Maintenance schedules different - ripoff?

I moved from the UK to the US 4 years ago and was surprised at the frequency of oil/filter changes recommended in the US - every 6 months, about twice that of the UK which is every 12 months. I have a 2007 Prius and have compared what Toyota recommend in the UK and US for the SAME CAR… Toyota US says every 6 months or 5,000 miles (; Toyota UK says every 12 months or 9,000 miles (http://www…/PRIUS.pdf).

So… I believe the engines are identical, the only possible justification would be that the oil used in the US is poorer quality? But I am left wondering if the reality is that either Brits are trashing their engines (unlikely) or US owners are being ripped off in maintenance costs. Any ideas?

the only possible justification would be that the oil used in the US is poorer quality?

If you look at the average mileage put on American cars compared to cars from the UK…last I checked it was more then double the mileage. Gas is so much cheaper here and many area’s of the country you could end up with long commutes it’s easy to put 40k miles on a car. If I planned on keeping my car for 300k miles (like I have my last two vehicles)…if I changed my oil every 9k miles it wouldn’t last the 300k miles.

In Europe the oil typically has a tighter and better spec and is typically synthetic. The cost is also much higher due to attached environmental costs. So better oil coupled to environmental costs and standard practice extends the oil changes.

Anywhere we can find the relevant specs?

No exact specs, but this article does speak to the issue of differences between US and European oil specs:

And, for whatever it’s worth, here is what Wikipedia has to say on the issue:

"By the early 1990s, many of the European original equipment manufacturer (OEM) car manufacturers felt that the direction of the American API oil standards was not compatible with the needs of a motor oil to be used in their motors. As a result many leading European motor manufacturers created and developed their own “OEM” oil standards.

Probably the most well known of these are the VW50*.0* series from Volkswagen Group, and the MB22*.** from Mercedes-Benz. Other European OEM standards are from General Motors, for the Vauxhall, Opel and Saab brands, the Ford “WSS” standards, BMW Special Oils and BMW Longlife standards, Porsche, and the PSA Group of Peugeot and Citro?n.

In recent times, very highly specialised “extended drain” “longlife” oils have arisen, whereby, taking Volkswagen Group vehicles, a petrol engine can now go up to 2 years or 30,000 km (approximately 18,600 miles), and a diesel engine can go up to 2 years or 50,000 km (approximately 31,000 miles) - before requiring an oil change. BMW, GM, Mercedes and PSA all have their own similar longlife oil standards.[citation needed]

Furthermore, virtually all European OEM standards require a long duration of longevity of the HTHS (High Temperature, High Shear) viscosity, many around the 3.5 cP (3.5 mPa?s).

Because of the real or perceived need for motor oils with unique qualities, virtually all modern European cars will demand a specific OEM-only oil standard. As a result, they now invariably make no reference at all to API standards, nor SAE viscosity grades. They may also make no primary reference to the ACEA standards, with the exception of being able to use a “lesser” ACEA grade oil for “emergency top-up”, though this usually has strict limits, often up to a maximum of ? a litre of non-OEM oil."

The wider range of temperatures in the U.S. might make a difference too.

How much do you pay for a yearly oil change in the UK?

An oil change in the UK costs about twice that in the US - we don’t have ‘jiffy lube’ type businesses, just regular mechanics’ shops & dealer service centers. This forms part of my (perhaps unfair) suspicion that maintenance schedules are driven by what owners are prepared to fork out rather than what’s ideal for the car.

Give the above information on different oil specifications (news to me, thanks VDC), it looks like different change intervals are justified to ensure adequate lubrication. Not a ripoff.

Also, while the EU system does appear to result in higher-spec oils, it also results in requiring owners to buy oil made for their specific brand at high prices. That’s a ripoff of a different type.

Ripoff ?

Take a look at what you pay for a car here and in the UK .

Regular garages charge the same as Jiffy Lube if not less in the US. It is not cheap there.

So if you pay twice for an oil change in UK once a year that equals paying half the cost twice a year. So what is your point then about “ripoff”?

Good post VC! European engines are more stressed than American ones, and the driving pattern is more demanding as well. However, the main driver behind the European long drain interval is government environmental regs. All governments want to reduce the amount of waste oil generated, and the remainder recycled. To get to the long drain interval, synthetic base stock and lots of additives are needed.

In North America, there is no such requirement, and engine oil is a compromise between engine protection at the lowest cost. Consumer Reports tested a wide range of oils recently and for normal operation, all oils met the engine wear needs. They did not peform EXTREME tests, such as very hot or very cold operation. For those, synthetic oils are best.

For most US designed cars,where additive depletion is the key factor, and 3000-5000 mile drain intervals make the most sense. Many posters have gotten over 300,000 miles out of their engines on basic non-synthetic oils. A 10,000 mile drain interval requires a huge amount of additives which might actually interfere with proper lubrication. In any case nearly all the long life stories of engines going forever are with US cars. Europeans don’t keep their cars very long and higher mileage used cars are exported to other countries.

Isn’t there a reason Mercedes is the preferred mode of transportation for despots around the world?

Additionally, the ACEA standards are here.