Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Where should the maintenance money go

We often get questions about car care. Often they are along the line of “What is the best oil for my car”

We all know oil is important, but let’s face it, we really don’t see oil related failures as long as the owner provides the recommended maintenance, even if they use the cheapest available oil that meets specs.

I wonder how much better off drivers would be if they just bought the cheapest oil that meets specifications, changed oil no more often than recommended. Then took the money saved and got their automatic transmission fluid changed before they experienced problems with it?

Oil Is The Car’s Life Blood. I Spend A Little Extra On The Best Synthetic Oil.

This oil is recommended by my my car’s manufacturer for use in really cold weather, which we have a lot of in the half of the year they call winter. I’ve also read that is a good choice for really hot weather, whatever that is.

Paying less for motor oil wouldn’t change my maintenance schedule one little bit. I follow my own schedule regardless of cost.

Any money freed up by such a move would probably be spent on golf or boating equipment, instead.


I use Castrol, but then I have never done a trans fluid change on any cars except my current one, as I was in the 10 year 100,000 mile life of the cars. Never had a trans problem. 4wd now and first used car in decades. I,m going for 200k this time. It is probably more a matter of education about the need for transmission fluid change rather than money. A neighbors father got drain oil from a station to change the oil in his car, and I doubt it was done to save up money for a transmission fluid change. Nice thought.

Why in the world would someone use drain oil to put into their vehicle after they have drained their old oil? I’m guessing that some folks bet that the rest of us are doing 3000 mile oil changes and that cheapo feels that 3000 is too soon? Makes you cringe when you go shopping for a used car, doesn’t it? This seems like a good time for a thread on Automotive Maintenance & Repair Horror stories . . . which are recounted here once in a while, and amaze me just like this drain-oil guy. Rocketman

Joseph; there are people who can get away with the cheapest oil that meets the factory specs. Those live in a moderate climate, drive conservatively, and change their oil often enough to ensure there is no additive depletion. Owning a Toyota Corolla in Seattle, Washington, and not spending too much time in commuter traffic comes to mind.

However, sensible drivers who are FRUGAL rather than CHEAP (which you seem to advocate), look at the lifetime needs of their transmissions and cooling systems, and, unlike the manufacturer, who only want these to last just beyond the warranty period, those drivers change fluids and filters to get a lifetime use out of them.

Those are independent decisons; if you live in Alaska or Minnesota, synthetic oil will lengthen your engine life immensely.

I have lived in different climates and have used inexpensive house brand oils as well as Mobil 1, depending on location, and have never scrapped or sold a car because the engine was “finished”. I have also only spent $185 on automatic transmission repairs since 1965 by changing fluids and filters more often that the manufacturer recommended.

In summary, this is not an either/or situation.

Now that person has absolutely no respect for machines. What a cheapskate-put used oil in??? Although one one car, I change twice a year so it would have only 1000 miles or so on the oil-so 'spose if he got lucky. Still I think it should be illegal like cruelty to animals.

I remember when Honda made a change from 10/20 to 5/20 or some other minor oil spec. change. The Service manager would come unglued when you put the wrong oil in,I thought "at least I put the right amount and tightened the plug’. What I am getting at is people get really paticular over these oil issues and wont back down,so I can’t see convincing anyone to change the oil habits that they have convinced themselves is best, I don’t want that fight.

Truthfully the biggest waste of money that I have seen in my automotive work is when a mechanic makes a bad diagnosis or breaks a part and doesn’t own up to it. Its bad to say and as you all may have come to conclude I am heavy into supporting the mechanic but I have seen those two senarios much to much.

I use mineral oil and change it at the manufacturer’s recommended time. I have done this on my 11 year old Buick, 8 year old Olds, and 5 year old Honda with no ill effect. But I do fit the moderate climate description.

I’ve been using nothing but bargain-brand oil in my vehicles for more than twenty years and have never had an oil-related problem. As long as the oil meets or exceeds my cars’ requirements the name on the bottle doesn’t matter.

I do not, however, live in an extreme climate.

I always use the least expensive maintenance fluids in vehicles. Here’s why.

With all lubricants, as long as it meets the API (American Petroluem Institute) and the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) standards, no matter the brand on the bottle, it must meet those standards set forth by these institutes. And with brake fluid it must meet the DOT (Department Of Transportion) specifications.

The reason? The military also purchases these maintenance fluids from the same sources we do. So they can’t have a problem if for some circumstance that they have to mix one brand of maintenace fluid with another brand. That’s why these standards were set up. For the military.


Agree; my 2007 Corolla specified 5W30 oil in the manual when I bought the car. A year later I get a note from the dealer that Toyota now recommends 5W20, not giving any reason, but the dealers are pushing 5W20 since even Toyota now tries to scrape for every fraction of a MPG to meet the CAFE standards.

When this car was first introduced in 2005 in Asia (as the Toyota Altis)when I lived there, the dealers put 20W50 or 10W30 in! That country did not have CAFE standards or penalties and the temperature at night dropped to only 24 Celsius. Hawaii type weather.

As old school says, be punctual about maintenance and oil changes and I would avoid 20W50 in Minnesota.

I’ve been using Wal Mart branded oil for the most part for over 20 years on all of my vehicles and my family members’ vehicles with never a problem.

My wife used to work for WM in the office and being an employee we as a family were entitled to an additional 10% off the regular prices. This got me in the habit of using WM oil and filters and there’s never been a hiccup through more miles than I can even remember.
It meets the API standard so that’s good enough for me.

As usual, I agree with Tester. I live in a moderate climate and do mostly highway driving though, and so do not feel that I need any extra protection from synthetic.

I wonder how much better off drivers would be if they just took their vehicle more seriously than their washing machine.
So many lose interest beyond putting gas in the tank.