Keeping Twin Falls Rolling with Engine Oil Changes
Just like scheduled dental check-ups are important for your health, your car needs regular engine oil changes for peak performance. If you are driving a newer model vehicle, timely oil changes are even more important than for older vehicles. New engines have precise machining with small passages and screens. When dirty oil clogs or restricts valves and solenoids controlled by the vehicle’s computers, a check engine warning light will display on your dash.
In many cases these newer vehicles require specialized types of oils like low viscosity synthetics to keep them covered by the manufacture’s warranty. And when they are no longer under warranty, they will still require the correct type of oil with oil change services at the correct mileage interval to avoid engine problems.
Take, for example, a 2014 Subaru Crosstrek that missed a timely engine oil change. A relatively new model, it required synthetic oil to meet factory specifications. The vehicle sat unused for several weeks during repairs for body damage. When the bodywork was completed and the owner picked it up, the check engine light came on, and the engine ran rough. The check engine light code related to engine camshaft timing controlled by the computer operating a valve that is fed with engine oil.
When the oil was checked, it was ¾ quart low and dirty. When taken to the dealer they recommended replacement of the valve and a synthetic oil change for a total price of $440. The short story on this vehicle is that, after researching the problem, the owner changed the oil filter, toped off the oil, and added an oil-cleaning product known as SeaFoam. This was done in an attempt to clean the dirty oil passages. It worked for him because the check engine light went off after driving around 20 miles.
After driving forty more miles, he had a complete engine oil change done. The check engine light has remained off, and the driver has a better understanding of the importance of timely oil changes.
Unfortunately, not all stories end with a fix as economical as this one. Some vehicles will require replacement of one or more parts that can end up costing as much as 6 oil changes.
At Palmer’s Automotive Repair, our standard recommendation for customers driving cars with Variable Valve Timing (VVT) engines is an engine flush every 30k miles. This helps to keep the oil passages clean so they can keep doing their job.
Oil change intervals depend on your vehicle and the type of oil used
Many new vehicles have oil change interval calculators that look at drive times, load, speed, outside temperature and many other factors to generate a “percent of oil life remaining” indication. This is designed to alert the driver before engine oil is due for replacement. For these calculations to be accurate, the engine oil must meet the manufacturer’s specification.
While these calculations are generally considered reliable by many mechanics, here at Palmer’s Automotive, we don’t encourage our customers to schedule oil changes based on the “percent of oil life” indicator. Our experience supports tracking of mileage and time intervals between oil services. This ensures oil change intervals don’t interfere with optimum engine performance.
Many vehicle calculators allow 4,000 to 7,000 miles between oil change intervals for casual driving conditions. With the better machining in engines and improvements in quality of engine oils, these numbers are probably reasonable. It is also reasonable to keep in mind that manufacturers are in the business of selling new cars. This means they may not be as eager as you to see your engine last 150k miles to 300k miles.
For years, the automotive benchmark for engine oil changes has been 3 months or 3,000 miles. Some shops still stick with those parameters, as reflected on the windshield sticker they put on your vehicle after an oil change. Other shops have allowed for improvements on newer vehicles and have increased the mileage to 4,000 miles.
When bringing synthetic oils into the conversation, things change a lot. Full synthetic oils usually have recommendations of 5,000 to 15,000 miles depending on the type of synthetic oil and the vehicle type and usage.
AAA survey found synthetic engine oil to be worth the price
AAA did a survey and found that synthetic engine oil changes will cost drivers an average of $5.33 more per month over non-synthetic oil. This was based on the average cost of a conventional oil change being $38, while a synthetic oil change runs around $70. They stated in the survey that all vehicles would benefit from using synthetic oils.
If you’re wondering whether AAA is correct in its assertion that synthetic engine oils are actually better than conventional oil, the answer is yes. This is because synthetic oils are specifically engineered to resist sludge formation and breakdown and lubricate better than conventional oil.
There are also “semi synthetic” oils that can also be an improvement over regular oil. They are a mixture of regular and synthetic oil and are a safe option for someone who wants the extra protection of a higher quality oil without having to pay twice as much for a fully synthetic oil change.
Remember, it’s very important to check your vehicle owner’s manual to be sure the oil you are considering meets or exceeds the specifications of the recommended oil. Be aware that some synthetic oil distributors put mileage parameters on their product that differ from vehicle manufacturer maximum mileage allowance. Also watch for additional qualifiers connected with the mileage figure. Mobile 1 synthetic oil, for instance, may list a maximum mileage interval recommendation of 15,000 miles “or” one year.
Consult with your trusted auto repair professional when deciding which recommendations you’ll use in scheduling engine oil change services. While documentation within the automotive industry states no more than 7,500 miles should be allowed between oil changes, conversations with 10 different repair professionals will likely yield 10 different answers. While it’s important to feel confident about the research you do before deciding which recommendation to follow, having your vehicle’s oil changed regularly is essential.
To Sum Up
Following the manufacturer’s recommendation for oil specifications and change interval is critical to engine longevity on todays cars. If you have a VVT, turbo, or other high performance engine, those recommendations must be strictly followed.
At Palmer’s Automotive Repair, we stick to a 3,000-mile interval for conventional oil changes. If your vehicle uses full synthetic oil, that number moves to 5,000 miles. Even though synthetic oil is a superior product, we generally only recommend changing from standard to synthetic oil for the additional protection it offers after an engine replacement.
In our experience, on-board calculators extend oil change intervals beyond what we recommend to ensure you get the most miles of reliable service from your engine. Our belief that timely maintenance saves you money in the long run means we have your best interests in mind. Our goal is to be your trusted auto maintenance advocate and provide you with the best engine oil change Twin Falls Idaho.
For high quality, affordable auto maintenance services in nearby Twin Falls, Palmer’s Automotive Repair is the place to come. We offer easy access from all points in Twin Falls, ID or any Twin Falls County location. Call us today or stop by the shop to schedule your next service.