Separating Fact From Fiction

We’ve all heard the urban legends about when, why, and how to change your oil. So, with assistance from Edmunds.com, Mobil, and other sources, here are six helpful myth-busters:

1. Change Oil Every 3,000 Miles or Three Months

This is a myth for the vast majority of modern cars. Oil experts and car manufacturers say that oil chemistry and engine technology have evolved tremendously in recent years, extending change intervals. For the best recommendation, see your car’s owner’s manual.

2. Change Your Oil Before a Long Road Trip

While it’s definitely a good idea to have your car checked before long drives, if the oil change interval is not scheduled to occur during the trip, don’t change it preemptively. Dan Edmunds from Edmunds.com suggests scheduling a service visit about a week before the trip – that way you’ll catch any trouble spots and know that everything is working properly before you hit the road. 

3. You Should Break in Your New Engine With a Conventional Oil Before You Switch to a Synthetic

One of the myths surrounding synthetic oils is that new engines require a break-in period with conventional oil. The fact is, current engine manufacturing technology does not require this break-in period – and premium synthetic oils such as Mobil 1™ are even installed in many new high-performance cars right at the factory.

4. If the Oil on the Dipstick is Black, it’s Time for a Change

Experts call this a myth. “Oil is meant to get dark – it means it’s doing its job,” says Kristen Huff, president of Blackstone Laboratories. Different additives also can change the oil’s color, so black oil can still have plenty of life left in it.

5. Once You Use Synthetic Oil, You Always Have to Use it

This is a straight-up myth. in fact, synthetic and petroleum-based oils are often blended. As long as the oil meets the service and viscosity requirements in the owner’s manual, you can switch back and forth as much as you want.

6. Synthetic Oils Will Leak Out of the Seals of Older Cars

High-quality synthetic oils such as Mobil 1 do not cause leaks. In fact, Mobil 1 is fully compatible with the elastomeric materials from which all automotive seals and gaskets are made. If an older engine is in good condition and does not have oil leaks, Mobil 1 oils provide the same advantages as when used in a new engine.