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October 1, 2014 / paulio10

Car Oil Changes – Not As Often As You’d Think

When you get your car’s oil changed, usually the technician places a sticker in the upper-left corner of your car’s window showing the next mileage when you should get your oil changed.

It’s usually 3000 miles past the current mileage.
And it’s a lie.

You don’t have to get your oil changed that often! If you use regular oil, every 5000 miles is just fine. If you use full synthetic, every 10,000 miles is just fine.

I have been sticking to this principle on our two cars since the day they were “born”, and it hasn’t failed me yet. Neither car has had any major repair during the entire time we’ve had them – and we use them a whole bunch.

We have a Toyota Sienna minivan – bought new by us in 2005, now has 140,000 miles on it and going strong. Oil change every 5000-6000 miles without fail, no major issues.

We also have a 2007 Lexus GS350 which I love driving – bought originally with only 30,000 miles on it, it now has over 130,000 miles and no major issues. I have consistently changed the oil NO LESS than every 10,000 miles on this car, to maintain this high level of functionality. I also had to change the spark plugs around the 105,000 mark on the odometer if I remember correctly.

Cars don’t need “tune ups” anymore. That’s a thing of the past. Remember your dad changing his own spark plugs, using a gap-tool, every other oil change? Yeah, no, you don’t do that anymore. I recommend having the garage change the plugs when your car’s instruction book recommends it, and get good quality spark plugs too – there’s a good change they will end up working well for a long, long time.

Remember when you used to be able to get a complete Lube/Oil/Filter change for $15? Those days are long gone. It seems like a basic oil change goes for $25-35 these days. And if you use full synthetic, expect to pay $70-80 minimum at this point in time. At least that’s what I’ve experienced so far this year (2014).

Take care of your car. There’s not a lot you need to do anymore, after 80+ years of the Internal Combustion Engine, they’ve pretty much perfected it at this point. If your car is the type that needs constant repairs and is always costing you unexpected money, I recommend buying a different brand of car. There are different manufacturers with different viewpoints on how to deal with production issues – and sadly, I hate to say it, but American car manufacturers sort of suck at this. You want your car manufacturer to follow a basic tenet that we use in software development — the feedback loop — to detect and remedy any issues that ANY employees detect with the car manufacturing process.

Rather than punishing/squelching comments from employees, you want the employees to be empowered to bring up issues at any time during development, have them taken seriously, and see the changes made to the manufacturing process integrated dynamically so that all future cars benefit from those discoveries and changes. From what I have heard, Toyota, Lexus, and Honda are REALLY good at doing this. I don’t know about the other manufacturers. Let’s hope everyone adopts basic 2000’s knowledge and adopts this feedback-loop principal.

I don’t care how cool the marketing is. Buy a decent quality car. Put your money where your mouth is. Don’t encourage the losers who don’t follow 20-year-old knowledge of how to make the best quality products. Why would you do that? Do what’s right. Encourage the ones who do the best job.

We all benefit that way in the future.

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