5 Things to Know About Oil Changes for Your Car

If you’re confused about motor oil—the right time to change it, how often to change it, what’s the best oil for your car—Consumer Reports’ chief mechanic, John Ibbotson, can set you straight.

1. When to Change the Oil

The answer to a lot of these questions is the same: Check your owner’s manual. It should be your car maintenance and operation bible. Don’t make assumptions on the interval based on past experiences or guidance from mechanics who profit from the work, because the timing has evolved over the years.

Many cars, pickups, and SUVs now have service reminder monitors that alert drivers when to change their oil. “These systems typically monitor the number of miles a vehicle has traveled, and they also sense how hard the car is being driven, and adjust accordingly,” Ibbotson says.

Make sure you get your oil change soon after you receive such an alert.

Oil level gauge.

2. How Often to Check the Oil Level

Checking car oil.

You should keep an eye on your car’s oil levels. Our reliability survey results have shown that even newer cars can need the oil to be topped off between changes.

CR recommends checking your oil level at least once a month. Be sure to get repairs done at the first sign of a leak.

Check the owner’s manual and follow the automaker’s recommendations. Some newer cars have electronic oil monitors and don’t have traditional dipsticks for manual inspection.

If you do have a dipstick, and you’re checking it yourself, make sure the car is parked on level ground. If the engine has been running, be aware of potential hot spots under the hood.

With the engine off, open the car’s hood and find the dipstick. Pull the dipstick out from the engine and wipe any oil off from its end. Then insert the dipstick back into its tube and push it all the way back in.

Pull it back out, and this time quickly look at both sides of the dipstick to see where the oil is on the end. Every dipstick has some way of indicating the proper oil level, whether it be two pinholes, the letters L and H (low and high), the words MIN and MAX, or simply an area of crosshatching. If the top of the oil “streak” is between the two marks or within the crosshatched area, the level is fine.

But if the oil is below the minimum mark, you need to add oil.

Pay close attention to the oil’s color. It should appear brown or black. But if it has a light, milky appearance, this could mean coolant is leaking into the engine. Look closely for any metal particles, too, because this could mean there is internal engine damage. If you see either of these conditions, get the car to a mechanic for further diagnosis.

If everything is okay, wipe off the dipstick again and insert it back into its tube, making sure it’s fully seated. Close the hood and you’re done.

3. How Often to Change the Oil

Changing car oil.

Some swear by the “every 3,000 miles or every 3 months” rule, but advances in engines and oil have made that guidance obsolete. Many automakers have oil-change intervals at 7,500 or even 10,000 miles and 6 or 12 months for time.

“Your owner’s manual has more detailed information about your car than any mechanic does,” Ibbotson says. “Don’t get talked into too-often oil changes. Follow the manual and your car’s engine should stay well-lubricated and perform well.”

Over the course of two years and 30,000 miles, assuming that your oil change costs $40 a pop, you could save $240 if you get it changed every 7,500 miles vs. every 3,000 miles.

It’s not just about miles: If you don’t drive your car a lot, your oil still needs to be kept fresh. Even if you drive fewer miles each year than your automaker suggests changing the oil (say, 6,000 miles, with suggested oil-change intervals at 7,500 miles), you should still be getting that oil changed twice a year.

Why? Oil becomes less effective as it ages, and by not getting the engine warm enough, excess moisture that forms in the engine will not be removed, which can lead to shorter engine life.

4. Choosing the Right Oil for Your Car

Again, take a look at your owner’s manual. “Don’t be upsold into synthetic oil if there is no need,” Ibbotson says.

In many newer models, the weight of your car’s motor oil is printed on the cap where you add oil. “Make sure you know what’s recommended or required by your automaker before you visit your mechanic so that you can control the cost of the oil they’re putting in,” he says.

If you have a much older car, do you need special motor oil?

“Not if it’s running well,” Ibbotson says. “If you’re not sure what oil you should be using because you don’t have an owner’s manual, check with your local dealer or an online enthusiast group for your particular model,” he says.

5. Do You Need Synthetic Oil?

Conventional engine oil vs. synthetic engine oil.

“Only if your manufacturer calls for it,” Ibbotson says, “because it can cost from two to four times as much as conventional oil.”

Synthetic oil is designed to be more effective at resisting breakdown (and because of that, it lasts longer) and withstanding high temperatures.

There are situations where that resistance to breakdown can help prolong the life of your engine.

“If you make lots of short trips, standard motor oil may never get warm enough to burn off moisture and impurities, which means it may not be doing enough to protect your engine,” Ibbotson says.

