Oil changes



is it worth it to get a more expansive oil change so you don’t have to go back for 5,000 miles or so


You can probably go 5000 miles with any oil so long as it doesn’t take you 2 years to get to that number. Expensive oils can go longer, but I think you should do more research before making that decision. Till then, just go 5000 miles between changes.



Oil changes are at 5000 miles because under normal driving that’s how long it takes for the additives to reach close to their depletion levels. Oil is nearly 25 additives put in there to keep the engine from rusting, sludging up keep the oil loosing its lubricating qualities (friction modifiers), etc. High quality oils, such as synthetics may have slightly more additives, but the main difference is the oil itself (base stock); it is much more stable in viscosity, and stays thinner at low tempatures, and thicker at higher temperatures than regular oil. So, the oil change interval for synthetics in no different than for regular oil, although you could safely go 10-20% further. Your owner’s manual will not give any longer interval for synthetic oil. For nomal driving under normal conditions, these synthetic oils have no great advantage; it is cheaper to use a normal oil from a reputable firm. A special case occurs when you live in colder area of the country and drive very little; you can use 5W30 synthetic and change oil only once a year, instead of seasonally.


Regarding oil changes, my advice is:

-Read your owner’s manual.
-Use the oil that the owner’s manual recommends.
-Chage your oil as often as the owner’s manual recommends.

If you have another questions about frequency of maintenance, read your owner’s manual and do what it says.


Sue, an expensive oil change is no different from a bargain oil change. They simply provide coffee and donuts in the waiting room. You are good for 5000 miles either way.

I prefer to bring my own donuts to the cheaper place.


OK. I’ve always had a bunch of vehicles, run the wheels off of them, and done all the maintenance and repairs myself. The frequency with which you need to change your oil is primarily a function of how you use it and in what climate. If you do lots of stop and go driving, particularly only for short trips, you should perform this service more often than every 5,000 miles. If you run it in a lot of dust and dirt, that shortens the intervals, too. Filters only remove particles down to certain sizes; the rest of the dirt gets through. And it’s still abrasive. Any engine “pukes” in its oil; combustion products in the form of soot and chemicals. They will deplete the additives in ANY oil. Some people think they can run “extended intervals” using synthetic oil. Well, the amount of dirt that gets into the oil isn’t going to change, no matter what kind of oil you run. Since there’s no such thing as changing oil “too frequently”, it’s better to err on the side of maybe doing it a little too often, rather than not often enough. You can avoid all kinds of expensive repairs by just keeping clean oil in your engine. Some places sell “synthetic blend” oils, but what’s the blend? Is it 50%, 2%, or something in between? They don’t tell you that. I personally can’t afford to run straight synthetic oil; it’s just too expensive for me. So here’s what I do: I wouldn’t think of changing the oil without doing the filter, too. I use just about any major brand(s) of oil of the weight prescribed in the owner’s manual. ONE quart of every change is synthetic. (Yes, it’s OK to mix brands and types of oils.) I casually monitor the type of use each vehicle gets, and I check not only the level of the oil on the dipstick, but its color and darkness. I almost never run oil farther than 3,000 miles; it may be good for a few more, but why risk it? Getting under there every 3,000 miles has also helped my prevent a couple of incipient disasters; steering components which were about to separate, etc. My diesel engine gets more frequent changes, and other extra attention. Diesel parts are EXPEN$IVE, so I try to buy a minimum of them. In cold weather it takes your engine longer to fully warm. So keep an eye on that dipstick and change more frequently, particularly if much of your driving is short trips. Unless you cook the condensation out of the oil it will destroy your engine; the water mixes with combustion products that form acids, and that’s not good. If you see a white scum “ring” on that dipstick, get that stuff changed! If you don’t want to “go back” every 5,000 miles, and want to save a few bucks along the way, have that teenage kid down the street show you how to do this yourself. My own daughters do because dear ol’ Dad isn’t going to be around forever.


After checking all of the dictionary definitions for “expansive”, I have come to the conclusion that you probably meant to say “expensive”. As was said, the cost of the oil change has nothing to do with the length of time that one can drive before the next oil change, and your Owner’s Manual has all of the information that you need in regard to service intervals–in terms of both odometer mileage and elapsed time.

However, when considering the cost of an oil change, it is possible that you were referring to the extra cost involved with using synthetic oil–which does wind up being more expensive. However, the advantage of synthetic oil is that you can drive more miles before you change your oil, owing to the superior qualities of the synthetic oil. Of course, if your car is still under warranty, you dare not exceed the intervals specified by the manufacturer, or you risk cancellation of your warranty.

Oh–one other thing to remember–whether you use conventional “dino” oil or synthetic oil–DO NOT go to a Quick Lube place for your oil change. Use only a well-reputed independent garage or the dealership!


I’ll have to respectfully disagree about going more miles on synthetic. While synthetic is less likely to coke, I haven’t really seen any evidence that it’s more resistant to shearing, and it certainly suspends particulates and is subject to blowby dilution just the same as dino is. I personally think it’s too new to have enough empirical data to prove that prolonging oil changes by using synthetic will not adversely affect engine life.

