Author Topic: Why are americans changing their oil so often?  (Read 11708 times)

Herk

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Why are americans changing their oil so often?
« on: May 16, 2015, 05:33:47 AM »
I've noticed in reading journals here the past year, that you guys (americans that is) seem to change oil in the car way more often than we do here in Sweden.
Is there a special reason for that?

I change oil maybe once every other year (around 20000 km).


kpd905

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Re: Why are americans changing their oil so often?
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2015, 05:50:36 AM »
People seem to be divided on this issue.  Many will go with oil change intervals like yours, while others insist you need to stick with 3,000 miles or so just so you are inspecting your car more often and able to find any issues early on.

I go with 7,500 miles which is the recommended change interval for my car.

Joggernot

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Re: Why are americans changing their oil so often?
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2015, 11:11:53 AM »
Recommended for my car is 5,000 miles.  The one time I went to 10,000 miles it came out in clumps when I drained the oil.  Won't do that again.

Ricky

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Re: Why are americans changing their oil so often?
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2015, 11:57:21 AM »
Part of it is because we drive more than any other country - thus more frequent changing. I've never met a mechanic that would recommend going 12k miles before a change. It's the single most important maintenance step you can do, and the cost is insignificant, so why skimp on it?

Exflyboy

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Re: Why are americans changing their oil so often?
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2015, 12:00:04 PM »
Its habit born out of the fact that oil is much cheaper here in the US.

Before I emigrated from the UK it was ALWAYS 6000 miles (9500km).. When I arrived in the US it is "ALWAYS" 3000miles.. and oil is cheaper so why not.

I generally stick to 6000miles because that's what I have always done.

I note that my Wife's new Chevvy Cruse (1.4L turbo) is recommended at around 7500 miles (12000km).

I would have thought somebody would have done a study by now that shows by how much the oil has "degraded" by what distance driven.. Probably its more about how much carbon has been absorbed into the oil from piston blow by.

TN_Steve

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Re: Why are americans changing their oil so often?
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2015, 12:06:45 PM »
I change every 12,000 miles--about the same as your 20,000K.  But, that is about every 7 months, rather than every other year.  :-)

The old standard recommendation in the USA was 3000 miles (vehicles from the 1960s).  IC engines, however, are much more finely engineered today, along with the lubricants themselves.  Thus, if you use the proper synthetic blend and abide by the owners manual on your car, 12,000 is appropriate.  (I had my old oil tested after the first change, and results came back showing it still had a bit of life.)

As noted by others, however, many play it safe, or go by the "3000" mile recommendations that are still touted by some of the instant oil change places.

Davids

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Re: Why are americans changing their oil so often?
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2015, 02:45:44 PM »
I change my oil every 6000 - 7000 miles. 3000 miles was for the old cars.

surfhb

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Re: Why are americans changing their oil so often?
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2015, 03:40:11 PM »
Changing oil every 3000 or even 5000 is just a marketing ploy to sell more.    Similar to 3 months salary for an engagement ring

I changed mine 2 times a year and it has over 500k miles on it
« Last Edit: May 16, 2015, 03:42:07 PM by surfhb »

BlueHouse

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Re: Why are americans changing their oil so often?
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2015, 03:45:11 PM »
Because the darn light won't go off on my dashboard until I take it in to have it changed.

MsPeacock

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Re: Why are americans changing their oil so often?
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2015, 03:46:10 PM »
Changing oil every 3000 or even 5000 is just a marketing ploy to sell more.    Similar to 3 months salary for an engagement ring

I changed mine 2 times a year and it has over 500k miles on it

+1 - and newer cars come w/ a recommendation for changes at 7500 or so miles, not 3000.

Joggernot

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Re: Why are americans changing their oil so often?
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2015, 03:55:43 PM »
Because the darn light won't go off on my dashboard until I take it in to have it changed.
Your owner's manual might tell you how to turn it off.  If not, ask a local mechanic, not a dealer, how to turn it off.  Usually takes 20 seconds to follow the process, and you do it from the driver's seat.

RWD

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Re: Why are americans changing their oil so often?
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2015, 03:59:26 PM »
If you're running synthetic oil you can go longer between changes. If you want to know for sure how your oil is holding up (it varies by oil, driving conditions, car, etc) send a sample in for testing (e.g. Blackstone Labs).

Monkey Uncle

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Re: Why are americans changing their oil so often?
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2015, 04:12:31 PM »
Check your oil frequently.  When it changes from straw colored to dark brown, it's time to change it, no matter what the mileage or how long it's been since you last changed it.

RWD

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Re: Why are americans changing their oil so often?
« Reply #13 on: May 16, 2015, 04:26:24 PM »

MsPeacock

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Re: Why are americans changing their oil so often?
« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2015, 08:52:21 PM »
Because the darn light won't go off on my dashboard until I take it in to have it changed.

Google will also tell you how to turn off the maintenance needed or oil or whatever light. If it is triggered by your odometer then it will stay off until it is "time" for the next oil change. If it is a sensor issue (e.g. your oil is actually low) the light will come back on when you restart the car.

ClovisKid

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Re: Why are americans changing their oil so often?
« Reply #15 on: May 16, 2015, 11:23:27 PM »
For years (decades?) here in the U.S., quick service oil change places regularly pushed the need for oil changes every 3,000 miles. That may have been necessary in the past before modern engines and modern oils, but it hasn't been necessary for engines developed over the past 30 years.  Even Jiffy Lube, a major oil change chain, finally abandoned their 3,000 mile oil change interval recommendation about four years ago (-25 years too late).  They ran TV ads touting the 3,000 mile recommendation.  My dad taught me the 3,000 mile rule as well.  I put over 210,000 miles on my first car before I sold it, and I have over 260K miles on my current car (my second).  I never followed my Dad's advice but rather changed the oil according to the owner's manuals 7,500 mile interval for my current 1998 Toyota Avalon.  It's a waste to do it any more often (waste of $ and environment).

