What are "Severe Conditions?"

Joined
May 26, 2003
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Central Coast, Calif.
Automakers always have two maintenance schedules, the normal driving schedule and the severe condtions schedule. but everyone seems to think that they are driving in severe conditions, probably due to quicky lube advertising. some of these conditions are; stop and go driving (that's a catch all) dusty conditions cold or hot conditions etc. everyone drives in "stop and go" conditions, how much "stop and go" is enough to be "severe?" I understand dusty conditions but for an average vehicle on the road how much "dusty conditions" are "severe" "cold or hot conditions" does cold or hot weather make oil expire sooner? does a 110* summer kill oil? I do not fit into any of the severe catergories. I drive commute 15 miles with 6 stoplights each way and I live in an extremely mild climate. I am amazed at who is convinced that they fit into the "severe" catergory.
 
Joined
Apr 1, 2003
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San Jose area, CA
Actually most folks seemed convinced they fall into the "severe" category. But then, most folks think they are on the edge with a 5,000 mile oil change!!?? Me, I have been on 15,000 mile OCI's (several vehicles = 694,000 miles) with Mobil One 5w30.
 
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Mar 14, 2003
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Nothern USA
The owner's manual on my 92 Grand Am and 02 Cavalier both were fairly explicit giving trips of so many miles, etc. I felt I was near the border line, and finally decided to change oil every 3 months whether it need it or not. This has meant 12 oil changes in a little over 50 K, some of them as long as 6-7K. I seldom if ever hit 3K in my old truck, but it hardly ever gets out on the road. Its owners manual is written in Latin, but I think it says 7.500 miles.
 
Joined
Jul 4, 2003
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San Antonio, TX
That's a GOOD question. After 10 minutes stop-n-go in August, I'm ready to change the oil! If I went through that every day I'd change to M1 or Syntec. Dusty conditions - That makes sense. If part of your driving is on dirt or gravel every day, that sounds severe. Another advantage of using the severe schedule is you don't have to pay for oil analysis but I would do that in winter if I lived in Buffalo!
 
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Jun 3, 2002
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MI
My 2005 Dodge Caravan schedule is written to suggest that MOST owners fall under the severe, 3,000 mile OCI. For instance, it says any driving under 32 degrees F qualifies as severe. My 2002 Ford Escort schedule is written to suggest that most drivers fall under the "normal" schedule (5,000 mile OCI) and only the harshest conditions of dust, towing, etc. qualify for the severe OCI. The Chrysler OCI sucks if one is concerned about the 70,000 mile warranty.
 
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Sep 28, 2002
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Pottstown, PA
My 02 jeep manual did some comparison in % IIRC. Like "...if 60% of your typical driving is at high speed with ambient temps in excess of 85°.." type stuff ..but in SE PA .that can span two seasons in a 7500 mile OCI. You can go from temps that are near freezing ..to 85° and be driving on the same sump ..so you can be okay in IF your OCI falls in the middle of the hottest or the coldest months if you define it by a % at that state. In reality it's xx% of your driving at that time. My wife does a 51 mile round trip commute 90% of her driving is at high speed regardless of ambient temp. It will be 90% highspeed driving with ambient temps of 85° or higher. So how you integrate that into their definitions may vary. [I dont know]
 
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Jul 2, 2003
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Gone
What are "Severe Conditions?" 10 laps of the Nurburgring (full course) at speed. (Hey, aren't we supposed to have at least one tire making contact with the ground?)
 
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Sep 13, 2004
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The way I look at the 'severe service' recommendation is this: If your manual specifies a 10k OCI for 'normal' service and a 5k OCI for 'severe' service, and you drive the car 50% in 'normal', and 50% in what the manual defines as 'severe', merely multiply the service intervals by the duty cycle to yield the manufacturer-recommended OCI. In the above example, my 'read' of the manual would be to change oil every 7.5k. Of course, as we all know, the written 'consumer' manuals are grossly conservative, and we also know that certain conditions can actually 'undo' severe conditions. For example, a good hours drive on the highway with everything nice and warm can pretty much undo the effects of a couple of hours of cold idling insofar as fuel and water contamination is concerned. Also oils are a lot better than when those 'recommendations' were developed.
 
