Today in the Express Auto care blog, we’re going to talk to Southwest Michigan motorists about oil change intervals. It seems that as engine technology advances, recommended oil change intervals have gotten longer for Express Auto customers. High quality oil in a well-engineered sedan engine has lead to extended intervals. But it’s also lead to some confusion among Southwest Michigan drivers.
The old mantra “change your oil every three months or three thousand miles, whichever comes first” once applied to every vehicle on Southwest Michigan interstates. Time and miles take their toll on motor oil. But now, you could have a different oil change recommendation for every car or truck you own.
Southwest Michigan auto owners are like everybody else, they have a tendency to follow the oil change schedule of the vehicle with the longest interval. Of course, that can lead to problems. Recently four of the world’s largest manufacturers shortened the published intervals for several of their engine models. They originally published intervals that extended out to a much as 8,000 miles.
In real world Southwest Michigan driving, the oil started to sludge up before the recommended change interval. Oil sludge is a thick jelly-like substance. Quite literally petroleum jelly – like Vaseline. This goop was clogging sedan small engine passages so the oil wouldn’t flow to some parts of the engine. This resulted in engine damage. We see it too often at our Express Auto service centers.
The auto manufacturers began to offer an extended warranty to cover sludge damage. But there was a catch: the vehicle owner had to follow a new, lower service interval, and provide proof of oil changes in order to make a warranty claim.
So here’s the bottom line for Southwest Michigan motorists: with longer oil change intervals, it’s essential to follow them closely. Back in the day of 3 months or 3,000 miles, if you went an extra month or an extra thousand miles, your oil was still fresh enough that it didn’t have time to build up much sludge.
But if your recommended interval is 6,500 miles and you go over another thousand, you’re getting into heavy sludge territory. You absolutely need to follow mileage intervals very closely. And don’t forget your severe service schedule. If you do a lot of stop and go driving in Michigan, short trips, drive in dusty or polluted conditions, hot or cold weather, or haul heavy loads, you’re driving in severe service conditions. Your Express Auto service writer can help you determine which schedule to follow.
So check your sedan owner’s manual or talk with your Express Auto service writer about where and how you drive in Southwest Michigan. Should you change your oil closer to the regular schedule, or the severe service schedule? You need to make the call.
Another place where Michigan drivers can go wrong is with the type of oil they use. More and more new cars are coming to Southwest Michigan owners filled with synthetic oil. Without going into a lot of detail right now, let’s just say that synthetic oil lasts longer and is very resistant to oil sludge.
But it also costs quite a bit more, so some people are tempted to use conventional oil for their oil changes. Now, it’s always best to use the oil recommended by your car maker. Check your owner’s manual see if a conventional oil alternative is allowed.
But getting back to the problem, if your sedan came from the factory with synthetic oil, the recommended oil change interval is for synthetic oil. If you use conventional oil, you can’t use the synthetic interval. You need to shorten it.