Another consideration is your lifestyle. “If you live in a region with very cold winters or very hot summers, or if you use your vehicle for towing or hauling heavy material, synthetic oil is your best bet,” he says. “While synthetic generally holds up better and can serve for more miles, it is equally important to not extend oil changes beyond the time interval recommended by the manufacturer—typically six months or a year if it is a motor that is not driven many miles or on many short trips.”

Synthetic oil can also help engines that are prone to building up sludge; some Volkswagen and Toyota models have had sludge issues in the past. This residue, formed when oil breaks down, can block the flow of oil, leading to the quick death of an engine. Synthetic oil would be beneficial in these engines because it helps to reduce sludge buildup, helping to extend the engine’s lifespan.

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HONDA OIL CONSUMPTION SETTLEMENT REACHED

Honda Oil Consumption

Honda Oil Consumption

– An Acura oil consumption settlement has been reached after vehicle owners alleged the following models are equipped with defective 3.7-liter J37 engines.

  • 2010-2013 Acura MDX
  • 2011-2012 Acura RL
  • 2009-2014 Acura TL
  • 2010-2013 Acura ZDX

The Acura oil consumption settlement still needs to receive final approval by the judge in July, but vehicle owners and Honda agreed to the terms.

According to the class action lawsuit, the plaintiffs say they discovered the Acura excessive oil consumption problem in September 2013 and eventually took the vehicle to the dealership six times during the warranty coverage period.

The dealership performed two oil consumption tests that allegedly showed 1 quart of oil was used every 2,400 to 2,900 miles.

The plaintiffs also allege the “Maintenance Minder” (MM) deceives drivers by displaying inaccurate information regarding the “life of engine oil when that oil is getting burnt during the operation of the engine and doesn’t last for the amount of time displayed by the MM.”

Acura allegedly concealed oil consumption problems and denied there were problems when Acura owners visited dealerships. The plaintiffs claim they would have purchased or leased models with different engines or would have been driving vehicles manufactured by competitors if Honda would have warned them about the engines.

Acura says the owner’s manuals recommend to check the engine oil each time the vehicles are refueled, something the lawsuit says is “unconscionable.”

However, the settlement notice admits only a limited number of Acura owners have complained about oil consumption problems.

The lawsuit was never certified as a class action and the automaker denies there are problems with the vehicles. Honda says the only reason it agreed to the settlement is to avoid the time and expense of ongoing litigation.

The settlement doesn’t provide customers with replacement engines even though the plaintiffs allege it’s the engines that are defective. But customers may be eligible for other benefits.

Acura Oil Consumption Settlement Terms

Honda has agreed to reimburse for out-of-pocket expenses incurred before the class action notice date as long as a customer submits a valid and eligible claim and the required documents.

Honda has also agreed to cover the costs for piston repairs after the settlement agreement has been signed as long as the repair is performed during the powertrain warranty period or the warranty gap period.

The gap period means the six months after the effective date of the settlement and applies only to vehicles which are outside the powertrain warranty period and which do not have prior eligible repairs for which the claim can be made.

Honda will also cover the cost for a piston repair after the Acura oil consumption settlement is signed, provided the repair is performed during the powertrain warranty period or during the warranty gap period.

In addition, Honda will provide an updated powertrain warranty period to customers after the Acura oil consumption settlement is signed.

A customer may need to have an excessive oil consumption test performed by an Acura dealer under the warranty extension period. The procedure is explained in the settlement.

  1. Your vehicle will need to be topped off with oil to start the oil consumption test.
  2. The dealership may ask you questions about your oil service history, including whether you top off the engine oil in between oil change visits.
  3. You will be provided an engine oil consumption test form and the starting mileage on your vehicle will be recorded.
  4. The service advisor will provide you with instructions on how to check the engine oil level (as needed or at various intervals), what information you may need to record on the test form and when to return to the dealership (this is usually after 1,000 miles of driving).
  5. The dealer will determine how much oil (if any) your vehicle consumed during the 1,000 mile trip.
  6. Your vehicle’s engine oil consumption is “excessive” if the oil consumption rate is 1 quart or more every 1,000 miles.
  7. If your oil consumption is excessive and your vehicle is within the Powertrain Warranty Extension Period (8 year/125,000 miles, whichever occurs first), you will be provided an oil consumption warranty repair.

If the Acura oil consumption settlement receives final approval based on the current terms, Honda will self-administer the settlement and as the claims administrator will be responsible for approving or denying owner claims.

