3000 vs. 5000 miles?

I have heard conflicting theories about this. Some people are adamant on getting their oil changed every 3000 miles while others have suggested 5000 is as equally an accurant mileage point for changing one’s oil.

I would like to hear your guys’ views on this. I own a used Honda Accord ‘96, has approximately 140,000 miles. I have always used synthetic oil when my oil has run low because I was told it is better for ones’ engine. I take my vehicle to a reputable blue-collar shop (Barneys Midway Garage, plug, plug, lol)and have always received good service. Where huge auto chains have tried feeding me a line, my local guys are honest and straight-forward. By doing so, they lose money since I am ignorant and could be sold when it comes to these matters but that is not part of their philosophy.

Anyways, sorry to drag this out, I know the more information you are provided, the more thorough and accurate the feedback.

When I feel my gas tank, I always use unleaded. I guess thatis another query with the mileage post- does any of this matter (unleaded versus leaded, synthetic, etc.)in the regular oil change at 3000 versus 5000 miles? I am sorry if my post isnot making sense. I am grossly incompetant when it comes to vehicles. Anything else you need to know, I can provide (Granted I know, as well). Thanx again.

If the vast majority of your driving is on the highway you can go 5k miles between oil changes, although I personally would not do this if you live in a dusty and/or high humidity area.
If the majority if mostly short hop, stop and go driving then 3k miles.
The state of tune of the car also plays a part in oil change intervals.

Synthetic is not better for an engine. A engine running on dino oil will go just as far as an engine running on synthetic.

You don’t have to worry about leaded gas; that’s long gone. However, leaded gas does have some affect on oil change intervals as the additive does provide more contaminants for the engine oil.

If you were grossly incompetant you would not have asked the question.

For a 1996 most would agree that an oil change every 5000 miles is great maintenance. You don’t need to use synthetic, but of you prefer it it’s certainly good to use.

Your engine is designed for unleaded. Designers began designing for unleaded gas way back in the early '70s. Leaded gas has been banned as an automotive fuel since that time.

Please tell us the kind of use your Accord gets - lots of short (1 mile) trips? Or longer ones? I would do 5000 mile changes, unless I did lots of short trips that don’t allow the engine to fully warm up.

I change the oil in both of my cars ('97 Honda and '96 Subaru) at 5,000 mile intervals, even though the owner’s manuals specify 7,500 mile intervals. I think 3,000 mile oil changes are wasteful unless the vehicle is driven under severe conditions.

I don’t spend the extra money for synthetic oil, either. Unless the owner’s manual specifies its use it’s not needed.

Please tell us where you can buy leaded gasoline? It has not been legally available in the US for many, many years.

You’re confusing leaded with high-octane, and they are not the same. Your accord was designed to run on 87-octane regular unleaded gasoline. Buying anything more expensive is a waste of money and will not increase performance or improve fuel mileage.

To Better Serve You, There Is Something Else That We Should Know.

What did you mean by, “I have always used synthetic oil when my oil has run low because I was told it is better for ones’ engine.” ?

Do you mean you use syntehtic oil for every oil change at the 3,000 or 5,000 mile interval and for adding when it’s low ?

Do you mean you use synthetic oil only to “top off” your oil when it’s down some ?
How do you know when it’s low ?
How often do you physically check it with the dipstick (what is your checking interval)?
Typically how low is it when you add oil ?

Your explanations in answering these questions could be as important as your inquiry about change intervals. I’m sure we’ll have some recommendations for you in this area.


Good point McP. It never occurred to me that the OP might have meant regular vs. high octane. I agree with your last paragraph. 87 is all that’s needed.

If it takes you a year to drive 5,000 then get the oil changed at 3K miles. If you go more than 5K miles per year then go with 5K oil changes.

Check with the guys at your honest garage. They know more about the kind of driving you do, the climate you drive in, and can give a good answer to your question.

common sense answer,

When I said I use synthetic, I meant adding when low- I honestly don’t know what type of oil my local guys put in the engine- bad huh?- but its never been an issue and I assume they know what to use.