Joined
Mar 5, 2005
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BC
This has not occured to me before, although I've driven millions of miles I'm sure, that the OEM's dealers and oil companies are just doing a CYA when they leave the issue wide open, big enough to drive a truck through. That is only one reason why I concur with the oil analysis option because it takes the guess work out of what took science to make 100% synthetic lubricants and related oil & air filters. Dealers love manipulating us into threatening they will void our warranty if we don't use their oil or change the oil as they recommend. It's only a "recommend". My dealer knows I've got an independant oil analysis print-out that will expose any deficient mechanical parts they know full well was not the fault of the oil. RH
 
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Feb 9, 2005
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Arizona
I'd like to ask a follow-up to this. I don't have trouble with the way my manuals' service conditions are written except for this: Does 50% stop-and-go mean 50% of the time, or 50% of the miles. That makes a HUGE difference in figuring out what service schedule one falls under. Thoughts?
 
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Jun 24, 2004
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Indiana
I think a lot of people probably fall under both. In my case my wife drives 3 miles to work and 3 miles home. Some days that is all the car is driven. Some days she does the soccer practise, cheerleading practise routine with the kids but all this driving is around town. But a couple times a month she drives to her Mothers or sisters house which is a 25 mile trip up I-65. I think the highway trips negate some of the short trip driving "damage". I used to stick to the 3mos/3k severe change routine but am going to start following the normal service of 6mos/6k with Mobil 1.I can thank the fine folks here for properly edumacating me in regards to the wasteful practise of 3k/mos changing.
 
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Sep 13, 2004
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Canada
quote:
Originally posted by bulwnkl: Does 50% stop-and-go mean 50% of the time, or 50% of the miles. That makes a HUGE difference in figuring out what service schedule one falls under.
Miles, of course. The accelerated oil change mileage already takes into account the fact that the time will be significantly greater.
 
Joined
Mar 3, 2005
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Toronto
On my Acura, things are even more confusing: On the Acura Canada website they suggest 3months/6000km. In the manual it says 6months/6000km for severe conditons. I don't think I'm so severe, as I don't see them mentioning in the manual about using severe if in Western New York, Michigan, etc. They are just as severe as me in Toronto. Nevertheless, I figure "severe" is the right thing to go by. I drive about 800KM/mth and mostly city. So since I don't drive enough to go by mileage do I change the oil every 3 or 6 months? Hmm......
 
Joined
Feb 9, 2005
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Arizona
quote:
Originally posted by pitzel: Miles, of course. The accelerated oil change mileage already takes into account the fact that the time will be significantly greater.
Well, that makes it much easier. In that case severe actually is fairly difficult for me to achieve. It doesn't take but 1 or 2 trips at 80 on the Interstate to eclipse an equal number of miles on a surface street.
 
Joined
May 13, 2004
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Toronto, Canada
Stu I would characterize that as severe. Your situation is very similar to my girlfriend's. Her car 2000 Acura 600 km per month (under 400 miles) 80%-90% city average trip about 2-3 miles so rarely at Operating temp Toronto weather -20 degree winters, 90 degree summers regardless of how little it is driven I beg her to change oil every six months. I think the whole Severe category is counterintuitive to many people who don't put a lot of miles on the car. But the short trip, all city, wide temperature range does more damage than highway miles. Not that I believe a 3000 mile oil change is necessary for everyone but if it takes me 8 months to put 3000 miles on, i would change the oil anyhow.
quote:
Originally posted by totalstu: On my Acura, things are even more confusing: snip I figure "severe" is the right thing to go by. I drive about 800KM/mth and mostly city. So since I don't drive enough to go by mileage do I change the oil every 3 or 6 months? Hmm......
 
Joined
Mar 3, 2005
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Toronto
I realize I'm on the time interval rather than the mileage interval. Do I go by the website (every 3 months) or by the manual (every 6 months)? When I change over to Synthetic should I change it every 6 months? Thanks
 
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