Oil change intervals, oil change signals, air filter replacement, and warranty maintenance topics always generate conversation among car owners and their mechanic. As a car owner, the last thing you need to be concerned about is spending unnecessarily when it comes to maintenance and repair. As your car care professional, let’s do a deep dive into these four maintenance items on your car.
- “Oil Must be Changed Every 3,000 Miles.” Actually, this one doesn’t score as a perfect myth – because in some cases it holds true! For older cars (definitely that ’69 Mustang, but also many cars up through model year 2007), the 3,000 mile schedule is indeed recommended. Earlier engine and oil technology worked, and still work, best with frequent changes to fresh oil.However, if your model is 2008 or later, its engine components, and today’s oil that lubricates them, can go thousands more miles than in the past. Intervals of 5,000 or even 7,000 miles are now common place; and for diesel engines running on manufacturer recommended oil, the interval may extend even further. As always, check your owner’s manual for the specific recommendation.
- “Dark Oil Means it’s Time for a Change.” As with Myth 1, this one has some grey area. Most importantly, keep in mind that additives in engine oils can darken the color within 1,000 miles of a change. Instead of replacing your oil every 1,000 miles!…keep a record the mileage at your last change and stick to the recommended interval. This is not to say that dark oil cannot sometimes be a warning sign. Consult with your mechanic if, on checking the dipstick, you think the oil just doesn’t look right.
- “Air Filters Must be Replaced Regularly.” Technically, yes, your engine air filter does need changing regularly. The question, how regularly! Some shops will recommend a new filter with every oil change. You should be able go well beyond that interval before changing your air filter. Some manufacturers recommend a change only after 60,000 miles! That too can be a bit on the (other) extreme side.All that being said, it’s probably a good idea to check your air filter every 6,000 miles. Depending on the conditions in which you typically drive, you may need to change your filter anywhere between every 12,000 – 24,000 miles. Also in some situations your air filter can be cleaned, rather than replaced…saving you some money. Talk to your mechanic about this.
- “Regular Warranty Maintenance Work Must be Done at the Dealership.” This myth wouldn’t be a myth if it stopped after the word, “Done”…because to keep any new vehicle warranties valid, you do indeed have to perform all regularly scheduled maintenance.However, this work can be performed at any shop…or even by yourself, if you’re so inclined. What you do want to do is keep all records and receipts of your maintenance, in case that information is requested in the event of a warranty repair.