Should you change your oil every 15,000 miles? Here's how to decide

“There is good news and bad news when it comes to the 15,000 mile oil change — a standard five times longer than those often recommended by the quick-lube merchants. The good news: Yes, it is possible with certain vehicles and motor oils, to do so with no harm to your car.”

You an read the rest of the article here---->

To boil it down:

  1. Whether you use conventional oil or synthetic oil, “Your engine will probably outlast your interest in the car.”

  2. If the car is still under warranty, follow the oil change requirements in the owner’s manual. Don’t extend your oil change interval, even if you choose to upgrade to synthetic oil.

  3. Unless you have an oil analysis performed, you’re just speculating. The article recommends getting two oil analyses done, one with the oil type and change interval you’ve been using, and another after upgrading to long life synthetic oil and extending your oil change interval.

  4. Once you confirm, via oil analysis, it is safe to use synthetic oil for 15,000 mile intervals, changing the oil more often is wasteful.

“Whitey” great story and interesting but i can’t handle another oil change debate. Pass…

And you can change your bath water every 500 baths.
I’m with Dag on this. We’ve danced this dance too many times before. I realize that your focus is on finding things that support going as long as possible between oil changes in order to save the earth, even at the expense of our engines, but I change my oil to save my engine. Used oil gets recycled and/or repurposed, and I’m unwilling to risk my engine in order to keep that to a minimum. If my engine goes, I’m screwed.

Is Irlandes really Steven Lang? That story sure sounds like a few of Irlandes oil posts.

Speaking of dancing. Do you know that “dancers” have life expectancies greater then non dancers ? Also, their joints need less attention as well as they age.

@mountainbike: “I realize that your focus is on finding things that support going as long as possible between oil changes in order to save the earth, even at the expense of our engines…”

Where do you even come up with this pure unmitigated bull####?

My focus on these findings is that if you do it right, you can extend your oil change interval without putting your engine at risk.

Even if you safely extend your oil change interval to 15,000 miles, you’re still buying vehicles and burning fossil fuels, which have a sizable environmental impact. This isn’t going to “save the earth.” It will, however, lessen the environmental impact of driving. However, if extending your oil change interval costs you an engine, it’s no longer good for the environment, because there is an environmental cost for rebuilding your engine or replacing it.

I realize my position is much too nuanced for you to grasp. That must be why you keep trying to distill it into a pithy sentence so you can say, “See that straw man? See how silly he looks?” With that in mind, I’m going to ask you to please stop telling me what my focus is and what my position is.

If you have any questions about my focus or my position, please feel free to ask, because it’s clear you don’t understand it.

Based on your comment, I bet you didn’t even read the article.

Okay, fair enough.
So, what IS your purpose for promoting longer oil change intervals?

PostScript: I did read the article.

I advocate the following process for those considering switching to synthetic oil and/or extending oil change intervals (which is why I posted this article):

  1. Using the oil and change interval you currently use, get a used oil analysis the next time you change the oil. What does that analysis tell you?

  2. If the used oil analysis indicates you can extend your change interval from 5,000 miles to 10,000 miles, you have a choice. You can ignore it, and keep changing your oil every 5,000 miles, you can change the oil every 10,000 miles, or you can switch to long life oil and change it every 10,000 miles.

  3. If you choose to extend your oil change interval, get a second used oil analysis after doing so to confirm you aren’t damaging your engine.

  4. If the oil analysis on 10,000 mile long life oil indicates you can go from a 10,000 mile interval to a 15,000 mile interval, you can either ignore it or extend the change interval to 15,000 miles, but if you extend it to 15,000 miles, you should get another oil analysis to confirm you aren’t damaging your engine.

There is no reason to damage your car for the sake of saving oil. Likewise, there is no reason to change your oil every 5,000 miles if you can go 10,000 miles without doing any damage. Most importantly, it’s all speculation until you do at least one oil analysis.

But why? Why not just follow the manufacturer’s recommendations?

“But why? Why not just follow the manufacturer’s recommendations?”

