At Kwik Kar, we stay on top of industry trends as well as manufacturing guidelines for all the vehicles that come through our doors. One of the trends we’ve noticed is that manufacturers have slowly been extending the recommended time frame for oil changes. The debate is whether or not those long oil change intervals are good for your vehicle’s longevity.
Manufacturers report that because of better-engineered engines that are now using synthetic oils, vehicles simply don’t need to have an oil change as often. However, with these extended periods between oil changes (with some owner’s manuals giving a 15,000-mile oil-change interval), mechanics here at Kwik Kar have noticed a lot more wear and tear, like greater oil consumption, engine trash, and smoking, on cars that have only run 50,000 to 75,000 miles. This kind of engine behavior was typically only seen on much older models, but that’s not the case anymore.
Even the popular La Jolla BMW Parts & Restorations Service is quoted as saying, “This car [showing a picture of a BMW’s engine with extreme ‘gunk’] had its oil changed approximately every 15,000 miles, and the results are bleak. The synthetic oil has basically turned into a plastic film, clogging many important oil passages and is now choking the engine. If you have a BMW and you have been following the 15,000-mile oil change policy, or you simply wait for the car to tell you to change the oil, break this habit now!”
As we dig further, we also notice a trend in who is recommending the longer time frames between oil changes. Many premium manufacturers, like Audi, BMW, and Mercedes, include oil changes in the dealership maintenance packages that comes with the purchase of a vehicle. However, many only cover one oil change per 15,000 miles (coinciding with the recommended oil change intervals listed in the car’s manual). The speculation is that this interval is much more cost-effective for the dealerships providing the coverage. What tends to happen though is that problems seem likely to occur after the car has gone over 110,000 miles when the warranty would no longer be in effect.
For people who buy new cars every couple of years, this may not affect you as much. On the other hand, we have many long-time customers who spend a lot of time researching their purchases and choose to invest in a vehicle they feel will last.
Although we agree with the use of synthetic oils, we highly recommend oil changes at least every 6,000 miles (7,500 miles max). This not only keeps your engine running better for a longer period of time but having a qualified professional servicing your vehicle more often can help to prevent major repairs. If there are issues developing in your vehicle, it’s generally less expensive to fix the problem the earlier it’s caught.
If you have any questions at all about your car’s regular service needs, maintenance, and oil change intervals, please stop by Kwik Kar at any time. We are your community resource for the care and service you need to help keep your vehicle running for as long as possible, so that maybe one day, you too will be able to pass it down to the next generation!