Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

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whodidntante
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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by whodidntante » Tue Sep 25, 2018 12:31 pm

One year is what my manufacturer recommends. I drove so little that this is sometimes the trigger.

I do not recommend asking your oil change place. There is a clear conflict of interest there.

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catdude
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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by catdude » Tue Sep 25, 2018 1:42 pm

OP here. Thank you all for your responses. Wow, I had no idea Bogleheads were so interested in oil changes! :)

I think the folks who say "follow the manual" have won the argument. That's what I'll do...

Thanks again...
catdude | | "As much as cats fight, there always seems to be plenty of kittens." (Abraham Lincoln)

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David Jay
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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by David Jay » Tue Sep 25, 2018 1:45 pm

livesoft wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 5:47 am
I think even every 6 months (unless the oil change is free) is probably overkill in a low mileage driven-at-least-once-a-week situation.
+1
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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by finite_difference » Tue Sep 25, 2018 2:48 pm

I agree with follow the manual but timewise I think you should at least change the oil once per year (in spring) and also always use full synthetic.

The only exception to the once per year rule would be if you have low mileage, and the car never experiences low temperatures, and you have tested your oil to make sure it’s holding up well over some longer time period.
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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by tesuzuki2002 » Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:35 pm

catdude wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 1:20 am
Hi Bogleheads,

I searched the archives and found that threads on this specific subject are five or six years old, so I thought I'd start a new thread. I have a 2017 Ford Escape, and I don't drive much. I put about 4000 miles a year on it. Most of that is from short trips, running errands around town. My mechanic says I should have the oil changed every three months (roughly 1300 - 1500 miles).

I decided to RTFM (Read The Fine Manual)... :P It says to change the oil every 5000 files or six months. I'm inclined to go with what the manual says, but if anyone thinks my mechanic is right about this, please let me know. Maybe because of all the short trips I take, I need to adhere to a shorter interval? What do y'all think?
If you have factory warranty... you do what the manual says!

bowtieman81
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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by bowtieman81 » Tue Sep 25, 2018 7:23 pm

I generally agree with following the manual. I will add that if you are curious and want some real data you can send in an oil sample for lab analysis.

I do this on our vehicles each time I change the oil; I like to see how the engines are doing and it can tell you how much useable life the oil has left (so far the oil life indicators in our cars have been pretty darn close). I use Blackstone labs, but I am sure there are other places that will do it.
Last edited by bowtieman81 on Sat Sep 29, 2018 6:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by ClevrChico » Tue Sep 25, 2018 8:07 pm

Once/year here. Cheap and effective.

beastykato
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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by beastykato » Tue Sep 25, 2018 11:00 pm

researcher wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 11:19 am
beastykato wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 9:31 am
The defense that people use of just listening to the manufacturer is bogus. All their millions and blah blah blah spent on research.
So you're suggesting people void their factory warranty by ignoring the manufacturer's suggested maintenance?

And instead they should use anonymous internet posters suggestions, which are better than what Ford says?
No, you're interpreting what I said in the manner in which you want.

I agree with following the manual while you're in your warranty period because that's the smart thing to do.

However, there are a lot of smart people on these forums. I do find it surprising that they would simply "accept" that the manual is the bible for their car.

You can very easily, as I suggested, go look up the exact same engine in many of our vehicles that are being used in other regions with totally different oil weights and drain intervals. In the U.S. the strict laws in place for emissions and gas mileage are the reason that car manufacturers moved to thinner oils for instance, not because they protect better. Who is that better for? You? Or them meeting their regulations?

I'm not saying the manual is bad advice or that you should jeopardize a warranty over it, I'm saying it's influenced by the laws in place that they must follow, not simply on what's best for you.

I'm merely saying to use some common sense and do your own research. Don't accept it's best simply because it's in the book in the glove box. We certainly seem to take that approach with investments. We don't just accept that index fund investing is best just because Bogle said so.

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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by RickBoglehead » Wed Sep 26, 2018 4:58 am

catdude wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 1:20 am
Hi Bogleheads,

I searched the archives and found that threads on this specific subject are five or six years old, so I thought I'd start a new thread. I have a 2017 Ford Escape, and I don't drive much. I put about 4000 miles a year on it. Most of that is from short trips, running errands around town. My mechanic says I should have the oil changed every three months (roughly 1300 - 1500 miles).

I decided to RTFM (Read The Fine Manual)... :P It says to change the oil every 5000 files or six months. I'm inclined to go with what the manual says, but if anyone thinks my mechanic is right about this, please let me know. Maybe because of all the short trips I take, I need to adhere to a shorter interval? What do y'all think?
I suggest you read the manual again. Your Escape has an IOLM (Intelligent Oil Life Monitor). It will tell you when your driving necessitates a change, which will be no later than10,000 miles or one year. If you don't want to do it then, reset it for 50% life and then do it.
Last edited by RickBoglehead on Wed Sep 26, 2018 7:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by researcher » Wed Sep 26, 2018 5:11 am

beastykato wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 11:00 pm
No, you're interpreting what I said in the manner in which you want.
I agree with following the manual while you're in your warranty period because that's the smart thing to do.
I'm not saying the manual is bad advice or that you should jeopardize a warranty over it.
The OP asked for opinions on the oil change interval for his new 2017 model vehicle.
You initially stated that "The defense that people use of just listening to the manufacturer is bogus." Yet now say you "agree with following the manual" and that the "manual is not bad advice." Those seem like two very different, contradictory statements to me.
You can very easily, as I suggested, go look up the exact same engine in many of our vehicles that are being used in other regions with totally different oil weights and drain intervals. In the U.S. the strict laws in place for emissions and gas mileage are the reason that car manufacturers moved to thinner oils for instance, not because they protect better. Who is that better for? You? Or them meeting their regulations?
Do you think the climate and conditions in other countries may drive the need for different maintenance schedules?
Would a car operating in the Middle East or Russia require different maintenance than one in the United States?
Just because the recommendations are different, doesn't mean they are better/more appropriate for a car in the U.S.

Here's an example from my current vehicle...
- The maintenance intervals (oil, air, fuel filters) are SHORTER for Mexico than the U.S. This is due to a hotter, dustier climate with less developed infrastructure (more dirt roads, dirty/less refined fuel, ect).
- The recommended oil is 5w-30 in Mexico and fully synthetic 0W-20 in the U.S. This is driven by the warmer climate in Mexico and limited availability of fully synthetic oil.

None of this should have any bearing on how I maintain my car in the U.S.
I certainly wouldn't be better off using dino 5w-30 instead of synthetic 0w-20, just because that's what is recommended in Mexico.
I do find it surprising that they would simply "accept" that the manual is the bible for their car.
I'm merely saying to use some common sense and do your own research. Don't accept it's best simply because it's in the book in the glove box.
Inventing your own alternate maintenance schedule (based on internet "research") is rarely/never going to be a better option than simply following the manufacturer recommendations. What research would cause you to override the manufacturer's own research/development/ engineering/testing?

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Frugal Al
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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by Frugal Al » Wed Sep 26, 2018 6:14 am

RickBoglehead wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 4:58 am
You Escape has an IOLM (Intelligent Oil Life Monitor). It will tell you when your driving necessitates a change, which will be no later than10,000 miles or one year. If you don't want to do it then, reset it for 50% life and then do it.
I agree, Rick, and said as much in my earlier post. I don't agree with ignoring it and resetting it for 50%, and then doing it. If proven it was done, that would void the mfrr's warranty for oil related issues.

Newer Maintenance Monitor/Maintenance Minder algorithms even keep track of elapsed time (such as 1 year) in addition to the other driving parameters affecting oil life--older maintenance algorithms did not. Most owners manuals advise the oil to be changed in accordance with the maintenance reminder algorithm. It should be considered a maximum change interval to maintain warranty for oil related problems.

As mentioned previously, if this is the turbo engined version of the Escape, I'd go with full synthetic meeting the newer API SN Plus oil specification, which helps prevent LSPI (Low Speed Pre-Ignition) in gasoline direct injected turbocharged engines. The OP hasn't yet volunteered whether their Escape is turbo or not.

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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by beastykato » Wed Sep 26, 2018 9:11 am

researcher wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 5:11 am
Above
Once again twisting the words. I did say that "just follow the manual" is a weak bogus defense and it is. I did not recommend that you go out and purposefully void your warranty.

You yourself say a dino oil is recommended in Mexico, because of availability, not because it is a better oil for the vehicle or the consumer.

I addressed climate in my original post. Most manuals now recommend a single oil weight like a 0w-20 or 5w-20. The climate in the U.S. however ranges from Maine to the southern tip of Texas. To try to say that you shouldn't think about the consequences of running a thin 0w-20 in Texas that could turn to water and cause pressure loss in extreme heat just because the manual recommends it is crazy.

The manual must cover all the ranges and cover all the legal bases and are simply not what is "best". Manuals also say it's ok to burn 1qt of oil every 1000 miles. Did the engineers "research" that? We all know a car that burns 1qt every 1000 is a lemon. 4-stroke engines should not burn oil. Oil should never make it into the combustion chamber unless there are defects in manufacturing (oil retention ring/cylinder walls) or bad engineering.

None of what I'm saying means that using what your manual calls for will destroy your vehicle and I never said that. I simply stated in a roundabout way to not be a sheep.

A perfect example is the manual I found for a 2009 Corolla. It's a world car and the ENTIRE rest of the world recommends:

"Toyota genuine oil or equivalent
Oil grade - 20w-50 and 15w 40
API grade SL or SM multigrade
10w-30, 5w-30, 5w-20 and 0w-20
API grade SL "energy conserving"
SM "energy conserving"
ILSAC multigrade engine oil"

The only manual that had any difference at all was the U.S. market

"Toyota genuine oil or equivalent
Oil grade - 5w-20 and 0w-20
API grade SL "energy conserving"
SM "energy conserving"
ILSAC multigrade engine oil"

It's funny how those "heavier" oils magically stop working in North America. The engineers in the rest of the world must just not get it. :oops: :confused :confused It's CAFE and lawyers deciding what gets printed, not the engineers. And with that said I'm done because this argument goes on forever. If you disagree with me you are certainly entitled to your opinion.

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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by researcher » Wed Sep 26, 2018 10:59 am

beastykato wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 9:11 am
None of what I'm saying means that using what your manual calls for will destroy your vehicle and I never said that. I simply stated in a roundabout way to not be a sheep.

A perfect example is the manual I found for a 2009 Corolla. It's a world car and the ENTIRE rest of the world recommends:
20w-50 and 15w 40
10w-30, 5w-30, 5w-20 and 0w-20

5w-20 and 0w-20
You said "The defense that people use of just listening to the manufacturer is bogus."
But it is still not clear to me what "research" you suggest people do, or what actions you suggest people take, versus simply following the owner's manual.

The fact that Mexico or India have have a different maintenance schedule should have no bearing on how you maintain your vehicle in the US. There are many reasons why maintenance for US cars may differ from other countries that does NOT involve evil "CAFE and lawyers deciding what gets printed."

In the odd example you gave of a 10 year old Corolla, the lighter oils recommended in the US ALSO show up in the list of approved oils outside the US.

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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by Charon » Wed Sep 26, 2018 11:38 am

I do every 5000 miles (and put about 4000/year on my car). I did follow the manual when it was under warranty.

I'm amused by the people who are so adamant about "follow the manual" even for a car that's not under warranty... my model year of Subaru says every 7500 miles or 7.5 months. The next model year (with absolutely no major changes to the car) says 6000 miles or 6 months. Do you really think that recommendation change was the result of intense research by the engineers, or might it be the result of ass-covering by the lawyers?

Big Dog
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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by Big Dog » Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:02 pm

once a year for that low mileage. Oil also degrades over time.

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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by hand » Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:25 pm

researcher wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 7:53 am
catdude wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 1:20 am
It says to change the oil every 5000 files or six months.
If the manual says to change the oil every six months, then you should change the oil every six months.

Ford spends huge sums of money on research & development, testing, quality assurance, ect.
They subject engines to all manner of testing over millions of miles.
They employ hundreds of engineers, specialists, subject matter experts, ect.

So why would you follow some anonymous internet poster's suggestion instead of the manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule?
Yes, but... be aware of what those hundreds of engineers, specialists, subject matter experts etc. are trying to solve for.

For mass market cars, these experts are undoubtably focused on 1) best chance of getting to the end of the warrenty period (where manufacturer's liabilty ends, 2) lowest cost of maintenance to 100k miles - where Edmunds and others calculate total cost of ownership including maintenance.

If your maintenance goals are different, you may be well served to take these manufacturers reccomendations with a grain of salt.

Personally, I'm a fan of replacing filter (and topping off oil) at 6 months and oil at 1 year (with a high quality synthetic) for my low milage cars.

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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by neilpilot » Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:50 pm

hand wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:25 pm

Personally, I'm a fan of replacing filter (and topping off oil) at 6 months and oil at 1 year (with a high quality synthetic) for my low milage cars.
While I'd stick to an annual oil and filter change every year, if I wanted to cut back I would pick the opposite tact, i.e. changing the oil at 6 & 12mo and changing the filter every other oil change. I have one vehicle that gets a new filter every other oil change, and I routinely cut open & inspect the used filter for any metal. The filter is actually more efficient after it's been used a bit.

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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by Smoke » Wed Sep 26, 2018 1:02 pm

Full Synthetic Mobil 1™ Annual Protection 20,000 miles or one yr whichever comes first and a quality oil filter.
Keep a record of dates of oil changes.

Once per year oil change for a vehicle getting 4,000 miles per year. It's what I have always done.

Try to combine trips so that each time you go out the oil can get to 212 deg to burn off any water condensation built up in the crankcase.
Usually about 15 miles worth of driving round trip, more in extreme cold.

Any warranted problems with an engine, must be proved to be the "oils" fault by the repair shop in order to void the warranted repair.
Let the dealer fight with Mobil over the issue, which will never happen. imo.
Arguing for the sake of arguing is something I am not going to engage in.

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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by researcher » Wed Sep 26, 2018 1:22 pm

hand wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:25 pm
For mass market cars, these experts are undoubtedly focused on 1) best chance of getting to the end of the warrenty period (where manufacturer's liabilty ends
I don't agree with this at all. The marketplace demands reliability in modern cars.
Consumers expect mainstream vehicles to last 100,000+ miles without serious problems. This has become a default requirement/standard in the auto industry, with manufacturers clearly driven to meet this requirement.

Do you really think major automobile manufacturers focus primarily on their vehicles squeaking past 60,000 miles before the engine or transmission blows up? A focus as you describe would have have disastrous negative consequences for the company.

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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by inbox788 » Wed Sep 26, 2018 1:34 pm

neilpilot wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:50 pm
hand wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:25 pm

Personally, I'm a fan of replacing filter (and topping off oil) at 6 months and oil at 1 year (with a high quality synthetic) for my low milage cars.
While I'd stick to an annual oil and filter change every year, if I wanted to cut back I would pick the opposite tact, i.e. changing the oil at 6 & 12mo and changing the filter every other oil change. I have one vehicle that gets a new filter every other oil change, and I routinely cut open & inspect the used filter for any metal. The filter is actually more efficient after it's been used a bit.
That all depends on whether you're move concerned with removing the impurities and contaminants in the oil vs. replenishing the protective additives. I've heard both, and FWIW, Honda manual calls for oil replacement more often and filter every other. I just do both since I'm already there getting dirty anyway. It's about 5 bucks and maybe filters aren't as bad to the environment as oil to waste for minimal benefit.
Maintenance Main Items
Symbol

• A – Means to replace just engine oil.

• B – Means to replace engine oil and oil filter. Also inspect various systems and components (see applicable service manual for details).
https://www.rensselaerhonda.com/honda-m ... der-codes/

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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by btenny » Wed Sep 26, 2018 2:01 pm

Snowbird here. We lay up two cars for 3 to 5 months at a time. When we drive them we only put about 5k miles per year or less. We change the oil and get them serviced after driving them each year. Then we store them with clean oil. We use a synthetic blend in both.

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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by Smoke » Wed Sep 26, 2018 2:32 pm

btenny wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 2:01 pm
Snowbird here. We lay up two cars for 3 to 5 months at a time. When we drive them we only put about 5k miles per year or less. We change the oil and get them serviced after driving them each year. Then we store them with clean oil. We use a synthetic blend in both.
Synthetic "Blend" can be as little as 10 to 25% Synthetic, making the remaining % conventional oil.
The conventional oil % still degrades the same as conventional oil regardless of the Synthetic %.
I always considered "Blend" as a consumer scam to bilk more money from a consumer, by just adding enough Synthetic to make it sound better.

For a once per year oil change best to get Full Synthetic imo.
Arguing for the sake of arguing is something I am not going to engage in.

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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by McCharley » Wed Sep 26, 2018 3:10 pm

I drive only 1000 miles a year in my Toyota Tacoma, and the manual says to change at 5000 miles or six months.

If I drove as much as you I'd change it every six months.

I change mine yearly because changing the oil at 500 miles just seems absurd. FWIW, the oil looks pristine at 9000 miles.

I have had different mechanics tell me different things -- following the owners' manual is the obvious and sensible approach.

At my rate the vehicle will outlast me, anyway. One of the great pleasures of aging is buying "forever" solutions to problems. :sharebeer

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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by neilpilot » Wed Sep 26, 2018 3:18 pm

McCharley wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 3:10 pm
I drive only 1000 miles a year in my Toyota Tacoma, and the manual says to change at 5000 miles or six months.

If I drove as much as you I'd change it every six months.

I change mine yearly because changing the oil at 500 miles just seems absurd. FWIW, the oil looks pristine at 9000 miles.

I have had different mechanics tell me different things -- following the owners' manual is the obvious and sensible approach.

At my rate the vehicle will outlast me, anyway. One of the great pleasures of aging is buying "forever" solutions to problems. :sharebeer
I'm impressed that the oil looks pristine at 9000 miles. How do you know what it looks at 9k, which presumably takes you 9 years, if you change it yearly?

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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by lazydavid » Wed Sep 26, 2018 4:47 pm

neilpilot wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 3:18 pm
I'm impressed that the oil looks pristine at 9000 miles. How do you know what it looks at 9k, which presumably takes you 9 years, if you change it yearly?
Pretty sure they meant that the oil coming out at the 9th change on a 1,000 mile interval looks nearly new.

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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by Mursili » Wed Sep 26, 2018 6:13 pm

Please follow the manual. Especially do not use "thicker" oil just because you think it might be better for your engine. If you needed such oil (like you operated in excessively high or low temperatures) I imagine that you would already know. Remember that the temperature of the engine when running is reasonably well controlled in modern cars and so the oil operates most of the time at that one temperature.
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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by blastoff » Wed Sep 26, 2018 6:24 pm

Smoke wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 2:32 pm
btenny wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 2:01 pm
Snowbird here. We lay up two cars for 3 to 5 months at a time. When we drive them we only put about 5k miles per year or less. We change the oil and get them serviced after driving them each year. Then we store them with clean oil. We use a synthetic blend in both.
Synthetic "Blend" can be as little as 10 to 25% Synthetic, making the remaining % conventional oil.
The conventional oil % still degrades the same as conventional oil regardless of the Synthetic %.
I always considered "Blend" as a consumer scam to bilk more money from a consumer, by just adding enough Synthetic to make it sound better.

For a once per year oil change best to get Full Synthetic imo.
I largely agree with your observations.

What does synthetic even mean?

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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by Smoke » Wed Sep 26, 2018 7:18 pm

blastoff wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 6:24 pm
Smoke wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 2:32 pm
btenny wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 2:01 pm
Snowbird here. We lay up two cars for 3 to 5 months at a time. When we drive them we only put about 5k miles per year or less. We change the oil and get them serviced after driving them each year. Then we store them with clean oil. We use a synthetic blend in both.
Synthetic "Blend" can be as little as 10 to 25% Synthetic, making the remaining % conventional oil.
The conventional oil % still degrades the same as conventional oil regardless of the Synthetic %.
I always considered "Blend" as a consumer scam to bilk more money from a consumer, by just adding enough Synthetic to make it sound better.

For a once per year oil change best to get Full Synthetic imo.
I largely agree with your observations.

What does synthetic even mean?
Not to get into a debate of Synthetic vs conventional oil ( I know you didn't intend a debate)
This topic can get heated, so I will avoid that.

I looked for a decent link, which may help the reasons why to pick one over the other, especially if only changing once per yr.

Without getting too deep in the tech weeds...
https://mydriversedge.com/synthetic-vs- ... motor-oil/
Arguing for the sake of arguing is something I am not going to engage in.

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hand
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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by hand » Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:14 am

researcher wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 1:22 pm
hand wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:25 pm
For mass market cars, these experts are undoubtedly focused on 1) best chance of getting to the end of the warrenty period (where manufacturer's liabilty ends
I don't agree with this at all. The marketplace demands reliability in modern cars.
Consumers expect mainstream vehicles to last 100,000+ miles without serious problems. This has become a default requirement/standard in the auto industry, with manufacturers clearly driven to meet this requirement.

Do you really think major automobile manufacturers focus primarily on their vehicles squeaking past 60,000 miles before the engine or transmission blows up? A focus as you describe would have have disastrous negative consequences for the company.
The marketplace demands cheap cars, trendy colors and ipone integration / bluetooth. Medium term reliability is a basically table stakes at this point, and resale value (a proxy for longer term maintenance costs) is sometimes considered. An immaterial few new car buyers care about whether a car will operate beyond 100k miles.

Consumers typically buy new cars based on low upfront cost (or *shudder* low monthly payment), with the more sophisticated looking at total cost of ownership over 100k miles. This is the market pressure which drives engineering requirements and maintenance schedules in mass market vehicles.

Extended service lives beyond warrenty are a happy byproduct of the improved tolerances and manufacturing sophistication required to meet the lengthening warrenty periods. Obviously I'm not arguing that a car designed to work well to 60,000 miles will implode at 60,001 miles. From what I've seen, mass market vehicles begin the slide to unreliability shortly after the warrenty period (as with most consumer goods). Most graphic example of the inadaquacy of the factory service schedule from my experiance is changing "lifetime" transmission fluid which makes it blindingly obvious that typical maintenance schedules are not designed to preserve operation beyond some finite usefull life which may or may not align with my expectation of usefull life for the vehicle.

For all those who expect to replace cars at ~100k miles, by all means, follow the maintenance schedule. If your goals are atypical, and you expect a car to last longer, it is worth thinking about whether the maintence schedule was designed with your intended goals in mind (no matter how many experts were involved) and adjusting accordingly.

P.S. While I recognize anctedote is not the singular of data, the recent thread on a Nissan Altima with transmission issues at 98k miles sure seems to be a case in point: viewtopic.php?p=4138037#p4138037

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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by Teague » Thu Sep 27, 2018 11:03 am

No one knows the answer to your question. Unless you have a used oil analysis (UOA) done, there is no way to know if you can safely continue to use your oil, or if it should be changed. There are too many variables involved. Are there excessive wear metals present, insufficient buffering capacity (TBN) remaining, fuel dilution, viscosity changes, other issues? All speculation without testing the oil from your vehicle used in the way that you use it.

Of course, lack of objective data does not rule out strong opinions on this subject (or other subjects, like safe withdrawal rates, etc.) but rather tends to spark endless discussion. So my answer to the question is a humble "I have no idea."
Semper Augustus

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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by mmmodem » Thu Sep 27, 2018 11:16 am

hand wrote:
Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:14 am
For all those who expect to replace cars at ~100k miles, by all means, follow the maintenance schedule. If your goals are atypical, and you expect a car to last longer, it is worth thinking about whether the maintence schedule was designed with your intended goals in mind (no matter how many experts were involved) and adjusting accordingly.

P.S. While I recognize anctedote is not the singular of data, the recent thread on a Nissan Altima with transmission issues at 98k miles sure seems to be a case in point: viewtopic.php?p=4138037#p4138037
While I agree with most of what you wrote concerning low cost vehicles, I disagree with this last bit. I seriously doubt there is any auto manufacturer that has an issue with their vehicles being so reliable that they are building in obsolescence by recommending less maintenance. Why? Because reliability is important in the used market as well as the new market. A few years ago, Elon Musk personally backed every Tesla Model S to maintain at least 50% of its value after 3 years. Few people wants to buy a vehicle that is worth nothing in a few years. Do you think Nissan embraces CVT's that only last 100k miles because they want their cars to be less reliable than Honda and Toyota? I don't disagree that prioritizing flashy and cheap will sell more cars than prioritizing reliability. But purposely sobataging reliability with bad maintenance recommendations does not sell more cars and is just bad business.

I only have anecdotes as well. I keep my cars way past 100k miles. Some of them even past 200k miles. I dutifully follow the owner's manual and few of my vehicles give me issues. I haven't changed the ATF in my Toyotas since 1998 when they claimed my Corolla's ATF is lifetime. It's never stranded me and my frugal aunt still drives it at >220k miles last I saw it.

