I met a friend for lunch today. She couldn’t linger after the bill came; she had a long list of things to get done. Groceries. Run her son to soccer practice. The everyday chores we all have on a busy day. Then she turned, to-do list in hand, and said, “Oh yeah, I guess I have to get an oil change. I keep putting it off …”
Your car needs motor oil in the same way it needs gasoline. If you fail to fill the gas tank, your car won’t operate. If you forget to change the motor oil, your engine will eventually cease.
We can’t forget gas. Our cars will let us know pretty quickly. Motor oil takes a bit longer.
Maybe that’s why we tend to believe some of the myths around motor oil. Like if it’s really necessary to get an oil change every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Is that true?
Let’s dive in and look at some of the most common oil change myths, and discover what you should do to protect your vehicle.
Oil change myth #1: An oil change is necessary every 3,000 miles
In the past, the 3,000-mile rule made sense when conventional oils and engine technology were less advanced. However, with modern vehicles and synthetic oils, this myth has become outdated and, more importantly, costly. Here’s the reality:
The Truth: Follow your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations.
Modern vehicles are designed to run efficiently with longer intervals between oil changes. In fact, most car manufacturers and oil experts recommend changing the oil every 7,500 to 10,000 miles, and some high-performance synthetic oils can extend that interval even further. When in doubt, refer to your manufacturer’s guidance and check your owner’s manual for more details.
Oil change myth #2: Change your oil before a road trip
It’s a well-intentioned belief—many drivers think that changing their oil before a road trip is a precautionary measure to ensure their vehicle performs optimally during long journeys. However, in most cases, this belief is more rooted in tradition than practicality.
The Truth: Timing is key, not just mileage.
While regular oil changes are crucial for maintaining a healthy engine, changing the oil right before a road trip may not be necessary if you’ve recently had a scheduled maintenance service. What matters most is the timing of your last oil change relative to your vehicle’s recommended intervals.
Oil change myth #3: The oil filter should be replaced at every oil change
For years, many drivers have thought that changing the oil filter with every oil change is a non-negotiable practice. However, the truth lies in understanding the purpose of the oil filter and how it functions within the context of regular vehicle maintenance.
The Truth: Oil filters have a lifespan.
Oil filters are crucial in trapping contaminants and debris, preventing them from circulating through the engine and causing damage. While they are effective, it’s important to recognize that most modern oil filters are designed to last longer than a single oil change interval.
Just like oil change intervals, automobile manufacturers provide guidelines for oil filter replacement in the owner’s manual. These guidelines are often tied to specific mileage or time intervals. High-quality oil filters, especially those designed for extended use, can efficiently capture and retain contaminants over an extended period. Choosing a reputable brand and type of oil filter can contribute to longer service intervals. Trust a reliable mechanic to help you along.
Oil change myth #4: Only use one type of oil forever
Many drivers have grown up with the belief that once you find the right oil for your vehicle, you should stick with it indefinitely. However, advancements in engine technology and the availability of various oil formulations challenge this long-standing belief.
The Truth: Adaptability to changing needs.
Modern engines are designed to be more versatile and can often accommodate different types of oils depending on driving conditions, climate, and the engine’s age. While it’s crucial to choose an oil that aligns with your vehicle’s requirements, exclusive loyalty to a single type may not be necessary.
There are different types of oils, including conventional, synthetic, and blends. Each type has its own set of advantages and is formulated to address specific needs. For instance, synthetic oils offer superior high-temperature stability and overall engine protection. Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommended oil specifications. Many modern engines can benefit from various oil formulations, allowing you to adapt to changing driving conditions and seasons. If you frequently experience extreme temperatures, stop-and-go traffic, or engage in heavy towing, you may need an oil formulation that offers enhanced protection under these specific conditions.
Oil change myth #5: Thicker oil is always better
Many car owners have been led to believe that using thicker oil will enhance their engine’s protection, especially in older or high-mileage vehicles. However, the truth lies in understanding the delicate balance between oil viscosity and engine specifications.
The Truth: Optimal viscosity for engine health.
While oil viscosity is a critical factor in engine protection, the belief that thicker oil is universally superior is inaccurate. The optimal viscosity depends on various factors, including the vehicle’s design, engine specifications, and operating conditions. Thicker oils may be beneficial in extreme temperatures, providing better lubrication in high-temperature conditions. However, using excessively thick oil in moderate climates can hinder engine efficiency and fuel economy.
Oil change myth #6: Synthetic oil leaks more
For years, some car owners have been hesitant to make the switch to synthetic oil due to the fear that it might cause an increase in leaks. However, this myth is rooted more in misinformation than actual evidence.
The Truth: Synthetic oils and engine seals.
Synthetic oils, known for their superior lubrication properties and stability, are designed to meet or exceed the specifications set by vehicle manufacturers. The misconception about increased leaks likely arises from misunderstanding the relationship between synthetic oils and engine seals. High-quality synthetic oils are formulated to be fully compatible with engine seals and gaskets. In fact, many synthetic oils contain additives that can condition and rejuvenate seals, reducing the risk of leaks. Synthetic oils offer enhanced stability at high temperatures, reducing the likelihood of oil breakdown and the formation of deposits that can contribute to leaks.
Oil change myth #7: Once you switch to synthetic oil, you have to stick with it
For many car owners, transitioning from conventional to synthetic oil comes with a perceived permanence. However, this myth limits flexibility and doesn’t consider the evolving needs of both your vehicle and advancements in lubrication technology.
The Truth: Fluid compatibility and gradual transitions.
Switching between oil types, including returning to conventional oil after using synthetic, is generally acceptable and won’t harm your engine. Both traditional and synthetic oils are compatible with each other, and modern engines are designed to handle different oil formulations. Modern engines are built to hold various oil formulations. If your vehicle initially used conventional oil and you switch to synthetic, or vice versa, the engine should adapt without negative consequences. Check with your owner’s manual for more details.
Oil change myths … debunked
Does this change your opinions or beliefs on oil changes? Modern-day vehicles are designed to be forgiving, and create a reliable driving experience every time you slip behind the wheel.
Need help with your next oil change? That’s why we’re here. Stop by and discover how an independent family-owned service station can help keep you on the road.