Changing oil and filter

For years I have always had my oil and filter changed every 3000 miles. I was always told that if the oil did not come out dark it was not doing its jobin cleaning the engine. I have a friend who uses synthetic oil that he only changes once a year. He says the oil is not hardly changed at all. Who is right, him or me? I always want to do what’s best for my vehicles. I am 70 years old, and my friend is a few years younger. Thanks, JohnWS

Oil color is not a real indicator of oil condition anymore, if it ever was. Your regimen is fine for conventional oil and may be considered over-servicing. I use 5K mile intervals for conventional oil; and 7.5 K intervals for synthetic. Oils are better today, so a 5K interval is fine and does no damage to the car.

So, continue to do what you are doing; consider changing to 5K intervals, or once a year oil changes based on your driving miles; and keep arguing with your friend about which is better. Both of you are taking good care of your cars with your regimens, much better than many people, and be happy about that.

I certainly agree with Jay overall.

What I would say different is, without knowing your annual mileage, or driving conditions, it is possible to miss key issues. I drive a lot on the highway, sometimes 1600 miles in two days, though at my age (66) I much prefer 1500 miles in two days. My oil does not darken much at all, for 7,000 miles between changes with synthetic. If I drove short trips around town, it darkens quickly.

In any case, personal feelings are important to many people. If you feel comfortable changing every 3,000 miles, that is a major issue. If you need to cut back on car expense, then that is another major issue, and in that case it would be justified to learn a new change cycle – which should be based on driving conditions, not just mileage.

Compared to the cost of a car, or engine repairs, changing oil every 3,000 miles dwindles into insignificance if it makes you feel better with your car.

The important thing is, if you are comfortable with what you are doing, and can afford it, do not let differing opinions of friends confuse you. It’s your car.

Not to wish to get into counter-productive political discussions, to me liberty is the right to do things my way, right or wrong, as long as I do not violate someone else’s liberty rights.

How often you change oil depends on the severity of driving conditions. If you do a lot of stop and go on short trips, are stuck in traffic, or live in dust conditions, you should change oil at about 3000 miles. You can extend that to the maximum in the owner’s manual if you drive mostly highway miles for at least 20 minutes at a time. Again, see the owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations. I have about 120,000 miles on a Buick Regal LS and I change oil every 7500 miles. There is no oil leakage and everything else is fine, too.

I believe 3,000 miles is overkill. You’re spending extra money and creating extra waste oil that needs to be disposed of. You should follow the manufacturer’s instructions in your owner’s manual. By the way, you say you’ve been doing this for years. If you think 3,000 miles is appropriate for today’s precision-designed engines and oils, then you should have been changing your oil every 1,000 or 1,500 miles in the past, but you weren’t.

Synthetic oil can go longer without changes, but you don’t ever want to exceed the manufacturer’s interval while the car is under warranty.

The color of the oil has very little to do with its lubricating ability.

Everybody is right to some degree, wrong to some other. Do what is right for you. You can make your own rules as lond as they aren’t extreme. I wouldn’t go for 15,000 mile intervals unless the manufacturer of the car recommends it. You could base the oil changes on the miles driven. If you drive 6,000 miles a year, oil and filter should be the way to go. If you drive 30,000 miles a year, change the filter every other oil change or go with 6,000 miles between changes. You can do anything within reason and probably never go wrong these days.

I did the maintenance on three cars this morning . . . 2 with Castrol (which was almost clear 5W20) and one with Pennzoil 20W50 (which was medium brown). Both oils just purchased from Advance . . . no, color is not always an indicator of condition. Stick with what you have been doing . . I hope I’m still doing my maintenance at 70. Rocketman

Personally, I’m comfortable with 3000 miles/6 months with conventional oil or 5000 miles/1 year with synthetic. Those are both probably more frequent than is actually required for modern oils and engines. Keep doing what you are doing, or just follow the owners manual.

Mine is coal black when I change it. You can change oil in a diesel, drive it for 10 minutes and the new oil will be coal black.

My truck I change between 6000 and 8000 miles depending on what I’ve been doing. If I’ve had some long hard pulls I’ll change it sooner or if I’m going to make a long pull and I’m close to needing a change.

My tractor, I change very frequent. I’ve got a bad injector that I need to have rebuilt but don’t have time to be down for a couple of weeks. If I notice diesel in the oil, I change it. I pull the stick every time I use it.


Mine is coal black when I change it. You can change oil in a diesel, drive it for 10 minutes and the new oil will be coal black.

Very true, the only way to determine the condition of oil in a diesel is to send it out for analysis.

I personally change regular oil in my 04 Chrysler every 5000 miles. I do this only because its easy to remember the change intervals. I have always been informed that oil does not wear out. It is the piston blow-by that contaminates and causes oil to darken. So a newer car should have little or no darkening, whereas a car with worn rings can dirty-up the oil rather quickly. By the way, my family owned a service station since the early 30’s and I grew up with grease under my fingernails since the 50’s. I no longer “enjoy” getting under a car these days since I’m also 70. These days, I just watch the younger grease monkeys…'scuse me… technicians…, do the work and critique their knowledge of mechanics, or lack thereof. Besides, its more fun.

Oil does eventually “wear out” as the additive packages are exhausted, but it often becomes contaminated first. Here is some interesting info: