Changing the oil of your car is one of the most common reasons to take your vehicle into service these days. It also happens to be one of the few remaining things, other than using fuel injector cleaners, that car owners can safely and effectively do themselves in order to maintain their car.
When it comes to oil, there are two major types – conventional and synthetic. The former is made from crude natural oil, while the latter is also fortified with numerous synthetic compounds and often refined further. These days, synthetic oil is quickly becoming the norm, as it lasts longer and usually does the job significantly better, especially in extreme temperatures.
But the question remains:
What is the correct Synthetic oil change interval? How often do you REALLY need to change the oil?
The common suggestion is to change the oil every 3000 miles. And numerous service stations and their mechanics gladly parrot this recommendation. After all, every time you come to change your oil, they will get paid. After every oil change, your windshield or the inside of your cars door is decorated with an oil change sticker, nicely telling you to come back in a few months or 3000 miles. Lovely.
But is there actually any truth to this recommendation? Technology has come a long way, both in terms of vehicle engine complexity and effectiveness, as-well as synthetic oil properties. Are you being ripped off by service stations?
Former service advisor David Langness commented on the 3,000-mile oil change, and said it’s:
“a marketing tactic that dealers use to get you into the service bay on a regular basis. Unless you go to the drag strip on weekends, you don’t need it.”
Let’s look at some more facts. How long does synthetic oil last?
Unlike what many mechanics might tell you in car dealerships and service stations, synthetic oils can go quite the distance. Here’s what some of the worlds leading brands have to say:
Mobil 1 Extended Performance synthetic oil is recommended for oil change intervals up to 15,000 miles or one year, whichever occurs first.
That’s roughly FIVE TIMES longer than conventional oil change wisdom recommends. That’s massive. Imagine the savings from both the actual oil and the change procedure costs.
You can run a conventional oil 5K miles but you should be able to run a synthetic oil 7500 to 10000 miles.
Again, synthetic oil is likely to last far longer than what we’ve been led to believe.
Royal Purple API-licensed synthetic engine oils allow motorists to travel as many as 12,000 miles as the recommended oil change interval. Even more amazing, Royal Purple HPS synthetic performance upgrade street oils allow up to 15,000 miles in between motor oil changes.
Again, up to 15, 000 miles is possible.
While it’s pretty clear why the car-servicing industry is so adamant about recommending the 3,000-mile oil change, most customers only follow this suggestion because they are largely uneducated about the advancements in automobile technology. How long does synthetic oil last? A long time. That’s the bottom line.
When we’re talking about 2013 and later models, most automakers recommend oil changes every 7,500 or 10,000 miles when on a normal service schedule. That’s more than double the conventional 3,000-mile interval suggestion.
The longest oil change interval is recommended for all Jaguar vehicles, which is at 15,000 miles. Shorter oil change intervals of 5,000 miles are needed for some Hyundai and Kia models with turbo engines, as-well as for some Toyota vehicles that require non-synthetic oils. But with that said, Toyota is also shifting their entire fleet towards synthetic oil use and 10,000 mile oil change interval minimums.
It becomes pretty clear, pretty fast, that casual vehicle owners are being tricked into thinking they need to change oil far more often than they really do. Clearly, service stations are looking to squeeze out every last penny from the consumer’s wallets. But what’s strange, is that many people even when told that their cars can keep going far longer, will still opt to change oil very frequently.
Why is that? Why do people change oil so often?
Matt Snider, project engineer in GM’s Fuels and Lubricants Group, has an answer:
“Vehicles are so sophisticated that oil is one of the last things that customers can have a direct influence over. There’s maybe some feeling that they’re taking care of their vehicle if they change their oil more often.”
Now, many people also make the argument, that it’s better to be safe than sorry, right? But that’s a nonsensical argument when the leading experts are all saying such frequent oil changes are simply not needed. There is no danger of being sorry. Your engine will be fine. But there is one real danger. The danger of pollution.
GM’s Matt Snider has said:
“If customers always just stayed with the 3,000-mile recommendation, they would be throwing away good oil.”
Product education specialist for Toyota, Chris Risdon, agreed. Advances in oil technology means that you can change oils much less frequently and protect the environment at the same time.
“If you’re doing it [changing oil] half as much, that’s 5 quarts of oil times 1.7 million vehicles a year — that’s a tremendous amount of waste oil that’s not being circulated into the environment.”
Waste oil is a serious problem that’s exacerbated by too-frequent oil changes. California Integrated Waste Management Board has campaigned against the 3,000-mile dictate for a while.
The agency has reported that 153.5 million gallons of used oil is being generated in California every year, but only 59 percent of it is ever recycled. That’s a considerable amount of potential pollution dumped into the environment.
I don’t know about you guys, but it seems very clear to me that when it comes to synthetic oil change interval, less frequent oil changes is the way to go. Not only are you going to save time and money by spending less of both at service stations; you are also contributing to the preservation of the environment. Think about it!
The next time someone asks you “how often should I change my synthetic oil?”, please explain to them the benefits of changing it less often.
