Do you change your oil too often?

2011-12-30 08:40

LOS ANGELES, California - Many vehicle owners are spending more than they need motor oil, believing that it should be changed every 5000 even though almost no manufacturer requires such an aggressive schedule.

The long-held notion that the oil should be changed every 5000km is so prevalent that California officials have launched a campaign to stop the waste of millions of litres of oil every year.


Mark Oldfield, a spokesman for the California Department of Resources, Recycling and Recovery, has launched a 'Check Your Number' campaign to encourage drivers to follow manufacturers' recommendations.

He said: "Our survey data found that nearly half of all California drivers are still changing their oil at 5000km or even sooner."

Improvements in oils, friction-proofing and car engines have extended the oil-change interval, typically from 12 000km to 16 000km for most vehicles. So some folk are changing there oil three times too often!

Changing motor oil according to manufacturers' specifications would reduce motor-oil demand in California by about 37.8-million litres a year, the agency said. The state has created a website, CheckYourNumber.org, on which US vehicle owners can look up the suggested oil change interval for their vehicle.

The agency and other groups said slashing oil consumption would be good for the environment but not affect the longevity or reliability of autos.

Don Anair, senior engineer at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said in a report carried in the Detroit News: "Drivers have a number of ways to reduce the environmental effect of their vehicles, which can also save them money."

Besides following the manufacturers' recommendations for oil changes, drivers can reduce oil consumption by keeping their tyres properly inflated and by avoiding idling their engines, Anair said.


Steve Mazor, manager of the Auto Club of Southern California's Automotive Research Centre, said in the Detroit News feature: "The 5000km oil-change just says that marketing campaigns by quick-lube companies have worked.

"It made sense years ago, when we had cast-iron block engines with cast-iron pistons that would expand when they got hot and older lubricants," Mazor said.

In the US, 51% of vehicle owners believed oil should be changed every 5000km or three months, according to a survey by market research firm NPD. Another 33% stretched that to 6500km.

Vehicle owners should be confident in the oil service advice offered by automakers, Mazor said. Vehicle warranties, especially for powertrains, have been extended and automakers would not give advice that could hurt engines and increase their warranty expenses.

Despite improvements, many drivers insisted on changing their vehicle's oil often even if it isn't recommended, the DetNews said. This has prompted some new car dealers to ask customers to sign a document stating that they understand that the maintenance guidelines for their vehicle don't require an oil change at that time.

Dealers were worried that they might be accused of selling unnecessary maintenance services.

  • Deon - 2011-12-30 12:50

    I very much doubt the accuracy of this story. Americans don't even know what a KM is, so I find it hightly doubtful they would use this as a measure.... 5000 Miles, well now that's a different story all together.

  • James - 2011-12-31 17:58

    Sheesh Deon ons Amerikaners weet wat 'n K is. I knew a guy who changed the oil in his Valiant slant six 3x in 125,000 miles. Lotsa sludge but it ran fine.

  • Kwashic - 2012-01-01 10:51

    yeah but just dont make the mistake of going on a long trip on sludgy old oil.... i was forced to try it in an emergency once and suffered the damade to my big-end bearings. luckily my car is a 1.3 Corolla import and therefore the repair was only R2500 with a cheap mechanic. I shudder to imaging the price if it had been the expensive rides you lot drive! (Many of you in here always say how many BMWs and Audis you owned before ;-)

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