Do I Need to Change Oil Every 3,000 Miles?

The practice of changing oil every 3,000 miles began with a noble purpose, but advances in motor-oil technology have made...

February 13, 2018

Changing your oil every 3,000 miles is a practice passed down for generations. The origin stems from the noble effort to provide consumers with a simple vehicle-maintenance rule that left plenty of room for error. However, times – and oil quality – have changed. In this post, we’ll look at whether you still need to change oil every 3,000 miles.

3000 mile oil change myth - change oil in your car

Marketed by fast lubes

Fast-lube chains, which first entered the market in the 1970s, adopted and amplified the 3,000-mile-oil-change message through sustained marketing campaigns. Owned by major oil manufacturers, fast-lube chains had a financial interest in seeing customers frequently and selling more oil, the vast majority of which was conventional.

3000 mile oil change myth

Endorsed by your dad and mechanic

While this timeline helps provide context, it does little to address the emotional connection to changing oil every 3,000 miles.

The reason so many motorists dutifully change oil every 3,000 miles is because their fathers and their mechanics – two of the most influential groups in automotive circles – told them they should.

For many people, the 3,000-mile oil change is a tradition that ties them to the person who taught them many important life lessons, like how to keep your car running properly.

Tradition updated with new technology

Many families pass down traditions, and while the spirit of the tradition is upheld, many elements are updated to reflect current technology and lifestyles.

Your call to a distant relative during the holidays may now require Skype instead of a rotary phone. Likewise, your annual family vacation may start at the airport instead of in the family station wagon.

In the case of the 3,000-mile oil change myth, we can preserve the noble spirit of taking good care of our vehicles by establishing a habit of changing oil periodically, but not necessarily every 3,000 miles.

Since the advent of the 3,000-mile oil change, advances in lubrication and automotive technology have rendered it outdated, like adding water to automotive batteries, replacing ignition points and adjusting the carburetor. Now, many vehicle manufacturers recommend changing oil every 5,000 miles (8,000 km) or longer, with some calling for up to 15,000 miles (24,000 km) between oil changes.

Synthetic motor oil technology

Synthetic lubrication technology plays a significant role in busting the 3,000-mile oil change myth. Synthetic motor oil offers better wear protection, improved resistance to temperature extremes and increased cleanliness properties compared to conventional oil. For that reason, it’s safe to use it longer than 3,000 miles (4,800 km).

AMSOIL products provide confidence with additional protection that goes beyond the standard. It’s what your dad or grandfather may have called the “belt-and-suspenders” approach. For example, AMSOIL Signature Series Synthetic Motor Oil

  • 75% more engine protection against horsepower loss and wear.¹
  • Protects turbochargers 72% better than required² by the GM dexos1 Gen 2 specification.
  • Guaranteed protection for up to 25,000 miles or 1 year

So, while it’s vital to change your oil and take care of your vehicle, it’s also important to advance your methods in lockstep with the latest technology. And modern synthetic oils have made the 3,000-mile oil change as dated as the rotary phone.

¹Based on independent testing of AMSOIL Signature Series 0W-20, in ASTM D6891 as required by the API SN specification.TM D6891 test using 0W-20 as worst-case representation. ²Based on independent testing of AMSOIL Signature Series 5W-30 in the GM turbo coking test.