I hope you can settle a disagreement I have with...

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Mar 01, 1994

Dear Tom and Ray:

I hope you can settle a disagreement I have with my wife. I have always changed the oil and filter in my vehicles every 3,000 miles. This practice has served me well, as I have owned a '66 Mustang with 317,000 miles, a '71 Ford F-100 pickup with 195,000 miles, and a '70 Volkswagen Karman-Ghia with over 200,000 miles. Currently, we drive an '86 Mazda pick-up and an '87 Honda Civic. My wife argues that it is environmentally better (and more economical) to do this service at 5,000 mile intervals, AND that this will not cause additional engine wear. What do you recommend?

TOM: We recommend that you listen to your wife, Greg. After all, isn't the longevity of your marriage more important than the longevity of a lousy Honda Civic?

RAY: Well, even if it's not, your wife happens to be right . We used to recommend changing the oil and filter every 3,000 miles. But because of the improvements made to motor oil over the last twenty years, and the lack of improvements in methods of disposal of motor oil, we've changed our minds. Now we recommend 5,000 miles, too.

TOM: It's true that the more often you change the oil and filter, the better it is for your engine. So if you did it every day, for instance--or even twice a day--your engine would certainly benefit. But there are other considerations.

RAY: Right. There's the time it takes, the cost, and the environmental effects of getting rid of all that used oil. So weighing in all of these factors, we think 5,000 miles is the best compromise. And in the 100,000 or 120,000 miles that most people keep their cars, you wouldn't notice any difference between 3,000 and 5,000 mile oil change intervals.

TOM: Of course, if you're looking to keep your cars for 200,000 miles, then maybe you SHOULD change the oil every 3,000 miles. But I'd listen carefully to what your wife is saying

RAY: Right. I think she's giving you a subtle hint, Greg. I think she wants your cars to die sooner. I think the message is, "if you ever make me drive 200,000 miles in a Karman Ghia again, I'm outta here!"

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