A new state campaign is urging California drivers to ignore both conventional wisdom and probably also that clear plastic sticker in the corner of their windshields. The message: Put off that oil change for a couple of thousand miles or more, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
"Used oil is so much of a problem in California that if you can change your oil in less-frequent intervals, you not only save yourself money, you help save the environment," said Jamie Cameron-Harley, a spokeswoman for the California Integrated Waste Management Board, sponsor of "The 3,000-Mile Myth" campaign.
The agency, assigned to reduce waste and keep used oil out of landfills, water bodies and groundwater, launched the campaign after research found that 73 percent of Californians change their oil more frequently than recommended by the manufacturers of their vehicles - most of them at 3,000 miles.
The campaign thus far features a Web site, www.3000milemyth.org, that declares the 3,000-mile oil change "debunked" in bright orange letters.
However, according to the Chronicle, a representative of the oil-changing industry calls that message - and the state's campaign - misleading and potentially damaging to car engines.
"As usual with some California state items, (the campaign) is a little off-the-wall — it's going too far," said Steve Christie, executive director of the Automotive Oil Change Association in Dallas, which has 1,200 members operating more than 3,000 "fast lube" outlets nationwide.
While it's true that many new cars don't require oil changes every 3,000 miles, he said, not everyone drives a new car. The average American vehicle is 10 years old, he said, and many older cars require 3,000-mile oil changes as stated in their manufacturer-issued manuals. Even many newer cars, he said, require more frequent oil changes if driven under more strenuous conditions, including off-road, towing vehicles, those carrying heavy loads, or vehicles in dusty areas.