Oil change intervals: How long is too long?

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Oil Change Intervals

At Motorcars International we take pride in providing accurate information. When it comes to your vehicle, we understand the importance of proper service and preventive care to keep your car in tip-top shape. Oil Change Intervals should always depend on mileage, not your car’s dashboard computer. Many newer cars incorporate some sort of active maintenance reminder system that is supposed to tell you when service is due based on your individual driving style. Manufacturers claim that this will reduce maintenance cost by allowing you to drive more miles between oil changes and other routine services. What could be better? Your “smart car” determines when it needs attention.

Great idea in theory; however, real world experience has shown that this approach is flawed. During the first few years of operation everything will seem ok, but as the engine ages, sludge can begin to form and accumulate. This is due to a combination of normal wear, stop-and-go traffic, and short hop driving; conditions that encourage water condensation inside the engine. This water (a byproduct of burning gasoline) combines with oil and forms sludge. A car that is driven long distances at higher speeds will not form sludge as readily.

What does sludge do? It coats surfaces and can clog the oil pump intake and other oil passages. Restricted oil flow can quickly lead to catastrophic engine damage or failure (think reduced blood flow due to clogged arteries).

Sludge accumulates over time. Engine oil contains additives that dissolve sludge and hold it in suspension, but there are limits that will be exceeded if left too long. If the oil is changed often enough, no sludge will form inside the engine. Cleaning an engine that has already accumulated a heavy coating is quite expensive and may be too late. Avoiding the sludge problem in the first place is easily accomplished; simply change the engine oil and filter on a mileage basis rather than trusting the onboard computer.

Motorcars International Recommends 3 Different Oil Change Intervals:

  • If your car uses standard oil, the interval should be 3,000 miles

  • If you are using a semi-synthetic, or “syn-blend,” the interval should be 5,000 miles

  • If your car requires full synthetic oil, the interval should be 7,500 miles, except in VW 1.8 Turbo engines, which should be 5,000

Another issue with allowing your onboard computer to dictate oil changes is that unless your car is experiencing other issues, it may not be seen by a technician for a year or more. Not having fluids, belts, and tires inspected for more than a year could lead to unforeseen and costly problems. At Motorcars, oil changes are also a time for technicians to provide a vehicle check (fluids, belts, tires) to keep you from having unexpected issues.

If you are the proud owner of a BMW, Mini-Cooper, VW, Toyota, Lexus, Honda, Acura, or SAAB, feel free to schedule your appointment online today.

Written by Maria W.V

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