Oil Change Every 3,000 Miles? Maybe Not

One state agency says check your owners manual to see if your car really needs to change it's oil that often

By Gordon Tokumatsu and Julie Brayton
|  Saturday, Dec 17, 2011  |  Updated 9:42 AM PDT
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One state agency says check your owners manual to see if your car really needs to change it's oil that often.  If not, you could save money, and help the environment too.

Gordon Tokumatsu, Martin Proctor

One state agency says check your owners manual to see if your car really needs to change it's oil that often. If not, you could save money, and help the environment too.

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It's woven into our subconscious by now.

Change your car’s oil every three months, or run the risk of destroying its engine.

"The quick lube industries marketing campaign has been very effective," according to Steve Mazor, AAA chief automotive engineer.

Many people still subscribe to the 3,000-mile rule.

"I'm trying to do it every 3,000 miles," said Chris Paek, Hyundai owner. "Just to keep the engine good."

But the California's Department of Resources, Recycling and Recovery, begs to differ.

They have recently launched an education campaign to stop drivers from wasting millions of gallons of oil every year because they get their vehicles serviced too often.

The department has set up a website where people can look up suggested motor oil change intervals for their year, make and model.

Older cars need more attention, and more frequent oil changes, the department noted. But if a car is made after 2000, those old rules likely don't apply anymore.

Even so-called "severe duty" cars, driven in California heat with start-and-stop conditions, can usually make it to five thousand or more between oil changes, according to Mazor.

State officials said demand for oil could drop by 10 million gallons a year if everyone stopped believing the quick-lube hype.

"If you do every 3,000 miles and, say, you double that interval to 6,000, you cut the cost in half," Mazor said.

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