The 3,000 Mile Myth
31 October 2009
One of the more hotly contested debates that has proliferated across the internet over the years is that of how often should you change your oil. Although this silly debate will probably go on for at least a few more years this article hopes to a take a slightly different look at this topic.
Something that is rarely if ever mentioned are the drain intervals of European Nations. What most people in North America don't know is that for the last 20 plus years Europeans have enjoyed the convenience of 25,000 mile drain intervals.
Generally speaking, the typical habits of European's is to take their vehicles in once a year and leave it at the Dealership for the entire day. While visiting Italy in 2007 I never observed any quick lubes and I was in 5 different cities. This is common throughout Europe and the notion that Americans change their oil every 3,000-5,000 miles is a bit absurd.
One would have to ask how can European's go an entire year without changing their oil? Well there can only be one answer, it has to be the oil they're using. Well if this was your first assumption then you're absolutely correct. Let's touch on that and see what the big difference is.
In Europe there are primarily two major suppliers of motor oil and these same two suppliers also supply motor oil to North America. What's the difference? Well marketing for one, if you told Europeans they had to change their oil every 3,000 miles well let's just say that wouldn't go over so well. Where as here in North America the 3,000 mile song and dance is virtually all most have ever heard.
European specs for passenger car motor oil has a much higher threshold to pass then oil here in the United States. The bottom line is the oils sold here can't last for 25,000 miles. It's predicted that within the next 10 years there will be no such thing as a 3,000 mile oil change. The dynamics of our economy won't allow it coupled with the fact the big oil companies can't keep their dirty little secret forever.
There really isn't any reason to start a debate about which brand of oil is best and here's why. When it comes to synthetic oil all the oil companies out there can make it since it is a man made product. The difference is how you tweak it to get the performance out of it. The other factor is the additive's. The bottom line is this, all additives come from just a few select suppliers in the U.S. it's up to each oil company to blend their own formula's. Obviously just like the quality of the synthetic base oil the additives play a critical role when determining oil change intervals. There are some very high quality additives out there, but not all oil companies elected to use them except those oil companies that elected to offer longer drain intervals.
Let's face it when have you ever bought the cheapest product and expected premium performance? If you want longer drain intervals and a better performing vehicle then do your research and don't buy into the hype and fancy marketing. There are several ways to test oils to see which are best, but that's a topic for another time. Talk to people that have used specific brands of oils and ask them for an opinion. Talk to mechanics that have torn apart engines where the real proof is, this is where you get your real answer.
Step out of the 3,000 mile box and don't be sucked into the marketing hype. The big oil companies are out to get your money and they want to get it as often as possible so do your research and see what's out there.
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