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Saturday, December 04, 2010

What Happens if I don't change my oil?

I read this post on today and was quite surprised.

Change Your Oil Every 3,000 Miles

The little sticker placed on the car windshield reminds you to change a car's oil every 3,000 miles -- regardless of make, model or scenario.

But many experts now say the 3,000-mile oil change is dead. Why? New car engines and oil quality have advanced to the point where cars can go 5,000 to 10,000 miles without a change.

"Generally speaking, vehicles don't need to be changed every 3,000 miles anymore," says Tara Baukus Mello, author of's Driving for Dollars column. "It's somewhere between 5,000 to 10,000, unless they have an engine oil sensor, and then it could be anywhere."

However, don't automatically assume you can push oil changes beyond 3,000 miles.

"It's important to consult your owner's manual for the frequency, the number of miles, the length of time between changes and the type of oil -- and to follow whatever those instructions are," Mello says.
Being a Shop Owner, a Shop Technician for over 20 years and previous Street and Track Racer, I have not only pushed engines to there limits but maintained fleets of vehicles for long periods of time including Police Vehicles that rarely get turned off.   Here is the skinny on oil changes.
  1. If you are planning on getting rid of the car in under 50,000 miles, you could get away with not ever changing the oil.
  2. If you plan on tossing their car at 100,000 miles or less, you can get away with changing your oil every 10,000 miles.
  3. If you would like your engine to last up to 500,000 miles change your oil every 3,000 miles.
Here's the thing, there are differences in everyones driving habits. For example, the police vehicles are sold at auction at 120,000 miles or less so The oil only gets changed every 5,000 miles. The average car owner likes to keep there car to close to 200,000 miles these days and changing the oil more frequently helps to ensure the ability to do just that.

The easiest way to be able to tell when your oil should be replaced is when you can visually see the oil changing to a darker color as this is the first signs of the viscosity (thickness)breaking down. This means the oil is no longer doing its job.

So what exactly am I getting at? You may save a few dollars on oil changes but if you are needing your vehicle to last as long as it can you are just short changing yourself in the long run. An engine can cost Thousands. 

What Happens if I don't change my oil?  Nothing at first and then over time, the engine will start to wear prematurely and start burning oil (oil level decreases). You won't notice the vehicle smoking out the exhaust for a while but once you do, its too late. The damage is already done. You will be buying 2 to 3 quarts of oil between oil changes just to keep the engine full of oil. The engine will pass oil through the exhaust causing damage to the O2Sensors and catalytic converter causing the check engine light to come on and the fuel management system to work improperly giving worse fuel miles and Costing you more money. Then over time you notice a slight rattle or knock noise on start up that eventually happens anytime the engine is running and now you are looking at buying a new engine of replacing the vehicle. In the meantime your neighbor who had his oil changed regularly at 3,000 miles is having none of these problems and you are sitting there thinking you bought a lemon and the whole time it was just a lack of maintenance on your part.

........ Change your Oil, it isn't that expensive. $20,000 car vs. $20.00 oil change..... do the math.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the explanation. I never really understood why people opposed spending $20 bucks to get their oil changed. As soon as you get it changed, you can feel your car run better (or maybe it's just psychosomatic). Regardless, it's definitely worth the $20 every few months to keep your car running for a long time.