Questions about oil analysis

I’ve got my first new car in a long time and things have changed. The manufacturer specifies synthetic oil and a 10,000 mile oil change interval. My previous cars had called for oil changes between 3,000 to 8,000 miles, depending on driving habits. I want this new car to last a long time, so I’m concerned about going this long between oil changes. I’ve read some other threads here about oil analysis, with both pros and cons.

To help put my mind at ease, I’m leaning towards having an oil analysis done. My goal is not to stretch my oil change interval to extreme lengths. Instead, it’s just to feel comfortable with going 10,000 miles between oil changes on a new car.

I was hoping a few of you could help with some questions I still have.

Recommendations on companies to consider. Blackstone seems to come up a lot. Are there others to look at?

Blackstone offers a variety of tests. I don’t know which level of test to consider. Any suggestions or experiences would be a help.

Blackstone mentions a “Total Base Number” test. It’s to determine how much additive life is left. Do you think I should consider this?

Anything else you think might be useful is also appreciated.

Thanks in advance.


I would consider following the “extreme service” service schedule. Many people actually meet the criteria

That might mean the oil change interval is shorter than every 10K

What car do you have?

What kind of car did you buy?

No engine was ever harmed by changing the oil more frequently than required by the owner’s manual.

There are no cons to oil analysis other than the time, mess, and hassle of doing them. And then needing someone to interpret the results.

I have no problem with following manufacturer guidelines for oil changes IF the correct oil and filter are used and the oil level is checked and topped-off as needed.

My recommendation? Change the oil and filter at 7500 miles with the proper, name-brand synthetic oil and a quality filter. Your warranty will be in full effect, you’ll feel better, and your car will probably like it as well.

Yes, you should have the TBN reported. If the TBN drops too low, the oil is acidic and will attack the metallic parts of your engine. What is your new car, and does it have an Oil Life Monitor (OLM)? At 10,000 miles, that looks like the manufacturer’s recommendation for regular service. If your car sees severe service, the oil should be changed more often. This recommendation should be in the same section of your owner’s manual where you say the 10,000 mile change.

Don’t worry about the test. Be on the safe side and use the synthetic oil specified and change it at 5000 miles. Toyota has gone to 10k miles, but the oil and filter are the same as when it was a 5k interval. Needless to say, I stick to 5k miles.

Thanks everyone for the lightning fast responses. The car in question is a Toyota Camry 4 cylinder. It doesn’t have an oil life monitor. It does have a “wallet has too much money in it” light. It is programmed to come on every 5 thousand miles to take the vehicle in for dealer service.

I will be using synthetic oil. The manual calls for 0w-20, which I’ve learned here is synthetic only.

As far as severe service schedule, I don’t think I qualify for that. My commute consists of a 2 mile drive to the interstate, followed by a 15 minute drive, with another 2 mile drive at the end. No stop and go driving in cold temperatures, extended idling, or dusty conditions.

Toyota will pay for the first two years of oil changes every 10k. But if the oil really needs to be changed more often, I’ll gladly do that. It’s just the extra oil changes I’ll do myself, and the every 10k ones I’ll have them do to avoid any possible hassles if a warranty issue comes up.

What I don’t want, is to be that person who comes here three years out, asking how to get Toyota to pay to replace my sludged up engine. I tend towards changing oil more often than necessary rather than too seldom. However, I also don’t want to go WAY too often if I can avoid it. That’s what I’m looking for from an oil analysis. This will be a one or two time only thing. I’m trying to get a feel for is 10k often enough.


A word of advice . . . check your oil level often. Don’t wait until 10K to learn you’re down 3 quarts

It’s interesting to see the replies that are nonresponsive to your actual questions.

If you go with Blackstone, they’ll send you the kit for free and you’ll get what you pay for. I have no experience with other companies, so I can’t speak for or against them.

I think doing the TBN test is a good idea, and I congratulate you for taking a methodical approach to this issue instead of latching on to Luddite dogma that makes many of us old timers fear change.

@wmm2 All oil analysis tests have a Total Acid Number (TAN) and Total Base Number (TBN) test. As pointed out, that is a critcal number as it indicates the potential for corrosion. There is also a total wear metals number, which should never exceed 200 ppm; I would change the oil at 100 ppm. Other test are for water, glycol, sludge and non-metallic solids. I’m sure Blackstone covers all these.

