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  • Oil change frequency?

    Last night, I changed the oil in my sedan, as I do twice a year regardless of mileage, and I have to wonder if I'm doing this too frequently. It is a 2001, 51k miles, v6, drive about 5k miles per year, all highway or just around town. I change the oil and filter in the spring and then again in the fall.

    Looking through the manual, I stumbled upon a section about an Oil Change Monitor. This is a light that comes on when the car detects it is time for an oil change. I've never seen it come on, except when I start the car and it goes through its normal start-up checks. I've also never done the "reset" procedure until last night, so I wonder if it will ever come on.

    I've always believed oil is cheap insurance, but oils and engines today seem to work just fine with longer intervals (some recommend 7500 miles).

    For the next oil change, I'm torn between leaving this fresh oil in and waiting for that monitor to light up, and waiting for a more reasonable amount of miles like 5,000.

    Opinions?

  • #2
    Re: Oil change frequency?

    Joe, I put about the same mileage on my 1999 Explorer and change the oil and filter twice a year as well. True the oil may not be breaking down, and losing viscosity, but there are other factors to consider such as airborne pollutants drawn into the oil. Funny thing about most filters is that they become slighty more efficient as they get dirty! I still think there is no harm done, and more benefit to changing your oil and filter on your schedule rather than trying to push the envelope until a warning light goes on, or the mileage claims by certain oil brands.

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    • #3
      Re: Oil change frequency?

      wait until you have a van that holds 14 quarts of synthetic oil, an expensive oil, air and fuel filter. the computer factors in mileage, idle time and even oil level. it will warn you when it's getting within 500 miles of a change. so far the 2 times has been at 10,000 miles. can't reset the computer without a free trip to the dealer.

      so far so good.

      rick.
      phoebe it is

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      • #4
        Re: Oil change frequency?

        Automotive lubricating oil has changed significantly since I first started driving (1962). Recommendations are for significantly higher mileage before a "change". However, I'm still in the mode (and of the mindset) of changing my oil (and the filter) every 3,000 miles. IMHO, changing it by calendar sort of goes back to those days when the "viscosity" needed to be changed for the pending temperatures (winter or summer).

        Automotive oil filters have changed too, but unless something has occurred that I'm not aware of, a "clogged" automotive-type filter still has a by-pass which allows dirty oil to flow around any congestion... idea that it's better to have dirty oil, than NO oil. (I learned that in compressor school, where the the instructor mentioned the primary difference between "automotive" and "compressor" service filters... the latter does NOT allow for by-pass.

        Synthetics are quite fantastic in their service factors, but they still get dirty unless your driving conditions are in a relatively clean environment and you keep that air filter in super-clean condition. If not, then any oil that you will use will get dirty and oil filter will only catch so much.

        So, I simply change my oil and filter every 3,000 miles. It works for me and I've never had an engine problem. The only caveat for me is if I see the oil look nasty (black), then I'll get a change immediately. I do check the oil before and during long trips, and I think that is a very important operation to perform. Look at not only the depth of oil on the dipstick, but also it's color and feel. Beyond that, I adhere quite closely to 3,000 miles. I have heard plenty of arguments about how wasteful that is too, but don't particularly agree and "oil" does get recycled.

        I hope this is helpful,

        CWS

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        • #5
          Re: Oil change frequency?

          Originally posted by CWSmith View Post
          The only caveat for me is if I see the oil look nasty (black), then I'll get a change immediately. I do check the oil before and during long trips, and I think that is a very important operation to perform. Look at not only the depth of oil on the dipstick, but also it's color and feel.
          I do this as well. On a paper towel, I'll clean the dipstick before re-inserting for a reading. Only a couple times in all my oil changes has that oil looked very dark. Usually, it is brownish bronze color, kind of like Tanning Mom's skin. I don't know how to gauge the feel, it always seems slippery to me!

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Oil change frequency?

            most manufactures, recommend either a time or mileage interval on there oil change,

            in reality the car that is driven seldom or just short trips may need the oil changed more than a sales mans car that could being driven 100k a year or more,
            if the engine is keep warm and warm enough to drive off the poultunes that enter the oil then it can do more miles than a engine that is never really warmed up, on old equipment I have pulled the drain plug and seen a quart of water come out, the oil pan, (from consedation) we live in a dry low humidity area, (it can take up to an HR of driveing to warm up the oil to above 212 degrees to drive water off/out of the oil)

