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3,000 Mile Oil Change a Thing of the Past? Maybe, Maybe Not!

Just read an article in NY Times about the push to lengthen oil change intervals. I’m still a 3k guy myself. http://www…ted=1&_r=1

This article did a poor job of emphasizing that it is not just a matter of miles, but also of time. If you only drive 3,000 miles a year, and only change your oil once per year, you are not taking good care of your car.

Agree; any senior citizen driving short distances, especially in cold weather, is not served well by this article.

One of our cars covers only 3000-4000 miles a year, but it gets 2 oil & filter changes per year.

But in those cases, why is it that we shouldn’t just follow what the “oil minder” says?

Good point; neither of our cars have oil minders. If they did and it was a GM oil minder, I would still change the oil frequently since the GM oil minder does not seem to count cold starts (or masure sludge build-up) and only measures hot engine temperature. I hope I’m wrong in that, but the system is not thst sophistcated.

After reading the link, I think I will go back to 1,500 mile changes. DId you notice the part about Jiffy Lube? I have to question any source that includes JiffyLube.

A lot of cars monitor many factors (miles, cold starts, time, speed) and calculate the right time to change oil. The dash monitor will tell you when its time to change oil. Cold starts are much harder on engines than highway miles. I change dino oil on my old Isuzu Trooper every 3,000 miles. Synthetic in my BMW gets changed every 5,000 miles. Mileage is only one variable to consider for oil changes.


I’ve had two cars with oil life readout and I’m not convinced they do anything more than measure mileage. IS there someplace I can go to find out if it really does what it claims it does? (2004 Saturn Vue and 2010 Ford Fusion)

I feel one of the biggest scams ever is the 3K oil change. We discussed this before and motor manufacturers just don’t recommend them in general. I’m sure the time factor has a lot to do with it but I think the hour meter (on tractors and heavy equipment) based upon engine revs per hour at work load, as I’ve stated before is a more valid measurement than miles. You can work a car to death in 3K or hardly at all. Miles are just one factor. I’d rather change my oil later and wash and wax my car more often…that’s where the real money savings is, not in todays 200K motors.

I go by what the owner’s manual says; 4 months or 5k miles. I had just under 1300 miles on my first oil change and it had been 4 months since I bought the car. If I went by miles, I’d do 1 oil change every year and a half, not something I’m willing to risk a $34k vehicle over.

I did 5,000 mile oil changes in a '91 Geo Metro, and the engine lasted 280,000 miles before I finally retired it.
The reason for retiring it had nothing to do with lubrication failure.

Actually this article covered the “short trips” subject pretty well. There’s about 4 paragraphs devoted to it on the first page.

I do oil and filter every 3000 miles or 3 months . Last car we had was a Chevy Monte Carlo and at 184000 miles it ran extremely well with no engine noise to speak of

That makes sense, especially in upstate NY. Salt and body/frame rust is probably more of a danger than engine wear, if we’re arguing about 3K vs 5K oil changes.

The California Integrated Waste Management Board ran public service announcements for several years about ?the 3,000-mile myth,? urging drivers to wait longer between oil changes.

Now there’s a source I’d give zero credibility to.

Waste motor oil is an environmental liability. CA’s I.W.M.B. has a mandate to deal with such liabilities. It has NO mandate to watch out for anyone’s engine.

Thus, any reccommendation of theirs is akin to “The Pepperoni Pizza Institute” determining my ideal weight to be 475#.

I think 3000mi to be a bit often, in most cases. I change at 3K because I drive an old engine that makes considerable blow-by, dirtying the oil.

According to the owner’s manual of a motorhome with a Chevy Workhorse engine and chassis, the oil monitoring system measures RPMs only.

I change the oil in my mother’s 2002 Sienna every 5,000 miles (her decision, not mine), and the last time I changed it, the oil looked like it had some sludge in it. I am trying to persuade my mother to shorten the interval to 3,000 miles, and I am considering having a used oil analysis done if she puts up a fight. Does anyone have any other suggestions for preventing sludge in a sludge-prone engine?

I don’t think there should be any single oil change interval for all vehicles. For example, I have two motorcycles. One is an air-cooled 2003 Honda Nighthawk 750 with a recommended 4,000 mile oil change interval. I change its oil every 3,000 miles. The other is a 2005 Honda Shadow Aero 750 with a recommended oil change interval of 8,000 miles. I change its oil every 4,000 miles. My 1998 Civic has a recommended oil change interval of 3,750 miles (in the “severe conditions” maintenance schedule). I change its oil every 3,000 miles.

Keep in mind the Nighthawk and the Civic spend a lot of time parked in storage, so changing the oil every 3,000 miles means changing it two or three times a year.

I have tried extending the oil change intervals, but it goes against my nature. I am just too obsessive about vehicle maintenance, which is difficult to see as anything other than a virtue.

If you’re obsessive about oil and think there is sludge accumulation, you might be happiest sending the oil out for chemical analysis, as described in the article.

I have that Toyota sludge prone engine. I did 7.5K oil changes in it with dyno oil for the first 3 years (per the owners manual), till the sludge problems became public and Toyota changed the interval to 5K oil changes. At that time (about 30K miles), the engine had a slight “sludge film” in it, but no serious sludge. I’ve since held to 5K changes with dyno oil and the engine is still sludge free after 160K miles.

The other option for your mother is to use synthetic. Even with that engine, you’ll have no sludge problems with 5K intervals with synthetic.

The article seemed mostly critical of Jiffy Lube, to me.