Garage queen, how often to change the oil

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I have a few vehicles that I don't put many miles on. Mostly driven during the summer time. I have been typically changing oil after 4-5k miles or every 18 months. Now I drive them even less frequently and was wondering if I am wasting my time changing oil after 2k miles if they don't get driven much. Can I stretch the oil changes in time past 18 months? Is there scientifically proven data to support that oil has to be changed so often because it starts to degrade even if the car is not being driven? When the vehicles are driven they get a chance to fully warm up and they are not being abused (driven like a gramma).

PS: I change oil myself and the cost of oil/oil filter is not a factor here. When I change oil I typically do it on at least 2 cars at the same time regardless of mileage I have put on them.
 
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If they were my cars, being driven as you describe, I would be changing oil every other year. Change the oil on half the fleet one year and the remaining cars the next year.

As long as each drive is long enough to fully evaporate any moisture in the oil, I'd feel real good about a maintenance plan like that. But yours sounds good too.
 
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Oil does not degrade just sitting in the pan. It requires the products of combustion to do that. The reason manufacturers often stipulate a calendar limit is because they do not know how the car is driven during that time frame, short-tripping an engine in cold weather is far different than several short highway trips for the same miles. And driving like a grandma is probably worse.
 

LDM

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I typically do 2 years on my Camaros. They maybe get 1K miles a year each since I only drive them when it is nice out. My truck gets a yearly oil change, which for me is around 5K miles. Although that one gets more short tripping and winter use so I really wouldn't want to go any further with the oil for my truck.
 

tpaxadpom

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why driving like gramma is worse? I see many that suggest drive BMW like you stole it and it will prolong the life of the engine. At the same time when I help guys to diagnose problems I see those that drive their BMWs hard have tons of problems with their vehicles vs those that drive them normally.
 
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Oil does not degrade just sitting in the pan. It requires the products of combustion to do that. The reason manufacturers often stipulate a calendar limit is because they do not know how the car is driven during that time frame, short-tripping an engine in cold weather is far different than several short highway trips for the same miles. And driving like a grandma is probably worse.
Is there any scenario where condensation could get to the point where it could possibly cause miniscule damage before it burned off when the vehicle was eventually driven?
 

blupupher

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why driving like gramma is worse? I see many that suggest drive BMW like you stole it and it will prolong the life of the engine. At the same time when I help guys to diagnose problems I see those that drive their BMWs hard have tons of problems with their vehicles vs those that drive them normally.
"Driving like a grandma" - lots of short trips that do not get the oil up to temp. Never any long trips. Sits for days at a time sometimes.
 
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I didn't say to drive it like you stole it, but problems occur when the engine is not allowed to reach it's designed operating temperature.
The first time I did my BMW brakes, some people on the forum said if you don't bed them, they'll be jacked. So I did. Suffice it to say they turned orange from the heat. A more sensible person said, hey genius, when you take delivery of a new BMW from the dealer, or SC, or Germany, does anyone tell you to drive the car like you stole it, and bed the brakes? As a matter of fact, there's a tag hanging saying to go easy for the first 1000km. DOH.
 
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Is there any scenario where condensation could get to the point where it could possibly cause miniscule damage before it burned off when the vehicle was eventually driven?
No you still need the mixed sulfur oxides from combustion to create acids and those will be neutralized unless the TBN is zero.
 

tpaxadpom

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"Driving like a grandma" - lots of short trips that do not get the oil up to temp. Never any long trips. Sits for days at a time sometimes.
my definition of driving like a grandma is not abusing the vehicle (full throttle). Normal driving, don't see why grandmas cannot make 30 minute trips. With traffic we have in most places 30 minute is nothing by today's standard.
 

tpaxadpom

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I didn't say to drive it like you stole it, but problems occur when the engine is not allowed to reach it's designed operating temperature.
are you saying the engine won't fully heat up if I don't rev it beyond 2.5-3k (gasoline red line at 6.5k)?
 
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Based on some UOAs i have done Id be comfortable doing them every 2.5-3 years assuming that when they are driven they are driven long enough to heat up, not just water temp but oil temp and a quality oil.

I wouldn't call full throttle when warmed up occasionally abusing it either.
 
