Car service secrets may save you time, money

UNDATED (KSLA/FOX19) – Patricia Franks is your typical legal secretary. As part of her job description, Franks said her bosses tell her to read a lot of fine print, legal documents and the like.

So maybe it shouldn't come as a shock to learn that when Franks purchased her 2005 Honda Accord, she actually read the owner's manual cover to cover.

"The only reason I did was because I was looking through it with the warranty," said Franks.

While reading Franks came across one chapter that made her do a double take.

"Every 10,000 miles or every 1 year, whichever comes first," said Franks.  According to Honda, Patricia says only has to change her oil every 10,000 miles.

For the longest time, everyone's been told to change their oil every three months or 3,000 miles. All of the oil change stickers say it, but can some wait longer before that next oil change?

"That's correct, modern technology and conditions of the oil have changed," said Sammy Goldman, a technician with Southern Automotive in Shreveport, La.

However, Goldman still recommends changing oil every three months, 3,000 miles in most cases, but not all cases.

"5,000 miles is not unheard of, some of them will go a lot further than that, depending on your own driving habits and driving conditions," Goldman said.

Check your owner's manual, see if your driving is 'severe' or  'normal'.  Severe requires an oil change sooner, but the car experts with Edmunds say most drivers' drive a 'normal' schedule; meaning fewer oil changes needed.

Vehicles like the newer Honda Accords and Honda Civic suggest changing the oil every 10,000 miles, while the Chevrolet Impalas suggests changing the oil every 7,500 miles.

Edmunds said to forget about those windshield stickers dictating when to get your oil changed. In many modern cars, your best bet is to rely on your vehicle's oil life monitoring system like Patricia Franks does.

Trey Hardee, an automotive technician with Kelly Hardee automotive of Natchitoches, La, still sticks with the old rule of thumb.

"If you want to preserve the life of the vehicle; three months, 3,000 miles," Hardee adds. "You won't go wrong with that."

Some top oil change shops have began going a step further, by changing the automatic sticker rule. The New York Times reports  that Jiffy Lube, the largest quick oil change company in North America ran a pilot program with some franchises.  Instead of making a blanket 3,000 mile recommendation, mechanics tell customers what the manufacturer suggests.

Patricia Franks didn't have to be told that tidbit of information, she said she's been saving about $120 a year on fewer oil changes and her car is doing just fine. "As far as I know, I haven't had any issues with it."

Before you decide when you should or shouldn't get your oil changed, check the owner's manual to get the facts and discuss it with your mechanic.

 Copyright 2011 KSLA and FOX19. All Rights Reserved.