How often should you change your oil?

You should always analyze the source of your information because it can make a big difference if that source has your best interests in mind. If a used car salesman tells you something about buying a car, they may have their own agenda that won’t help you.

In the case of oil changes, I usually hear how often I should change the oil from the people I’m paying to change my oil. Changing your oil too frequently isn’t going to cause any problems (except to your budget) so it’s not bad advice, but is it really necessary?

I did some research and the short answer is it’s not necessary to change your oil as frequently as many shops recommend. Your best bet is to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations found in your owner’s manual.

There was an Ask Metafilter post on this, asking if the 3,000 mile oil change was a scam. The general answer there was yes, it is a scam. From a discussion at autoblog, several people recommend changing your oil every 5,000 miles.

Lastly, consumer reports car care myths vs. reality says,

Although oil companies and quick-lube shops like to promote this idea, it’s usually not necessary. Go by the recommended oil-change schedule in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. Most vehicles driven under normal conditions can go 7,500 miles or more between oil changes. Some models now come with a monitoring system that alerts the driver when the oil needs changing. Depending on driving conditions, these can extend change intervals to 10,000 or 15,000 miles.


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  1. About a year ago, my Matrix’s engine seized. (Turns out there’s an awful lot of people who have that problem with certain Toyota engines. Google “Toyota engine sludge” and you’ll get an idea of just how many Toyotas have this problem.) Because I got my oil changed every 7500 miles, Toyota refused to honor the powertrain warranty on the car even though it was within the 36000 mile/3 year limit. There was a stipulation within the warranty that said I had to get my oil changed as often as the dealer recommended despite the fact that the owner’s manual recommended 7500 miles. So, the dealer had a lube shop within the dealership… and the dealer recommended getting oil changes every 3000 miles. So I ended up footing the bill for replacing the engine of a fairly new car. It would have been a lot cheaper if I’d gone every 3000 miles.

    Anyway, if your car is still under warranty, I’d check the fine print for such maintenance stipulations before scheduling services.

    Comment by Jan on April 9, 2007 @ 11:44 pm
  2. Wow, I’ve never heard of such a requirement. It seems outrageous that they can void your warranty because you followed the car manual. That sounds like a cheap way for them to get out of doing the repairs.

    “Ah yes, you were supposed to cluck like a chicken when you asked for this repair, and since you didn’t, I’m terribly sorry, but your warranty is void.”

    Comment by dan on April 10, 2007 @ 6:25 am
  3. Ah, I wish I had had this information before I killed my Saturn! It was getting pretty old, and over 100k my local Jiffy Lube charged more for some reason. I could have saved myself about $15-25 if I had known this.

    Comment by Meredith on April 10, 2007 @ 10:48 am
  4. I have read on google about how often should I change my oil some say 15000 is safe and some say 3000 if u change it yourself what milage range would u recommend without a car warranty I like castrol is it a good grade of oil this is for 03 chevy impala 3.8 motor 57000 miles I just put it in a 98 olds intregue

    paul lessley sallisaw okla, 74955

    Comment by paul lessley on April 21, 2007 @ 8:24 pm
  5. The engine on my 2005 Subaru Imprezza seized with 47K miles on it because the oil vanished from the engine. I had not changed it in 12K miles, which is 3 oil changes. They are saying they will not honor the warranty because I have no documentation for oil changes. I used to believe they were simply jacking up my costs by requiring frequent oil changes, but the real reason is that they want to make sure the oil levels don’t drop. They know the oil disappears and they want to protect themselves from warranty claims.

    Comment by bob on May 3, 2007 @ 1:50 pm

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