Pennzoil - Drain Intervals Q&A - Answers

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Staff member
Aug 20, 2003
Responses from:

Sean Nguyen, Pennzoil Scientist and Automotive Lubricant Specialist

Oil Drain Interval Questions:

  1. For modern direct injection engines that have significant fuel dilution (per used oil drain analyses) and drive for short trips, do you recommend using a heavier grade viscosity?
    • Short distance driving and worn piston rings are some of the causes for fuel dilution. However, we do not recommend using a heavier viscosity grade motor oil because every engine is different and has different needs; especially when it comes to motor oil type and viscosities. Using a heavier grade oil may put more strain in the lubrication system, lead to improper lubrication and retard the performance of your engine. A common analogy is swimming in a pool of honey vs water; more work is needed to get across. As an alternative solution, we recommend taking the vehicle for a 25–30-minute drive once a week to burn off the excess fuel and water that may have accumulated in the motor oil. This will help to extend the life of the oil as well as your engine.

  2. For modern direct injection engines that have significant fuel dilution (per used oil drain analyses) and drive for short trips, should you shorten your oil drain interval in the winter to 2,000 miles?
    • Vehicle manufacturers each have their own recommendations for oil drain intervals, as found within your vehicle’s owner’s manual. OEMs and their engineers know their engine better than anyone else, thus their oil drain intervals are derived from research and development, to which motor oils then support with their particular OEM approved products, like Pennzoil. Vehicles’ engines have a specific design and require proper lubrication based on that design. That’s why Pennzoil works together with OEMs to ensure the motor oils we develop properly lubricate and protect internal components for years to come.
    • One way to help your direct injection engine if it has significant fuel dilution is to take your vehicle for a drive (25-30 minutes) once a week. This drive will allow the engine to reach its optimal operating temperature at a length long enough to burn off any excess fuel and water that has potentially accumulated in the motor oil. Remember, contaminants from combustion, moisture and fuel can form acids in the oil and engine components. This can lead to corrosion and wear; shortening the life of your engine.
    • As for shortening your oil drain interval, remember, oil drain interval is based on either time or mileage. Motor oil that still has valuable life or protection should not be prematurely drained, which can lead to excess waste. Let’s make the best use of our resources if we can.

  3. Why should we extend our drain interval?
    • Oil drain intervals are set and determined by OEMs and the oil performance specification set by the American Petroleum Institute (API). While full synthetic motor oil can help maintain performance and protection, we recommend that you should change your motor oil based on the recommendation found within your vehicle’s owner’s manual. We do not recommend extending your drain interval, especially if your vehicle is under warranty; extending the drain interval may result in voiding of your vehicle’s manufacturer warranty.

  4. Other oil manufacturers produce ‘extended drain’ products along with their ‘regular/OEM drain’ products. When Pennzoil first introduced Pennzoil Ultra Platinum, the product held a claim that it was an extended drain motor oil, good for 15,000 miles. Shortly after, Pennzoil then revised this claim and began recommending again OEM drain intervals. We all know Pennzoil Ultra Platinum could easily be an extended drain oil, but Pennzoil does not do much to distinguish a difference compared to the regular Pennzoil Platinum, I would love your thoughts on this.
    • Very good question - sometimes extended drain interval messaging can lead consumers to keep oil in their car for long periods of time, which can potentially cause issues. An example might be a consumer who keeps motor oil in their car for more than three years because they only drive 5,000 miles a year. This was not what we want to happen.
    • Pennzoil works hand-in-hand with OEMs to ensure we are developing quality motor oils that meet the demands set forth by API as well as their particular specifications.
    • As engine technology has improved over the years, like the introduction of direct injection, turbochargers, start-stop technology, high compression and others improvements, motor oil manufacturers have needed to keep up with their motor oil formulations as well. Our Pennzoil Platinum line of motor oils (including Pennzoil Ultra Platinum) not only meet, but exceed the stringent demands of API, ILSAC and OEM’s specifications. We recognize that those who love cars, like the BITOG community, want performance as well. Thus, we offer our Pennzoil Platinum and Pennzoil Ultra Platinum as our top-of-the-line, high performance motor oils.
    • We recognize that the Platinum and Ultra Platinum are designed for performance and longer life. However, we must always fall back on the oil drain recommendations from OEMs first and foremost. It is the best and easiest way to extend the life of your engine. Additionally, with regular use and maintenance, Pennzoil Platinum and Ultra Platinum can provide protection of your engine for up to 15 years or 500K miles, whichever comes first, guaranteed¹.

