Oil chemistry and engine technology have evolved tremendously in recent years, but you’d never know it from the quick-change behavior of American car owners. Driven by an outdated 3,000-mile oil change commandment, they are unnecessarily spending millions of dollars and spilling an ocean of contaminated waste oil.
Although the average car’s oil change interval is around 7,800 miles — and as high as 20,000 miles in some cars — this wasteful cycle continues largely because the automotive service industry, while fully aware of the technological advances, continues to preach the 3,000-mile gospel as a way to keep the service bays busy. As a result, even the most cautious owners are dumping their engine oil twice as often as their service manuals recommend.
After interviews with oil experts, mechanics and automakers, one thing is clear: The 3,000-mile oil change is a myth that should be laid to rest. Failing to heed the service interval in your owner’s manual wastes oil and money, while compounding the environmental impact of illicit waste-oil dumping.
Scared Into Needless Service
Part of the blame for this over-servicing lies in our insecurities about increasingly complicated engines that are all but inaccessible to the average driver. Pop open the hood of a modern car, and a mass of plastic covers wall off the engine. On some vehicles, the only thing an owner can easily access is the oil cap.
“Vehicles are so sophisticated that oil is one of the last things that customers can have a direct influence over,” said Matt Snider, project engineer in GM’s Fuels and Lubricants Group. “There’s maybe some feeling that they’re taking care of their vehicle if they change their oil more often.”
The 3,000-mile myth is also promoted by the quick lube industry’s “convenient reminder” windshield sticker. It is a surprisingly effective tool that prompts us to continue following a dictate that our fathers (or grandfathers) drummed into our heads: It’s your duty to change your oil every 3,000 miles — or your car will pay the price. But as former service advisor David Langness put it, the 3,000-mile oil change is “a marketing tactic that dealers use to get you into the service bay on a regular basis. Unless you go to the drag strip on weekends, you don’t need it.”
click to read more via Stop Changing Your Oil – Edmunds.com.