If you ask the typical driver how often they should change their oil, the answer would likely be about 3,000 miles. But thanks to advances in engine and oil technology, the 3,000-mile barrier is just a number. Many vehicles can travel 7,500 miles or more between oil changes, but still a large number of drivers head to the nearest oil change facility for their 3,000-mile fix.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the State of California is looking to shift that paradigm with a new ad campaign that will encourage motorists to hold off on that early oil change. The Check Your Number campaign is instead imploring motorists to follow the manufacturer's recommendations, which in the case of BMW could be as high as 15,000 miles. The California Department of Resources, Recycling and Recovery points out that the longer oil change intervals could save 10 million gallons of oil every year.

While we're guessing that many tax-paying oil change facilities in California aren't big fans of this ad campaign, it could save consumers money and conserve resources. And the savings aren't just for California residents either. Nationally, 51 percent of vehicle owners feel they should change their oil at the 3,000 mile mark, and only 33 percent go beyond 4,000 miles.


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  • 151 Comments
      cantdrive55
      • 3 Years Ago
      I change the oil in my 2011 Mustang 5.0 when the Oil Life Monitor deems it's necessary, or once every 12 months, whichever comes first. I use a full-synthetic oil and quality filter. I've sent samples of my used oil to Blackstone Labs, their analysis confirms that the Oil Life Monitor does a great job of indicating when the oil needs to be changed. It typically works out to 6,000-7,000 miles. This is in a high-performance engine which is driven hard. If you're changing the oil in your Corolla every 3,000 miles, you're wasting oil, time, and money. If you don't/haven't sent any oil samples to Blackstone, I highly recommend doing so. For those of you preaching 3,000 mile oil changes, I'm sure you'll find that you can extend the interval quite a bit.
        Slizzo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @cantdrive55
        This is true; go by the oil life monitor. The computer in your car watches so many variables now-a-days that it is incredibly accurate. I go by monitor or go in every 5000 miles. I only have it changed at 5000miles because I usually bring my car in for various other routine checks and figure just may as well have them change it out at that time. With an 8.8qt oil pan, I could probably go 10000 miles in between changes.
      Rick C.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Jiffy Lube and other oil changing joints are not going to like this. They're the one's who say 'stick to the 3000 miles change', even though the MANUFACTURERS manual says otherwise. I clearly see, in the name of the not generating excessive oil waste, they are merely reinforcing the manufacturers suggestion.
      rmkensington
      • 3 Years Ago
      Its ridiculous to change oil at 3,000. I have gone through 3 cars I drove for 150,000 miles, changing all of them around 7000 miles. Not once had a problem with any of them.
      SAM
      • 3 Years Ago
      The 'for sure' way to know how long you go for an oil change interval is to get a Used Oil Analysis performed. Blackstone Labs provides this service and many many gearheads/racers use them to determine how often they need to change their oil. Most synthetics, even in performance oriented vehicles, seem to be good for at least 7.5k even with spirted driving. Again, the only way to know for certain is to have your own oil analyzed.
      SteveM
      • 3 Years Ago
      A very effective advertising campaign that started over 20 years ago came up with the arbitrary 3k mile mark. I am glad to see it being called out as bogus.
        suthrn2nr
        • 3 Years Ago
        @SteveM
        I hope they do that with Hyundai's 40mpg ads. I saw a giant billboard in NYC for the sonata that said it gets 40 mpg with no mention at all that it was the HWY figure.
      owenrec
      • 3 Years Ago
      My Dad was an automotive Machinist his whole life and rebuilt everything from Model T's to Ferraris with a huge number of 350 Chevys and 302 Fords in between. He had 50 years experience in taking engines apart and always said that 3k miles was crazy. He said that if you are using organic Oil, the interval in the manual was a good rule of thumb, although most of time you could go a good bit longer. If using full Synthetics, double that. Personally I usually go once every 10k miles and never have an issue. Its like putting premium fuel in a car that requires regular - you are just throwing money away.
        QCRamAir
        • 3 Years Ago
        @owenrec
        "Its like putting premium fuel in a car that requires regular - you are just throwing money away." Couldn't have summed it up any better. +1
      Bruce Lee
      • 3 Years Ago
      I find it ridiculously hard to believe that only 33% of people go past 3K on oil changes, most of the non-enthusiasts I know are terrible about maintenance. I've gone extended oil change intervals myself though, decided to get an oversized synthetic media filter and fully synthetic oil just because it's a pain to constantly change oil.
      BG
      • 3 Years Ago
      As long as the oil is changed at a dealer or oil change franchise, the old dirty oil will be recycled. It can be cleaned and reused. So what is the problem with people changing oil too often as long as they don't pour it into the ground? In contrast to the engine oil, why do so many people refuse to change brake fluid, transmission fluid, and antifreeze?
      - v o c t u s -
      • 3 Years Ago
      Any good chef will tell you that following your senses is better than following directions. Whip out that dipstick and SMELL the oil, SEE its color, FEEL its consistency, and TASTE for subtle changes in your engine. If it's golden, smooth, and heavenly like honey you can go another couple K. If it's sludgy, brown, and sewerous you might want to change it soon. There is a lost art to being at one with the motor.
      ms
      • 3 Years Ago
      Funny. Most cars here in Europe have intervals of 10.000 to 25.000 miles - with anything below 15.000 miles seen as outdated. When buying a commercial van you opt for intervals of more than 30.000 miles. Sometimes the some cars sold in the US go with less than half the distance. It might be partially because of lower quality but also because of the owners perception - their angst of breaking a wonderful piece of engineering because of numbers that seem so ridiciously high.
      Nick
      • 3 Years Ago
      I put in 25,000 miles per change on Amsoil's top of the line "Signature Series" oil. Changing the Purolator PureONE filter every 5k miles and topping off what's missing (from the filter change). To be on the safe side, I initially did a Blackstone oil analysis after 25k miles and the TBN (Total Base Numbers) and VI (Viscosity Index) were still good while fuel dilution was still relatively low, so I could've gone even longer.
      Jason
      • 3 Years Ago
      This all really depends on how and where the car is driven.
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