One more reason not to listen to your father

Friday, September 17, 2010

Public radio personalities "Click and Clack" once issued a collection of calls to their Saturday morning "Car Talk" show, titled "Why You Should Never Listen to Your Father When it Come to Cars."

The thrust of the album was that cars have changed over the years, and the way Dad drove his '55 Chevy doesn't apply to your 2010 Lexus.

Solid state ignition, fuel injection, antilock braking and computerized everything are just a few reasons why Dad's admonition to "pump your brakes" or "rev up the engine before shutting it off" are exactly the wrong advice these days.

Add to the list the 3,000-mile oil change.

No, it won't hurt the car, but people like the California Integrated Waste Management Board are urging drivers to wait longer before having their oil changed. And, no, they're not in cahoots with car manufacturers who want you to wear out your engine sooner.

They are concerned not only about the cost to drivers, but to the environmental impact of throwing away good oil.

"There was a time when the 3,000 miles was a good guideline," Philip Reed, senior consumer advice editor for the car site Edmunds.com, told the New York Times. "But it's no longer true for any car bought in the last seven or eight years."

Instead, most manufacturers recommend waiting longer between changes, perhaps 7,500 to 10,000 miles or more.

Better yet, change the oil according to your driving habits.

Some vehicles even have a light that alerts the driver when the computer determines the useful life of your engine oil is about used up.

If you drive short distances and then shut off your engine, the oil hasn't had time to warm up and absorb contaminants generated by internal combustion. You may need to change your oil more often than recommended, perhaps 5,000 miles. If you have a longer commute, you may be able to push the 10,000 limit.

You can even take a sample of your oil and send it in to labs for analysis, like a blood test for your car.

We're not recommending you neglect the maintenance of your vehicle; nothing saves more money than spending money for preventative maintenance on your car.

But with even the quick-lube places beginning to acknowledge the 3,000-mile rule is arbitrary and outdated, it's time to rethink the rule.

Besides, with the advent of hybrid, electric and other alternative-fuel vehicles, we can be certain that our children should not be taking car maintenance advice from us in the future as well.

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