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It was really more of a problem with carbureted engines than it is with modern fuel injected engines. Driving like a grandma with an engine that runs a little rich can cause carbon buildup in the combustion chamber, which causes poor performance. You could literally hear and feel the performance difference after taking it out on the highway and "blowing it out", giving it an "Italian tune-up". This isn't so much a problem with new cars, however, they do share the same issues with driving short distances with a light foot, not getting the oil up to full operating temperature, repeatedly. Fuel dilution diminishes your oil's ability to lubricate. You actually need to change it earlier if you're easy on it, versus getting it hot and cooking the gas out of it.
 

gathermewool

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@tpaxadpom I don’t think your definition of ”driving like a grandma” will be the consensus. I agree with @kschachn that it basically boils down to the engine never seeing enough driving (has nothing to do with revs) to reach operating temperature. Moisture is a byproduct of combustion, as are acids. Fuel dilution is also exacerbated at colder engine temperatures.

Operating the engine at elevated oil temperatures for a period of time (debatable how long) at a moderate load will evaporate this moisture and possibly burn off any fuel dilution. The additive package of the oil will prevent the combustion byproducts from corroding the engine bearing surfaces, as well as keep tiny particulates (too small for the filter) to remain in suspension instead of accumulating in lower flow spots.

So, if you drive your car for a decent period of time every so often, I‘d change the oil every other year.
The only other thing I’d recommend is to have the oil analyzed at your normal 18-months interval and decide from their whether and how far you want to extend your next interval. You’ll be looking for the oil characteristics, such as whether the oil stayed in grade, has sufficient TBN (basic additive) to neutralize acids formed by combustion and moisture, and other important things like flash point and fuel dilution.

Good luck
 

tpaxadpom

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guys thanks a lot for your replies. I am confused about not getting engine to its operating temperature. How could one monitor that temperature? I understand that short trips are bad as the car doesn't heat up enough. I consider short trip if I drive shorter than 20 minutes. Driving on freeway (higher speed) will get you to the operating range sooner. What I don't follow is how short trips with aggressive driving could improve engine reliability? Are you saying that the sooner you get to the desired operating temperature range the better it is? I was also taught not to rev the car when its cold.
 
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guys thanks a lot for your replies. I am confused about not getting engine to its operating temperature. How could one monitor that temperature? I understand that short trips are bad as the car doesn't heat up enough. I consider short trip if I drive shorter than 20 minutes. Driving on freeway (higher speed) will get you to the operating range sooner. What I don't follow is how short trips with aggressive driving could improve engine reliability? Are you saying that the sooner you get to the desired operating temperature range the better it is? I was also taught not to rev the car when its cold.
Getting the oil up to temp. is the true getting engine up to temp. Coolant can be ''up to temp.'' but not the oil. Takes longer to get oil hot so moisture evaps out of it. Same applies to the rest of the drivetrain. Get the oils up to normal operating temps.
 
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Our Passat has an oil temp display. Even on a warm summer day it takes about 10 miles at highway speeds for the oil to reach full operating temperature. Coolant takes about half that time.

My showroom immaculate garage queen BMW E46 is driven less than 700 or 800 miles per year. When I take it out I drive a nice 50 mile loop through the surrounding hills in order to get the oil up to full operating temperature - and keep it there for awhile. I try and take it out every 3 or 4 weeks, just to keep things "wet".

I change the engine oil every year. I also change the drivetrain fluids and flush the brake fluid every two years, coolant every 3 years. Yes it's most certainly overkill but money is not an issue and I like playing in the garage. And even though it's literally never once been driven in the rain or on wet roads I literally hand wash the entire undercarriage with a wash mitt every couple of years. As I said, it's a garage queen and it's treated like one, but it does see its share of 1G turns, hot brakes, and blasts well into the triple digits on smooth, out in the middle of nowhere roads with good sight lines.

Changing the oil on your Camaros every year or two is a good plan but don't neglect the other fluids, especially brake fluid. Stale gasoline is also something to consider with seldom driven cars.

Scott
 
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Did I miss where we said these are Camaros and what kind?

Thing about American V8 is a lot of them have good cooling capacity. And people will put cool thermostats in them too. With a 180 thermostat the F100 will never get over 185 Coolant temp if driven conservatively. It takes a freeway buzz at 70 to get the temp up.

Contrast that with something like a tuned port f-body that doesn’t even turn the cooling fans on until about 226f.

Coolant temp shouldn’t be too hard to monitor, oil temp bit harder but I think VDO makes a gauge that the probe attaches to the dipstick and one that replaces the drain plug.
 
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