Why 10,000-mile oil changes exist: Valvoline explains

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The latest hot car topic on the internet revolves around the new 10,000 mile oil change that manufacturers are recommending for their engines. Critic's question: How can this help their engine? I asked Jason Head, senior engineering manager for Valvoline Global Services about this and other oil-related matters.

Traditional oil change intervals

In years past oil change intervals were based on mileage or time. In those days, the industry standard was 3 months or 3,000 miles, whichever came first. This recommendation was based on fuel technology that was not very advanced at the time.

Many people also change their oil within the first 500 miles of engine downtime to extend the life of the car.

You will still see people promoting these oil change times and engine break-ins that require an oil change online.

Why have things changed?

The simple answer is the advances made in oil and new engine development success driven by industry and Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations. Those rules push for both better fuel economy and lower carbon emissions.

These days, motor oil is loaded with additives, which make it last longer, and provide better protection than heavy duty oils. Also, the drive for better fuel economy has driven the demand for lighter fuels that cause less friction within the engine. Also, engine design has been improved with tighter tolerances between mechanical parts requiring less oil.

Car manufacturers and oil companies, such as Vavoline, have worked together to develop this new oil. They also tested and certified their long oil change intervals of 10,000 miles, and third-party laboratories confirmed those results.

In addition, the new engines no longer have break-in times. According to many owner's manuals from various brands that I have read over the past few years, this is a thing of the past.

Finally, this new oil has even changed color over the years. Sorry Hollywood, it's not “black gold” anymore. After refining, the color of the oil is clear and turns a dark golden color after the addition of additives. The head of Valvoline said this is the case when “Base Oils” are refined into Group 2 or 3 oils, which have higher viscosity ratings through development.

Engines carry more oil

After the video was posted, Head went on to say that another change is about how the engines now hold more oil than before.

“GM LS/LT engines for example went from 6 quarts in the early 2000s to 8.5 quarts now (41.7% increase),” he said. “That extra capacity allows the oil more time to cool and more oil/additives to prevent oxidation and aging.

“For oil drain intervals, my guidance is to follow your manufacturer's recommended oil drain during your factory warranty. Outside of warranty, with a good used oil sample analysis program you can determine if your specific duty cycle and oil choice allows for a longer drain life. Case-driven data processing for expansion. “

Companies like Blackstone Laboratories, which I have used many times, can give you a detailed report on your oil and a good idea of ​​the health of your engine.

Criticism of 10k mile oil changes

After publishing our video interview, comments started pouring in criticizing the information and suggesting other sources as more accurate.

Criticism suggests that automakers get CAFE credits, automakers set oil change intervals based on their warranty period, excessive oil changes are bad for the environment and long oil changes actually cause engine damage.

There have also been a range of different oil change intervals suggested by many analysts. For example, some change to 1,000, 3,000, 4,000, 5,000, 7,500, etc.

The truth is that people have been taught a fixed oil change interval, and the change is difficult.

Also, CAFE rules are constantly changing making a credit claim invalid now. However, if you heard someone say that today, you could easily believe that that is true information about today's politically charged opinion on the EPA's emissions regulations. In addition, most oil these days is recycled and synthetic oil is seen as more environmentally friendly than traditional oil.

Longer intervals to damage engines is a debatable topic with many laboratories such as Valvoline and the car manufacturers themselves disputing these claims. Anecdotal stories from mechanics also contradict these claims.

And again, you may hear oil change places like Valvoline Quick Oil Change Centers recommend different, possibly shorter, oil change intervals, which creates more confusion. To be clear, Head pointed out that the oil change business is now a separate entity from Valvoline Global Operations.

An important point

The truth is no one is telling you to change your oil. That is still your will.

What the car manufacturers and oil companies say is that oil is good at 10k miles for most people. They examined it and stood by it.

However, if you tow a lot, drive like a sports car driver or simply cling to the idea that changing the oil is cheaper than changing the engine, you'll want to change your oil sooner.

It really comes down to the duty cycle of the car and how well it is maintained. It doesn't matter how old the oil is if you don't change it and put the car through a heavy duty cycle.

Opinions will vary, and there is nothing wrong with changing your oil quickly.

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