            but either following the time interval or the mileage is most likely best, and ever 6 months is not out of line, most manuals would most likely say 6 months or 6 thousand miles, (oils are better {better additives in the oil} than even a few years ago, the detergents keep the junk suspended and not making sludge, the additives keep a film of oil on things better, Not like water on a ducks back, thus longer oil changes, when (years ago) non detergent oil was the normal ever 1500 miles was not uncommon,

            on my tractor, 1970's the recommend oil change was 100 hrs, and a change depending on normal temperatures, then they came out with multi wt oils, no seasonal change needed if hours were OK and not over 6 months or a year, (don't remember) then about 10 years ago they come out with a new oil (think the name was Hygaurd +, John Deere brand) and John Deere, then if using there new oil 150 hr oil change, and now this last year or so, the new new oil is 250 hr oil change, same engine filter and tractor, different oils, (additives most likely),

            on my older trucks that may have recomendations that are 1500 or 3000, I with the new oils many times stretch them to 5000 miles or yearly

            so most likely you could change it yearly and not have a problem I would guess spring to be the best time, if your buying the new normal oils, and not trying to find oils that are not upgraded,

            the oils have a specification on the can, and your manual has a specification listed, and the oil needs to meet at lest that specification, to properly protect the engine,
            it can be superior to that specification,

            oilspecifications.org - Lubricant standards and specifications

            there are few applications where one can not "upgrade" oils and cause any problems,
            about the only one I know of is a windmill, and you can not use on Aermotor windmills a detergent oil it has to be a non detergent oil, no additives, or it will leak out as the oil is to clinging and will by pass the oil wiper in the snout of the mill and leak, (and this is not a engine as in gasoline powered good wind powered tho)
            Last edited by BHD; 06-07-2012, 11:51 AM.
            Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
            "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
            attributed to Samuel Johnson
            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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            • #7
              Re: Oil change frequency?

              Originally posted by CWSmith View Post


              So, I simply change my oil and filter every 3,000 miles. It works for me and I've never had an engine problem. The only caveat for me is if I see the oil look nasty (black), then I'll get a change immediately. ... Look at not only the depth of oil on the dipstick, but also it's color and feel.
              I hope this is helpful,

              CWS
              you need a diesel you be changing it ever day

              the black is from the carbon from the burnt fuels, If you do not want black oil, drive a propane or NG fueled car, it comes out as Petty as it went in,
              Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
              "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
              attributed to Samuel Johnson
              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
              PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and oil...plus the current state of the economy............the light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off.

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              • #8
                Re: Oil change frequency?

                I had a 1985 Ford E150 van with the 300 six in it. I bought it new. Changed the oil every 3000 for the 1st year I had it and then only twice more in 390,000 miles. The van finally rusted out from underneath me. The engine and transmission were still going strong. Engine used next to no oil at all. the entire time I had it I changed tires, front brakes, two batteries, and one starter that it turns out was ok, the ground strap let go. Go figure
                sigpic

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                • #9
                  Re: Oil change frequency?

                  Very interesting. I've noticed that some people can do the "wrong" things and have items that outlast those who do the "right" things. My BIL has a lawnmower he has had for 15 years, never changed the oil. My neighbor has a POS lawn tractor that has never seen an oil change, still going strong after 11+ years. (He's the same guy who asked me if I had any motor oil I can give him, because he was low, and ran out of the 2 STROKE OIL he'd been topping it off with!) I changed my lawn tractor oil RELIGIOUSLY every spring and after 10 years the governor threw a flyweight.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Oil change frequency?

                    Car engines have improved a lot over the years so the oil change schedule especially if you use synthetic is a lot longer. The "oil change" light I believe has no intelligence and just keeps track of the miles to remind you about the change. I have two cars and lately I have not driven one of them much. I decided it was time to change the oil and it came out quite clean so it was way too soon (even after about 6 months but it had done under 1K in that time). You can probably get way with a change about one a year.

                    I've always been using synthetic but lately I've switched to 0W oil - much easier to change as it runs like water although we don't really need that kind of oil for our climate.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Oil change frequency?

                      Originally posted by NHMaster3015 View Post
                      I had a 1985 Ford E150 van with the 300 six in it. I bought it new. Changed the oil every 3000 for the 1st year I had it and then only twice more in 390,000 miles. The van finally rusted out from underneath me. The engine and transmission were still going strong. Engine used next to no oil at all. the entire time I had it I changed tires, front brakes, two batteries, and one starter that it turns out was ok, the ground strap let go. Go figure
                      that 300 six was a good motor. i had it in my 81 pickup. good milage and in 140k miles never put a wrench to it once except for oil changes or spark plugs.
                      ---------------
                      Light is faster than sound. That's why some people seem really bright until you hear them speak.
                      ---------------
                      “If I had my life to live over again, I'd be a plumber.” - Albert Einstein
                      ---------
                      "Its a table saw.... Do you know where your fingers are?"
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                      • #12
                        Re: Oil change frequency?