Trucking companies and many taxi firms do periodic tests to determine the optimal oil change interval. But things like excessive glycol indicate an internal lkeak that may be too small to notice by checking the dipstick.

@wmm2, how will you collect oil for the test if the Toyota dealer changes the oil? And don’t worry too much about oil changes at 10,000 miles. California’s state government tested a fleet of Chevy Cavaliers as you plan to do and found that 10,000 miles was the right time to change the oil in the future. The test report was written in 2008.

A oil analysis is not necessary I work for Toyota and see plenty of these cars everyday. The oil still looks good at the 10k interval. When your Toyota Care runs out use a quality synthetic oil at the 10K intervals.

If you do your own oil changes here are a few pointers.

  1. Buy the correct tool. DO NOT BUY ONE AT HORRIBLE FREIGHT OR A CHEAPO FROM A PARTS STORE. The cheap ones tend to round off the edges of the housing or crack the plastic. The new housing costs about $65.

  2. When removing the filter use a socket on the tool not the 3/8 drive, if the housing has been over tightened you will split the socket.

  3. Always replace the o-ring and ensure it is installed in the correct groove.

  4. Do not over tighten the housing, it just has to be snug.

  5. If you can’t get the housing loose have someone apply pressure to the socket while you gently tap where the housing threads into.

  6. Replace the drain plug gasket every time if you buy the filter from Toyota they will usualy give you the gasket at the same time.


@db4690 - Thanks for the reminder. I’ve been trying to check oil levels the first weekend each month. I had to add about half a quart around 3,000 miles, and none since then.

@Whitey - I’ve been following some of the threads here about oil change intervals. I’m not going to try for any record for length of time between changes. To steal someone’s slogan, oil is cheaper than engines. I try to stay far enough from the limit to be safe. However, seeing the manufacturer recommendations for oil changes and reading some of the arguments from the long life crowd, I’d like to find out where the limit is. If it’s a lot farther out than I thought, then I’ll extend the time longer than I have been doing. Right now the oil hasn’t darkened up very much, although I know you can’t really judge remaining oil life by its color.

@Docnick (and others) Thanks for the summary.

@jtsanders My plan is to take my own sample before taking the car to the dealer. I usually do my own oil changes, so I can handle the basics. But while the car is under warranty, and Toyota will do it for free, they get that job. I’m trying not to be too paranoid about oil change length, but breaking old habits can be scary. An old acquaintance ruined a beautiful first year Firebird convertible. In his words, by the time he learned he needed to do oil changes, he didn’t have to any more. The car was going through oil so fast, he had added more in than changing it would have been. I won’t be making that mistake.

@Everyone - I’m not too far from the 10k mark. Based on the responses, I think I’ll give Blackstone a try. I will attempt to post a summary back here after I get the answers.

@wmm2‌, thanks in advance for posting your oil test results. It seems to me that the engine should be warmed up before you take the sample. Is that your plan, or do you want to do it cold?

@jtsanders - My general rule of thumb is change oil warm and spark plugs cold. I’d agree with you that if there ever was a time for the oil to be warm, it would be for this. We want everything to be well mixed, with nothing settling out in some nook or cranny.

“Anything else you think might be useful is also appreciated.”

Whitey, am I to understand that you don’t think the replies are responding to this question?

If memory serves, I think the instructions from Blackstone recommend collecting a sample while the oil is warm, but it’s probably not worth burning yourself over.


I think everybody gave good advice

OP seems to appreciate the responses that were given

I see no reason for you to criticize our responses

If you change the name from Toyota to Lexus, they say you can go 11,000 miles…Same plastic filter housing and $3.00 cartridge filter…

The real oil obsessives meet at where you will find a whole section about Blackstone and having your oil tested…

Note that Toyota, like everyone else, has a severe service schedule that is more applicable to the real world. Note that Toyota refers to environmental conditions and that means dust, humidity, heat and cold extremes, etc.

A few points I might make…

How does one eyeball motor oil and determine additives have not broken down; same goes for transmission fluid and gear oil.

When oil starts coking and adhering to the oil pressure galleys, variable valve timing mechanisms, or piston rings then how does that show up in oil drained out of the pan…

"When oil starts coking and adhering to the oil pressure galleys, variable valve timing mechanisms, or piston rings then how does that show up in oil drained out of the pan… "

There are precursors to deposit formation, like acidity and high particle counts, which show up in the oil analysis.