Why and where did change every 3000 miles come from?

Not open for further replies.
Jun 17, 2003
Is there anyone source that changing oil every 3000 miles came from or is this just advertising? The reason I ask is that no car I have ever owned has stated this length. My current car 3750 miles severe/7500 normal. My previous was every 6000 miles and prior the same. Was this an old school thought due some other work needing to be done back in the days of points or carb. adjustments etc that made sense.

My current mechanic who is really good uses 3k with dino which I ignore till 5k. My previous mechanic stated 5k miles was fine (by sticker) but was a European concentric shop (specialized on Porshe, Audi/VW, Mercedes, BMW etc) but worked on my lowly but reliable Honda.

Just a random ponder as some people are fanatics about 3000 miles which is fine.
I remember when Jiffy Lube first started their advertising campaign it was every 3500 mi. Once in awhile I find someone who remembers it also.

Originally posted by harper:
Is there anyone source that changing oil every 3000 miles came from or is this just advertising? The reason I ask is that no car I have ever owned has stated this length.

Every GM car I've ever owned has listed in it's owner's manual that 5000km (3100 mile) oil changes should be done if the car falls under the severe service category.
According to my dad, who is almost 85 years old, people used to change oil around every 2000 miles. It was still this way back in the early 1950's. By about 1960 somehow it was up to the 3000 mile oil changes. I can remember the 3000 mile changes from at least about 1964 when I started working some at my dad's service station.

I do not know the source of the 3000 mile oil change frequency though.

Oil is cheap, and I burn the old oil for fuel. I don't see why not to change it at 3k...
My Hyundai owner's manual calls for 7,500 miles, normal or 3,000 miles, severe service. In the early 50s, detergent oils were not the norm, but, by the early 60s they were. Maybe that's the reason the recommended duration went from 2,000 miles to 3,000 miles during that decade. For "Aunt Mae" sludge making engine killer driving (infrequent, sitting in city traffic, and either rarely fully warmed in the winter or close to full boil in the summer), limiting the change interval to 3,000 miles is probably better in my opinion.
Growing up my Father changed the oil every 2000 miles states side and every 1500 in Germany. Even running castrol the engine was so clean inside you could eat off it!
My high school auto shop teacher told me to change it every 1000 miles. That was in 1970. The VW I was driving then had a 2.5 qt sump and no oil filter and a typical drive was less than five miles, so it was running rich on choke most of the time.

3000 miles is the severe duty recommendation for many American and Japanese cars and trucks. My problem with that is that Jiffy Lube and others refuse to read the definition of severe service as stated in owners manuals. They do not say "stop and go driving", it is more like "door to door delivery, police and taxi service with extended idling and most trips under ten miles in freezing weather".
I found this stuff through a quick internet search...

1947 Union Triton Oil ad mentioning "Change your oil only 2 times a year!"

1966 Chrysler Imperial ad mentioning required 3 month/4,000 mile oil changes. Note that for the 5 yr/50,000 mi warranty to apply, every 6 months you had to provide proof of routine maitenance to the dealer!

From a 1973 "Petersen's Basic Auto Repair Manual" I have: "Oil should be changed every 90 days or 3,000 miles, whichever occurs first." For VWs, "Oil is changed the first 300 miles and every 3,000 miles thereafter."
That Imperial warranty seams like a way to get you to take it to the dealer for service.

My 1985 honda says every 7500 mi or 6 mos. Nothing about severe service.
In Robert Sikorskys 1983 book, DRIVE IT FOREVER, he cites the reasoning as being the

1] the level of contaminants maxing out;

2] the depletion of the additive package;

3] changing the oil on the "upside" of this curve (expressed in miles/time);

as being the best bet for conventional oil. He also goes into discussions of how to assign "miles" to hard-driving (desert towing) or super-severe winter service as being ways to help determine oil change frequency. Is the oil clean or dirty? Did you just drive twenty miles down a dust-choked road. Then just change it. Etc.

Good book, overall.

This is consistent with what I recall from the 1960's. Lack of any maintenance was the killer of those old "cheap" cars (people kept cars an average of four/five years; car was paid off in three). Stuck chokes, worn plugs, dirty air filters, clogged PCV systems were common.

Came across plenty of examples of 2-mos/2000 oil changers and -- no surprise -- their cars ran like new. But recall this was in the heyday of full-service gasoline stations. They'd gas it, wash it, have the oil changed and everything else done for you at least as fast as Gyp Lube. Same went for tires, batteries, inspections, brakes, etc.

I really miss those stations. You took your business to them, and they took care of you. Nothing like having a real mechanic check over your car on a regular basis, familiar with you and the use your vehicle got.

As to the Imperial, my 1971 Chrysler manual states 4-mos or 4000; still a good bet for conventional to cover the max, year-round.

Although we don't discuss it here (that I recall) time is potentially more important than miles.
My newly aquired 1997 SAAB 9000CSE Turbo: 10K normal and 7.5K severe service and that is not even asking for synthetic. The dealer by me has SAAB oil changes at 7.5K and Caddilac at 3K.
20 years ago I personally knew every engineer in Chrysler Engine Design and Development Group. When the issue of oil came up they told me there was a very noticeable difference between engines with a 3000 mile oil change schedule and engines with a 6000 mile oil change schedule. These guys are intimately familiar with engine internals. I need no higher authority. Ever since then I've changed oil every 3000 mile for each car I take care of.
I think 3k is an average "severe duty" interval and so places like Jiffy Lube et al. started heavy advertising (TV commercials, etc.) and pounded this into everyone's mindset...
Synthetic oil has been around since WWII. Maybe these twice yearly oils are teh grandfathers of our modern synthetics???
My Dad was a very good mechanic and he changed oil often. In fact, after he was retired, and he was not driving much, he was changing oil about every 1000 miles on his car. But he was mainly just driving around town and it took him a while to put any miles on. He would go further on oil changes in his work pickup truck when he was working. But the miles were mainly highway miles.

I don't know where the 3000 mile/three month oil change came from, but I know my Dad would change oil on a regular basis and taught my brother and me to do the same.

Every mechanic I have ever known changed the oil in his cars and trucks on a regular basis.
Not open for further replies.