000 Mile Oil Change Myth

Postby Phil Winkler » Jun 18, 2008 7:55 am

Having worked in an analytical petroleum lab for many years my thought is that there is no perfect answer to this question. While oil doesn't wear out it does become contaminated and additives get used up. There are many additives in motor oil like corrosion inhibitors, detergents, water suspenders, etc. When that happens only changing the oil and filter restores your engine to where it should be for maximum protection. Here is a nicely balanced opinion from the web:

http://www.catherinesautorepair.com/news.html
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Re: The 3,000 Mile Oil Change Myth

Postby CaverScott » Jun 18, 2008 8:52 am

NZcaver wrote:
So I wonder why so many vehicle service facilities in the US insist on 3-month oil change cycles, regardless of what the manuals say? I wonder... :roll:


Marketing : .... they put "recommended" stickers on your windows to perpetuate the myth. :down: Just add 2,000 miles to it!
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Re: The 3,000 Mile Oil Change Myth

Postby Carl Amundson » Jun 18, 2008 9:15 am

I change oil in my vehicles every 5000 miles...
It easy to remember and I got 289,000 miles out of my last truck. My current truck has 275,000+ miles on it.
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Re: The 3,000 Mile Oil Change Myth

Postby Andy Shoun » Jun 18, 2008 10:11 am

Phil, I like the link to catherinesautorepair.

Here are some factors to consider;
- The car company wants to recommend the longest change interval possible because that is a convenience factor for the consumer. Also, they are ok with your engine crapping out at 120,000 miles because their obligation to you as a consumer is complete and they would like to sell you a new car.
- Going too far between oil changes will not affect you engine until later in its life, 100,000 miles or more. Then it will burn oil, and maybe lots of it. Is it better to change your oil now and send the oil to a recycler or later have to dump oil it into an engine that burns it and spews it out the tail pipe?

Regular oil changes help reduce friction and improve mileage. It preserves the engine better and increases the likelihood that the car will be productive and stay out of the junk yard. The first tenant of good environmental stewardship is to reduce. That includes reducing your consumption of new vehicles, oil, gas… So I try to buy the smallest vehicle with the smallest engine that will serve my needs, drive only when necessary and take care of that vehicle and keep it as long as possible.
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Re: The 3,000 Mile Oil Change Myth

Postby Ralph E. Powers » Jun 18, 2008 10:59 am

I drive a 91 Jeep Cherokee with over 150K miles on it. Changed my oil recently after 3000+ miles on it. After reading the article I had that "BING!" and realized that the previous oil change (and this one) I put in (or the station did) Lucas Oil Stabilizer and used a high milage oil.
Watching "Modern Marvels" on the history channel also said that today's oil (like the article stated) are better and last longer under extreme heat and pressure.
So yeah, it does make sense to extend the 3000 to 5 or 7K due to the better viscosity of today's engine oils.

Problem is (and I'm just being cynical) by the time you drive those extra 2-3K miles the price of oil will have increased even more.

Just can't win these days. :shrug:
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Re: The 3,000 Mile Oil Change Myth

Postby Evan G » Jun 18, 2008 12:54 pm

Image


A little trick I picked up when I had a 73 VW Camper Bus and I also used it with a Land Rover 108 ser. III that I owned (similar to the pic above). A product called a Jupiter Filter was out on the market at the time this product was no more than a over blown Toliet paper roll made into an oil filter. Then when I was rebuilding a 1776cc engine for the bus a friend clued me into the Frantz bypass oil filter which I installed and was very surprised on it effectiveness in keeping the oil clean. I wondered in the this day an age if anyone was still using the idea. So I took a mental stroll around the web and found a very interesting article on it. For those who work on there own vehicle or have an older vehicle maybe this is something to keep in mind. This bypass oil filter can be use on diesel or gas engines.

Anatomy of a Frantz toilet paper bypass oil filter

http://www.cumminsforum.com/articles/articles/18/1/Anatomy-of-a-Frantz-toilet-paper-bypass-oil-filter/Page1.html

Preview:

Anatomy of a Frantz toilet paper bypass oil filter

WAAAAaayyyy back when I first became aware of diesel engines, I started asking questions from those experienced in diesel operation and maintenance. The earliest tidbit of info I received was, that for maximum life and freedom from failures, the absolutely BEST thing you can do for a diesel engine, is KEEP THE FILTERS CLEAN!

And of course, use GOOD quality filters as part of that treatment.

One such approach to better filtering, as related to engine oil, is use of an efficient high quality bypass oil filter. There are many good brand choices out there, and bypass oil filtration is pretty common on many diesel engine types, including commercial 18-wheel trucks.
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Re: The 3,000 Mile Oil Change Myth

Postby NZcaver » Jun 18, 2008 5:51 pm

Ron Fulcher wrote:3000 miles is a really long time to go between vehicle inspections and that is what you want with that oil change. Most folks do not bother to check their oil let alone the tire pressures, filter conditions, noises, and the rest of the fluids.

Good point. Times have changed with all these modern "low-maintenance" vehicles. My first vehicle was a 1969 Toyota Landcruiser, and it needed constant maintenance! My current vehicle is now 10 years old with 155k on the clock, and requires a little more attention than it used to. I do make a point of checking the lights, tire pressures, wheel nuts, fluid levels etc on a somewhat regular basis. I was given a rude wake-up call on a road trip last year, when my heavily laden vehicle had a blowout on the highway without warning (and with no apparent foreign object intervention). On all road trips since then, I've checked and adjusted my tire pressures virtually every day (I carry a small 12v compressor for tires with me).

So what am I really saying? There is a lot more involved with a quality oil change besides oil and for the most part todays driver checks very little on their auto. That makes having someone check it out on a 3000 mile basis critical to maintaining a safe and fuel conserving means of transportation. The oil change is a very low profit margin service for the garage and your best bang for the buck.

Yes, but in my experience when you have the shop do an oil and filter change - that's all they usually do. I got to know the guys at my last local shop, and I admit they were quite helpful in mentioning my noisy wheel bearings (which I replaced myself), and even assisted me by eliminating the rattle caused by a piece of heat shield hanging from the exhaust pipe (at no charge). But their above-and-beyond service seems like the exception, rather than the rule - unless they make money out of it. When I went in for an oil change, they certainly didn't perform safety checks on tire pressures, wheel nuts, brakes, other fluids etc. As for the low profit margin in oil changes... normally I'd agree, except for here in Anchorage. $50 minimum!

As for oil filter choices, it seems most shops use the cheapest ones available (another good reason they recommend oil changes every 3,000 miles??) When I do it myself, I buy the regular oil but spend a couple more dollars and get a higher quality filter.
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