Because there is a sweet spot where you can both extend your oil change interval and not damage your engine, and that lessens the environmental impact of driving.

Because there is likely to be an environmental benefit, a time saving benefit, and possibly a money saving benefit that you can realize over the long term.

For the average Joe who already neglects oil changes, doing it the right way can extend the life of the engine.

When was the last time any of you read about an engine failure due to oil breakdown? Not oil pump going out, not drain plug falling out, but the engine failing because the oil either conventional or synthetic failed to do it’s job.

Mobil 1 first came out claiming 25000 miles between oil changes back in the mid 70’s. Oil has only gotten better since then.

Yes, but was that variety of Mobil 1 really capable of lasting that long? Do we know?

For all we know, it might have been marketing hype.

I’m not going to enter into this debate except to point out that people run into problems because they don’t ever bother to check their dipstick between oil changes. I believe that if we were to extend oil change intervals even further, there would be even more destroyed engines because this would mean a longer interval for those boneheads to go w/o ever checking their dipstick.

Should I feel sympathy for those who are so irresponsible?
Probably not, but all the same, I believe that there will be more people with more engine-related problems if we advocate longer oil change intervals, simply because not changing oil for an extended period of time will translate to some (or perhaps many) people that they don’t need to check their dipstick for an extended period of time.

This scenario would be something that engine rebuilders could benefit from, but I don’t see it as being beneficial–overall–for the average Joe or Jane who knows squat about cars and who has limited resources.

Not sure if this helps the debate, but I’d like to share this: I recently moved to the UK and have purchased a 2011 Nissan. The official oil change interval for its turbodiesel engine is every 18,000 miles or 12 months.

The oil specification in all of Europe is different from the oil specification in The US.

I pull the dipstick.
I observe.
I feel.
if the oil is black and I feel grit between my fingers, I change the oil.
I will never pay to have my oil analyzed once, much less twice.
if I ever get all my oil leaks fixed I may switch to synthetic in my jeep.
frequent oil changes are the best way to make a car last 40 yrs, which is my goal for my jeep.
my 75 ford gets less than 500 miles a year now, so I don t change it as frequently as I once did when it was my daily driver

At least that is an argument I can understand. If you think $25-50 is too much to spend on a used oil analysis, I can relate.

One reason I’m considering the switch to long life oil is that my current lease forbids DIY car maintenance on the premises. If I can double my current interval from 5,000 miles to 10,000 miles, I come out ahead if the synthetic oil costs less than twice as much as dyno oil. I also cut my work (in labor hours) in half, all for the price of a $25 used oil analysis.

But, hay, if rubbing used oil on your hands works for you, who am I to judge?

I’m a creature of habit so I will never extend my oil change interval. I always change my oil somewhere between 3K and 5K without worry. I would love to be able to change my oil between 15K and 20k but that will never happen. No…I did not read the article and I’ve never had a sludged engine or an engine that failed due to oil problems. No interest here because my way works.

+1 to missileman’s comment.
That is my philosophy, exactly.

@jtsanders Yes, irlandes analyzed his oil and came to the conclusion that 8500+ miles was best for his car (Toyota Sienna) and driving environment, which is mostly rural Mexico. He uses Mobil1 long life.

However, mostly moderate highway driving in a mild climate with a lightly loaded vehicle will yield good result with a premium synthetic oil, and 15,000 miles is possible.

Years ago I analyzed my oil and found that at 3000 miles the wear metals were at 50-60 parts per million and there was no noticible change in viscosity, acidity and other solids contamination. At that time EXXON set the condemning level for wear metals at 200 parts per million. In other words, I could have gone 4 times the distance, or 12,000 miles before reaching that level. However I did mostly highway driving with an unloaded V8 Chevy Impala and Caprice.

Since the company paid for all the oil changes, I stuck to 3000 miles (their policy), and when I bought the cars later, I did my own oil changes and kept to the 3000 miles. OIl is cheap and engines are expensive.

I would NEVER recommend to anyone going over the factory recommended oil change interval. But I would certainly recommend more frequent changes for difficult driving environments.