Tech Stuff

Oil change intervals

I am not alone when I say that I’m sick and tired of “news reporters” claiming that the automotive service industry is taking unfair advantage of the unwitting consumer.

According to the news media and buck-hungry lawyers who wouldn’t know a camshaft from a slice of apple pie, the automotive service industry is “ripping off the public” by recommending oil change intervals of as little as 3,000 to 5,000 miles.

Yes, engine oil technology has made leaps and bounds over the past few decades. And yes, engine technology (in terms of design and efficiency) has, in theory, reduced the contaminant factor that would otherwise dilute an engine’s lubrication. And some auto makers have extended engine oil change intervals to 7,500 miles, 10,000 miles, and in some cases as far out as even 20,000 miles. Sounds peachy for the vehicle owner, doesn’t it?

While I will assume that the automakers have good intentions, as far as I’m concerned, theory doesn’t always match up with reality.

Let’s face it: All engines don’t necessarily operate as designed or as intended. Clearances can vary. Tolerances are not always adhered to in mass production. Fuel injectors can leak and engine management systems can experience glitches resulting in overly rich fuel mixtures. Cylinder heads can crack. Cylinder head gaskets can leak. A myriad of variables can result in oil contamination and oil dilution. By following a sensible routine of oil changes, you reduce the possibilities of engine wear. How hard is that to understand?

Personally, I don’t care what the “recommended” oil change interval is. If I buy a car or truck produced by a manufacturer that recommends an oil change of every 10,000 miles, I guarantee you that I won’t adhere to their “spec.”

I will continue to change my engine’s oil and filter every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. I’d rather know that my engine’s lubrication system is clean and healthy, and if that means that I spend a few extra bucks for oil and filters in the process, I’d rather spend the dough up-front as opposed to facing premature wear and operational problems down the road.

When the “popular media” claims that service outlets are taking advantage of consumers by recommending shorter-than-published oil change intervals, they’re simply uninformed.

As far as I’m concerned, a service outlet that recommends oil change intervals of as little as 3,000 miles is doing their customers a favor, and I DO NOT feel that they’re trying to take advantage of the “dumb” consumer.

Remember: Nobody is pointing a gun at the consumer’s forehead, forcing them to change their oil at any specific mileage or time frame. If the vehicle owner wants to follow a longer schedule, that’s their decision.

If they end up facing expensive engine repair or replacement down the road as a result, they have nobody to blame but themselves.

As far as I’m concerned, the well-worn marketing adage continues to apply: Pay me now or pay me later.   ●

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