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5 Urban Legends about Motor Oil

Some urban legends die hard and the ones about automotive motor oil may be the worst.  Perhaps the most popular is the necessity of oil changes every 3000 miles but there are many others.  You have undoubtedly heard many of them. In this article we will look at the top five urban legends concerning the motor oil in your car and voice our opinions.

  1. Change your oil every 3,000 miles. Frankly this is a myth for the vast majority of modern cars.  It is a recommendation from decades ago when oils were far less refined. Experts agree that the oil in today’s cars should be changed at the designated intervals in the owner’s manual but those intervals are typically much longer than 3000 miles. In fact, the average interval for 2010 cars is around 7,800 miles.
  2. Check the oil on the dipstick. If it’s black, change it.  Experts say this is a myth, as is the related notion that you can identify spent oil by its smell on the dip stick. Oil that gets dark does not mean it is necessary “dirty”.  The truth is that oil has additives in it that change color as they work and turn dark.  Don’t worry if the oil looks black, it may have plenty of life left in it depending on how many miles it has been used for.
  3. Change your oil before a long road trip. There is some truth to this but it’s not just the oil that needs attention. It’s definitely a good idea to look your entire car over before long drives.  If the oil change interval, however, is not scheduled to occur during the trip, it is not necessary to change it preemptively. If the oil change interval would arrive during the trip, then it’s a not a bad idea to change it before you leave.
  4. Once you use synthetic oil, you always have to use it. This is just a myth. In fact, the line between synthetic oil and petroleum-based oil is blurring because the two types of oil are often blended together today.  Experts say that as long as the oil meets the service and viscosity requirements set out in your owner’s manual, you can switch back and forth as much as you like.
  5. When you buy a new car, change your oil at 1000 miles. There might be a grain of truth to this according to experts. Oil samples from engines during the first 1,000 miles of driving show elevated “wear-in” metal levels coming from the pistons and other internal parts. However, a Honda spokesman says its cars come from the factory with a special oil formulation for the break-in period and they don’t recommend changing it at 1000 miles. The take-away? If there are any special break-in recommendations from the manufacturer, follow them before changing your oil.

Source: Deery Ford

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Have been writing for the last 3 years in the field of automotive. It's my passion to write about new and old cars as well as personally keen to ride and drive various cars.

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