Oil Change Frequency

For over 40 years I have changed oil every 3,000 miles on any car I have ever owned. I have never had a car burn oil or have any other related problems.

Question: I just bought a new 2010 Chevrolet Equinox. I am told that the car measures the quality of the oil and will tell me when it is time to change – somewhere around 6,500 miles.

Can I believe this or am I better off staying with my tried and true 3,000 mile oil change?

I have a 2006 Chevrolet Uplander and this car has a message bar that tells me when an oil change is needed. It really doesn’t look at the quality of the oil, but computes oil life based on distnace, type of trip, etc. I do know that the interval between oil changes is greater in the summer when I do highway driving than in the winter when I do stop and start driving. This is as it should be. In the winter, it calls for a change between 3000-3500 miles while I can go 5000-6000 in the summer.

I would stick with 3000 miles…

" I am told that the car measures the quality of the oil and will tell me when it is time to change".

It does not have a clue about the quality of the oil. It’s strictly a computer program which computes theoretical oil life under various driving conditions.

New engines have little blow-by and can tolerate extended drain intervals much better than older engines which must deal with ever increasing blow-by and therefore need more frequent oil changes…

You can believe it, it takes into account the kind of driving you’re doing. Here’s a link to a story about a Pontiac G8’s long oil life, checked with an oil test, shown to be good. Only the most severe driving would require 3,000 mile changes with today’s oils and engines.

If I presently had a car with an oil monitor I would use it. I currently change at 3000 miles because that is sufficient for the worst driving I do, short trips in the snow belt in winter. I know I could go longer without harm in better conditions but I don’t know how much longer, nor do I want to spend time trying to monitor all my driving since my last oil change so I do every 3000 but If the car kept track I would listen to it and save time ,money and oil.

5000 miles is the “new” 3000 mile oil change. That being said if you change your oil anywhere between 3000 - whatever the monitor states your engine will outlive your ownership period.

When in doubt, change it when it stops looking like it looked when you put it in.

It depends on the type of driving you do and the environmental conditions.
If you do mostly open road driving then you can go 5k miles between changes.
If your driving is very severe (stop and go, short trips in which the engine never really warms up) then you should change it about every 3k miles or 3 months.
It’s not all mileage dependent; time is a factor also.

imo,our 06 accord i4 with oil monitoring-it said change when it’s 15% i did follow
40% thats about 3500 miles and almost 4 months by then oil is very dark,driven it
40% highway and 60% city.there’a a ot of comment like" oil change is cheaper than
an engine,or more frequent oil change is good it’s only hurt your pocket.since im diy-i stock up with oil/filter that i can do oil change for less than $15 and full
synthetic of less than $30.for q 3k/3 months about $60 dollars a year or $120 with full synthetic.

Cars and oils have changed a lot in the last 40 years. I changed my oil every 2,000 miles back then.

Today I stick with the manufacturer’s recommendations.

I doubt if you will go wrong if you follow the instructions in the manual. Then again I doubt if you will go wrong if you change the oil every 3,000 miles (making sure you use an oil that meets or exceeds the oil recommend by Chevy in the owner’s manual.

I suspect the computer is looking at the way you drive, temperature miles etc. and likely is going to give you fair warning for oil changes. Then again it could actually do some measurements. Either way my advice is the same.

How about this, go 6,000 miles or when that change oil light comes on, which ever is first.

BTW don’t be surprised if it uses some oil, maybe even a quart in a couple thousand miles. Remember engine design is different these days. It does not mean bad, just different.

5000 miles is the “new” 3000 mile oil change. That being said if you change your oil anywhere between 3000 - whatever the monitor states your engine will outlive your ownership period.

I’d like to see a study on that. Are the 7k oil change intervals good enough. I suspect that it’s probably good enough for MOST people…I’d like to see cars that have been well maintained with the 7k oil change interval after 300k miles…compared with 300k cars maintained with the 3-5k interval. I really don’t know…

Good question. I think majority vehicles that go 300k are driven primarily highway miles so that interval may fine. However majority of owners never make it to 200k or even 150k or really 100k miles in their ownership period anyway.

I know my parents used the 7500 mile OCI on an 86 AMC Eagle (with Jeep 4.2L) and they sold it running perfectly except carb/never internal engine problems at 250k miles.

