Select Page

Risk of Extended Oil Change Intervals


Nothing in your engine workers harder than your oil. With hundreds of moving parts, and thousands of explosions every minute, it’s no wonder that engine oil needs to be changed frequently!

You’ve probably heard the old rule of thumb: Change your oil every 3,000 miles/ 5,000 kilometers or 3 months, whichever comes first. But some car manufacturers have introduced extended oil change intervals. They figure that a modern vehicle driven under the right conditions can go for 5,000 miles/8000 kilometers or more between an oil change.

The key phrase here is “under the right conditions”. If you look at your owner’s manual, you’ll see two different maintenance schedules: one for “normal” driving conditions and one for “Severe Service”. Severe service driving conditions include stop and go, short trips, towing, hauling, hot, cold, and dusty driving. That’s why at AutoNetTV we often refer you to the severe service schedule in your owners’ manual, because, for most of us GA car owners, that’s the way we use our vehicles in everyday life.

Recently, four of the largest auto manufacturers in the world have extended engine warranty coverage for engine damage caused by oil sludge resulting from longer oil change intervals. They found that real-world conditions require more frequent oil changes than the 7,500mi/12,000 km interval they were recommending. They subsequently recommended more frequent oil change intervals and proof of timely oil changes in order to qualify for the extended warranty.

Oil sludge is the culprit. Sludge is oil that has turned to a thick, jelly-like consistency. Sludge can block passages in the engine, preventing oil from lubricating vital engine parts. Parts wear more quickly and may fail prematurely.

Sludge is caused by several factors. The first one is simply – time. The engine oil is contaminated by exhaust gas that eventually leads to sludge. That is where the recommendation to change your oil at least every three months comes from. Sludge can also come from oil that gets contaminated by water from normal condensation. A few minutes of driving at GA freeway speeds allows the oil to heat up enough for the water to evaporate. The problem is we often run errands or take other short trips that don’t allow the engine to warm up enough for the water to evaporate. This is especially true in winter. Sludge also forms when the engine gets too hot, causing the oil to breakdown. Stop and go summer driving, towing and hauling are all prime conditions for creating harmful sludge. And every engine has hot spots that create sludge.

Given all of these factors, estimating when to change your oil is pretty complicated. A couple of manufacturers have computer programs built into their vehicles that record the number of cold starts, how many times the cylinders fire, engine temperature and other factors. From that, the computer estimates when you should change your oil and flashes a warning. But what if you do not have a vehicle with this feature? How do you know when to change your oil? We’re not sure you really can. Which is why it is better to be safe than sorry. 3,000 mi/5,000 km or three months – whichever comes first – talk with a service advisor at Cooper Lake Automotive in Smyrna and see if that’s a good recommendation for the way you drive.

Super Slick at Cooper Lake Automotive in Smyrna: Synthetic Oil

When you get an oil change, it’s always a safe bet to just use the type of oil the vehicle manufacturer recommends. But sometimes we’re asked if we’d like conventional or synthetic motor oil. We glance at the price tags on the two options and choose the cheaper one. But in this case, the more expensive oil might be the better bargain for Smyrna car owners.

Conventional oil is made from petroleum. Its molecules form long hydrocarbon chains. Synthetic motor oil is either more highly refined petroleum or completely man-made. Its molecules are more uniform. This provides essential advantages over conventional motor oil.

First of all, the molecular structure of synthetic motor oil makes it more slippery than conventional oil so it lubricates better. This translates to better wear protection for Smyrna drivers, cooler operating temperatures, more engine power and increased fuel efficiency.

Further, synthetic oil is more heat-resistant than conventional oil, and it doesn’t vaporize as easily. It provides better protection for severe conditions like stop-and-go driving around Smyrna and very hot or freezing GA temperatures.

Also, synthetic oil doesn’t generate harmful oil sludge like conventional oil. This prevents small engine passageways from becoming clogged, which can significantly extend the working life of your sedan engine.

Manufacturers are aware of the advantages of synthetic oil, and many of them are using it to fill their sedans before delivering them to be sold. Many automobile manufacturer’s owner’s manuals now come with the recommendation to use only synthetic oil. Because synthetic oil wears better and protects better than conventional motor oil, it can be changed less often. If your sedan came with a recommendation for synthetic oil, you may have noticed that the recommended period between oil changes is longer than what you’re used to. However, if you switch to conventional oil, you need to be aware that you can’t follow this longer service interval. You’ll have to change your oil more often.

On the other hand, if you are using conventional oil and you switch to synthetic oil, you may be able to lengthen the time between oil changes. You can speak with your Personable Cooper Lake Automotive service advisor. He can offer you good auto advice about oils and service intervals based on your driving habits and requirements.

Oil changes are the hallmark of vital preventive maintenance at Cooper Lake Automotive. All Smyrna drivers need them. So we should get excited about a product that reduces how often we need them. Synthetic oil is more costly, yes, but it can pay for itself by lasting longer than conventional oil. And when you add in the hidden savings of an extended engine life and improved fuel economy, not to mention increased engine power, there’s a good chance that synthetic oil actually saves in the long run. All Smyrna motorists pay for car care. But understanding what we’re paying for can make us more savvy shoppers.