questionswho knows things about oil changes?

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A lot of what you're asking is based on opinion.

Having said that, I'd follow the dealers suggestions to help with initial break in of the engine. After that, the best place to start is to read the owners manual as well as hit a few online forums about which oil is best for your vehicle.

Know any good mechanics? Ask them not what they recommend, but what do they put in their engines.

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Follow your owner's manual. Ignore your dealer unless they're saying what's already in your owner's manual.

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@zuiquan: For the initial break-in, I concur!
I change the oil in my truck every 5k or 7.5k miles, depending on how hard I drive between changes, due to the newer oils and synthetics not breaking down as quickly as they did in the past.
I also mix Marvel Mystery Oil and Lucas Upper Cylinder Lubricant together and add 4 ounces of the mixture to the gas tank with each fill-up. The truck starts better, runs smoother, and the mixture cleans the cylinders and injectors, and it's supposed to neutralize poor quality fuel (ethanol).

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Every answer so far has merit. The owner's manual is your bible. Answers there trump even the dealer's advice.
Mobil 1 is great oil, as is Quaker State, Pennzoil, Castrol, and many other synthetics. You will find people who are loyal to their brand and swear that it is the best, but in truth all synthetics are great today.
Consider learning how to change your own oil. It's neither hard nor technical and learning what your oil looks and smells like could alert you to problems before they get expensive.
I have a friend with 400K miles on his Subaru. He swears it is lasting so long because he feeds it a magic elixir not unlike misterron's, but in truth it probably has more to do with changing his oil according to the manufacturer's recommendations than any magic potions.

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For the time that the vehicle is under warranty, opinion is useless- follow the manual, paying particular attention to specifications for oil AND filter, and document everything done to the vehicle.
These rules apply to all factory recommended services, not just the oil changes.
On your Mobil 1 question, API reports from a few years ago concluded that no 1 brand of oil was superior to the others. The most benefit was to (gasp!) meet the required specs from automakers, and it's important to know that not all oils, sometimes including what oils dealers sold, meet those specs.
Stupid, but true.

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It's no secret that an engine needs lubrication. What most people don't understand is that engine oil isn't very good lubrication for a newly assembled car that's going to be sitting in a car lot for a while. That's why manufacturers use something called assembly lube. Assembly lube is great for assembling an engine, but it sucks when a car is actually being used every day. One of the reasons you need to double up the first oil services on a new car is to remove all of the assembly lube. So yes, do it.

As far as engine oil is concerned you should use the brand and viscosity that the manufacturer recommends. I'm a eurotrash guy so I can't comment on Subaru, but I swear by Mobil 1 for my Merc and Castrol for my Bimmer. Personally, I wouldn't put Quaker State in my lawnmower.

Source: I am a Master Technician with a degree in Automotive Technology.

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@k3nd0: Wow - your comment flashed me back to high school. A buddy used to race motorcycles and burned Castrol 2-stroke in his Maico. Nothing else like the smell of Castrol!

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@misterron: I swear by Marvel Mystery Oil. My boyfriend taught me about it, explained how it works, and it has never failed us. Most people think it's snake oil, but we know better!

As far as oil changes in general, I think it is the cheapest, easiest way to extend the life of your engine. Do it, and do it on time. Never miss one.

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@k3nd0: What are they teaching kids in school today? If assembly lube is crap why do they use it in the first place? Why doesn't the dealer drop your oil when you first purchase the car?
I'm not looking for an argument, just that info needs to be valid. Assembly lube is compatible with oil, it has a higher viscosity so that it 'sticks' to surfaces better, helping to avoid contact wear on start up.
I'm not beating up your comment, but IMNSHO, doubling oil changes is a waste of money. I'm also a master tech an have worked as a machinist and rebuilder in an engine rebuild shop.

I agree with the rest of your comment, I've used Mobil 1 since my first oil change with a quality filter. I also don't use Q-state probably because of the bad rep they had in the past.

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I'm actually surprised that they say you can only go 7k on full synthetic once you're established. I have a W8 VW and my owners manual and dealer agree that I can go 10k on full synthetic. One difference though is that my W8 holds a lot of oil - something like 9 quarts - while your Subaru might hold a fair bit less.

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I don't understand you drsilentg. You don't know the mileage, you don't know the tire pressure. When was the last time you even checked the washer fluid?

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SAVE a ton of money and use WALMART synthetic oils. All the name brands are OVERRATED and hyped up to COST MORE. Synthetic is STNTHETIC. Walmart oil ROCKS! I have used ONLY walmart synthetic oils for the past 10 years and STILL going strong in my 2002 F-150 and 1998 RANGER trucks...