Good report, but I would still like to learn what the owner’s driving pattern was. For mainly expressway driving in a mild climate these figure would be representative.

I would agree with the poster who said that 5000 miles is the"new 3000". That’s because oils are much better and engine are better built as well. The new combustion controls also limit VOCs and products of incomplete combustion.

Agree that 3000 miles as used by OP is probably too often unless his driving is all short trip and he lives in the Northern states. I don’t trust an oil monitor to identify that condition which causes rapid deterioration in oil quality.

I think the G8 was making long trips + lots of freeway driving in LA, so that’s why they got such a long change interval. Triedaq’s post further reinforces my confidence in the GM monitor system, it’s acting just like it should.

“When in doubt, change it when it stops looking like it looked when you put it in.” is about as bad advice as one can get. The only thing one can determine visually about oil condition is when the oil contains huge amounts of water or fuel. Small amounts can not be seen. Black discoloration is actually good because the combustion byproducts are being suspended in the oil rather than deposited in the engine. Low detergent oils will look clean forever while the engine gets plugged with junk.

I must admit to being fascinated by the variety of responses. What I think I have learned is that my eyeballs are the best measuring tool. I think I will continue to trust them most of all.
Thanks y’all. ( I do Texas driving BTW )

When in doubt, change it when it stops looking like it looked when you put it in.

You’d be changing your oil every 500 miles.

In my opinion, a wide range of choices are reasonable. I have encountered people who get all bent out of shape at changing every 3,000 miles, believing we are personally polluting the planet by excessive oil changes. If a person feels like that, I think he should do what feels right to him.

Some also become quite sarcastic, accusing anyone who does not blindly follow manufacturers recommendations to be arrogant. There have been too many cases where the manufacturers have either goofed (e.g. - Ford SUV tires a few years ago) or done things for their own reasons, and they do not ever explain their oil change recommendations so we can make up our own minds.

While I do believe 3,000 miles is a valid choice for those who either don’t know when to change it, or simply feel better doing it that way, I wanted to know better what my car needed.

Not long ago, I drove my 2002 Sienna (158,000 miles at the time) 8800 miles on Mobil-1 EP strictly on purpose because of years of reading opinions all over the place, but based mostly on personal feelings, not facts. It still had tbn around 2. My driving is mostly highway driving, but I think for me, it will be 7,500 miles in the future as long as my driving patterns do not change. Wear and blow-by were low.

I now believe a person who really cares will every year or two have a sample done, strictly to know how your engine is doing. It is like having a look down inside the engine to see what is in that oil. I admit I was surprised. I thought all I would find out is if the oil was still good.

I do tend to think the statement the old 3000 is now 5000 makes sense for average drivers, but one must be sure he is an average driver.

So back in 2001 I bought a new Silverado pick-up truck. I changed the oil at 2500 miles to a full synthetic and changed it again at 10,000, with a Mobil 1 oil filter. I then changed it every 10,000 miles therafter with Mobil 1 full syntthetic oil and a new Mobil 1 oil filter every 10,000 miles until the 175,000 miles, when I changed the oil and filter after only 5,000 miles because I hadn’t gone 10,000 miles in about a year. I now use about a quart of oil every 5,000 miles or so. The GM oil monitor would light up after about 5,ooo miles, but I would not change the oil when it lit up.

What does this lead me to believe? That you can extend the oil change intervals if you use a full synthetic oil and a good oil filter (unless you reach the one year point on the oil, and it starts to get dark in color). I now have 182,000 miles on this engine.

I am such a firm believer in synthetic oil that I now use it in all my motors, inluding my snowblowers, generators, transmissions, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, wood splitter, outboard engines, leaf blowers, etc. I am in upstate New York, where the winters are harsh.

If in doubt, use synthetic and know that you have done the best that you can do to prolong the life of you motors and transmisions.

The type of oil used has nothing to do with environmental conditions though, and moisture in the atmosphere is the biggest contributor to sludging along with oil change intervals that are not as frequent as they need to be based on driving habits.

Heat will attract moisture and a vehicle that sees short hop driving for the most part will never burn that moisture off.
This is exactly why headlamps will become satured on the inside (my Lincoln was horrible about this), distributor caps will become soaking wet on the inside, etc.
An engine is no different.