We’ve all heard stories about when to change your oil, what to base it on and which product to use. Unfortunately, sometimes this advice is based on myths and misinformation. So, to try to set the record straight, here are some oil change myth busters.
1. Change Oil Every 3,000 Miles or Three Months
This is a myth for most modern cars. Oil experts and car manufacturers say that oil chemistry and engine technology have evolved tremendously, extending change intervals. The usual interval now is between 5,000 and 7,500 miles, with some vehicles designed to go as long as 10,000 miles. Most automakers have their recommendation for when to change your oil. The best thing to do is to always check your owner’s manual.
2. Change Your Oil Before a Long Road Trip
While it’s definitely a good idea to have your car checked before long drives, if the oil change interval is not scheduled to occur during the trip, don’t change it preemptively. Changing the oil before it is needed is just a waste of money and time. However, Dan Edmunds from Edmunds.com suggests scheduling a service visit about a week before the trip – that way you’ll catch any trouble spots and know that everything is working properly before you hit the road. By doing it a week beforehand, if repairs are needed, it gives you time to get it done.
3. You Should Break in Your New Engine with a Conventional Oil Before You Switch to a Synthetic
One of the myths surrounding synthetic oils is that new engines require a break-in period with conventional oil. The fact is current engine manufacturing technology does not require this break-in period – and premium synthetic oils such as Mobil 1™ are even installed in many new high-performance cars right at the factory.
4. If the Oil on the Dipstick is Black, it’s Time for a Change
Experts call this a myth. Engine oil should not be changed simply based on the color. As the oil flows through the engine, it is designed to clean critical engine parts. As it pulls dirt and soot away from moving parts, it will change color, typically turning a darker. Oil changes should be based on mileage, time and driving conditions, not simply on the color of the oil.
5. Once You Use Synthetic Oil, You Always Have to Use it
This is a straight-up myth. In fact, synthetic and petroleum-based oils are often blended. If the oil meets the service and viscosity requirements in the owner’s manual, you can switch back and forth as much as you want. However, synthetic oil will last longer and generally perform better than conventional oil, so using a synthetic oil may protect your vehicle better than a conventional fluid. Again, always refer to your vehicle’s owner manual for recommendations.
6. Synthetic Oils Will Leak Out of the Seals of Older Cars
Engine gunk is can often lead to bad seals. And, because synthetic oil usually is thinner than conventional oil, it is more likely to leak. It will not, however, cause the leak. In fact, synthetic oil is better engineered to breakdown and remove engine dirt and particles. By using a high-quality synthetic oil, such as Mobil 1™, bad seals are less likely to happen. If an older engine is in good condition and does not have oil leaks, high-quality synthetic oils provide the same advantages as when used in a new engine.
If you want more information on oil change recommendations, consult your owner’s manual or your vehicle’s manufacturer.