- May 4, 2004
- Phoenix Arizona
Just some interesting reading. I'm sure that in short time, the "speedy oil change places" will try to bebunk this "radical new thinking"! LOL David McFall of the lube industry magazine, 'Lubes-n-Greases' wrote an excellent article in their May 2004 issue. Here is part 1 of David's article. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 'Supersize Me! GM moves to extend drain intervals by David McFall "3,000-mile oil changes may be unnecessary," General Motors began telling drivers last month, as part of its `April is Car Care Month" campaign. "Most technicians say to change oil every 3,000 miles while others say 5,000 or 7,000," the world's largest car maker said. "But Mr. Goodwrench offers another simple solution - let your vehicle tell you when - that could protect your wallet and the environment from unnecessary oil changes." The "simple solution" is GM's patented Oil Life System, a factory- installed device going into about 95 percent of the vehicles it will produce this year - nearly 4 million units in the United States. That's a lot of OLS equipped cars hitting the road this year, joining the 20 million GM vehicles with OLS already on the road. GM inaugurated its Oil Life System in 1987 and has steadily expanded the innovation into its fleet. What's more, the owner's manuals for this newest generation of vehicles equipped with the OLS no longer specify or recommend any mileage interval for oil changes. Depending on the model and engine, the only oil change instructions for owners will be a light on the dashboard or message alert on the "driver information center" screen. Prior to the 2002 model year, the owner's manual always included a mileage guide as supplemental information to the OLS. This means GM owners will no longer have to keep track of how far they've driven before changing oil; the dashboard alert does it for them. They don't have to juggle numbers, clutter the windshield with reminder stickers or decipher dutyservice descriptions such as "severe," "moderate," "light" or "special driving conditions." They just have to keep an eye out for a single dashboard light or message - impossible for a driver to overlook. So far, with the exception of Mercedes-Benz and BMW, no other major vehicle manufacturer which sells cars in the United States has installed an oil life monitor in its vehicles. Lacking an on-board oil quality monitoring system, owner's manuals follow the ancient pattern of recommending drain intervals based on miles elapsed, often with duty-service qualifications. DaimlerChrysler, for example, recommends 6,000 miles for its Chrysler badged cars, Ford 5,000 miles, and Toyota 5,000. DRAIN INTERVAL IMPACT GM senior project engineer Robert Stockwell recently told Lubes'n'Greases that the on-board oil monitoring system alerted many drivers to change oil after more than 10,000 miles - twice the U.S. average and well beyond most OEM's recommendations. And the oil still retained a comfortable quality reserve to protect the engine. "I have analyzed numerous oil samples from vehicles with the OLS," Stockwell stated. "Many of these samples were from vehicles with greater than 10,000 miles on the oil, a few with more than 14,000 miles, and at least one with greater than 16,000 miles. These intervals were recorded in vehicles using regular mineral oil. Synthetic oil gets even longer oil change intervals. "In all cases where the OLS signaled for an oil change it was before the oil was worn out," Stockwell emphasized. `Analysis of all samples indicated that the oil still had the expected oil life `safety factor."' GM's service parts organization is working on ways to develop literature for the retail market and has published a bulletin with instructions for resetting all OLS systems. Stockwell added, "There are some major plans for advertising the OLS this year. In fact, I recently heard a radio ad discussing the benefits of the OLS." These benefits include reducing engine oil waste and lessening its environmental impact. So impressed was SAE International, in fact, that in 2000 it presented GM with its "Environmental Excellence in Transportation Award" for the OLS. KEEPING DEALERS HAPPY It's one thing to install a new technological enhancement at the factory. Getting the full benefit of it in the marketplace can be tough, particularly when there are negative economic impacts for those who must put the innovation into effect - car dealers, retailers, oil companies and oil change facilities. GM has been teaching its dealers about the OLS since its inception; about a year ago it ramped up the educational effort. "While many dealers understand and accept the benefits of OLS, candidly, some are reluctant to change their recommendations since 3,000-mile oil changes are a revenue source," Stockwell said. "However, for the model year 2004 the overall maintenance schedule is driven by the OLS in vehicles with the OLS. Some maintenance, like checking the air filter, needs to be performed every time the oil is changed. Other maintenance is needed every other time the OLS system illuminates. This new maintenance schedule, in one owner's manual, reduced the maintenance schedule from 24 pages to four." The use of the OLS as the driving factor, greatly simplifies the vehicle maintenance, he pointed out. "For example, the owner's manual for a model year 2005 Buick Century recommends that when the oil and filter is changed, the vehicle should be visually checked for leaks, the tires rotated, the air filter checked and a few other things. Every other time the oil is changed, there are additional things that should be checked like the windshield wipers and the restraint system. There are still a few mileage-based maintenance items, such as changing the spark plugs at 100,000 miles. "In previous years the routine maintenance items were usually required at 3,000- or 6000-mile intervals," Stockwell continued. "The computer keeps track of what maintenance is needed so the driver does not need to remember what maintenance was done the last time. The driver just needs to know that when the `change oil' light comes on, the oil and filter need to be changed and some maintenance needs to be performed within the next two gasoline fill-ups."