Do people really change the car oil every 3k-5k miles?

As I am looking through some carfax reports searching for a used car I am seeing that many people go as far as 15,000 and higher before changing oil. Is that normal for a lot of owners? There was on car where the original owner had the first oil change at 30,000. Unless the oil changes arent always registered on the carfax, which is also a question I have.

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Oil changes may not show up on Carfax. The seller may have records or the dealer may.

Unfortunately owners often neglect oil changes because the car just keeps running. I would not buy a used car unless I had some proof that the oil was changed with some regularity.

The last used car I bought was a Caprice owned by an engineer who had bought it for his wife. I got a wad of maintenance records with it including every oil change.

One of our posters has a shot of the interior of a BMW engine which had not any oil changes and was completely full of sludge. The general consensus here is that about 60,000 miles is the distance at which the engine will start failing.

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Carfax only reports what is reported to them- it is not very trustworthy documentation, at least not as trustworthy as Carfax would like for you to believe.

If you find a car you want to purchase, get it inspected by a trusted, and not-connected-to-the-seller mechanic.

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The only people who really should change oil every 3k-5k miles drive very little, and follow the Severe Service recommendations. Lots of cars these days can safely go 6,000 miles or twice that between oil changes. If I were buying used I’d be satisfied with 6 months or 6,000 miles, whichever comes first, unless it’s a newer car that has longer recommended intervals.

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I do oil changes every 3000 miles because that’s what the severe service schedule for my car says to do, and my driving conditions definitely qualify as severe service most of the time.

If somebody got a carfax for my car they would think I hardly ever changed the oil, becauseI do it myself and don’t report it to anybody.


Our 2016 CR-V has an information screen that tells you how much life is left in your oil. I imagine it’s based on the data the computer gets from starts and stops, speeds, heat and cold, stresses on the engine, etc. The stop and go traffic around here is terrible, and the oil lasts about 5,000 miles, until it gets to 20% and I change it and reset the data. I also can record it online in the Honda website, so they can see the changes if any warranty issues come up.


Yes, people do change that frequently. Just follow your owners manual or more often and you should be fine. there are some who don’t take that very seriously.

Don’t count on CarFax for 100% reliable data. It isn’t 100% That’s why we recommend a check by an independent mechanic before you buy.


While I agree that Carfax is a poor way to determine if oil changes were done, I do believe some people don’t care and try to sqeeze every last mile they can, then trade cars. That’s why I think it is getting more risky to buy a used car, unless from a fleet operation.

At any rate yeah, I change my Pontiac at 3000 and my Acura at 5000. Both tend to have the oil monitor showing about 50% at that mileage.

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I changed the oil in my cars at 3000 miles until I bought a new 2012 Camry, I only drive about 7000 miles a year since I have fully retires so I change it once a year now. The book calls for 10000 or one year with full synthetic. The only exception to the 3000 mile change was a 98 Intrigue that was the only car I ever owned with an oil life monitor and it triggered about every 7000 in the summer and 3000 in the winter.

I would think Carfax only picks up oil changes at the dealer, something I have had done exactly twice since it was free fro the 2012 Camry for 2 years.

I don’t know much about Car Fax, but I change the oil & filter in my Corolla every 5,000 miles and my truck every 3,500 miles.

I change my oil every 4,000 to 5,000 miles. Sometimes more often if I get bored.
Actually, I only drive less than 5,000 miles a year now and I like to change it at least in the spring and fall, so… do the numbers.

CarFax is a terrible way to find out the oil change history of a vehicle. Even if their data was 100% accurate, it still could only report data given to it, and that’s mostly from subscribing dealers… who subscribe only because their customers ask for CarFax reports. There is no comprehensive database on any car’s history from which they can draw. It simply doesn’t exist. They’d show my car as not having an oil change in well over 200,000 miles, since I change it myself. It currently has over 250,000 miles on it. They’d have shown my old pickup as having no oil changes in over 338,000 miles. And they wouldn’t show any other history on any of my other vehicles 'cause I do much of the work myself or have the automotive students at the college that I retired from do it, and the college does not report to CarFax. I very rarely have any work done by a shop, and never at a dealer.

Be careful of CarFax. They can give you a false sense of security on a used car that has serious problems and/or neglect. And lack of maintenance records in CarFax can make a well maintained car look badly neglected.

But they DO provide an excellent model for a great marketing and promotion program. :crazy_face:

Hello friend. You mentioned that our car with synthetic oil is recommended at least 10K mileage. My car is a 2012 Camry SE 4 cylinder as you already know from answering to my threads in the past weeks. I am due for another oil change, which will be done on the 20th on this month. My question for you is: why does Toyota change mine every 5K mileage instead of at 10k? I also average 7K mileage per year. My next question: they mentioned about changing my brake fluid. My car is only at 60K mileage. Do I really need to change my brake fluid?

When automakers first advertised 100,000 miles between tuneups, a coworker thought that applied to oil changes too.

Me: car: 3,000 miles synthetic blend
truck: has Oil Life Monitor

Oil change equals cheap protection for engine.

Toyota does the change at 5K to 1) protect you if you drive a 'severe duty" schedule and 2) to make money. Oil is cheap, new engines are not. The math is simple.

As for brake fluid. YES! The car is 6 years old. in my book, that means the brake fluid should have been changed once already and is due for its second. Why? Brake fluid absorbs water that corrodes brake calipers and master cylinders and ABS units. It also boils easier which may never affect you until it boils in an emergency stop and you lose all your braking ability. Changing brake fluid is cheap, brake calipers aren’t. Do it!

You seem overly concerned with inexpensive maintenance items for your car. Stop that. spending a few cents to maintain the car will save you big dollars down the road.


I wish that I could give Mustangman’s post two “likes”!

I change my oil at ~ the 4k mile mark, and that is because I drive a lot of short distances, now that I am retired and no longer commute to work. This is relatively cheap insurance against the formation of damaging oil sludge. It takes me ~5 months to rack-up those 4k miles.

The mfr of my vehicle specifies that the oil should be changed every 6 months or 7,500 miles, but that interval is only for those who don’t operate their vehicle in “severe duty” conditions, and my driving patterns now fit the definition of “severe duty”.

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I change mine every 5k miles. Toyota recommends every 10k miles. But that change interval is too new to know that it will keep the engine running well for 300k miles. If you plan on only keeping a vehicle less then 150k miles (like 90% of new drivers do), then 10k oil change intervals should be fine.

Thanks for your reply. You are right in saying I seem overly concerned when spending on service on my car, and to be honest: I really need to be.

We live in a world where all kinds of situations exist. Many car owners have jobs, and few don’t. Some car owners work their butt off to pay for their cars. Some receive their cars as a gift from family members. And some purchase their cars from a small settlement they have received for their injuries. I happened to be one of the few people who purchased a car without never landing myself a job. ( My health has held me back miserably in life.) This is why I prefer to use precautionary measure when visiting my local dealership for oil change, as I can’t afford to be scammed like a lot of people can. Conversely, it is beneficial to be aware of services necessary from those who are experienced and knowledgeable when it comes to car repair.

If your financial situation is as bad as you say then whoever paid for the lowering suspension parts for your car should have given you the money so you could use for serious maintenance.
Also you don’t need to use a dealer for oil changes unless their price matches most other places.

Hey Volvo. Hope all is going well.

I am not necessarily struggling to maintain my car. Just won’t be able to afford being scammed. Toyota charges 60 dollars for synthetic oil, and 130 for brake fluid ( before tax) $190 estimated.

Before I wrote this out to you, I called Toyota just a few minutes ago and they said brake fluid flush needs to be done every 30K miles. So I am due.