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Fellow thinks oil changes are a scam by oil companies to sell more oil and doesn't change his oil!

I have a funny yet sad story. Some people shouldn’t own cars!

I recently bought two 1994 Geo Metro project cars. Both have identical engines (1.0L 3 cylinder) and transmissions (5 speed manual). One car is a complete beater but the engine runs well. The other is in good shape overall but was bought with a barely running engine. I could tell the oil hadn’t been changed regularly when looking at the car and the first thing I did when I got home was change the oil in both engines. The old oil wasn’t great in either but the one engine was horrible and there was sludgy goop in the oil!

I was hoping the engine had jumped time or something but it appears it has a burned exhaust valve based on my testing. One cylinder has almost zero compression while the others are fine. My original plan was to fix both cars and sell the beater while keeping the better one as a gas mileage car. My plans have changed and I am now going to strip any good useable parts off the beater and scrap the rest. The engine from the both cars have been pulled and I am going to put the good engine from the beater into the better car after replacing some seals, gaskets, timing belt, water pump, etc. as well as some minor rust in the engine bay of the good car (currently waiting on parts). I am going to keep the bad engine as a potentially rebuildable core and might do most of the work myself at my own pace.

I later bumped into the previous owner of the car before the guy I bought it from. He is a neighbor of the guy who sold it to me and he was talking about how oil changes are a huge scam and all you ever need to do is just add oil to keep it topped off. He says he has literally gone 100k without an oil change before! Note to self: never buy a car from this guy! He says that his cars run great until he gets rid of them. All except for this one which went 20-30k before giving it up. He told me the car had a brand new clutch and this looked to be true once I pulled everything apart. The flywheel had been recently turned and the pressure plate looked like new with no rust, etc. The clutch disc was already about half worn down so I guess someone wasn’t driving it right or something was out of adjustment. Anyway, I also have a new friction disc on order.

I have been posting on Geo Metro forums about this project and everyone says these are solid engines but not forgiving to poor maintenance. The oil change is especially important to the valves and lifters. The lifters get clogged with gunk and cannot properly bleed off pressure when the valves are to be closed. This results in the valves being ever so slightly open during combustion, allowing hot gasses to seep past and erode the valves, mainly the exhaust valves.

Anyway, I thought this was an interesting story that many here would be entertained by in a sick sort of way.


We had a poster here recently who lives by the same philosophy, believeing that adding a quart every now and then is as good as chenging the oil. It was a long and interesting thread.

It’s been my experience that one cannot educate one who refuses to be educated. The thread ended with the OP still standing fast to his belief.

Note to self: never buy a car from this guy!

Seems like you’re too late to apply that rule!

I would agree except that it sounds like the OP knew exactly what he was buying and had a plan. He’s the exception to the rule. The ones that tear at mu heartstrings are the innocent buyers looking for a daily driver that buy cars from people with the “never change my oil” philosophy.

Just pointing out the irony of the comment for the sake of humor.

Having bought used cars for most of my life I don’t have much sympathy for people who buy them blindly hoping there are no problems. If you’re uneducated about cars, pay someone who is to look it over.

I always treated used car purchases like buying fruit, it’s a gamble. Very few used cars are traded in or sold because they are in mint condition…

TT, I like the way you think. I too have always believed that most used cars must have been traded in for a reason, and the challange is to find the reason before it bites you. The exception would be rental vehicles. And that’s why I’ve always felt the odds of getting a problem free car are much better buying a rental vehicle than a used car on the open market. Rental companies change their fleets over to have new vehicles to offer renters, rather than because they’ve discovered a problem. Care is still required, however.

I had a boss years ago that had this same philosophy. He was a smart businessman but he waited until his oil light flickered before he added oil. He said that’s the way his dad did it and that’s what he did.

Yeah, I knew I was getting into a couple of “fixer upper” type cars. I got them as a pair cheap and I figured I would swap the engine from the running one in the worst case. The owner after this picked up a second one cheap thinking he could fix them himself and then realized he was in too deep. Either way, I will have a good little gas mileage car and lots of spare parts to keep or sell when I am done. I could have rebuilt the other engine and plan to keep it as a rebuildable core as it is definitely not done for good.

Based on what I can see about the other engine, it looks like they did a decent job of keeping up on the oil changes. There isn’t a lot of sludge under the valve cover, etc. Sure, I plan to flush the engine before I even drive the car but it isn’t as bad as some I have seen.

I am in the process of replacing all the key gaskets/seals that are leaking and am going to replace some other parts for good measure. These include the water pump, timing belt/tensioner, among other things. If you keep up on the maintenance, I guess these cheap little cars are very reliable. I can tell you one thing, they are pretty simple to work on. The engine is small enough that I can pick up up by myself with not too much effort. I can’t say that about any other car engines I have worked on. Mower engines and such are not a lot different.

Most of the other components are fine. These include ignition parts, fuses/relays, etc. I am going to throw these in a toolbox along with the extra hoses, belts, etc. as my “get my to the parts store” backups.


One of the bro’s had (has) an old Colt Vista that he was going to stop doing oil changes on just to see how long it would last. I have never heard the results of that test, they don’t seem to want to talk about it.

“… I am going to put the good engine from the beater into the better car…”

My cousin did that with two Alfa Romeo Spiders. He found one in a field with a good engine. Later he found one with a great body and interior, but the engine was destroyed. He put the good engine in the good car, used it for a while, then sold it for a good profit. It felt good. In a few years, he built a business rebuilding Porsches with a friend that did the interiors and body work. Eventually, they were selling to doctors, lawyers, and anyone else with far too much disposable income. They sold cars to people as far away as Wisconsin (they lived in PA).