Is an oil change at 3000 miles REALLY needed

ford
taurus

#1

I have a car with about 139,000 miles on it, it’s a 98. On average I put about 150-170 miles on it a week. I only drive it on city streets never on the highway due to engine issues. I check the oil weekly and it appears on the dip stick to be somewhat clean. I am right now at 4000 miles since my last oil change. Should I get one done now or just keep monitoring the oil till it gets a little darker/dirtier?


#2

It depends. How long do you want to keep the car? Are you looking for an excuse to get a new car? If so, by all means, don’t change the oil and wait for the engine to grenade. I actually did this once to have an excuse to drop a bigger motor in my car. Don’t tell my SO.

You say you already have engine issues. Failing to change the oil on time will cause more engine issues. The quick change shops like to make you think that dark oil is the sign of bad oil because then they can show you dark oil and try to sell you an engine flush. While dark oil is certainly dirty oil, it’s not the only issue oil can develop. Oil can absorb unburned gas from the engine, which makes it less effective at lubrication. The oil filter can get full of the stuff it’s filtering out, making your oil pump have to work harder to flow the oil, causing premature wear to an expensive part. Water can get in the oil just from humidity in the air, again making it less effective. And oil additives break down over time, making it, you guessed it, less effective.

BTW, city driving is much harder on an engine than highway driving. Your driving habits would qualify as “extreme conditions” as far as oil changes go. Go get it changed.


#3

I’d be more concerned about the “engine issues” - but - Read your maintenance manual if you have it. If not, since you don’t put a lot of miles on the car, you should use time as your indicator.

Every six months it would be a good time to change your oil regardless of its color.


#4

If you don’t care about the car, don’t really need the car, and do not intend to sell it before it kicks the bucket, then an oil change is not necessary. Just drive it till it blows up. I assume this is the case since the car has “engine issues” that prevent it from being driven on the highway? What is the nature of these engine issues? Have you had this problem checked out? Highway driving is easier on a car than city driving, especially to the tune of 150-170 miles a week. That equates to probably 1000+ miles of highway driving a week worth of wear and tear. Driving the car with known engine problems should also tell you that you should probably change the oil more often, not less often. Color of the oil does not tell you the condition of the oil. Oil can break down and still look fine, and diesel engines often turn the oil pitch black immediately.


#5

5000 miles is the new 3000 miles oil change interval. Just make sure to check/top the oil level.


#6

Make mine another vote for 5K or 6K miles. I think that good for any car 15 years or younger. In the case of your particular car with the head gasket issues, I really wouldn’t waste money doing 3K oil changes. Go to 6K, as long as there is no water getting into the oil.


#7

You’re driving over 20 miles/day, plenty far enough to thoroughly warm up the engine, so I would be very happy with 5000 mile changes (that’s what I do under what sounds like similar conditions).


#8

Engine issue: Bad headgasket, been that way since I bought it last July, number 1 cylinder has low compression, going through about a gallon of antifreeze about every week and a half. However car running smooth, gas milage not effected, no white smoke or water coming from tailpipe so far.


#9

From your description, I don’t think you need to worry about your next oil change, just throw a party every time you need one. You will be lucky if it last that long with the abuse it has been getting.


#10

So far it’s lasted me a year and close to 7000 miles. Outside of a radiator replacement the engine has worked just fine no matter freezing temps or high heat, it starts right up and runs smooth.


#11

You mentioned “engine issues” and not driving on the freeway because of them. Regular oil changes are one of the cheapest things you can do to maintain your vehicle’s “health”, but a car with “engine issues” needs repairs done 1st and maintenance 2nd.


#12

Why not fix the head gasket? For what you’ve spent on coolant over the last year or so, you’re almost halfway there for paying for the repair. Head gaskets aren’t that bad to change on this car. Then you can have a reliable car.

I also see you replaced the radiator in this car. A bad head gasket or head gaskets can damage a radiator. One more reason to consider fixing the engine.


#13

Best “guestimate” to fix the headgasket came in at $1200-1300 dollars with no guarentee that it would fix the engine totaly and I don’t have that kind of money. I have spent maybe $150-200 in antifreeze as I buy the pure stuff and then break it down to 50/50 in the winter and 25/75 here in the summer. I only paid $450 for it. To replace the rad only cost me $250 total so even with antifreeze only out $450 tops, less then a third of what a HG job would cost.


#14

Why bother to change oil on a car you won’t change the head gasket?If you had a headgasket that was leaking antifreeze into the oil, your main and rod bearings would have died a long time ago. Why are you bothering to use antifreeze in the summer? I think you have a coolant leak somewhere but not a bad head gasket.


#15

What year Taurus? What engine? 3.0 Vulcan? …or the banana head 3.8?

It’s cheaper to buy another Taurus. There’s millions of them out there. I do like the basic platform. I still wonder how much laughter the engineer that manages to get the wiper motors to fail with the wipers parked in the up position …or the power steering pump guru that managed such a masterpiece across most models.

…but that said, the topic is oil changing. City driving is hardly “hard” on engines and oil. If it were taxis would be in constant rotation. The ONLY thing that city driving does is make an odometer a pathetic measure of the amount of usage you have on a given sump/engine. You’re probably averaging 60% of what you would be in mixed/normal driving. You’re literally going nowhere fast.

…and that’s about it.


#16

Depends on what your engine issues are. Yes, you can extend the “life” of your oil’s viscosity by driving at an optimal speed. If you average forty miles per hour, you are not only running your engine at the best RPM’s to get the most of your car’s oil as you are fuel efficiency. But I never understood the subculture of not changing the oil at the recommended intervals. I have heard of variations, that you can change the oil but leave the filter, or change the filter but leave the dirty oil (I’m not sure how this is accomplished). Change the oil and filter at the recommended intervals. As a youngster I ran an 84 Corrola for almost 400,000 miles on the basis of this advise alone.


#17

Indy, been following your old Taurus since your first post. If the head gasket isn’t leaking coolant into the cylinder, then there is no pollution of the oil with coolant. This is the key question.

If the oil is not getting polluted with coolant 5K changes should be fine.

If the oil is getting polluted 3K would be better.

If the car is putting out some “white” smoke that is likely coolant burning off and means some coolant in the cylinder(s). Another way to tell is coolant turns the oil “milky”. If the oil stays clear and just gets darker over time that indicates little coolant getting in the oil.

Just where is that gallon of antifreeze going? An external leak ends up on the outside of the engine block and on the ground. An internal leak sends the coolant out the tailpipe with the exhaust.


#18

The oil stick is clean in that no milky gunk on it at all, in fact oil at about 4000 miles now is kinda clear, can still see markings on stick a little. Antifreeze is coming out from overflow jug, you can see fluid on the body of the car underneath the overflow jug. Zero white smoke, and no fluid drips from tailpipe.

I was told head gasket because when a leak down test was done, air came out the tailpipe and from the overflow jug.


#19

If air came out the tailpipe and the overflow sounds more like a cracked head to me.