But if you are thinking about picking up some synthetic oil, make sure you buy from a reputable brand and get the highest quality product:
I only drive Maybe 8,000 a year, Maybe. So I’m concerned with time vs mileage. could I go a full year before changing synthetic oil? (I go to ‘Brakes Plus’ who don’t use Mobil 1, but say it’s it meets the specifications of synthetic oil).
I think going a full year is fine. There’s a lot of debate about whether or not time is a factor at all. Personally I think it matters a bit, but 1 year is probably not much to worry about. Maybe if you live in the part of the world with very hot summers, cold winters and rainy springs and autumns. The massive temperature and moisture intervals may put additional strain on the car, but aside from that, I don’t think 1 year is anything to worry about at your mileage.
I run the oil (Mobil 1) upto 15k miles in my Volvo and Mercedes. Our Aurora 3.5l also gets Mobil 1 but I skip oil changes and change the filter only because the engine uses oil.
From one Oldsmobile owner to another, Stop That!! Change the oil at least every six months. My 4.0 also uses oil but you still need to drain out the solids on the bottom of the pan. Also since the engine doesn’t burn all the oil off, that means a lot of it never gets changed. Use your Auroras oil life monitor and change it when it says so.
Amsoil is the worlds best oil guaranteed to last upto 25,000 miles or 1 year. You’d need to change filters regularly though. In 2007 my job pilot tested regular motor oil limits in municipal refuse trucks that cost a considerable amount to maintain. We drew specimens from cab’s exterior filter canister to send to the lab. This was to see if we.needed to change the regular conventional grade oil that came with older API SL ratings or if we had to replace the additive canister cartridge. Most regular conventional oils will run safe upto 8,200 miles, but 1qt would usually need to be added at 6,000 miles. Friction bearing alloys are much more durable now since 2004. Back in 1999 I worked at a Caterpillar dealership & we did oil analysis to figure out if a oil change was needed. Many oil change places don’t use the current API rated oil including the synthetics. This could cause problems with PCV systems if it contains zinc. Zinc was a way to vapor coat cam shafts to increase life in non roller cam applications. The problem is, it clogs PCV systems & increases exhaust emissions. It can also hurt O2 sensors & EGR components.
I had the same concern. Thank you for sharing your opinion.
I have a 2015 Ford Edge v6 how often should I change synthetic oil . I have 32,800 on my car using a synthetic blend. Last change was 28,889.
I use Honda Accord 2009. I use mobil 1 oil on it on the 5th of September 2019, and today which I 1st of September, I have bare 700 mile on my trip and the oil percentage says 50%. Can I continue to use my car even if it gets to 15% and I have attained at least 7000 miles?
I use Honda Accord 2009. I use mobil 1 oil on it on the 5th of September 2019, and today which 21st of September, I have bare 700 mile on my trip and the oil percentage says 50%. Can I continue to use my car even if it gets to 15% and I have attained at least 7000 miles?
So long as your engine is in good condition, not leaking or burning much (if any) oil and producing good power, 1 year is fine with a good synthetic oil.
My personal experience: both my vehicles are on a 7500 mile/1 year oil change interval, whichever comes first — have been doing this for many years and they both run perfectly smooth, never had any issues. The insides of the valve covers are very clean.
Many people use the “extended service” synthetic formulations and are comfortable going 10000 miles between changes. I’m not quite there yet.
Regardless, be sure to use a filter that is capable of going the distance… standard filters may become saturated before the extended drain interval arrives. And as always, your mileage may vary, proceed with some discretion. Try having an oil analysis done at around 6000 miles and see what comes back.
My vento tdi cheng oil before one year oil is synthetic but I’m drive only 3500 k.m.a year
How to change oil amijet?
The oil , no matter what you decide to use , gets dirty and so does your filter. You need to change your filter as recommended by the manufacturer. Also you still need to check your oil level and at that time look at how dirty/ discolored compared to new oil. Then you make the decision of whether to change or not. Personally I would never go pass 8000 miles without changing my oil. I have rebuilt several engines and know what build up of dirt caused by not changing oil soon enough. No matter what oil you choose to use all oil gets dirty and filters get clogged.
I am just wondering if Mobil 1 has been tested for over a million miles on an engine when changing just the filter regularly, why we need do anything but top of Mobil 1 as needed and regularly change our filters.
No it’s been tested for 500,000 miles though on a Camry ( video). But attention to detail shows that they changed the oil and filters every 10,000 miles.
I only drive 2000 miles a year with full synthetic oil and how often should I change the engine oil?
John, I only drive 3000 miles a year in my 2001 Jeep Cherokee. I use full synthetic oil. I find the oil to be pretty dirty after 10-12 months. Oil will continue to dissolve carbon deposits even when it’s just sitting there. With today’s advanced oils, it’s more a matter of time, than mileage. All manufacturers recommend a maximum number of miles or one year. So once a year is what I would recommend.
hi …I’ve Suzuki Mehran 2003; when I can change my engine oil.
