• Jul 13, 2006
In a survey conducted by Valvoline, sixty-percent of ASE certified Master Automobile technicians questioned said that a vehicle's oil should be changed every 3,000 miles. Twenty-nine percent said between 3,000-5,000 miles is acceptable and just two percent voted that between 5,000-10,000 miles is okay.
This has to be one of the oldest running debates in the world of car care. The advents of synthetic motor oil and systems that monitor oil life have weakened the age-old 3,000-mile argument. Special programs like BMW Assist (pdf), for instance, enable a vehicle to notify the dealer itself when an oil change is required, 3,000 miles be damned.

While it's true that the oil in your car is its lifeblood, it's tough to take serious a survey about oil change intervals that's conducted by Valvoline. (Those mechanics surveyed also just happened to vote Valvoline their number one oil of choice.) We're pretty certain those companies selling motor oil wouldn't mind 1,500-mile oil change intervals if someone were bold enough to recommend them.

The real question is how often do you wait to change your oil? We're curious if anyone out there who has a habit of going longer than 5,000 miles has suffered severe engine problems as a result.

[Source: The Auto Channel]


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  • 102 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      With the new synthetic oils of today, it is possible to maintain lubrication beyond 10,000. The problem lies in the filter. Most filters will begin to bypass at around 3,000 miles.

      If you choose to go 5,000 - 10,000 miles, be sure to use a fully synthetic oil and a quality filter such as WIX (Napa, CarQuest). The standard Fram filter, while it looks nice in that orange paint, is one of the lightest filters you can buy.
      • 8 Years Ago
      In my '03 Hyundai Elantra I change the oil every 5000 miles. I'm up to 35k on it. In my '87 Corvette, I change it every 3000 miles b/c I don't drive it as much (about 2000-4000) per year. It has 75k on it.
      • 8 Years Ago

      1998 Audi A4 with 1.8T engine: usually at the 10,000 KM mark, sometimes longer if I've done a lot of highway driving. Always Mobil 1 with an OEM filter.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Whether it be NY taxi wear (I don't dive a NY taxi), your grandpappy's recommendation, or even the engine manufacturer, NOBODY can tell you if your engine is being oiled correctly unless you get it analyzed...not by looking at it or smelling it or listening to your engine or using a dowsing rod, but by a lab.

      Everything else is complete BS.

      Analysis shows the oil & filter in my car is good for 6000-8000 miles, but unless you drive the same car I do, drive the way I do and under the same conditions, it's only guessing as to what works best in YOUR car.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I go 7500 miles (vehicle recommended interval) using Mobil 1. I also have sent the oil off for analysis to check how much life is left. (blackstone-labs.com) The analysis showed I could have gone even longer between changes. The engine wear values (metal particles in the oil) were always better than average. I sold my last car (Contour SVT) with 127k trouble-free miles.
      • 8 Years Ago
      back when i used regular oil i changed it every 3k, sometimes if my schedule was busy i might let it go past that, maybe between 100-200 miles. but when i changed to quaker state synthetic i started going to 5k change intervals, sometimes 6k during warmer weather.
      today's vehicles do not contaminate their oil nearly as much as older vehicles did, the major reason for this being improved combustion efficiency. since fuel injection is more precise than a carburetor the oil does not get contaminated with fuel, and the oil is not washed from the sylinder walls from raw fuel like it was with the old carburetors, especially when the choke was closed.
      this results in much longer ring and cylinder wall life, that is the reason that you do not see many vehicles that blow blue smoke & burn oil nowadays. add to this the fact that oil is better today than it was 20 yrs ago, and you can see why 100k on an engine is no big deal today.
      • 8 Years Ago
      How about using someone like Blackstone Labs to perform a lab analysis of the oil at each oil change, monitor the breakdown of the oil over time at various change intervals and come up with a scientifically derived oil change interval for that specific engine/vehicle. That's what I've done for years.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Subaru recommends up to 7500 on some of its models, but recommends 3-3500 in "severe driving conditions."
      They consider severe driving to be: lots of short trips, commutes with lots of stop and go, driving in coastal areas, driving in desert areas, towing, racing and repeated runs to upper rev ranges.

      Suffice to say, driving my WRX the way god intended, commuting to work in traffic and living on the Florida coast means I change my Mobil 1 every 3000 miles. Thing is, theres a noticeable change in performance and driving at every change. The oil goes in gold, comes out pretty dark. Before the change the motor seems more strained, less happy. Afterwards? Silky, smooth and strong.

      The manufacturers know what they are talking about, but read the fine print and listen (and feel) your motor. It tells you all you need to know if you are paying attention.
      • 8 Years Ago
      My 2002 Saab 95 Aero with 160,000 miles has oil changes every 10k, per manufacturers recommendations. Runs as strong as it did day one! Highway miles are easy on a vehicle.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Not to sound paranoid, but I always go for the 3,000 mile rule. My car is too big of an investment to warrent putting my engine at any amount of potential risk just to save a few bucks every couple of months.
      • 8 Years Ago
      dakota says: "I'll change it every 3 months. It's easier that way, besides there are people that drop more than that a week or 2 weeks on buying crap that they don't even need IE: cigarettes ect.. It's funny to see those people moan about changing oil and the price of it but then run to the 7-11 every chance to feed their nic. habbit."

      Funny thing, that. I facilitate addiction clinics. Addicts are often dysfunctionally frugal in other areas of their lives. Their justification is simple: If they save on toothpaste, they can buy more alcohol/drugs/cigarettes. I've seen addicts sell family heirlooms to buy vodka.

      Non-addicts probably also have a bit of this thought process at work. The point is not necessarily to save money for the sake of having money, the point is to save money on necessities of lesser importance in order to increase buying power for items of greater individual importance. I wouldn't be surprised if most of the Autoblog readers confessed to skimping somewhere else in their lives in order to free up money for their car.

      The engine oil life monitor is installed by the manufacturer, right? From a jaded viewpoint, wouldn't it be in their best interest to shorten the usable life of their automobiles? Who knows? Maybe a modern car with modern filtration could reach 500,000 or 1 million miles with 3,000 mile oil change intervals...

      Me:
      Toyota Tacoma - every 5,000 miles, as per manu. specs
      Audi TT - oil change service notification, usually works out to 3,500 miles
      • 8 Years Ago
      I used to work in a lube shop. It was a Valvoline shop, and so I will probably always be a Valvoline man myself. It seems like the people who took good care of their cars alway insisted on Valvoline (or Mobil 1 synthetic). I do not see any issue with following the manufacturer's guidlines for oil change intervals. However, the way I see it, the more frequently you change your oil the better. It is the number one most important thing you can do for your car, so why not have that extra insurance. Newer cars do seem to have a lot cleaner oil after 3000 miles (sometimes even 7500) than they used to, an obvious development of better combustion chamber technology.
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