5 Common Myths About Your Oil

October 6th, 2023 by

From the moment we purchase our first vehicles as young adults, we’re taught the importance of oil maintenance and routine oil changes. But with the modernization of today’s vehicles, how many of the oil tenets instilled upon us still hold up today? 

To be perfectly clear, your car needs your care and attention the same way anything you love does: yearly inspections are a must, and maintenance must be sought as soon as any cause for concern arises. But when it comes to oil, the lifeblood of your vehicle, conflicting information still abounds. We set out to debunk five commonly held assumptions about oil. 

Myth 1: You need to change your oil every 3,000 miles. 

This is a long-standing rule of thumb, along with changing your oil after every three months. Long-standing, however, is another way to say outdated. The simple truth is that thanks to the improved quality of today’s new vehicles – especially those found at Billy Wood Ford – such brief change intervals aren’t as integral to keeping your ride in top shape as they once were. In fact, many manufacturers today put their recommended change interval time at 5,000 – 10,000 miles. 

It doesn’t hurt your vehicle to change the oil as often as possible. If you’re determined to maximize the longevity of your vehicle, you might even consider it a good idea. But we’re here to separate good ideas from necessities, and 3,000 miles is no longer the marker of a necessary oil change. 

Myth 2: You should always change your oil before a road trip. 

The length of your road trip is obviously a key factor here. If you’re planning a cross-country drive, taking every available precaution, including a fresh oil change, is the way to go. After all, the distance from the Atlantic to Pacific is essentially the aforementioned 3,000 miles. (It’s approximately 2,892 miles, if you were curious). 

But a one-day trip, even if it’s upwards of ten hours, isn’t long enough to necessitate an extra oil change. Whether you’re taking one 600-mile trip or 60 ten-mile trips, your total mileage stays the same – and you wouldn’t rush to change your oil after just two months’ worth of work commutes. Use your own discretion here, but don’t falsely assume your vehicle is more at risk just because the road ahead is long. 

Myth 3: If the oil on the dipstick is black, it’s time for an oil change. 

Motor oil is meant to darken. This is actually a good thing. As your engine runs and filters through different heat cycles, the oil darkens naturally. Furthermore, darker oil could be a sign that it’s successfully meshing with detergent additives that are there to prevent contaminants from spreading. Darker or black oil may be on the longer end of its lifespan, but using it as the sole indicator that it’s time for an oil change may be premature. We would even rely on the more traditional change intervals mentioned above before the color of the oil. 

Myth 4: Synthetic oil is superior to conventional. 

The actual difference between synthetic and conventional petroleum-based oil is still up for debate, making this the only negotiable myth on this list. But whether you’re a conventional devotee or synthetic convert, rest assured that both options are healthy for your vehicle. The difference is minute enough that the best course of action is to consult your owner’s manual for your vehicle’s recommended oil type. Even if you lack the specific suggested type, conventional oil of the same weight will usually work in a pinch. In general, following the manufacturer’s recommendation will help squeeze the most life out of your engine.

Myth 5: Once you go synthetic, you can’t go back. 

As with most things in life, you reserve the right to change your mind, and making the shift to synthetic oil is no different. Synthetic and conventional oil are perfectly compatible with one another, and (bonus myth) can even be safely mixed. Oil is like people, after all – we may have surface differences, but we’re all made of the same basic components. Feel free to experiment with synthetic oil! Your engine will be completely fine (physically and emotionally) whenever you decide to go back to conventional. 

Regardless of which type of oil you prefer, Billy Wood Ford is here for all your oil and service needs. If you’ve read through these myths and still think your ride is due for a change, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with us today. Our oil changes also include a tire rotation and pressure check, brake inspection, battery test, and more, all for one incredible value.