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The Challenge of Determing How Often to Change Your Oil

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

The Challenge of Determing How Often to Change Your Oil

Steve Tarini
November 17, 2009

Steve Tarini

The 3,000 mile oil change dilemma has been with us for decades, but is finally starting to fade. It is predicted that in less than 10 years there won't be any talk of the 3,000 mile oil change. And for good reason, there are already better oils out there on the market that can handle drain intervals from 15,000-25,000 miles.

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. Going once a year between oil changes in Europe is considered normal and the notion that we change our oil up to 4 or 5 times is year seems nothing short of strange to most Europeans.

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. Synthetic oil has been around since the early 70's, but now there are a few top notch oils on the market that are stretching their drain intervals well beyond 3,000 miles. The difference is how you tweak it to get the performance out of it. One of the big factor's in the strength of the oil is the additive package. 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. Longer drain intervals can be achieved with the right high quality basestocks and additive packages.

Let's face it when have you ever bought the cheapest product and expected premium performance? As North America starts to wake up to what the rest of the world is doing consumers are making purchases of higher priced synthetic oil because of the numerous benefits. 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. Don't fall into the 3,000 mile oil change trap, it's nothing more than an ATM machine for the big oil companies, stop giving them your money.

Author-Steve Tarini is a long time proponent of extended drain intervals using Amsoil Synthetic Lubricants. With over 750,000 miles of personally testing Amsoil over the last 13 years these oils match the stricter specs of European blended oils.

On our website we are offering a 25% discount on your first order. You will see a special link at the bottom of this article =>http://www.bestsyntheticoilandfilters.com/3000MileMyth.aspx

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