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Oil: To Change Or Not To Change

Nov 14, 13 Oil: To Change Or Not To Change

The age old question of how often should I change the oil in my vehicle is on the mind of the majority of vehicle owners. The best answer is check your owner’s manual, especially if you have purchased a newer vehicle.

With the technological advancements on the motor oil produced nowadays, along with high quality engines, the golden rule of 3,000 mile or three months, which ever comes first, is a thing of the past.

For example, Ford requirements on oil changes are; if you own a 2008 or newer vehicle, generally 7,500 or six months is the requirement. If your vehicle is a 2007 or older, 5,000 or six months is the recommendation. However, if certain circumstances arise, then more frequent oil changes are in order.

Let’s say you continually tow or carry heavy loads, drive at low speeds for long distances, drive offroad or in dusty areas often, then Ford recommends 5,000 miles or six months for 2008 or newer models, and 3,000 miles or three months for 2007 models or older.

Newer General Motors vehicles are equipped with an engine Oil Life System (OLS) that monitors your engine oil and, when it needs to be changed or the oil level is low, the OLS light will come on. Then you’re ready for the oil change and the certified technician will also reset the OLS and your ready until the next time the light comes on. The OLS can also be reset by yourself, just follow the instructions in the vehicle’s owner’s manual.

On the other side of the coin, you have the quick oil change franchises that recommend the 3,000-mile, three-month myth. Mainly, their business is changing oil, so of course they are recommending this rule. As a former service advisor states, a 3,000 mile oil change is, “a marketing tactic that dealers use to get you into the service bay on a regular basis. Unless you go to the drag strip on weekends, you don’t need it.”

The longest oil change recommendation for new vehicles is 15,000 miles for all Jaguar models, and the shortest is 5,000 on a few Hyundai and Kia models. Toyota recommends 10,000 miles when using synthetic oils.

All three of the top automakers, as well as 16 of the 34 manufactures now use a type of oil monitoring system as a way of giving the owner a heads up on when to change the oil in their vehicle.

On the personal experience side of the matter, I have been driving since the mid-1970s and of course dad told me to change my oil every 3,000 miles to make the engine last longer. So I did, right up until I started my own family. Well, young families are on a tight budget, so the oil change frequency became 5,000 to 10,000 miles, or whenever I could afford to.

To make a long story short, I have owned several vehicles since then and all have gone at least 5,000 miles between changes and have never had an engine failure. Let me add, I put more then 200,000 hard miles on them also.

My cousin bought an early 70s car with the intention of swapping the engine with a race engine. He told me that he wanted to blow this one up first. He never changed or checked the oil. When it finally blew, he had managed to put over 100,000 miles on the car.

So in conclusion, oil changes are a matter of personal opinion, but if you buy a new vehicle, I still would recommend following the scheduled maintenance that’s described in the owner’s manual. Mainly because it could void out the warranty of the vehicle.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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