When Do You Really Need an Oil Change?

It’s almost like reciting your Social Security Number. Someone asks you when you need an oil change, and it just pops out: “Every 3,000 miles or every 3 months, whichever comes first.” But this piece of tried-and-true automotive maintenance wisdom is ready to retire.

Your Maintenance Schedule

The “every 3,000 miles” (we’re going to abbreviate that to E3K because we’re going to be referring to it a lot in this blog) maintenance schedule is convenient. It’s easy to remember, and it’s universal. It’s also unchanging…and that’s precisely why the E3K schedule needs to be abandoned.

The automotive industry is constantly changing, evolving to meet customers’ needs and wants. And technological advances continually allow us to improve on how things are done to be more earth-friendly, sustainable and affordable. And the areas of oil performance and engine design are no exception.

Today’s oils, especially synthetics, are designed to better withstand high temps so they last longer. Modern engines have been engineered to better seal the power train from environmental contaminants. Computer monitoring systems help keep everything running at a more constant temperature, regardless of external conditions. All things considered, E3K may not be necessary.

The best oil change maintenance schedule for your car is the one recommended by your Owner’s Manual. Have you checked it lately? If you have a newer car, you may be surprised to find that the manufacturer recommends oil changes ever 5,000 or even 7,500 miles. And, knowing that the recommended maintenance schedule differs from the E3K “mantra,” the dash lights are programmed to remind you when your oil really needs changing.

Of course, even under the E3K rule, other factors can mean oil changes are needed more frequently. Driving in severe conditions—for example severe heat, a lot of stop-and-go—may still mean your oil change schedule doesn’t follow the book. How will you know when your oil needs changing? Check it! Advances in technology and new designs have left the old dip stick accessible so that you can monitor your oil level and color.

E3K and Sustainability

So advances in oil and engine technology generally mean you don’t need your oil changed quite so often. So what’s the harm in abiding by the E3K schedule?

Unnecessary oil changes come with a significant cost to you and the environment. If you stick to the E3K schedule, after driving 10,000 miles, you may have paid for 3 oil changes when you may have only needed 2. The cost of unnecessary oil changes adds up quickly. In one year, you may have already wasted hundreds of dollars. Can you afford to do that year after year? (Oh, and don’t forget the time you waste while you wait for unnecessary oil changes, too.)

But if personal cost isn’t a powerful enough motivator, think about the environmental impact. E3K oil changes produce a lot of unnecessary oil waste. And how is your maintenance shop disposing of it? Even if your garage is eco-friendly (like Quanz!) and they can recycle or dispose of the oil in an environmentally safe manner, you still need more oil to replace what was taken. Oil, in case you’ve missed the headlines, is a non-renewable resource, one that Americans rely on foreign countries to supply. E3K leads to unsustainable demand, and that keeps the US economy dependent of foreign oil.

So, while we’re always glad to help you with all your regularly-scheduled automotive maintenance, you may not need to visit us quite so often. Check your Owner’s Manual to find out when you really need an oil change. When you do, Quanz Advanced Auto Body is at your service!