I work in manufacturing as a profession. I've noticed that senior employees insist on the same feedrates, pressures, etc that they've used for decades and have made millions of product. Why mess with something that works. The junior employees like me practice continuous improvement and look for ways to increase efficiency by using tighter tolerance nozzles or synthetic fluids. However, they continue to push the equivalent of "3000 mile oil changes" despite micron level or nanometer production parameters unheard of a few decades ago. While not all the changes I make are positive, I know that if you stand still and don't improve, you will lose to the competition.

To insist that my direct injection engine with laser drilled fuel nozzles that ensure the precise amount of fuel is injected for combustion needs a 3000 mile oil changes like it's carberated malaise era cousin built in the 70's just doesn't make sense to me. I also speculate in the future when youngsters tell me I never have to rotate modern rubber tires that don't wear, I will tell them how dangerous it is not to rotate tires every 10k miles.

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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by smackboy1 » Thu Sep 27, 2018 6:27 pm

catdude wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 1:20 am
I have a 2017 Ford Escape, and I don't drive much. I put about 4000 miles a year on it. Most of that is from short trips, running errands around town. My mechanic says I should have the oil changed every three months (roughly 1300 - 1500 miles).

I decided to RTFM (Read The Fine Manual)... :P It says to change the oil every 5000 files or six months. I'm inclined to go with what the manual says, but if anyone thinks my mechanic is right about this, please let me know. Maybe because of all the short trips I take, I need to adhere to a shorter interval?
Many years ago I used to spend a lot of time on http://www.bobistheoilguy.com and sent my oil out to a tribologist for used oil analysis. Here are my $0.02.

Low annual miles and lots of short trips can be really hard on oil. Water condensate builds up in the fuel along with other combustion byproducts and just stays in the oil. Normally on longer trips the engine gets up to full operating temperature and burns off a lot of those byproducts.

For warranty reasons, just follow the manual if you are using conventional oil. If you're not planning on keeping your car way beyond 100,000 miles, don't do more than what the manual recommends, you're just extending the engine longevity for the next owner. If you stay somewhat close to the manual your car is unlikely to suddenly explode just because of a little too much time or miles between between oil changes, it will just start burning oil or need a ring job a little earlier.

Your mechanic must be either 1) really really old school; or 2) really really ignorant; or 3) really really has a big boat payment to make each month. He's just wasting your $.

The abridged advice from the tribologist based on UOA was to use a high grade full synthetic oil and change it after 7,000-10,000 miles or 1 year, whichever occurred first. Over time and miles the additives in the oil are exhausted and it isn't as effective at protecting your engine as when it was fresh. Full synthetic is more $ but the oil lasts longer and offers better protection for those short drives.

I'm fond of using Pennzoil Ultra Platinum or Castrol Edge (Euro mfr) full synthetics in my low mileage car.
Disclaimer: nothing written here should be taken as legal advice, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by researcher » Mon Oct 01, 2018 10:35 am

hand wrote:
Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:14 am
The marketplace demands cheap cars, trendy colors and ipone integration / bluetooth...
"The marketplace demands cheap cars, trendy colors...
Consumers typically buy new cars based on low upfront cost (or *shudder* low monthly payment)"

The market is NOT focused on cheap cars.
- The top-selling models are all expensive trucks and SUVs. Sales of less expensive compact/midsize cars are plummeting.
- New car prices have reached an all-time high, and the average call loan amount is at an all-time high.
- The average auto loan length has ballooned to an all-time high.

The market is NOT looking for trendy colors...
- The most popular car color by far is Silver. Rounding out the top three are white and black.

"From what I've seen, mass market vehicles begin the slide to unreliability shortly after the warrenty period (as with most consumer goods).
An immaterial few new car buyers care about whether a car will operate beyond 100k miles."

Modern cars do NOT "begin the slide to unreliability" after 60K miles...
- The average age of vehicles on road is at an all-time high (12.1 years).
- Not only are vehicles getting older, consumers are keeping their vehicles for longer than ever (80 months).
- Quality of new vehicles continues to be a key driver of the rising average vehicle age (IHS Markit).

"Most graphic example of the inadaquacy of the factory service schedule from my experiance is changing "lifetime" transmission fluid which makes it blindingly obvious that typical maintenance schedules are not designed to preserve operation beyond some finite usefull life."
- What data do you have that shows this service schedule is inadequate?
- Vehicles are more reliable than ever and driven longer than ever. This wouldn't be the case if there were widespread "inadequacies" in factory service schedules.

