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Saturday, 25 April 2015


Do you know when to change synthetic motor oil?

The widespread use of synthetic lubricants have many people confused as to when to change synthetic motor oil. Oil chemistry and engine technology have evolved tremendously in recent years, but oil change intervals are still on the conservative side. Driven by an outdated 10,000KM oil change commandment, consumers are still spending millions and spilling an ocean of contaminated waste oil.

The hype surrounding when to change synthetic motor oil.

The majority of automakers today call for motor oil changes at either 10,000 or 15,000 Km, and the interval can go as high as 20,000Km in some cars. Yet the wasteful cycle continues largely because the automotive service industry, while fully aware of the technological advances, are unsure when to change synthetic motor oil.

Part of the blame for this over-servicing lies in our insecurities around the modern complicated engines that are all but inaccessible to the average driver. On some vehicles, the only thing an owner can easily access is the oil cap.

Vehicles are so sophisticated that when to change synthetic motor oil is one of the last things that customers can have a direct influence over. There's maybe some feeling that they're taking care of their vehicle if they change their oil more often.

But, the 10,000Km oil change on petrol engines is a marketing tactic that dealers use to get you into the service bay on a regular basis. Unless you go to the drag strip on weekends, you don't need it.

Car dealers' service departments are also guilty of incorrectly listing the mileage for the next oil change. We've seen them recommend a 10,000Km oil change on a car with a 15,000KM oil change interval and also list a 10,000KM recommendation on a car that has a variable oil change schedule.

Because busy car owners seldom read their owner's manuals, most have no idea of when to change synthetic motor oil. And so they blindly follow the windshield reminder sticker, whether it's an accurate indicator of the need for an oil change or not.

Our oil-change addiction also comes from the erroneous argument that nearly all cars should be serviced under the "severe" schedule found in the owner's manual. However, the argument that most people drive under severe conditions is losing ground.

The modern philosophy on when to change synthetic motor oil.

Currently most automakers indicate when to change synthetic motor oil at about 15 to 20,000Km based on a normal service schedule. The longest oil change interval is 15,000 miles (24,000Km) for all Jaguar vehicles. The shortest oil change interval is 6,000Km in some Hyundai and Kia models with turbo engines and Toyota vehicles that call for non-synthetic oil. Toyota has been shifting its fleet to 20,000Km oil change intervals using synthetic oil.

Synthetic oils are stretching oil change intervals, leaving the 10,000Km mark in the dust. Most advanced synthetic products are guaranteed for 20,000Km.

Today's extended oil change intervals are due to:

  • Improved "robustness" of today's oils, with their ability to protect engines from wear and heat and still deliver good fuel economy with low emissions 
  • More automakers using synthetic oil 
  • Tighter tolerances (the gap between metal moving parts) of modern engines 
  • The introduction of engine oil life monitoring systems, which notify the driver when an oil change is required and are based on the way the car is driven and the conditions it encounters. 
Sixteen of 34 carmakers now use motor oil life monitoring systems. One GM car Edmunds drove went 13,000 miles before indicating when to change synthetic motor oil. A sample of the oil showed that the oil could have safely delivered at least another 2,000 miles of service.

Irrespective of what is discussed around when to change synthetic motor oil it’s important that you use a quality full synthetic engine oil, such as that supplied by specialist company Habot Oil.