I check my dipstick and its pretty straightforward, I toped it off probably couple weeks ago. I honestly couldn’t tell you exactly how many weeks apart, but I check it pretty regularly. For the most part, its hits above the fill line and I don’t need to add anything. When low, I add.

As far as the leaded versus unleaded I honestly don’t even know how they are chemically different. All I have heard some engines take better to one, other engines can only tolerate one. I know at the gas stations, one pumps’ labeled leaded, the other unleaded, never seen one labeled high-octane. Not being defensive, you guys know way more than me, I guess that was a dumb question, I never even knew leaded was illegal here. Ya, I’m a girl, lol.

You guys have pretty much been echoing what I was leaning toward with 5000 being ok, I do appreciate the responses and clarification!


Can you elaborate on what you mean by “The state of tune of the car also plays a part in oil change intervals.”? Not 100% sure what your referrring to, specifically. I appreciate the response, thanx!

Most of my driving is freeway driving and most of my trips are over a mile. In the summer months, anyways, unless I am on a time crunch or hauling four bags of groceries, I do not even bother driving the car for shorter trips, I prefer to walk.

" I know at the gas stations, one pumps’ labeled leaded, the other unleaded, never seen one labeled high-octane."

Do you live in Tajikistan, or Zimbabwe, or…?
I have not seen a gas station selling leaded gas in the US since…maybe around 1980 or so.

Where do you live?

I never said anything about leaded gas being sold in the U.S. All I wrote was what I saw, 6 inches of bold lettering stands out where than the fine print. I’m not trying to argue about anything. If you read my post, it is obvious I am not a car guru. If I were, why would I need to ask such a trivial question? I wrote to ask for ADVICE. Remind me next time I have a question to not ask. My lack of mechanical expertice should ban me toward seeking information from those more informed.

Good For You. If You Have A regular Oil Checking Ritual Then You Are More Car Savvy Than Probably Half The People In the Country. The Oil Should Not Get Lower Than One Quart Down And Several Regulars Here Add At A 1/2 Quart Deficit.

You are not a car Guru, but apparently you are a car Ruru (I have no idea what that is, sorry) . More important than which oil is selected or whether it gets changed at 3,000 or 5,000 mile intervals is keeping sufficient oil in the engine no matter what. With that and a functioning cooling system, full of coolant and the engine never overheating most other problems will not be “catatrophes caused by the owner”.


common sense answer,

Thanx for the reply. A useless FYI, a few years back I owned two rats- Twitch and Rusty. Twitch died within the first year and Rusty survived him by six or seven months. N E Ways, Ruru was Rustys’ nickname and I’d often refer to him as “Rusty the ruru.” Since clever user names arn’t my selling point, I’v been using that ever since ;-).

If you need to top off your oil every few weeks, something is drastically wrong with the engine, unless you’re piling on a lot of miles.

The LAST time I topped it off was a couple weeks ago. I don’t keep a calendar with the dates of when I top it off- and no it is not every couple of weeks- although I do CHECK it quite often ;-). But I don’t have to top it off every time I check it, other wise yes- I would be worried;-)

Good for you checking your oil very regularly! As stated earlier, most people don’t do this as they should. Do you check your other fluid levels under the hood as well?

Find out what oil your shop uses and buy that brand to top it off.

If you’ve ever read or heard about oil sludging then you should keep the link below in mind as to oil change frequencies.


My hat’s off to you for checking your oil regularly. You might be surprised at how many people post on this forum and make references to never checking the oil between the 5k miles oil change intervals, etc.
A number of people also post about trashed engines due to never checking the oil level, oil sludged engines, etc.

Forget the mile figures. Just change the oil every 6 months. If you do over 15,000 miles a year, opt for a synthetic oil. Even that would not normally be necessary with a Honda.

Twice a year visits to Barney’s should cover all the other needs that may come up. They’ll have ample opportunity to check the belts and hoses, tires, etc…