Getting Routine Oil Changes

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Updated: 7/16/2012 12:04 pm Published: 7/13/2012 3:55 pm

Troy Cox of Cecil and Sons Discount Tires stopped by GDGC to answer a few questions we had about changing the oil in our vehicles:

1) A great many things are changing in how we maintain our vehicles, even in things as seemingly simple and routine as oil changes. What are some of the bigger changes we are starting to see?

As oil technology has improved, its service life has become extended, in some cases, well beyond the traditional 3 month or 3000 mile interval that traditionally has been suggested. Additionally, our cars are, increasingly, tracking how we drive and recommending oil changes based on that as opposed to the historical “normal” and “severe” service recommendations. With that in mind, we are starting to see oil changes done more when they’re needed than on an arbitrary schedule of time or miles. It’s entirely possible that two customers with the same exact year/make/model of car could have radically differing service intervals based solely on the difference in their use of their cars. One might be changing at a fairly traditional 3000-3500 miles where the other might be closer to 10,000 miles between changes. The biggest factors extending life here are the additive packages that have been developed and the increasingly common use of the more stable semi-synthetic and full-synthetic oils by the various automobile manufacturers. Another big change we’ve seen in the last several years is auto manufacturers becoming much more specific about the types of oil we can run, often tying warranty claims to not only recommended maintenance intervals being followed but did we run the oil type and weight specified. Whether just lighter weights like 0w30 or the 5w20 that are become increasingly common, or actually specifying a specific requirement (like GM’s 5w30 Dexos specification) running oil other than approved by the manufacturer can be an issue should you have an engine problem you need warranted.

2) So we can expect to do fewer oil changes, which saves us time and money?

Well, time certainly as you could be going in for service less often. Again, remember how and where you drive as well as the type of oil you use will determine how often you need to change oil. You probably shouldn’t expect to save a great deal of money; you are doing fewer changes but the oil itself is getting more expensive-the full synthetics are currently running $6-9 per quart while the semi-synthetics are currently $4-7 per quart vs. $3-4 per quart for standard oils. Simple math says if the oil is twice as expensive, but only has to be changed half as often, your net costs will be similar. The important things are to make sure what your car’s dash readout and your car’s owner’s manual recommend similar mileage intervals and that you are using an appropriate replacement oil in your vehicle. In our industry we’ve seen issues with folks going outside the factory recommended oil weights and types who’ve created expensive problems for themselves. For example, if your vehicle specifies a 5w20, which is almost always going to be a synthetic or synthetic blend, don’t fill it up with a standard 5w30 or 10w30 and think “it’s all the same” as you can have issues ranging from poor engine performance to engine failure. Also, with fewer oil changes being done it becomes essential to check your oil level regularly. All engines consume some oil and all manufacturers have a standard for what constitutes “excessive” consumption. Let’s assume your car holds six quarts of oil, that your car’s oil life monitor is having you change oil every 6000 miles, and you’re consuming one quart of oil every 2000 miles.

If you assume everything’s fine and never check your oil level between services, you’d have lost half your oil 2000 miles before your next scheduled service and a motor won’t live long only half full of oil. While you do have a warning light for when oil level or pressure gets dangerously low, if you wait until that comes on to add oil to your engine you’re likely doing damage. As a side note, another oil change interval consideration is starting to show up for “Flexfuel” rated vehicles that are being run with E85 (85% ethanol/15% gasoline) exclusively—those often have change intervals that are only half as long as the same car running 100% gasoline as the high alcohol content breaks the oil down so quickly. If you’re thinking E85 is going to save you money, be aware that there’s a potential additional cost in much more frequent oil changes to offset the lower price at the pump for E85.

3) So it’s no longer a case of “oil is oil”?

Absolutely not. It’s critical to use the correct, recommended type of oil in your engine when it’s new to maintain your warranty. Should you have engine difficulties while under warranty, be sure the manufacturer will have the oil analyzed and if it’s not what they’ve specified, you’re unlikely to get help. So always stay with the recommended weight and specification oil recommended by the manufacturer. Typically we see GF5 and/or Dexos ratings on the best synthetic and semi-synthetic oils but your owner’s manual (and often the oil cap itself) will give you the recommended weight range and service descriptions for your temperatures and driving conditions. Remember, your engine was designed for the pumping, flow, and draining characteristics of a particular multi-weight oil. Except in very special circumstances you don’t want to go with weight or type of oil other than the manufacturer recommendations. In some cases, like the General Motors vehicles built in the last few years, you see a specific rating recommended oil rating: in their case, you’re looking for oil that meets their “Dexos” standard ideally or you can substitute a GF-5 rated oil if Dexos is unavailable. In this case, the Dexos is specified as they believe it’s best suited to meet the much longer intervals between changes that GM is allowing in their vehicles with oil life monitors. Initially only a few full synthetics were Dexos rated but now there are several full-synthetic and semi-synthetic oils that do so. From a warranty standpoint or a long-term owners view, putting an oil that meets the manufacturer’s standards is your best shot towards both long-term engine life and minimizes your chance of ending up broken and awaiting a tow truck.

Cecil and Sons Discount Tires is family owned and operated since 1973; three generations of our family serving, in many cases, third and fourth generations of our customer’s families. Cecil and Sons has tires, custom wheels, alignment and suspension repair, brakes, preventative maintenance and light line mechanical service.

Cecil and Sons Discount Tires
204 East Morrow Road
Sand Springs, OK

4002 South St Hwy 97
Sand Springs, OK

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