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Required Maintenance

I own a 2009 Honda Fit. Since it is only driven around town the average number of miles per month is about 400 (even though it does get driven almost on a daily basis). Since Honda recommends I change the oil every 6k, I would be using the oil for about 15 months.

Is this healthy for the car, or should the oil be changed more often? What if I were to use synthetic oil…would that change the frequency for an oil change?

What other maintenance items do I need to consider with a car that is driven such a low amount per year.

Are you sure that your owner’s manual does say “every 6000 miles or every xx months, whichever comes first?”

This type of service–only local driving, with a total of ~400 miles per month–is a classic example of Severe Service, ergo, the absolute worst way to treat a car.

In the Owner’s Manual, there should be a listing of the Severe Service maintenance schedule, and I would suggest that you follow this schedule, rather than allow the oil to remain in the crankcase for 15 months. If you were to wait until you accumulated 6,000 miles under these circumstances, your motor oil would be highly diluted with water (normal byproduct of combustion that is not being burned off because of the purely local driving patterns), and the engine would begin to accumulate damaging sludge.

Additionally, the exhaust system will rot out approximately every 2 years, and you will have to replace the battery very frequently. As I stated, this is the hardest type of service that can be imposed on a car.

If the Owner’s Manual does not list a Severe Service maintenance schedule, I would strongly suggest that you have the oil changed every six months. The only alternative would be to take the car out on the highway for a drive of at least 40 minutes, once per week. If you can’t do this, then you need to do oil changes every six months. Your exhaust system will still rot out about every 2 years from the purely local driving, but at least you will save the engine from an early death, due to lubrication problems.

I’d be very surprised if there’s not also a time limit. Please tell us exactly what your manual says and we’ll go from there.

Synthetic or not, you need to stick to the manufacturer’s schedule if you want that part of the warranty to remain valid.

Doesn’t this car have Honda’s “maintenance minder” service light that shows up when it’s time to have your car serviced? I wouldn’t be surprised though, if the time they give you is between 4 and 6 months for severe service. My Mazda recommends 4 month change intervals and I drive just as little as you do.

I bet the dealer told you when to change it. Honda has a Maintenance Minder that tells you the % oil life you have left. You can change the oil any time you want, but you really don’t have to until it reads less than 20%. Even then it’s just to make sure you plan ahead. I’d also wager that your owner’s manual tells you to do whatever the Maintenance Minder tells you to.

Honda states to follow the oil life monitor or to change it at 1 year if the oil life monitor doesn’t trigger within that first year (straight from the owners manual of my 2008 Honda Ridgeline). So you should change it every 12 months at the least.

That is exactly what I saw in the manual last night, too. Honda doesn’t specify an interval, but instead uses “calculated engine oil life”

My Accord manual says the same thing,but i change the oil every ~6 mos.

Well said, and the exact reason I changed the oil on my 97 Taurus and 98 Camry every 3 months regardless of mileage - I averaged about 800 miles per month on the Taurus (near 100% city), 900 on the Camry (50/50 split). I shudder to think how many times the Taurus’ transmission had to shift… that’s also why I changed its fluid every 2 years regardless of mileage… and likely why it shifted as smooth as it did when new when I sold it last month.