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Oil Change Frequency

In the past few years there has been a lot of discussion regarding the need for change regarding vehicle oil service frequency. With the refinement of synthetic oils and the use of different types of metals to construct automotive engines and components, the need to change one's oil has slipped to the right, and for good reason - "or is it? ".


Back in the sixties, emissions controls and how the government implemented them caused a lot of changes in automotive manufacturing. This also caused many changes in oil technology due to the emissions causing lower output from engines. The need to find other avenues to increase efficiency and fuel mileage were paramount. Thus one of the main reasons synthetic oils were brought about. The main difference between fossil and synthetic oils is molecule size and shape. A lab controlled molecule is designed to keep the same shape throughout thus creating less friction in a vehicle engine under load and more power as a result. Fossil oil molecules are many different sizes which create more friction and are much more hazardous to create than their synthetic siblings. Vehicle manufacturers have recently decided that because of these changes oil technology, they can revise their oil service schedules and lengthen them. This not only saves customers money but increases sales by boasting better efficiency. Many vehicle manufacturers have moved their schedules from the old 3- 5K mile schedule to 7500 miles, while some have actually backed theirs off from 15K to 10K, as is the case with BMW. BMW feels that they can increase fuel mileage and service life of their engines by doing so. Chevrolet however, has deemed the thought of putting a mileage reference on their service the wrong way to go about things and has created a new computer that monitors car owner's driving habits. This computer will notify the owner when it needs service, regardless of mileage. We now find ourselves depending on technology to replace the methods of old. Is this the correct way to ensure the investments (i.e. our cars) made with our hard earned money are looked after? 


I think I'll continue to "over maintain" my vehicles by changing my oil at 3 to 5K to protect my investments.

by Brandon Blake (Aviano, Auto Hobby)
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