(NaturalNews) Since my earliest days as a driver, it was drummed into my head by my dad and auto mechanics everywhere: Take care of your car and it will take care of you. And one of the most effective maintenance steps I could take, they told me, was changing the oil in my ride every 3,000 miles. Ah, but the times, they are a-changing.
According to the most recent research, those of us who change oil in our cars - especially those less than five years old - are likely wasting both money and oil.
Granted, the experts still say some of the same things I've always heard - dirty oil damages engines by creating sludgy build-up and clogging engine parts. And knowing exactly when is the best interval to use when implementing an oil-change regime is difficult to pin down. But this isn't the 1970s anymore, when motors were a lot less efficient.
Some cars can wait up to 15,000 miles!
Those old V-8s, while cool and fast, were not the technological wonders that engines are today, the experts say. Besides, most of them used 10W40-weight oil, "which tended to wear out within about 3,000 miles," said one report. At the factory, tighter tolerances on engine assembly lines have also improved, making for less wear and tear. Finally, automobile technology simply makes engines work less and run more efficiently.
In addition to building better engines the oil itself has improved - dramatically. New technologies in lubricant development have made them better and longer-lasting.
Because of that, the 3,000-mile requirement just doesn't apply to most new cars being manufactured these days. Some automakers are recommending oil changes at 5,000-, 7,000-, 10,000- and even 15,000-mile intervals.
"For example, Toyota recommends you change oil at 5,000 miles for a 2005 Tacoma pickup, Honda recommends 7,500 miles for its 2002 Odyssey, General Motors suggests 7,500 miles for its 2007 Chevrolet Malibu, and Ford recommends 10,000 miles for its 2011 Fiesta," said the report.
Other cars have higher tolerances. The 2008 Porsche Boxter can be driven 12,000 miles between oil changes, while a 2010 BMW 3 Series can go as long as 15,000, under ideal conditions.
That all said, it's no wonder consumers are a bit confused and why many may simply be sticking with the tried-and-true 3,000-mile rule, despite its hit on your pocketbook and the environment.
Save oil, time and money by following your car's recommended oil change interval
To illustrate, some 10 million California drivers change the oil in their cars every 3,000 miles. That amounts to 114 million gallons of oil per year, or enough to fill 173 Olympic-sized swimming pools, a recent study by CalRecycle found.
A spokesman for the organization, Jeff Danzinger, said drivers could save as much as 10 million gallons of oil per year if they'd just change their oil according to the manufacturer's recommendation.
"If you're changing your oil too soon, you're needlessly creating waste oil and putting a strain on the system and supply," he told TruCar.com.
What does his mean for you? If you're spending about 30 bucks for an oil change, on average, you could cut your oil-change costs per year in half. Depending on the amount you drive, that could be worth hundreds of dollars a year.
Figuring out what oil-change interval is recommended for yourcar, especially if it's a late-model, is as easy as opening the glove box and checking your owner's manual. Or, your car itself may tell you when it's time. Called an "Oil Life Monitoring System," many makes and models now include such technology. Finally, you could always check online. http://www.checkyournumber.org/
If you don't drive much at all, you should still change your oil once a year, say the experts.
"Unless you're driving a car that's more than ten years old, or under super extreme conditions, there's really no reason to change your oil at 3,000 miles anymore," says TruCar.com.