  5. I have been running Pennzoil Platinum in SAE 5W-20 in my 2017 Ford Escape 1.5L EcoBoost since I’ve owned it. I ran two oil drain intervals at 7,500 miles and conducted a used oil analysis both times, with stellar results. We drive in pretty much an optimal driving cycle, rural, with virtually no short trips, mostly at 55-60 mph and easy on accelerator. I see no reason not to try a drain interval at 10,000 miles at this point. I chose Pennzoil Platinum because of its high NOACK volatility and the effect that it could have on avoiding intake valve deposits on the Ford direct injection engine. Can I extend it to 10,000 miles in my vehicle?
    • While we always recommend to follow your vehicle manufacturer’s recommended drain interval, we design our Pennzoil Platinum motor oils to perform and exceed the minimal performance set by your engine manufacturer and API. As mentioned previously, motor oil is considered to be the life blood of your engine. Regular oil changes will help extend the life of your engine. Of course, you can always choose to follow the extended drain that was recommended by the lab that tested your used oils; if it is economical for you.
    • It is true that our Pennzoil Platinum motor oil, because it is made with our gas-to-liquid (GTL) base oil, has better performance in NOACK volatility; meaning less oil loss from evaporation. You mentioned intake valve deposit as a concern and oil volatility is one of the factors that can contribute to valve deposit. However, valve deposit can also be caused by incomplete combustion due to fuel quality, injectors, and contaminants. Thus, using high quality motor oil, fuel, and proper maintenance can reduce the likelihood of deposit build up within your engine.
    • Since you’ve been using Pennzoil Platinum in your Ford Escape since you’ve owned it, we recommend enrolling in our free Pennzoil Lubrication Limited Warranty. It is easy to enroll and covers 15 critical engine parts for 500,000 miles or 15 years (whichever is first). Learn more at

  6. Could I do an extended oil drain interval using Pennzoil Ultra Platinum using any of the following viscosities: 0W-40, 5W-40 or 10W-40?
    • Our Pennzoil Ultra Platinum product is one of our top-of-the-line, premium synthetic motor oils made from natural gas base stock. It is designed for superior performance, protection and durability. Our unprecedented 15 year/500K miles Lubrication Warranty1 is a testament to our performance. At Pennzoil, we recommend following your manufacturer’s recommended oil viscosity grade and oil drain interval. Having a consistent schedule for vehicle maintenance, like oil changes, will help your engine and extend the life of it.
    • If you’re thinking about extending your oil drain interval, we suggest conducting several used oil analysis tests to determine the additive consumption rate based on your driving habits. The results of the tests will allow you to see how much life is left in the oil. This includes viscometrics, dispersants and detergents, base and acid numbers, contaminant dilution as well as wear numbers. These numbers, as well as the recommendation from the lab, can give an indication on how long you can extend the oil drain interval using the specific product you tested.

  7. Why has Shell limited the variety in the upper registers? Do Gas-To-Liquid base oils have a limit when factoring viscosity indexes?
    • We would like to answer the first part of your question about upper registers, but need more clarification on the question to do so. Please send us a direct message with additional information and our team will share with you an updated response.
    • Our GTL base oil found within the Pennzoil Platinum line of motor oils gives us a superior material to begin with, including in the areas of high viscosity index, high oxidation resistance, low volatility and low temperature performance; it also responds great to our unique, proprietary blend of performance additives. As you may be aware, base oil VI varies based on the base oil viscosities; typically an 8cst base oil will intrinsically have a higher VI than a 4cSt oil of the same quality.
    • As for viscosity indexes in the final formulation, the quality of the base oil is great as a starting base for motor oil formulation. However, the quality of the Viscosity Modifier is a huge factor in generating and creating the high viscosity indexes that you see in the technical data sheet, as well as it’s ability to maintain grade over the life of the oil drain interval.
    • Motor oil specifications are set to make sure that motor oils stay within grade during the entire oil drain interval. Having a high-quality base oil and performance VI helps to meet those challenges. Pennzoil Platinum products are superior in resisting oil breakdown because of our base oil and premium performance additive package. This is why we are able to make claims of complete protection with: cleaner pistons², better fuel economy³, protects horsepower, unsurpassed wear protection⁴ and excellent performance in extreme temperatures while offering an unprecedented engine protection warranty of 15 years/500K miles¹.

