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 have a 97 Toyota Corolla and 91 Volvo 240…. I’m reading all comments… Truly folks – are u saying using synthetic oils I can go as much as 7000 miles? Or is that just for newer vehicles… Also if you are not changing the oil, are you adding oil when needed?
You may absolutely go up to 10k or even 15k mis safely with full synthetic oils that are designed for extended use! Mobil 1 EP or Pennzoil Ultra Platinum or Castrol Edge are examples. U must use a “long distance” type oil filter as well is key. Oil filters designed for this are available everywhere. I use brands such as Royal Purple / WIX – XP / Mobil 1 in my newer Lincoln MKZ sedan & Ford Mustang GT 5.0
I just got an oil change in my Scion tC. I asked for full synthetic. The new sticker on the windshield says I should change it in 5,000 miles, even though the technician said 7,000 would be fine. 7,000 it is from now on.
My wife drives a 2010 Toyota Camry about 4000 miles per year. We have the oil changed at the dealership. The car runs great. How often should I change the oil?
Correction to the above comment. I failed to mention that we use synthetic oil in the 2010 Toyota.Sorry
Bob if you use 5W-30 your Toyota warranty say 5000 miles. I change my 2004 Toyota Corolla out twice a year. I use what ever Synthetic is on sale at the time. Last time it was NAPA its the same thing as Valvoline Full Synthetic! That and a good filter that oil change is going to cost me $21 and a few cents using a Purolator One 10K filter. I’m personally for saving a little less money and knowing my engine is getting the treatment it deserves. I can afford $42 dollars a year for quality Synthetic Oil changes. The car has 110700 miles on it now and barely uses a 1/4 pint between changes.
I only use Mobil 1 synthetic on my 04 g35 coupe I change it every 5000k miles and that’s about when it starts looking dirty and dark brown. I also drive very aggressively at times and do burnouts and drift every now and then so I’m sure if driven normally it could go over 7000 just fine