Q: How often should I really have my oil changed?
A: Owner’s Manuals, which may become a thing of the past, will have this information for you under the “Maintenance Schedule” section. Your driving will fall under one of two headings:
Schedule “A” for normal driving conditions
Schedule “B” for severe driving
• Frequent short trips driving less than 5 miles (8 km)
• Frequent driving in dusty conditions
• Frequent trailer towing
• Extensive idling
• More than 50% of your driving is at sustained high speeds during hot weather, above 90◦F (32◦C)
• Off-road driving
• Desert operation
Most Owners’ Manuals will be replaced by on-line manuals in the very near future.
Q: Why is the sticker on my windshield showing 3,000 miles between oil changes…even when I buy 7,000 mile oil?
A: Good question. Perhaps the person who services your vehicle knows your driving habits are severe.
Q: My car also tells me to change my oil every 3,000 miles. How does my car know if I’m driving severe or not?
A: It is probably programmed for the worst case scenario to make sure the oil gets changed in a timely manner.
Q: Why do I get oil change reminders every so often that say it is time based on mileage and the mileage on the card/email is either over or under the mileage I have actually driven by the time I get the reminder?
A: Again…the companies that perform these services are basing it on the law of averages. They should just tell you it is time for service…not oil change/mileage specific.
Q: Some say consumers are just being scammed with the 3,000 mile oil change. Is this true?
A: Newer cars driving in non-severe conditions probably don’t need to have their oil changed every 3,000 miles. Older vehicles that do severe driving probably do need their oil changed more often based on their owner’s manual recommendations. Here are some things to keep in mind when deciding how often to have your car serviced. An example of one owner’s manual recommendations:
With every fuel stop:
• Check engine oil level and add as required.
• Check windshield washer solvent and add if required.
Once a month:
• Check tire pressure and look for unusual wear or damage
• Inspect battery and clean and tighten terminals as required.
• Check fluid levels of coolant reservoir, power steering, brake master cylinder, and transmission and add as needed
• Check all lights and all other electrical items for correct operation
At each oil change:
• Inspect exhaust system
• Inspect brake hoses
• Rotate tires at each oil change interval show on schedule “A” (7,500 miles) or every other interval as shown on schedule “B” (6,000 miles).
• Check coolant level, hoses, and clamps.
• After completion of off-road operation, the underside of the vehicle should be thoroughly inspected.
• Examine threaded fasteners for looseness
In response to the question, “What’s up with that?” I leave you with another question. How often do consumers check their own vehicle’s today? Not many. Very few ever lift the hood of their car. They don’t do the “every fuel stop” check, they don’t do the “once a month” check and they usually go way past the suggested oil change interval listed on their windshield sticker or even listed in their owners’ manual. Back in the “good ole’ days” a service station attendant would do these courtesy checks every time you filled up your car. Who is doing that now? No one. It is really about so much more than a “just an oil change.” It is all about each of the components that keep your vehicle healthy mile after mile.
When you trust your local car care provider you will find that they more or less design a service/repair schedule for each individual car that is entrusted to their care. I know my customers’ driving habits. I know the conditions under which they drive. I know the highways and the roads they drive on. I don’t want to see any of them facing me on the other side of my counter distressed because a hose burst or a belt broke and major damage was the result. I certainly don’t want to be going down the highway and see one of my customers broken down on the side of the road due to lack of preventive maintenance. I don’t want to think about someone going into a skid on the road because they are driving on bald tires. This would probably be the outcome if they only came in once or twice a year for an oil change.
The manufacturers’ recommendations have to be generic. They make the cars to sell all over the world. They aren’t familiar with the terrain, the climate and the driving habits that affect the motorist day in and day out that they make the cars for. I do feel responsible for my customers.
What’s up with that? It all depends on YOU and how YOU drive and under what conditions!