                        Originally posted by blue_can View Post
                        The "oil change" light I believe has no intelligence and just keeps track of the miles to remind you about the change.
                        that may have been true of early oil monitors in the 90s like my 96 Impala SS, but the current crop are more sophisticated. They use all the data from the cars computers to determine when the oil is at the end of its useful life. As BHD said oil temp, idle hours, load factors (the computer knows how hard it is working such as when pulling a trailer) all factor into the mix.

                        Last edited by Bob D.; 06-08-2012, 05:50 AM.
                        ---------------
                        Light is faster than sound. That's why some people seem really bright until you hear them speak.
                        ---------------
                        “If I had my life to live over again, I'd be a plumber.” - Albert Einstein
                        ---------
                        "Its a table saw.... Do you know where your fingers are?"
                        ---------
                        sigpic http://www.helmetstohardhats.com/

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Oil change frequency?

                          Originally posted by blue_can View Post
                          I've always been using synthetic but lately I've switched to 0W oil - much easier to change as it runs like water although we don't really need that kind of oil for our climate.
                          I may be old school but I would be cautious about that that 0 wt oil,

                          I do not know if you remember the old STP commercial, they had a heavy WT, additive, (basically gear lube with out all the additive that made it stink), and the commercial would show some one place a straight blade screw drive in it, and attempt to hold on to the shank and blade of the screw drive, they had Strong men do it, and no one could grip that driver enough to hang on to it, but if it was done with a thin WT oil you could grip it easily,

                          your "0" wt oil is thin, the film of protection, it thin, and the lubrication is very thin layer, by using a heaver weight of oil your layer of protection would be greater,

                          (I know the tolerances of modern engines are tighter than when the STP adds ran, and many of them now recommend the 10wt and 5 wt oils but unless an engine called for lighter by the manufactures I would use the heaver not the lighter oils) (I know the additives that give oil film strength is much greater than what it was a few years ago, (example auto matice tras oil and and old gear oil) both seem to protect gears, and most all transmission use the 10 wt oils in them now, (where at one time viscosity was the only way to obtain pressure contact film protection,

                          If you want easy to change just change it with the oil warm, even 40wt oil oil runs like water when warm,

                          I can not imagine what the 0 wt would oil would be like coming out of an engine at 200 F,

                          that is my two cents, and it did not even cost you a penny, but I think running that 0 wt oil may end up costing one some Penny's

                          I do think depending on some physical properties instead of just chemical properties, would not be a bad thing, (for example would you run your engine with diesel fuel for a lubricant in it, or would you prefer to run your engine with 30wt non detergent oil. I know the straight 30wt oil would offer more protection than the carrier oil (diesel fuel) would, (I realize diesel fuel is not just oil but it serves for my example of a 0wt oil),
                          Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
                          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                          "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
                          attributed to Samuel Johnson
                          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                          PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and oil...plus the current state of the economy............the light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Oil change frequency?

                            The new cars with computers to tell you when to change oil can't possibly determine viscosity of the oil, maybe they can detect higher oil pressure due to filter getting dirty? I have been using 0W30 oil from Amsoil more than thirteen years ago and it works great. The benefit of the 0W oil is that it circulates faster on start up when the engine is dry. STP ruined plenty of engines because it was so heavy and in cold weather did not allow for quick lubrication. I knew a guy who filled his engine with STP in place of oil, the engine burned up!

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                            • #15
                              Re: Oil change frequency?

                              I may be unimaginative, but I figure the mfr knows as well as anyone and better than most. Also they are not trying to sell me oil changes, and are trying to make their engine outlast it's warranty. I just do mfr's suggested intervals. As to what weight of oil, again why would I think I knew more than the mfr?

                              It seems like a lot of people like to do silly things re oil; buy that purple stuff or whatever, pour cans of additives in. All seems like a bunch of bs to me. I've always felt then the most important thing was to not let it get low.

                              Regarding synthetic oil, etc. I've never owned a vehicle with less than 100k mi on it. Every one I've ever had used oil to a greater or lesser degree. Yeah, synthetic, that's great you can go twice as long between changes. but if you are adding a quart every other tank of gas what's the point of using expensive oil? One thing I do like synthetic for is small engines; they get neglected and never get serviced. Also makes them easier to start in the bitter cold.
                              This is my reminder to myself that no good will ever come from discussing politics or religion with anyone, ever.

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