This tends to be a hot topic, the vehicle manufacturer’s have increased mileage change intervals, and there is a lot of information on the internet about how this can save you money. Granted since the introduction of synthetic oils and the further refinement of oils, the suggested oil change intervals have increased to anywhere from every 5,000 miles up to every 15,000 miles. While many repair facilities are suggesting to keep it closer to the regular standard of every 3 months or 3,000 miles as regular maintenance.  If your vehicle requires a synthetic oil to change, it should be performed about every 5 months or 5,000 miles.

Changing Oil is Cost-Effective

First of all, I want to dispel the rumor that repair facilities want to change the oil in your car more often to make more money.  The cost of the parts to change the oil in a standard vehicle that holds 5 quarts of basic oil per The Napa Parts “Do It Yourself Special” that they run a couple of times a year is about $19.95.  Then you add in the cost of topping off fluids, shop supplies, fluid top offs, cleaner, overhead and the cost of labor for a technician to fully inspect the vehicle. The total cost of a basic oil change becomes about $40.00.  When a shop sells oil changes from $19.00 to $50.00 you can see that there is no real profit on the oil change service itself.  This service is really a very important courtesy service for customers and their vehicles.

Let’s go over the actual service and its importance. The main objective of having your oil changed regularly is to keep the oil that you are running in your engine clean.  Engine oil is the lifeblood of your engine, the oil function is to clean, cool and lubricate, so obviously if the oil is dirty, the performance of the oil is compromised.   The best oil you can use in your vehicle is fresh clean oil and we recommend using the grade and weight of oil that your vehicle was designed for.

Dirty Oil Can Do Real Damage

Allowing the engine oil to get excessively dirty, allows the suspended particulate to become abrasive and cause accelerated wear to the crankshaft, bearings and the valve train.  Some of the newer engine designs are equipped with variable valve timing, this produces increased mileage and performance.  These variable timing components include solenoids and actuators that are oil fed and do not tolerate dirty oil, nor do turbocharged engines.  Dirty oil can cause internal coking, clogging and sludge issues in those components.   Engines that have too much sludge build-up can also develop oil starvation/pressure issues which leads to further wear and degradation of the internal engine components. We have literally seen vehicles with less than 30,000 miles on them with severe engine damage due to not changing the oil regularly on their vehicle.

Another quick point to ponder is that most vehicle manufacturers feel that 1 quart of engine oil consumed every 1,000 miles of driving is normal.  If your vehicle consumes 1 quart of oil every 1,000 miles and you have your oil changed every 7,000 miles, and the engine of your vehicle only holds 5 quarts of oil.  Do the math, you are out of oil!  Either you will need to check your engine oil level regularly between oil changes and top it off as needed or have them performed more often.

Our Recommendation: Every 3,000 Miles

So how often should you have your oil serviced on your vehicle? We recommend at least having it inspected every 3,000 miles for proper level and potential contamination.  If you want to keep it clean have it serviced then too.  If it is still full and clean then have it checked every additional 1,000 miles of driving until it either is dirty and needs changing or you reach the manufacturer recommended oil change interval.  It is a lot less expensive to have it serviced every 3,000 miles then to perform a major engine repair or to replace the engine prematurely.  Once a major component like the engine of your vehicle has damage, the value of your vehicle is extremely diminished.

Happy Motoring!

All About Automotive, 139 NW 2nd Street, Gresham, OR 97030

Steve and Karen Johnston are owners of All About Automotive, providing auto repair and auto maintenance in Historic Downtown Gresham. If you have questions or comments, call them at 503-465-2926 or email them at [email protected].


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