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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by iamlucky13 » Mon Oct 01, 2018 4:09 pm

Charon wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 11:38 am
I do every 5000 miles (and put about 4000/year on my car). I did follow the manual when it was under warranty.

I'm amused by the people who are so adamant about "follow the manual" even for a car that's not under warranty... my model year of Subaru says every 7500 miles or 7.5 months. The next model year (with absolutely no major changes to the car) says 6000 miles or 6 months. Do you really think that recommendation change was the result of intense research by the engineers, or might it be the result of ass-covering by the lawyers?
Both. A lot of Subaru's won't make it 7500 miles without requiring a top off, and Subaru accepted an out-of-court settlement over this two years ago.

I presume the engineers also improved the manufacturing and assembly tolerances to reduce the frequency of occurrences of excess consumption AND reduced the oil change interval to reduce the risk the worst cars consume enough oil between changes to cause damage.

I just added a full quart to our 2013 Outback at a little over 3000 miles, which brought it back to the level I normally fill it to (about 2/3 the way up between the dipstick min/max marks).

I've been really busy and hadn't followed up on the settlement, but I think I'm going to. I want another decade or more of use out of this car, and don't want to hassle with this issue for that long, especially if it gets worse.

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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by TheAccountant » Mon Oct 01, 2018 4:14 pm

Look in the owners manual - they usually give you a time frame if you don't exceed the mileage, usually 1 year. Not sure if new car computers factor this in or not, but definitely look in the owner manual or e-mail the manufacturer rather than ask online.
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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by ArmchairArchitect » Mon Oct 01, 2018 10:19 pm

Plenty of info in the forums at bobistheoilguy.com. Youll get much better info reading/posting there rather than on a personal finance forum.

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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by TheAccountant » Mon Oct 01, 2018 10:23 pm

ArmchairArchitect wrote:
Mon Oct 01, 2018 10:19 pm
Plenty of info in the forums at bobistheoilguy.com. Youll get much better info reading/posting there rather than on a personal finance forum.
One of my favorite automotive forums.
Making cents out of every dollar.

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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by smitcat » Tue Oct 02, 2018 8:45 am

TheAccountant wrote:
Mon Oct 01, 2018 10:23 pm
ArmchairArchitect wrote:
Mon Oct 01, 2018 10:19 pm
Plenty of info in the forums at bobistheoilguy.com. Youll get much better info reading/posting there rather than on a personal finance forum.
One of my favorite automotive forums.
It used to be one of my favorites as well until they sold out so now it has 'promotional' content mixed in.

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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by TheAccountant » Tue Oct 02, 2018 9:23 am

smitcat wrote:
Tue Oct 02, 2018 8:45 am
TheAccountant wrote:
Mon Oct 01, 2018 10:23 pm
ArmchairArchitect wrote:
Mon Oct 01, 2018 10:19 pm
Plenty of info in the forums at bobistheoilguy.com. Youll get much better info reading/posting there rather than on a personal finance forum.
One of my favorite automotive forums.
It used to be one of my favorites as well until they sold out so now it has 'promotional' content mixed in.
Meh, the posts are still the same. I'm all for it if it helps keep the site online.
Making cents out of every dollar.

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Re: Oil change interval for low-mileage vehicles

Post by smitcat » Tue Oct 02, 2018 9:38 am

TheAccountant wrote:
Tue Oct 02, 2018 9:23 am
smitcat wrote:
Tue Oct 02, 2018 8:45 am
TheAccountant wrote:
Mon Oct 01, 2018 10:23 pm
ArmchairArchitect wrote:
Mon Oct 01, 2018 10:19 pm
Plenty of info in the forums at bobistheoilguy.com. Youll get much better info reading/posting there rather than on a personal finance forum.
One of my favorite automotive forums.
It used to be one of my favorites as well until they sold out so now it has 'promotional' content mixed in.
Meh, the posts are still the same. I'm all for it if it helps keep the site online.
Guess you have not seen the changes - it has sold twice and the 'nice' guy who used to do independent tests and owe no one anything is long gone.
Similar to some reviews on sites this one is now loaded.

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