I admit — I’m very guilty of going way too long without changing my motor oil, and not changing it can definitely have repercussions on your engine as I found out the hard way.
The rule of thumb for most of us is to change our oil every 3,000 miles, and motor oil ad campaigns reinforce that belief. But it turns out that unless your call is over 5 years old, you’re probably changing your oil more often than is necessary.
Back in the 1970′s when most cars used 10W-40 oil, it was necessary to change the motor oil every 3,000 miles because 10W-40 tended to wear out within about 3,000 miles. These days, however, thanks to improvements in high-quality lubricants and better engines assemblies, the 3,000 mile rule doesn’t necessarily apply. Automakers now recommend that you change the oil at 5,000, 7,000, 10,000 or even 15,000 miles depending on the model under ideal driving conditions.
Unless you’re driving a car that’s more than ten years old, or under super extreme conditions, there’s no reason to change your oil at 3,000 miles. It’s estimated that if everyone changed their motor oil according to manufacturer’s specs, motor oil demand in California alone would be reduced by 10 million gallons per year and could cut the amount of money California drivers spend on oil changes in half. Under normal conditions, changing your oil following the automaker’s recommend intervals will not affect your car’s engine, performance or warranty.
If you’re an extremely low-mileage driver, you probably only have to change your oil once a year. If you’re not sure of the manufacturer’s oil change recommendations for your vehicle, you can find them for most models going back to 2000 at www.checkyournumber.org .