  8. Stellantis recommends its SRT vehicles have a 6-month oil drain interval, regardless of mileage. My Hellcat is stored for 5 months out of the year and the oil drain interval for the springtime is usually at about 600 miles. In the fall, the oil drain interval is typically about 2,000 miles. Can you provide an explanation/justification for the 6-month oil drain interval Stellantis recommends?
    • As mentioned previously, motor oil is considered to be the life blood of your engine. It is also one of the most inexpensive components in extending the life and performance of your engine. OEMs like Stellantis, which Pennzoil factory fills, recommends a 6 month or mileage oil drain interval (for normal operations and in non-severe use) because they have tested and approved those oils that has met the API and their own specifications; for example MS6395 or MS-12633.
    • The reasoning for the 6-month or mileage interval that most OEMs recommend is based on data. They recognize that with regular daily use, the engine is designed to burn off any fuel and water dilution that may accumulate in the oil. If the motor oil meets the specification set by your particular engine, then it has been tested and approved to meet the minimum performance and durability. In your situation, the vehicle is stored for a long period of time; we assume during winter. In this case, you may start the engine up once in a while to lubricate it. These short drives may not be enough to remove the moisture or fuel that has accumulated from the previous start-up. Thus, these contaminants will break down the oil over time and use up the protective additives that are in the motor oil which is why the OEM recommends a 6 month interval.
    • If you want to determine if you can extend your drain interval, perhaps consider conducting a series of used oil analysis on a particular motor oil to evaluate the quality of life left in that motor oil.
    • In the meantime, especially if your vehicle is still under warranty, we recommend following your manufacturer’s recommended drain interval.

  9. Does Pennzoil recommend extended oil drain intervals of more mileage than the owner's manual recommends? Or is Pennzoil stating that Pennzoil motor oils are robust enough to handle the long drain intervals recommended by some auto manufacturers?
    • We formulate our oils to exceed the specifications set forth by governing bodies, such as the American Petroleum Institute (API), the International Lubricant Standardization and Approval Committee (ILSAC), and the OEMs. Every OEM has their own particular specification or requirement on top of API and/or ILSAC; like GM dexos. Thus, we introduce a variety of Pennzoil Platinum products that are tailored to specific needs of each OEM; from Ford to Volkswagen. You can be assured that by using the approved Pennzoil products, you can feel confident that the motor oil is robust enough to handle the longer drain intervals that your OEMs are setting forth.
    • Regular use of Pennzoil Platinum will help to extend the performance and protection of your engine, which can be backed with our 15 years/500,000 miles warranty1. However, Pennzoil always recommends following the oil drain intervals set by your vehicle’s manufacturer, which is usually based on mileage or time, whichever comes first.

  10. With extended oil change intervals, should the oil filter used be a filter with synthetic media or does that not matter? For an extended oil change interval that uses a cheaper oil filter meant for use between 3,000 – 5,000 miles, should that filter be changed after 5,000 miles and replaced with a new oil filter, all while using the same oil for the extended drain interval?
    • The quality of your oil filter is important in filtering large particulates that may end up in motor oil. Good quality filters are designed to remove the buildup of particulates that accumulate during the life of your oil drain interval. Changing your filter between oil drains may help trap particulates within the oil. It does not do anything to prevent additive depletion or oil breakdown. With that said, we recommend changing your oil filter at the same time you change your motor oil.

¹ 15 years or 500,000 miles whichever comes first, guaranteed, if you exclusively use Pennzoil Platinum® Full Synthetic motor oils. Your engine must have less than 125,000 miles and have been manufactured in the past 72 months. To maintain your warranty, change your vehicle’s oil and oil filter at least as often as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Enrollment required. Keep your receipts. Other conditions apply. Visit for details.
² Based on Sequence IIIH results. Does not apply to Pennzoil Platinum® Euro motor oil.
³ Based on the latest industry standard.
⁴ Based on Sequence IVA wear test using SAE 5W-30.
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