My personal philosophy is that the goal is to prolong the life of the engine rather than the life of the oil. Assuming synthetic’s superiority, it makes more sense to switch to synthetic and keep the oil change frequency the same.

Personally, since I’ve never worn an engine out anyway using only dino, I can’t see how changing to synthetic would help. You can’t make an engine last longer than forever. The caveat being that I’ve never had a turbo or owned a “sludgeomatic”. If I had one of those I’d be inclined to use synthetic.


Mountainbike–I just want to clarify that, although it does appear that one can drive more miles between changes of synthetic oil, I don’t personally practice this method.

I also use good old “dino” oil (Valvoline) and I change it about every 4,000 miles. While I might be able to safely push it further, I also believe in preserving the engine, rather than oil. And, all of my cars (with the exception of my '74 Volvo crap-mobile) were able to survive to 6 digits on the odometer without burning oil!

So, I spoke in theory, rather than in practice.


I agree with your theory and your practice.

I wanted to bring up the point because the OP had asked whether it was worth it to get “more expensive” (which I understood to be synthetic) oil changes so he could go more miles between changes. While I think synthetic is great, I wanted readers to know that using it to go longer between changes is “playing the numbers” in my opinion.

I also thought I’d add that part about turbos and sludgeomatics. If I had one of those I’d definitely “hedge my bet” with synthetic.

Sorry to hear about the Volvo. Everyone gets a car like that at some point if they drive long enough. I had a Vega!


More expensive in what sense? You should follow your manufacturers recomendations


I largely agree with DrBruce. You engine crankcase is a sewer. Engine wear particles build up with time and mileage. Oil breaks down and changes viscosity as molecules are heated and sheared, and any viscosity change at extended operating miles results in excessive wear due to clearance variations. And perhaps the worst problem of all is that fossil fuels (gasoline) contain sulfur in small amounts that break down, combine with oxygen to form sulfur oxides, which combine with water to form sulfuric and sulfurous acids which attack metal parts, creating pits and increasing abrasion.

Synthetic oils do hold up better and have better lubricating properties than fossil oils, but they don’t have any more additives than good fossil oils. High performance engines will void warranty if you don’t use synthetics for this reason, but they are largely a waste of money on most engines because people tend to extend oil change intervals to offset the extra cost of the oil. It’s a false economy. You are far better off using fossil oils and changing them AT LEAST as often as the manual says, and more often if you intend to keep the vehicle for 150-200,000 miles. I change my fossil oil at 3,000 miles and my high performance engine (LS2 Gen IV) at 4,000 miles on synthetic (synthetic Mobil 1 is mandatory for warranty coverage on that beast).

Unless you drive a lot of highway miles, 5,000 is pushing a bit too long IMHO to go on an oil change, not because the oil can’t handle it, but because of the contaminants. Also, beware of quick change lube places that use bulk oil of unknown origin. I like to see my oil come out of the factory sealed container. How do you know lube-n-go oil isn’t recycled, just because they have a Quaker State sign out front?


“My personal philosophy is that the goal is to prolong the life of the engine rather than the life of the oil. Assuming synthetic’s superiority, it makes more sense to switch to synthetic and keep the oil change frequency the same.”

I agree, use the best synthetic oil you can find and follow the manufacturer’s change interval (or change it more frequently) to maximize engine life. Oil is cheap, I drive about 40,000 miles per year and still spend less than $500 per year on oil changes with a 5000 mile interval. That is very inexpensive insurance.


No, in my opinion the more expensive oil change is not worth the money and should not be substituted for an oil change by a decent mechanic for a reasonable price. Find a mechanic you can trust and pay them for their advice and oil change. They will evaluate your oil and the general condition of your vehicle and take this worry off your mind. Rocketman


This debate is always very interesting, but the truth eventually falls out. If you drive 40,000 miles per year, your driving falls in the easy category in all likelyhood. In that case, the manual usually gives a longer interval. Taxis typically use 10,000 miles and use long life oil filters to catch the extra debris. Taxi operators are a hardnosed bunch and know they can still get 500,000 or more out of any engine with these long intervals. Their secret is that taxis have very few cold starts or cold seats; they often have multiple drivers. I think with today’s better quality oil standards, Craig58 can safely extend his oil change interval by using a long life filter. If I was Craig58 I would use a block heater in the winter to minimize cold starts and extend the drain interval to the maximum allowed in the manual. Some new cars now say 10,000 miles for easy driving (no temperature extremes, and little stop & go driving). In the total scope of things, oils have improved massively over the years and with electronic igintion, platinum plugs, computerized engine management and fuel injection, the amount of cylinder contamination has decreased incredibly. The gasolines are much better now too, less sulphur and other nasties.

EXXON/Mobil has a special bulletin and procedure for trucking companies on how to extend the drain interval; it is a step by step process and uses oil anlyisis to find the right interval. Personally, I drove a V8 Chevy Impala for a number of years on business, easy driving. With 3000 miles oil changes, the oil was an analyzed and had only 50 parts per million of metal wear, compared to a “condemnation level” of 200 set by EXXON/Mobil technical staff. The additives were also far from depletion. I then stepped up the interval to 5000 miles, and switched to a long life filter, just in case. Like some posters, I have never worn out an engine; they always outlast the rest of the car.