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@briansmac: Actually, no. Here's the rules, courtesy of the API:
To qualify as a Semi-Synthetic blend, at least 10% of the blend must be pure synthetic.
Here's the fun one: To be called a "Full Synthetic", it must be no less than 60% synthetic, which has never made any sense. Now these figures are from 5 years ago, but unless you know your brand's exact makeup, synthetic isn't the same across all brands.

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@xdavex: They teach us "kids" a lot actually. I didn't say that assembly lube is crap. The reason they use assembly lube in a new engine is because there is no way to circulate engine oil thoroughly enough to fully lubricate a new engine before it's initial start-up. Once an engine is being used regularly engine oil will get enough circulation to prevent component wear on start-up, so assembly lube is no longer necessary. Of course lube is compatible with oil, otherwise they wouldn't use it. But it's designed for assembly, not daily usage. Also, having a higher viscosity is not necessarily a good thing. Viscosity affects heat transfer and dissipation, among other things. There are other things to consider such as the potential half-life of additives designed to help initial engine wear that may have adverse effects once they break down. I was trying to offer a very simple explanation of a complicated subject.

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@mtw1057: checked the washer fluid a few months ago. mileage is 8200 and tire pressure is 31ish in each tire. dont accuse

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@drsilentg: Sorry for my whiff with the Seinfeld referrence.

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@mtw1057: clears throat wellppp.... this is awkward......... (sorry more of an archer and currently getting into Dr. Who fan)

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if you like this discussion, come join us oil nerds over @ www.Bobistheoilguy.com.
lots of info in the front pages, lots of opinions, and some good info to boot in the forums. i can't even tell you how many hrs of my life i've lost to that site.
one of the most informative is their "Motor Oil university"
http://www.bobistheoilguy.com/motor-oil-101/

the question folks have asked in a round about way,(said to follow the manual) does Subaru call for Synthetic in this engine? if not, and you are only going 7k mi, you could get by with about any of the major brand conventionals, and a quality filter(wix/purolator/Fram ULTRA/motorcraft/bosch, etc).

another important one, i don't recall seeing, (apologies if i missed it), how is the car driven? do you drive it like a little old granny on her way to church? Do you drive it like you stole it? short trips? long commute? expected ambient temps between now and next oil change? these can all matter in determining what oil/interval to use.

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@earlyre: mix of speeds and trip lengths, we are a young married couple and have been doing some road trips, but its also our daily commute car. yup it calls for synthetic

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ok. it calls for a synthetic. you will get almost as many opinions on brand as there are brands. some folks have just "drunk the Kool-aid" of a particular brand. some folks put mobil 1 in anything from their weed whacker, to their froot loops.

as long as you are using the correct weight oil, (per the owners manual), and it carries a current API certification (most recent is SN, SM would be fine too), and a Quality filter, (opinions are fiercely divided here too - almost like sports teams)
you can sleep well with about any major brand of synthetic. yes, they each have their own unique cocktail of friction modifiers/ anti-wear additives/detergents/etc. but to get that certification, they all have to pass the same tests, and is M1 "Worth" that much more? some people would say yes, with out a doubt.
I say, which brand do you see More Commercials for? who sponsors more/bigger name race teams? you pay for that marketing with higher oil price. advertising isn't free, or cheap.

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I only drive 1000-2000 miles a year. How often should I change my oil?

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+1 for Bob the Oil guy. If you are doing a Mobil 1 synthetic, buy the oil at Walmart (FAR cheaper than anywhere else) -- and have someone change it for you (or do it yourself).

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@davemeigs5: is that lots and lots of short trips? or a couple BIG trips? does the car in question have an oil life monitor( either shows percentage of life remaining, or a light or something that turns on to signify when it's time to change?)
If it has an OLM, go by that. if not, you could probably get by with at least annual, if not 1.5-2 years. but don't go by my word alone. see what your manual says, and if you are still in your warranty period stick to it's schedule.

try to at least once a month, go for a 30 min or so hwy drive, to get every thing up to temp, and burn off any fuel that may be diluting the oil, and evaporate any moisture build up.

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@earlyre: Sometimes the recommendation is every 3-6 months (if no monitor is available). That is generally based on if the oil is heated enough to get rid of any moisture that occurs. Short trips of a couple of miles or so won't heat the engine up enough nor long enough to get rid of the moisture.

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When breaking in a new engine, 3500 miles is about right. I'd do what the manual says. If it doesn't say anything about the first 10,000 miles ( or any "break-in" period ), do what the dealer says.

I prefer Mobile 1 full synthetic over anything else. I go either all summer or 7,000 miles before an oil change, then 3 months or 7,000 miles for the winter ( we have harsh winters ). If your car gets most of its run-time on highways or back roads, you can stretch your oil further than if you idle a lot. Short trips and idling your car make more frequent oil changes necessary.

If your owners manual says to change your oil every 7,000 miles and says nothing about a break-in period, you will not damage your engine by doing a more frequent oil change the first 2 times.