Ran across this site the other day. As a non-Californian, I can only be glad my tax dollars aren’t being used to fund it. I’ve got several problems with the site:
1. It makes no distinction between “normal” and “severe” driving. The fact is, most drivers don’t hop in the car and commute 10 freeway miles to work and back. No, they sit in traffic, race from stoplight to stoplight, etc. The fast lube industry is generally very good at following OEM guidelines when it comes to oil change intervals, and prior to the 2006 model year, most OEMs recommended “severe operating condition” oil changes of 3,000 (or 3,750 for Asian manufacturers). When educated about what conditions constitutes each type of driving, I’d bet most drivers would place themselves firmly into the “severe” category.
2. The site does not contain a comprehensive list of vehicles and their oil change intervals (only the “best-selling;” according to who?), and many of the listed intervals are inaccurate. Late-model GM vehicles are listed with oil change intervals, when everyone and their dog knows that GM vehicles have used oil monitors for the better part of a decade. So if your oil monitor tells you to change your oil every 4,000 miles, you should ignore it just because the state of California tells you to?
3. Now that Chrysler has begun installing oil change monitors in its vehicles (starting with the 2008 Caravan), only Mitsubishi recommends 3,000-mile oil change intervals for “severe” conditions. However, the vast majority of vehicles on the road were built far earlier than 2007 or 2008, and when built the majority of those vehicles’ OEMs still recommended 3,000/3,750 miles for “severe” driving.
4. The site notes that only 59 percent of used oil is recycled, while failing to note anywhere that virtually 100 percent of used oil collected by fast lubes and other auto service facilities is recycled (either for fuel or other purposes).
I’ll be the first to admit that not every motorist adheres (or even should) to the strict 3,000-mile recommendation. But misinformation like this distorts the message the fast lube industry tries to send its customers: That by following OEM recommended service guidelines — be they for “normal” or “severe” driving, let the motorist decide — vehicle owners can greatly extend the life of their investment. (Not to mention that a well-maintained vehicle uses less fuel and produces fewer emissions — didn’t see that mentioned anywhere on the site!) And don’t you know it’s the fast lube operator who will catch the blame when a customer tries to put 10,000 miles on a ’96 minivan between oil changes and winds up with an engine that produces more white smoke than a cigarette factory.