State says motorists change oil too often
With almost 10 million California residents changing their oil every 3,000 miles or less, state officials said motorists need to rethink their habits as auto technology advances allow vehicles to go farther without maintenance.
"Frequent oil changes do not necessarily mean better performance or longer engine life," said CalRecycle Director Caroll Mortensen.
Toyota now recommends an oil change every 5,000 miles for a 2005 Tacoma pickup, while General Motors suggests 7,500 miles for its 2007 Chevrolet Malibu.
Mark Oldfield, a CalRecycle spokesman, said the 3,000-mile standard has been ingrained in many motorists' thinking and is further enhanced when mechanics post the 3,000-mile sticker reminder.
"So many of us have been told since we were old enough to drive that we need to change oil every 3,000 miles," Oldfield said.
Nationally, 51 percent of vehicle owners said they believe that oil should be changed every 3,000 miles or three months, according to the NPD group, a marketing-research company. Thirty-three percent change their oil when they're over 4,000 miles, the NPD group survey found.
If Californians changed motor oil according to manufacturer specifications, oil consumption in California would shrink by 10 million gallons per year, according to CalRecycle.
Oldfield said motorists should check their car owner's manual for accurate oil-change information. Or they can go to www.checkyournumber.org.
Mike Fry, owner of Titan Automotive in Orange, said he does not advocate frequent and unnecessary oil change, but in looking out for his customers' best interest, he strongly recommends midway service checks. Last week, Fry said a customer, who went by his manufacturer's standards, came in and actually ran out of oil.
Oldfield said oil-change intervals are going to be different for every motorist.
"Everybody's driving situation is going to be different. If somebody is driving in conditions with high or low temperatures ... lots of stop-and-go traffic, they might want to check with their manufacturer," Oldfield said.
Patrick Hamlin, a manager at Titan Automotive, said some luxury and performance cars now require synthetic oil, which typically allows vehicles to go 15,000 miles until needing an oil change.
And, automakers like Honda and Mercedes-Benz have started equipping their cars with high-tech maintenance systems that look at driving speeds and other factors that can negatively affect oil life, according to CalRecycle.
Honda spokesman Chris Martin said that before its maintenance-minder system, consumers would look at two maintenance options: the normal or severe schedule.
Under the normal schedule, a car could require an oil change at 10,000 miles, while the severe schedule would be considered at 5,000 miles if the vehicle is put through extreme hot temperatures or stop-and-go traffic.
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