A Critical Look At Oil Change Intervals

by Don Elliott on April 25, 2012

Oil FiltersControversy rages on over the timing of changing the oil in your car. Rages might be too strong of a word, but for the average car owner, knowing when to get an oil change is at least confusing.

The old advice was to get an oil change every 3,000 miles. Many newer cars recommend 5,000 miles or more between oil changes. Synthetic oil manufacturers suggest that their oil will go as long as 10,000 miles. How do you determine what is right for your car?

The best advice is to follow your manufacturer’s recommendation, if for no other reason than to protect your new car warranty. Your owner’s manual will specify quality, type, and viscosity. Viscosity is the thickness as determined by the standards of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). For example, a multi-grade oil might be listed as SAE 5W-30. Multi-grade oils like this spec are designed to perform in both cold and warm weather, specific to the design of your engine.

You will have to choose between conventional oil, synthetic oil, or a blend of the two oils when you have your oil changed at an automotive repair shop or quick oil change location. Special formulations are also available for older cars and high performance vehicles.

Every time you change the oil in your car, you should also change your oil filter. As quoted in “Auto Service Professional,” Chuck Kerrigan, director of marketing for Purolator, says, “While oil characteristics are often discussed, rarely is the choice of an appropriate filter ever addressed – when, in reality, the filter’s features should be selected based on the oil chosen, expected driving conditions, and planned service life.”

Purolator manufactures over three different oil filters to match your oil type and oil change interval; Purolator Classic for regular 3,000 mile oil changers, PureONE for better filtration, and Purolator Synthetic for synthetic oil users who choose synthetic oils for the longer change interval.

The function of engine oil is to lubricate the internal moving parts of your car’s engine. As oil lubricates, it picks up small metal fragments, dirt, and internal engine wear material and carries the debris through the oil filter. When a standard oil filter is full of 13 grams of debris, a bypass valve kicks open, allowing the oil to pass unfiltered. Therefore, if the oil is doing its job, the filter will get clogged eventually if not changed regularly.

To resolve the raging controversy, change your oil according to the manufacturer’s recommendation. And change your oil filter to match the oil type and change interval. Don’t skimp on a $29.95 oil/filter change and risk destroying a $5,000 engine.

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