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When to change the engine oil?

Hi,
You might have answered this question a million times but since I am new to CarTalk, I would like to ask this question:
I have 2010 Honda Accord and it has Oil change indicator. The Honda dealer says to bring car in for oil change once the indicator falls below 15%, however our friends from Jiffy Lube says to change the oil every 3 months.

As I moved closer to my work place, I haven’t been putting a lot of miles on my car(2 mi one way 5 days a week). Please clarify should I go with the Honda dealer or with friends from Jiffy Lube?

Thank you,
Suresh.

I am not a fan of Jiffy Lube. I strongly recommend that you find a reputable independently owned and operated shop and begin using them instead. Or, you could learn to change your own oil, and we can help you with that.

JL’s business model is to use inexperienced young kids, give them very basic training, then pay them modestly and have them do as many oil changes per hour as possible. The kids are mostly honest, decent kids working an honest job trying to make a buck, but they often lack the knowledge and experience to recognize the differences in the different drain plugs, signs of impending problems, the importance of not over tightening the drainplugs and/or the filters, importance of proper viscosity and other fluids, and use of proper tools. We get countless horror stories about JL and other “quickie lubes”. The people are good, but the business model isn’t.

With mileage that low, your oil should be changed on a “severe service” (severe use) schedule. If your owner’s manual doesn’t provide one, a good rule of thumb would be every 5,000 miles or every six months, whichever comes first. In your case it sounds like every six months will come first.

It’d also be a great idea to take it for a good long 20-minute ride every week, and also to let it come up to running temperature when you drive it. You need to give the battery enough time to recharge after starting it, and you need to give the engine time to get hot enough to get rid of condensation in the crankcase. Elsewise you may end up with chronic battery problems and/or moisture problems in the oil.

And don’t forget to keep some oil handy and monitor your oil’s level on the dipstick. Just because it doesn’t need to be changed often does not mean that it doesn’t need to be kept from getting low. The same goes for your other fluids.

That’s like asking what is the best religion, or sports team, or…


The manufacturer’s Oil Life Monitor will give adequate protection, for the majority of owners, throughout the “design service life” of the vehicle. (This last is proprietary to the manufacturer, but around 150,000 is a good guess.)


I, however, choose to drive my vehicles much further–double the design life, 300,000, is a good round number. Accordingly, I change my oil about every 5,000 miles. I bought my car (2008 Cobalt) from PENNDoT, and they had stickered it for 5K oil changes, and it was running good at 207k mi…so I went with that–figured their needs and mine closely match, and they MIGHT have more experience with their motor pool than I have with one car.


Also remember that the OLM assumes you’re using whatever house brand oil (or equivalent) recommended…in my case, DEXOS I. If I use “whichever’s cheapest API S[whatever],” I’m not guaranteed to get good service out of my oil for as long as the OLM says I will!


If I were using JL’s bulk oil and “brand X” filters…I probably wouldn’t go much more than 4,000 miles…after which, I would never darken their doors! (Way too many horror stories about undertained, underpaid lube techs trying to “hard sell” added services for me, TYVM.)

With that type of driving you should change the oil every 3 months. Ideally, you really need to take that car out now and then and drive it for some distance; say 50 miles or what have you.

A million times is a major underestimation. And the number of opinions on this vary as much too. If you open your owner’s manual, it should also state what is the maximum time you can go between changes. If your engine is using synthetic oil, it would probably be a year (so it is 15% of life OR one year, whichever comes earlier). Check the manual and let us know.

Also on JL, we all have heard a lot of horror stories. As per above. IMO the kids might mean well, but 80% of their attention is somewhere else (college, next job, next party, next girlfriend), so you engine is really not a priority.

I change mine when the oil life monitor is about 50%. I’d never go down to 15 although others will argue. On my Acura, that’s about 5000 miles and the Pontiac about 3000 miles.

“I haven’t been putting a lot of miles on my car(2 mi one way 5 days a week).”

If that isn’t a poster child for severe service, I don’t know what is

Sure, there’s no towing, dusty roads, or extensive idling, but there are repeated extremely short trips

And it’s a good bet the fluids never get up to proper operating temperature

There may be a limit for how many months to drive without an oil change. If so, it may be mentioned in your owner’s manual. In any case you don’t want to go anywhere near a Jiffy Lube. One trip there and you could lose the use of the whole car.

http://royaldutchshellplc.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Screen-Shot-2012-10-19-at-12.31.17.jpg

Jiffy Lube knows as much about what your engine needs as a “burger flipper” at McDonald’s knows about raising cattle. Stay away from Iffy Lube. They got that name for a very good reason.

I’m in agreement with the consensus here.
The way that this car is used is an exact description of Severe Service, and I would definitely advise having the oil changed every 3 months. And, it does need to get out on the highway once a week, for at least 40 minutes. In addition to helping to evaporate the moisture that is being built-up in the motor oil and the exhaust system, this will help to keep the battery from dying a premature death.

And…if you really care about your car, you won’t take it to a quick lube place. Their business model is such that an incredible number of “mistakes” take place at these establishments on a regular basis and these mistakes can be fatal to…your engine, or your transmission, or your cooling system, or your brake hydraulic system–depending on exactly which part of your car receives the wrong fluid (or no fluid!) after their poorly-trained kids drain the old fluid.

In summary…change the oil every 3 months, but NOT at a quick lube place.

I have been using the OLM successfully on our 2003 Olds for over 150,000 miles. My wife even drives less on her commute than you do. The OLM takes short commutes into account and I would not hesitate of follow that, and the 15%rule is reasonable. But remember that you need to change oil based on time as well. What does Honda recommend as a time limit? I wouldn’t let it go longer than a year, but they may think 6 months is appropriate.

Since you have an oil monitor, I would go to the 50% mark now that you are driving in the “severe” mode with many short trips.

Otherwise have at least one (1) oil change per year, and avoid any Jiffy Lube type of shop.

The 3 months is a meaningless promotional number hyped by Jiff Lube to get you in as often as possible. It made sense with 60s era oils and 60s era cars!

My recommendation is every 3 months in cold/winter, 6 months when it doesn’t get below ~60F.
No to Iffy Rube.

We have a 2009 Honda pilot and the dealer only charges 14.95 for an oil change. Can’t beat that price and we have been taking in since it was new. Never had any problems and have over 100k on it.