FEATURE — I change my oil once a year.
At this point, you’re probably thinking either I really don’t drive much or I am criminally abusive to my car. I can assure you it’s not the former, and given all the misinformation out there I don’t blame you for thinking the latter.
Truth is, I drive between 15,000 to 20,000 miles annually and have improved my gas mileage, reduced my maintenance expenses and only had to spend about 20 minutes a year dealing with my oil change. And after 169k miles on my truck, I have an engine that is so clean inside someone once accused me of steam cleaning it.
By “inside” I literally mean the inside of the engine, not the outside. How do I know the inside of my engine is clean you ask? Because I used a flashlight to look. Anal retentive you say? I stand guilty as charged, but my engine is still really clean inside.
So how can this be? Everyone knows that the three certainties in life are death, taxes and the 3,000-mile oil change. Should the foolhardy push but 1 mile over 3,000 on their oil, spontaneous engine disintegration will be the inevitable result. Or will it?
Having owned and operated a shop, I can tell you many people have proven that even plain conventional oil can last longer – much longer – than 3,000 miles.
So what gives? Every corner quick-change shop, all those compelling commercials and probably even your dad have told you to change your oil every 3,000 miles. The short answer to this can be summed up in one word: profits. The more oil changes these companies sell, the more they make.
It is simply too easy to sell a message of “better to be safe than sorry.” While I agree with that conservative approach, you don’t have to overdo it to the extent they promote. Today’s engine oils, even the cheapest generic brands, meet basic minimum standards. A “minimum spec” oil will easily last 5,000 miles in a properly running engine. A good synthetic will go upwards of 10,000 miles. A premium synthetic like the one I use will last 20,000 miles or one year, whichever comes first.
Chemistry and better engine technology have made all of this possible. Engines didn’t always run as clean as they do now. The chemistry of today’s oils, specifically synthetic oil, is light years ahead of what it was when your father performed his own oil change.
But promoting longer oil change intervals and selling less oil is simply not in the best interest of the petroleum industry, so don’t expect the messaging to change anytime soon. But you can still be a more informed consumer and enjoy the same benefits I do.
First off, only use synthetic oil in your vehicles. The benefits are many, including longevity, improved mileage and extended life of the engine. And it keeps it really clean inside, which I verify when I use my aforementioned flashlight. Synthetic oil also saves me time from fewer oil changes, and even though the oil change itself is more expensive, it saves me money because I only change it once a year.
The trick here is to use a “true” synthetic oil.
Here’s another marketing secret: Not all synthetic oil is actually synthetic based. Due to consumer marketing laws, manufacturers can label a petroleum-based oil as being synthetic if it meets certain performance standards. The fact is petroleum oil is not capable of performing like a synthetic product designed specifically for the task at hand. If you want to maximize the benefits listed above, then you must go with a “true” synthetic oil in your vehicle.
In addition to using synthetic oil, I also use a synthetic “polyester media” oil filter instead of a paper media filter. A polyester filter element can be designed for the task at hand, trapping smaller dirt particles and lasting longer than a natural element like paper. The combination of using a true synthetic oil and a premium synthetic filter allows me to go 20,000 miles or one year in all of my vehicles with zero oil leaks.
There are many rumors out there about using synthetic oil in your vehicle, such as not being able to mix it with petroleum based oil, it makes your engine leak or that it’s no better than regular oil. None of this is true, but in my experience people believe what they want to believe. We embrace technology in almost every part of our lives, so why not do the same with our vehicles’ oil.
In addition to the above, vehicle manufacturers are using synthetic oil to help them meet the higher EPA ratings. Synthetic oil has more lubricity than conventional, so it provides increased fuel economy and less internal wear of components.
My Toyota Tundra is over 14 years old, and the engine looks and runs like the day I drove it off the lot. The day I purchased my truck I drained the “brand new” oil and replaced it with a true synthetic oil and polyester filter. The results speak for themselves.
If you like this idea of saving time and money and want to make the switch, I make all my purchases at this Amsoil website. Don’t be overwhelmed by the sheer scale of options. They have a convenient “Vehicle Lookup” button at the top to help.
You can also reach out to me at Tier1Synthetics@gmail.com, and I will be happy to help you select the appropriate products. I can also tell you how to save some money on your purchase. When I find a good thing, I want to share it with others, and to date I have helped hundreds of vehicles run more efficiently and save their owners money every year.
If you’re not ready to make the switch to synthetics in your vehicle, you can just look up the scheduled service interval in your owner’s manual and service your vehicle accordingly, probably between 6,000 and 8,000 miles with conventional oil. Whatever you choose, I hope you no longer buy into the misleading messaging that promotes the necessity of the 3,000-mile oil change. The industry has preyed upon the driving public for far too long. I aim to change that, even if it’s just with one oil change a year. I hope you join me.
Written by ZAK ANDEREGG.
Anderegg opened Utah’s first full scale do-it-yourself repair shop in 2009 in Salt Lake City, which was featured on numerous local TV networks. He has also worked with several businesses to help them reduce expenses and improve vehicle longevity through the use of synthetic lubricants and filters. Anderegg currently owns a mobile ATV/UTV service business in St. George. Feel free to reach out with questions about using synthetics in your vehicles and equipment or other questions related to the care and feeding of your vehicle. He can be reached at Tier1Synthetics@gmail.com.