Many budget conscious car owners change their own oil to save money on car maintenance costs. It really is a great idea and this routine car maintenance task can typically be performed by novices with a minimal set of tools . Changing your oil will typically save you big money versus having the same task completed at a car dealer’s service department or even many quick oil change shops. Doing your own oil changes is usually easy and very affordable, but are you changing your car’s oil too often?
How often do you change your engine oil? The answer from many do it yourself mechanics is still every 2,500 or 3,000 miles or every 3 months. That was a great answer decades ago, but times have changed and technology has made improvements in the world of car repair. Many oil change shops and auto parts retailers probably aren’t going to tell you, but if you’re changing your oil every 3,000 miles you’re probably wasting your time and money.
The “every 3,000 mile or every three months” rule has been passed from generation to generation. Let’s take a moment and think about this. You’re not pouring the same motor oil down into your crankcase that your father and grandfather were decades ago. We now have amazing synthetic and synthetic-conventional blends that perform and hold up better than dad’s or grandpa’s old oils could ever dream. Even today’s conventional (non-synthetic) motor oils are much better than the conventional oils from a decade ago.
The bottom line is you probably don’t need to change you oil every 3,000 miles. If you have normal driving habits you can probably extend your oil changes to 5,000 miles or possibly even 7,500-10,000 mile intervals. Of course your oil change interval will vary based on things such as the type and age of your vehicle, your driving habits, the climate in your area and the type of motor oil you use. The bottom line is you probably don’t need to change your oil as often as you are.
It’s true motor oil breaks down and degrades with use over time, but today’s oils just don’t do it as fast as they did in the past. The long held 3,000 mile rule is still so prevalent The California Department of Resources, Recycling and Recovery launched an entire campaign dedicated to informing the public that they’re probably wasting money and millions of gallons of oil annually.
“Many automobile owners are spending more than they need on motor oil, believing that it should be changed every 3,000 miles even though almost no manufacturer requires such an aggressive oil-change schedule.
The long-held notion that the oil should be changed every 3,000 miles is so prevalent that California officials have launched a campaign to stop drivers from wasting millions of gallons of oil annually because they have their vehicles serviced too often.”
– “Drivers Change Oil Too Often California Officials Say” by The L.A. Times via Mema.org
There’s no need to panic if you’ve been stuck in your ways and have been changing your oil according to the “old rules”. Likewise, there’s no danger to your vehicle if you plan to stick to the 3,000 mile rule. Changing your oil a little more frequently than required won’t damage your engine in any way, but if you own a newer vehicle and you’re still changing your oil every 3,000 miles . . . you’re probably wasting money and oil!
Here are just a few resources used when researching this article. If you’re in doubt which oil change interval is right for you and your vehicle, consult your owner’s manual, vehicle manufacturer or an ASE Certified Mechanic.