3,000 Mile Oil Change – is it History?

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September 25, 2008

3,000 mile oil changes may not always be necessaryFor many years consumers have used the rule of thumb that you should change your engine oil every 3,000 miles for autos, trucks, and SUVs. Over the past several years there have been tests by various consumer and environmental advocacy groups that have found this to be a waste of money as well as harmful to the environment. In fact according to a recent study by the California Integrated Waste Management Board, 73 percent of California drivers change their oil more frequently than required.

The 3,000 mile oil change may have once been a good idea before the advance of technology that has greatly improved the ability of oil to stay cleaner longer as well as today’s engines that simply run cleaner. Oil doesn’t really break down but it becomes contaminated with microscopic metals from bearings, pistons and other points of friction as well as fuel and the worst enemy of all – water. There have been tests on commercial vehicles that have shown that there is no difference in engine wear when oil changes are pushed past the 3,000 mark and well into double or even triple that interval. Most auto manufacturers recommend 5,000, 7,500, or even 10,000 mile intervals under normal driving conditions. Of course “normal” is pretty subjective. If you are pulling a trailer for any appreciable amount of time, “normal” is no longer applicable and oil changes should be made at “severe” condition intervals.

But in any case make absolutely sure to follow the owners manual recommendations and keep a copy of receipts or record of service if you do your own oil changes. If you have a warranty or extended service contract and ever need to file a claim, you may find that your claim is denied if you can’t document proper preventative maintenance service. Good Sam Continued Service Plan has a maintenance log with tips to keep you vehicle running a long time. Send your name, address, and type of vehicle (tow vehicle or RV) to: CSP Maintenance Log, 2575 Vista Del Mar Drive, Ventura CA 93001 for a free copy.

This article was brought to you by Good Sam RV Emergency Road Service

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  1. Chadrock

    I’m not a big time mechanic. I do much of my own simple work and took a class in college on auto ownership and maintenance. They told me in that class that multi viscosity oils tend to get thicker as they get hotter. This is what the instructor told us how it works:

    The first number in multi visc is the thickness of the oil at room temp. The oil has microscopic beads of plastic that expand and create higher viscosity the hotter the oil. So the second number is how thick the oil gets at normal operating temperature.

    Make sense? Has anyone else heard of this explaination of multi visc oil????

  2. Jim Carr

    I recently had the oil changed on our class C ’06 450 ford with the triton v10 engine showing less than 8k milage (3rd change since new).
    The manual calls for 5w20 oil. However, the shop replaced the oil with 10w40. The reason given was because of the hot weather where i reside in florida.
    Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Thanks in advance, “happy motoring”, Jim

  3. I use that synthetic oil the 6,000 mile stuff in my tow behind jeep & it has worked out good first oil change it cleaned out all that 5w-30w oil Crap oil looked extreamelt Dirty but since i been useing this 6,000 mile synthic oil the oil change’s have been allot cleaner almost a dark-Golden golor! Like maybe i could of went another 2,000 mile’s on it before it broke down? Rick Vogel U.S. Army Retired

  4. Mark Sickle

    I have always been of the mind that the 3,000 mile interval for oil changes was malarkey. If you ask me, it is a conspiracy by the oil companies to keep money in their pockets. When I was growing up and driving (age 16 and older), it seemed that 5,000 was the recommended interval and it worked VERY well. I have never changed my mindset – I still use 5,000 miles because 3,000 miles is wasteful and unnecessary. 5,000 miles provides your engine with more than ample protection. Don’t give in to the auto companies and oil companies propaganda – use 5,000 miles. PLUS – it is VERY easy to remember your interval mileages – 5,000, 10,000, 15,000, 20,000, etc.

  5. J.H. McCallum

    This is the only way I know to open a dialog. We are planning a trip in a gasoline powered motor home from Central Texas to the East Coast – from Charlston, S.C. to Virginia. We plan to leave about Oct. 6.

    Has there been storm damage on roads and at campsites in the area, and how is the availability of gasoline?

    Any help would be apperciated

  6. John Shelton

    3000 mile oil change interval never was a good oil change interval. If one wants an easy oil change schedule, the “typical” auto needs oil changed twice a year. Only very high mileage cars need more frequent changes. A multi-use vehicle such as a truck that does daily driver duty plus pulls an RV for a percentage of its lifetime needs oil changed based on fuel burned. This gets oil changed appropriately with light use and heavy use treated adequately. A schedule needs to be worked out for each vehicle so the oil gets changed at 5 to 6 thousand miles under light use and 2500 to 3000 miles under heavy use such as towing. A vehicle that I used to own worked out to needing oil changed every 200 gallons of diesel fuel burned. Just do not go more than 6 months on a change of oil regardless of miles or gallons.

  7. I am a 73 year young senior. I have been doing my own maintiance on my
    car, truck and motorome since 1958. I have been changing the oil filter only. in
    my vechiles for over 10 years, I keep the same oil in the crankcase and the oil
    still looks good and does a good job.If you use good oil and keep sludge
    from building up in the engine and crankcase, you can get a lot of good safe
    milage out of the oil. I have a 1989 40 ft. Itasca motorhome that has 20,138
    miles on it. it has a Ford 460 cid engine in it. all of it is in great condition inside.
    By the way, you should change you Auto. Transmission fluide every 60,000
    thousand miles and the trans filter. Take care of you engine and transmission and you can rest assured that it will keep you going to where ever you may be going. Happy Rving to all and to all a bye. Curtis