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Have you looked at your vehicle manufacturers oil change and maintenance schedules and wondered to yourself – why is there such a difference between manufactures and schedules? There is “Normal Service”, “Severe Service” “Towing”, etc. There is also a significant difference between 1 manufacturer and another as far as how far you can go between oil changes.
We often get asked “Why do you recommend a different oil change schedule than the manufacturer?”
Let’s go over the basics of what your engine oil does and how it protects your engine.
Your engine oil is the lifeblood of your engine AND it lives a pretty hard life. Your oil must protect your engine from cold starts (this is where most engine wear occurs). It must pump through the internal parts to provide a thin layer that prevents metal on metal contact from happening. It cools the internal components. Your oil also must prevent the engine from accumulating sludge and varnish. These are a byproduct of normal engine operation and your oil contains dispersants and detergents to make sure the inside of your engine stays clean and functioning properly.
What happens to engine oil over time? A few things occur during normal engine operation:
1. Each time you start your car and the engine is not fully warmed up, the air and oil inside the engine begins to warm up. During this time moisture is condensing due to the engine temperature change. The engine oil MUST keep the moisture suspended during the warmup cycle so the internal engine components do not rust. The moisture is then evaporated out of the engine oil once the oil temperature is hot enough. This may NEVER occur during winter, especially during short trips. So basically short trips add a significant amount of moisture to the engine oil and especially during winter. The moisture in the oil may never have an opportunity to evaporate (essentially the moisture will boil when the engine oil is hot enough). This is something that is not easily known, unless you have an oil analysis.
2. The oil gets contaminated with dirt and metal particles. Your engine oil filter is the 1st line of defense to keep the engine oil clean, but even the best filters are unable to filter out microscopic particles. The engine oil keeps these microscopic particles suspended and those particles do not get removed from your engine until the oil is changed. A word of advice on this point about oil filters. If you get a low budget oil change and the filter is of poor quality, you are taking a gamble with your engine. Some of the lower quality filters are poorly manufactured, have rust inside, and just simply do not perform well enough to be depended on. This could be a result of poor quality manufacturing, cutting corners on the features and benefits of that particular filter, or even using the incorrect filter media (or a smaller amount of media).
So Why Do We Recommend A 5,000 Mile Or 6 Month Maximum, Whichever Comes 1st Oil Change Schedule Even If I Use A Full Synthetic Oil?
For us, this is a really easy question to answer. It is simply boils down to making the best choice for the protection and longevity of your engine. We have found that doing this simple maintenance item every 5,000 miles or 6 months provides the best value. As is often said – pay a little now or a lot later.
What if my manufacturer says I only need to change my oil every 10,000, 15,000, every other year, etc?
First off, let’s talk about why manufacturers are pushing for extended service intervals.
Most have some sort of included maintenance. If they can push an oil change out to 10,000+ miles, they have less costs outlaid in providing the included maintenance.
It’s a sales tool! Manufacturers can point out that their vehicles do not have much as far as scheduled maintenance costs.
It’s a sales tool X 2. Typically when an engine fails (or is failing) due to an engine oil issue, it can be an extremely expensive proposition. This might make a vehicle owner decide to purchase a new vehicle.
How does the math add up?
Let’s say that you have a typical vehicle that calls for a basic synthetic oil, let’s use a typical Toyota Camry for this example. If you have been doing a 3,000 mile oil change with a cheap filter, total costs might be around $50 each oil change. If you drove 12,000 miles per year, over 5 years you would have a total oil change investment of $1,000 (20 oil changes x $70).
Let’s change that to a 5,000 mile top quality full synthetic oil change and see what the costs are. 12,000 miles per year x 5 years = 60,000 miles. 60,000/5,000 = 12 oil changes. Full synthetic oil change for this same vehicle would run roughly $960 (12 oil changes x $80 per oil service). Even after the additional 2,000 miles driven, the high quality oil and filter are still doing a better job of protecting your investment than doing a cheap oil service.
Bottom line is for the same price, maybe even saving you a few bucks, you get signifiantly increased protection and are making less trips to the shop for service.
What About My European Vehicle………… Doesn’t Mine Hold Lots Of Oil And Only Needs Service Every Year Or 2?
This is a GREAT question, and it is 1 that we talk about A LOT! Most Euro vehicles (think BMW, VW, Audi, Mercedes Benz, Jaguar, Land Rover, etc) have extended service intervals of 1-2 years and mileages of 10,000 to 15,000 miles. Many have larger oil capacities of 7, 8, or even 10+ quarts. So shouldn’t this make it OK to run longer on the oil?
We 100% understand where you are coming from. Most of these vehicles use the highest technologies in their vehicles and this is where the issues happen. All the same issues occur with the engine oil and filters, only now the repair and replacement costs are through the roof. Some engine replacements can run as high as $30,000, rendering the vehicle to the scrap yard. Adjusting the oil service interval to our recommendation of 5,000 miles, 6 months maximum will be the best single thing you can do for your car. These engines all get full synthetic, certified oil and the highest quality filters. See our section on “Engine Oil – recommended for vs certified”.
Let’s do the math on this situation.
So if you have a Euro vehicle that recommends 1 year oil changes and you drive 12,000 miles per year, over 5 years you would drive 60,000 miles and change the oil 5 or 6 times. Typical costs for a full synthetic oil service would cost around $600 (approx. $100 each oil service). Now keep in mind that for each of those 5 years, the engine oil has been in the engine with all that moisture and contamination all year. This accelerates internal engine wear. If we reduced the interval to 5,000 miles, total oil services would cost around $1,200 (60,000 miles/5,000 service interval = 12 oil changes). So to be sure you are doing the best possible thing you can for your vehicle would cost an additional around $120 per year (that’s less than a cup of coffee a week!).
You would be INCREASING your spending a little, but this can pay off BIG TIME!
Most internal engine repairs on these vehicles run easily into the thousands!!!!!! We see 1st hand what extended intervals do to your vehicle and it is not good.
So our bottom line on the Euros is – Pay a little now or a lot later.
We change our oil at 5,000 miles and you should too!
These are the views of Robs Import Repair and NOT of anyone else. Remember, it is your vehicle and you can have it serviced as you choose, we are just here to help you make the best possible choices to protect your investment.