The 15,000 Mile Oil Change Myth
January 15th, 2016
Updated October 17th, 2016
Much ado has been made whether you should change the oil in your vehicle every 3,000 miles, and depending upon whom you ask, you'll get a wide variety of recommendations in terms of how many miles (or months) should come between oil changes. For decades, the conventional wisdom was to change the oil in your car every 3,000 miles or 3 months (whichever came first), but as technological advancements in the automotive and engine oil industries continued to develop, manufacturers began to claim that their engines were advanced and durable enough to offer more time between oil changes without any adverse impact on engine performance or longevity.
So now, instead of having to visit your local auto shop roughly every 90 days, manufacturers have started recommending 5,000 to 8,000 mile intervals, stating that modern engines are efficient enough to utilize oil in a way that won't wear out its viscosity or performance nearly as quickly as may have been the case in times past. Some major manufacturers now even recommend a 15,000 mile interval, which is quite lengthy by practically any metric. While this sounds great in terms of offering the owner more convenience (and boosting the reputation of the manufacturer at the same time), it does spark some concerns regarding the long-term effects that an extended interval can have on your engine.
Interestingly, in recent years, service shops have started seeing engines that once could run for 250,000 miles or more with no problem--on shorter oil change intervals, mind you--now experiencing problems by the time they hit 120,000 miles. Not only that, but many manufacturers who previously encouraged longer intervals are now being inundated with warranty claims due to engines that are simply breaking down far earlier than they should. This has prompted countless recalls, as well as a general reexamination of the feasibility of recommending such extensive intervals in light of these recent issues.
One piece of the puzzle that is often not emphasized is the fact that some major manufacturers have a financial incentive to keep these intervals as far apart as possible, since they offer pre-paid scheduled maintenance services as part of their warranties. The only thing is, once the warranty is up, the manufacturer is no longer liable for any engine problems you encounter in the future. This is unfortunate, because the cumulative effects of allowing your engine to go 15,000 miles or more without changing the oil may not reveal themselves until thousands of miles down the road. Gunk and sludge can still build up in modern engines, especially if the oil is only getting changed every 15,000 miles or more. For this reason, it's better to stay within a safer interval range--say, 5,000 to 8,000 miles--to ensure a greater degree of longevity and engine performance over the long haul.
*Always check your owner’s manual for your vehicle model’s specific instructions before attempting any type of repair.
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Copyright - Original Article - Hogan & Sons Tire and Auto 2016