The little plastic sticker in the corner of the windshield plays on your guilt: “Next oil change,” it says, listing an odometer reading 3,000 miles higher than the last oil change. Your odometer rolled past that number 1,500 miles ago without so much as a sip of fresh oil for the engine.
Are you driving down the road to ruin? After all, the conventional wisdom says oil should be changed every 3,000 miles. Then, just as you’re figuring out what your car’s tombstone should say, along comes a campaign claiming the conventional wisdom is a myth.
The campaign, “The 3,000-Mile Myth,” originated with the California Integrated Waste Management Board, a state agency charged with reducing landfill junk and pollution. In a survey, the board found that 73 percent of Californians took the conventional wisdom to heart, changing their cars’ oil most often at 3,000 miles – more frequently than their cars’ manufacturers’ recommended. Moreover, it discovered, only 60 percent of used engine oil is turned in for recycling.
The result: more oil than necessary bought and used, and more used oil going into landfills, where it could potentially contaminate water supplies. Changing motor oil less frequently saves oil, money and the environment, the board contends.
“While the old standard for oil change frequency was every 3,000 miles, advances in car engines and oils have made that obsolete,” says the campaign’s Web site, www.3000milemyth.com, where the word “debunked” greets visitors in large orange letters. “Many of today’s automakers recommend oil changes at 5,000, 7,000 or even 10,000 miles.”
Word of the campaign, which is being conducted in print and on radio, has rolled across the nation. The American Automobile Association and Enterprise Rent-a-Car have signed on. But not everyone is so ready to abandon the wisdom they’ve heard their entire car-owning lives.
“Changing your oil every 3,000 miles or three months, whichever comes first, is generally recommended,” says the American Oil Change Association, a lube industry organization. “Your car may be clean on the outside, but is it clean on the inside? The life expectancy of your car depends on your answer.”
Many factors play here. If you are a rent a car or throw it away at the end of the warranty, you don't even need to change the oil. Just keep it topped off and it will last to that point. If you are like the millions of Americans that first purchase the car with 100K and need it to last 250K+ you might want to concider better maintenance. Vehicles are not maintenance free and like anything else, the better you maintain it, the longer it will last. How Long Do You Want Your Cars Engine To Last?