Syonyk

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Re: Why are americans changing their oil so often?
« Reply #16 on: May 17, 2015, 01:03:29 AM »
Short answer?  Because for a long time, American engines were crap, sludged up badly, and changing the oil frequently was about the only way to keep them alive.  Or, at least, there were enough engines like that to justify the habit.

You'll never hurt an engine by changing the oil too frequently (unless you forget to put the oil in or something).  Given the cost of a new engine, it generally does make sense to change the oil frequently.

Newer engines (and especially Japanese and German engines) are a lot better, but the legacy lives on.

Oil degrades from moisture (day/night temperature cycles sucking moisture in and then condensation), and it degrades from running (combustion blowby, mostly).  The "3 months or 3000 miles" thing covers both nicely.

Newer cars with assorted sensors are a lot better at telling you when to change the oil, and if you lack that, Blackstone Labs & some other companies offer oil analysis that will tell you how your oil is doing.

However, a Blackstone analysis is $25.  If you're running a lot of miles, and have something like a bypass oil filter (a really, really good filter that filters a fraction of the pump output each time), this is totally worth it.  If I were putting several thousand miles a month on my truck (14 or 16qt, depending on how much oil you change), I'd totally do this - but I don't put that many miles on, so I change it about once a year.  However, for a small 4 cylinder car (popular among this forum), you can do a whole oil change for a few dollars more (or less, if you find a sale).

BlueHouse

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Re: Why are americans changing their oil so often?
« Reply #17 on: May 17, 2015, 04:32:23 AM »
Because the darn light won't go off on my dashboard until I take it in to have it changed.

Google will also tell you how to turn off the maintenance needed or oil or whatever light. If it is triggered by your odometer then it will stay off until it is "time" for the next oil change. If it is a sensor issue (e.g. your oil is actually low) the light will come back on when you restart the car.
Awesome tip. Thanks!  And same to joggernaut. 
My sensor tells me what % oil life remains, but if I can reset it back to 100% with a touch of a button, then it must be based on mileage right?  They've been fooling me for years!  No more oil!

mschaus

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Re: Why are americans changing their oil so often?
« Reply #18 on: May 18, 2015, 08:13:37 AM »
Regardless of marketing from quick lube companies, the simple solution is to just follow the guidance from your owner's manual. A lot of testing goes into determining those numbers; it's not willy-nilly. The guidance should cover a heavy user (~90th percentile), but also not be too conservative since cost/hassle of maintenance is one area where the manufacturers compete.

Source: I work in the group that sets these service intervals for an engine manufacturer

QueenAlice

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Re: Why are americans changing their oil so often?
« Reply #19 on: May 18, 2015, 08:26:02 AM »
I have a Jetta TDI, they recommend every 10,000 miles.

Because the darn light won't go off on my dashboard until I take it in to have it changed.

Google will also tell you how to turn off the maintenance needed or oil or whatever light. If it is triggered by your odometer then it will stay off until it is "time" for the next oil change. If it is a sensor issue (e.g. your oil is actually low) the light will come back on when you restart the car.
Awesome tip. Thanks!  And same to joggernaut. 
My sensor tells me what % oil life remains, but if I can reset it back to 100% with a touch of a button, then it must be based on mileage right?  They've been fooling me for years!  No more oil!

 I was told that it is based on engine usage, the amount of time the engine has run since the last change, or resetting of the measure in this case. [No references]

Roots&Wings

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Re: Why are americans changing their oil so often?
« Reply #20 on: May 18, 2015, 10:01:17 AM »
Regardless of marketing from quick lube companies, the simple solution is to just follow the guidance from your owner's manual. A lot of testing goes into determining those numbers; it's not willy-nilly. The guidance should cover a heavy user (~90th percentile), but also not be too conservative since cost/hassle of maintenance is one area where the manufacturers compete.

Source: I work in the group that sets these service intervals for an engine manufacturer

Interesting!

My owner's manual says every 6 months or 5,000 miles. I'm always a 'light' mileage user but do the recommended 6 months (which seems to account for 'extreme' weather conditions that can apparently effect things).

katstache92

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Re: Why are americans changing their oil so often?
« Reply #21 on: May 18, 2015, 10:30:09 AM »
My Hyundai is supposed to be every 7,500 miles... but I live in a special state.  Hyundai has decided some areas are tougher on engines (or something??) and in those areas the oil needs to be changed every 3,750 miles.  So, until my warranty is up, or I ditch the car, 3,750 miles it is.

Sid Hoffman

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Re: Why are americans changing their oil so often?
« Reply #22 on: May 18, 2015, 10:49:43 AM »
here in Sweden ... I change oil maybe once every other year (around 20000 km).

Do you have a diesel engine?  Most diesel engine cars have very long oil change durations due to the differences between gasoline and diesel engines.

Also, as for the people talking about oil change indications in their car, some cars use an oil change odometer, but some actually DO have an oil life sensor in the pan to determine the approximate oil life.  The latter are becoming more common as they are a pretty proven technology that saves time and money.

ketchup

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Re: Why are americans changing their oil so often?
« Reply #23 on: May 18, 2015, 11:20:03 AM »
My cars both recommend (per the owner's manual) 3,000 between changes for "typical" driving, and 7,500 for exclusively highway driving. 

One of them I'll usually split it based on usage.  The last one was about 85/15 highway/city on the last change in one of them so I did it around 6,000.

The other leaks/burns oil, so I'll add a quart every 1,000 miles or so, and do a full change with filter based on usage, but more conservatively than the other car.