I only drive 5000 to 6000 a year. The vehicle is a 2000 Ford ranger 2.5l auto. I change my own oil using Mobil 1 extended performance 5w30 (15ooo mile protection) once a year. WIX oil filter. I have had the vehicle for 6 years now with no issues. Previous owner used conventional oil. I live in the Great Lakes region. The truck only has 65000 miles on it.
I used to change my oil/filter on my own for years with no problem. Due to back problems, I now have it done by oil change franchises. I have been to a number of oil change places and have found that the majority do not fill to capacity. Specifically, I have found shortages mostly by one half quart. Two other places under filled by one quart. On each occasion, I went back to the location and they topped it to capacity. Now I am wondering if this “tactic” is used to get more money out of each consumer as being short a half or one quart may not even be noticeable to the average consumer, while making literally thousands of dollars to the franchises.
Noticed the same but discovered that the top fill mark is actually 1/2 qt above the stated capacity.
I have a 2008 Subaru Tribeca ;
I changed the oil to full synthetic immediately after getting it home, June 2008!
I do not remember last time oil changed. and do it myself as I have done on all my vehicles since 1965 or earlier.
which has 29924 miles on it now; and have only changed the oil 2 times at the most .
I bought Castrol Edge a year or 2 ago 5-w 30. which i will only just put in now:-
the oil is slightly tan-brown and a bit low. (Never ever remember having to top it up.)
Thought i saw article that BMW say Synthetic (Castrol ?)oil only needs to be changed every 50000 km!
MY CAR I S A RAV4/2014 AND IT HAS 11,962 MILES, I JUST CHANGE THE OIL YESTERDAY , OF COURSE SYNTHETIC, AND THE STICKER THEY PUT ON MY WINDSHIELD IT SAID THAT I HAVE TO CHANGE IT EVERY 3000, MILES , THAT IS A LIE BECAUSE I SELDOM DRIVE MY CAR, AND MY SON TOLD ME THAT I ONLY HAVE TO CHANGE IT TWICE A YEAR, AND THAT IS WHAT I’M DOING
I assume it’s OK to not change the oil filter for a year as well?
Depends on the oil filter. Some filters like the orange gram filter are only good for 5000m or 8000km. So you will have to change that filter. You can buy better filters like Mobil 1 filters that last at least double that mileage. Just read the filter.
Mileage is only one indicator that should dictate oil change frequency. Type of driving should be another. Short trips where the engine does not reach operating temperature reduces oil life. So does very damp weather. That said, we (the US consumer) change our oil way too often.
I use synthetic oil and change the filter ONLY every 3500-4000 miles. I change the oil every 4th filter change cycle. A little quicker if my driving is a lot of short-trip (see the comment above). I’ve been doing it myself for about 15 years but before that I used to have Jiffy Lube change the filter (not the oil) and we agreed on a $10 charge. One other thing. I now use the original equipment filter and the sole reason is that I believe that the settings for the oil pressure relief valve (the valve inside the filter that opens when the oil pressure exceeds a certain value) are specific to the engine.
My last vehicle lasted 277K miles and I had no engine issues.
Trying to determine the correct interval between oil changes for full synthetic in a new engine, by appealing to the “experts” is impossible since my research has found opinions ranging from 5000 mi. to once yearly and everything in between. So, I think I’ll go with the common sense approach which is – in my non professional opinion 10,000 but change the filter at 5,000, and if the oil looks, smells, or feels, (when compared to new oil) bad change it also. I have proven repeatedly that by over maintaining an engine meaning clean oil, air filter, and fresh spark plugs occasionally can easily double it’s life.
All this oil change stuff is keeping your engine block from wearing out but I’ve found that everything else on a car is going to start falling apart long before that happens. Transmissions, drive axles, struts, steering, HEAD GASKETS! spark plugs, fuel pumps, air conditioners, etc. etc. All kinds of things that are very expensive to repair and eventually use just figure it’s better to get something else than to keep pouring money in the old thing. The motor is still in great shape though, you’ve been keeping the oil changed.
You’re partially right. A lot of other things will go bad before your engine itself–for instance, on my car the engine is perfect but I’ve had to replace the starter and the suspension. The difference is the cost of repairing different things. If your fuel pump goes bad, it’s a $30 part and less than an hour of labor to do it yourself. If you don’t change your oil at the right intervals and wear out the insides of the cylinder walls there’s nothing you can do other than buy a new engine. You’re talking $3,000-$6,000 for basic cars, not to mention bigger engines on luxury cars. It’s something that got on my nerves with one of my first cars (an 1986 Honda Accord) that everything on the car was broken except the engine and transmission. One door didn’t open, the windshield wipers were out, Windows didn’t roll down, etc. But the thing still ran, because the owners had taken care of it.
I bought my 87 ford van with 30K miles and used mobile 1 and a filter every 25 K miles.
At 178K miles It still never needed oil added between changes but it had so many
things wrong after 16 years I couldn’t keep,up with it all. I gladly took the cash for
clunkers offer from the Feds who ironically filled the engine with concrete to be sure
it wouldn’t be reused: one of the few things on it still quite usable.