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Oil Change

Do I follow Honda’s advice and only change the oil when it states “Oil life remaining - 20%”…or do I still change the oil every 3500 miles/3 months as I have always done?

I would go with the OLM and see how many miles before the oil change. I also think your 3500 mile interval for today’s cars is too short. I am using 5K successfully on my cars with conventional oil.

I don’t trust oil life monitors, but you will get varying opinions about that. I like no more than 5K miles. I start saying to myself “need to change the oil” when I get to around 3K - that way I get to sometime before I go over 5K.

I’d say that part of your own answer should come from what you do with cars. I get one car that I want to run forever. Some people drive a car to 75-100K and then trade or sell and get another. If you are in the latter category the OLM is fine - since when you trade or sell you can honestly say that you followed the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule. For me - oil changes are so cheap as to be insignificant, but engines are expensive.

I drive my cars till they die! I find a good car and then keep it forever! That’s why I have always changed oil at 3500 miles/3 months. So I’m having a hard time following Honda’s advice…it goes against everything I’ve always done!

Others might disagree - but basically car companies need to sell cars, not keep them on the road indefinitely. One thing that helps to sell cars is the appearance of “low maintenance” - OLM’s and longer change times do that. But an OLM only has to get a car about 100K at most (drive train warranty). For today’s cars that is easy even with an engine that isn’t as clean as I’d like it to be. But how is it by 200K? I suspect that the OLM programmers don’t care, but I do.

And even if someone wants to attack that reasoning, its still the case that earlier changes won’t hurt. And they are not expensive. The only tricky thing to think about is the “greenness” - fewer oil changes means less oil waste and oil use. But we all pick our demons. On that note, I would say that 3500 miles is a bit too cautious - I’m generally comfortable with 5k.

Follow the OLM. Get in tune with Honda ZEN. Enjoy the simple perfection of your Honda.

Most people can be well served with a 6 month oil change interval. Except for the extremely low or EXTREMELY HIGH mile daily drivers …this works quite well.

I would change oil when the OLM hits 50%.

It’s impossible to change the oil too often… It’s your money and your car.

I do know that Honda has a warning in the owners manual specifically saying “DO NOT change the oil before the oil life monitor indicates”. Seems to me if they were just trying to get more people to buy cars due to reduced maintenance costs that they wouldn’t include warnings specifically saying to not change the oil early, from what i’ve been told by several Honda techs is that the factory fill oil has special break-in additives that need to be run for a certain amount of time during break-in. Now this is just what i’ve heard and I don’t know it for a fact, but i’d at least let the factory fill run the full course of the OLM.

I would at least run the factory fill down to 15% as Honda specifically warns not to change the original fill out early as it contains special break-in additives. I have a 2008 Honda Ridgeline that I change the oil in every time it reaches 0% and plan to do that for the life of the car, was a little leery at first but the documentation of the research and development that went into the development of these oil life monitoring systems has convinced me of their reliability. If you’re still unsure you can go to and browse the Used Oil Analysis (UOA) area of their forum to see how oils perform over different amounts of time in different vehicles. In every case i’ve seen of following an OLM the oil was not spent by the time it recommended a change.

I change oil every 3000 miles. An oil change for me is a cheap lift ticket. For $32. I get to have a mechanic look at everything under - brakes, boots, leaks, tires, steering, muffler, pipes, hangars, etc. And I get to look while he is looking and see what he is saying I need to take care of. Just my preference to be cautious.

DO WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE. Asking “How often should I change my oil” is a loaded question. You are going to get so many different answers it will confuse you. If you click on that search tab above and put in oil change, you will see what I am talking about. If 3500/3mo has been working for you, and it makes you rest easy at night, go with it. Oil changes are cheap, cars are not. If you want it to last take care of it.


Do as you like, your car will not notice.

Oils and engines have changed a lot since I have been driving. Today’s cars are far better than the cars grandpa drove. That 3,500 miles thing came from grandpa. Modern cars can go 6,000 miles better than grandpa’s car and oil could do 3,000.

Those oil recommendations were made based on worse possible conditions. Few of us drive under those conditions, but without that computer we don’t have any way to telling. With the computer you are fine with using the computer. It can identify the kind of driving conditions and adjust.

If changing your oil early, fine, but if you change it based on the computer you will also be fine.

BTW did you know that under most conditions, the first few hundred miles after and oil change has more wear than after a thousand miles. Like the computer issue, the difference is not material.

Consider this: back in grandpa’s day it was not that unusual for an engine to wear out, and they tended to wear out far sooner than modern engines. Today it is far less likely to have your car end up in the junk yard due to oil related wear, than it was back in grandpa’s day.

I don’t know how the oil change monitor works on the Honda, but on the 2006 Chevrolet Uplander that I just sold to my son, in severe conditions (winter stop and go driving) the monitor would call for an oil change at 3000 miles. In summer highway driving mixed with city driving, it would call for an oil change around 6000-6500 miles. To me, this makes sense, as this is the oil change schedule that I followed on my cars for years.

I just purchased a 2011 Toyota Sienna. I think the engine bearings were lubricated for the life of the vehicle so it doesn’t need oil changes. (In this case, the life of the vehicle is probably very short). I do know that it takes 0W-20 oil.

2011 Sienna not needing oil changes? From what i’ve heard Toyota is recommending 10,000 miles OCI when using Toyota’s 0W-20 oil, that’s not the same as no oil changes.

I think he was joking.

I don’t have to pay for oil changes for 2 years. When we got the Sienna price almost negotiated, I said that if they would throw in a set of floor mats for our 2003 4Runner, they would have a deal. The dealer agreed to this and then said, “Since you already own another Toyota, you get free oil changes for 2 years as part of our customer loyalty program”.

Very good answer except you left out the driving conditions. Heavy stop and go driving, short trips, etc, shorten the life of the oil. That is something to consider when making this decision.

I meant it to be a joke that the Toyota engine bearings are lubricated for life. However, these are probably the only bearings left in the world that aren’t lubricated for life. I remember on cars that I used to own where there were places to oil the generator and the starter motor. Putting a couple of drops of oil in the oil cups for the bearings of the starter and generator were part of a lubrication job. Some cars had a grease fitting on the water pump and there were grease fittings on the universal joints.

There isn’t anything to lubricate around the house any more either. My previous furnace blower had places to oil the motor, but no place to oil the blower bearings. Of course the blower bearings gave out. Even the little motors on household appliances had places where they were to be oiled. There is nothing left to oil around the house any more. I roam my house with my can of 3-IN-1 household oil completely frustrated. There is nothing left to oil. When the bearings go, the device is just thrown away.

Agree; the first car we bought with no chassis lube points was a 1994 Nissan Sentra. I was leery of that design because a friend had bought a Volvo years ago which has the “lubed for life” ball joints wear out in one year.

Our original 1941 Chevy had 2 oil cups on the generator, 1 on the starter, a grease cup on the distributor shaft, a lube wick inside the distributor, 16 lube points on the front suspension, 4 zerk fittings on the drive shaft, 4 grease fittings on the rear leaf springs. The door hinges had little oil holes as well.

My job was to do this every 1000 miles with the oil and filter change on the car as well as our Chevy 6 pickup truck!