The Acura oil consumption class action lawsuit was filed in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles: Kojikian et al. v. American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

The plaintiffs are represented by the Margarian Law Firm.

Reminder Boardman Location Resumes Wednesday Hours Tomorrow

As we continue to monitor the advice from the CDC, OSHA and Gov DeWine we are happy to announce we will be opening back up on Wednesdays for oil change services. We will see you tomorrow!

Today Is National Apple Pie Day, Take $5 Off

–  Grab a fork and a napkin, because Apple Pie day is coming this May 13. Talk about a holiday you can really sink your teeth into!

Apple pie has been around since the Middle Ages. A Dutch cookbook dated 1514 lists a recipe for Appeltaerten. It called for a standard pie crust, slices of soft seedless apples, and a few tasty spices—specifically cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, mace, and sugar—all cooked up in a traditional Dutch oven. The English also had their version of apple pie, which dates back to the time of Chaucer. The English version also suggests adding figs, raisins, and pears to the apple-and-spice mixture. In Sweden, apple crumble was the gold-standard. Traditional Swedish apple crumble requires breadcrumbs or rolled oats instead of pastry, and is served up with custard or ice cream. In France, apple pie is served upside-down as a tarte tatin.

The French also caramelized their apples, an innovation which added a whole new dynamic to the flavor. They were also the ones who decided to add cheese to their pies, which actually makes for a surprisingly delicious treat. In the 17th century, apple pie was finally brought to the American colonies. Over time, apple trees (which were not native to the Americas) began to grow, which made baking much easier. Now, apple pie has become an indelible part of the American identity, to the extent that apple pie is considered one of the most American things in the world.

NATIONAL APPLE PIE DAY ACTIVITIES

  1. Bake your own apple pie

    Any good cookbook will no doubt have an apple pie recipe in its dessert section. Follow the recipe to the letter or improvise — whatever sounds like the most fun. There are even dedicated apple pie cookbooks, such as Ken Haedrich’s Apple Pie. Pick the one that sounds the yummiest and have some fun!

  2. Have an apple pie potluck

    Since there are so many different ways to make apple pie, there’s a chance that you haven’t tried your favorite kind yet. Get a few friends together and set a challenge to each bake a different apple pie. When you’re all done, get together and do a taste-test. See which baker comes out on top!

  3. Go on a pie crawl

    If you don’t happen to be in a baking mood, you can always go out to get apple pie. Make a list of all the restaurants in your area that serve apple pie, get a group of friends together, and go out on the town in search of the very best in apple pie. Even if baking isn’t your style, you can still get “pie” with a little help from your friends.

Today Is National Eat What You Want Day – Take $9 Off Any Oil Change

– Restricting yourself from your favorite foods can be difficult. That is why, on May 11, we celebrate National Eat What You Want Day! On this day, people are encouraged to treat themselves by giving in to their sweet tooth, carb-loading without having a marathon to run, and eating breakfast for dinner. Because on Eat What You Want Day, no one can tell you what NOT to eat.

NATIONAL EAT WHAT YOU WANT DAY – SURVEY RESULTS

FULL RANKING OF FOODS AMERICANS WOULD EAT EVERYDAY (IF THEY DIDN’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCES)

#1: Pizza (13%)
#2: Pasta (12%)
#3: Burgers (11%)
#4: Ice cream (11%)
#5: Tacos or burritos (9%)
#6: Chocolate (9%)
#7: French fries (9%)
#8: Donuts (7%)
#9: Cake (6%)
#10: Chips (5%)
#11: Cheese (4%)
#12: Cookies (4%)
– Data gathered by a top Miami PR Firm

NATIONAL EAT WHAT YOU WANT DAY ACTIVITIES

  1. Have breakfast for dinner

    One thing that people always seem to seek permission for is having breakfast for dinner. Take the freedom to choose and have a fluffy stack of pancakes with a side of bacon before bedtime. You may throw off your taste buds, but your stomach will be happy.

  2. Break the routine

    If you normally pack a lunch for school/work, leave the brown paper bag at home. Instead, invite your coworkers out for lunch and try a new restaurant in the area. You will enjoy the company and the break from the same old sandwich.

  3. Get the kids involved

    Parents are mainly in charge of selecting what’s for dinner. Eat What you Want Day is an opportunity for the kids to decide what will be on tonight’s menu, and creates an opportunity for them to help out with the meal.

Dillsburg Location Will Be Closed Today 5/7/20

Our Dillsburg location will be closed all day today and will reopen tomorrow for regular hours. Please visit our Camp Hill location at 2313 Gettysburg Rd, Camp Hill, PA 17011