Most auto manufacturers today recommend oil changes between 7,500 and 10,000 miles

Engine compartment GMC under the hood
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Updated: Wednesday, March 08, 2017

The days of changing your vehicle's oil every 3,000 miles are long gone, yet many consumers are still wasting money on far-too-frequent oil changes.

Burying the Oil Change Myth

The 3,000 mile oil change myth needs to be buried. Both oil chemistry and engine technology are much better today than they were years ago. They've become so good, in fact, that oil can outlast even today's seemingly high oil change intervals.

Most auto manufacturers today recommend oil changes between 7,500 and 10,000 miles, but there are some that go as high as 15,000 miles. Even if you are on the low end of the scale, you are still changing your oil more than twice as frequently as needed if you are sticking to the 3,000 mile myth.

Most consumers are scared into getting an oil change every 3,000 miles by the quick lube industry, even if the manuals in their glove boxes say otherwise. Compounded with very modern-looking components under the hood, a crafty oil change 'technician' can easily take a consumer for hundreds of dollars on each visit, making your next return visit all that much more important. To help remind you of your next pocket-flush, you even get that fancy sticker on the windshield of your car that conveniently lists a mileage interval 3,000 miles away. It's nothing more than marketing, and you shouldn't fall for it!

Synthetic Oil

Oil technology today is much better than it was even a decade ago. Even conventional motor oil, which is the most prone to sludge, outperforms oils made ten years ago. New standards introduced in the mid-2000s made for a cleaner and longer-lasting oil. If you happen to use synthetic motor oil, you are doing even better as synthetic oil gets better fuel economy, resists sludge, and lasts much longer.

Despite what you may have heard, synthetic motor oil doesn't cause leaks. In many cases, the increased cost of synthetic motor oil is well worth it, especially if you buy your oil at a supercenter or wholesale club and bring it with you for your oil change. Yes, you can do that, though some shops don't want you to because of the markup on motor oil. For instance, Supertech synthetic motor oil manufactured and distributed by Walmart can cost about $17 for a five-gallon jug, while the same amount of motor oil in a shop may cost as much as $80!

Know Your Car

So what does all of this mean? Know your car! Open your manual and take a look at the service intervals recommended by your manufacturer. You will almost always require the "normal" maintenance schedule, unless you're operating a taxi or some other delivery service. If your manual says 10,000 miles, get your oil changed at 10,000 miles. If your vehicle has an oil change indicator, pay attention to it. Your oil change frequencies will be calculated based upon real world conditions, such as temperature and driving habits.

If you take your vehicle to an auto shop for oil changes, make sure to select a shop that honestly tells you how often you should be changing the oil. If your manual says 7,000 miles and the shop tells you 3,000 miles, go somewhere else. If that shop will tell a white lie in order to make money from you, what else will that shop do to get your money?

Want to save money? Change your own oil and filter. Just make sure that you know the proper way to do it (or have someone who can help you) and that you select the right products for your vehicle. Your owner's manual or the oil filler cap under the hood will list the correct specification for motor oil.