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Dear MOby,

I just saw your answer regards oil change. My manual says that I need to change oil every 3000 miles. But I only ride about 1000 miles per year (very short commute). By the book, I need to perform oil change every three years. Do I really need to change oil every year? Is it okay to change oil every three years, just because I don’t ride that much?

Thank you
Jay

PS: Just to make myself comfortable, I do oil change once a year.
Read more about Do I Really Have To Change My Oil Every Year? at Motorcycle.com.
 

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I would replace oil every 6 months or ~3k miles. Same with a car.
 

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Ok, I'm going to give the unpopular, but factual, opinion.

The only reason for changing oil every year (or as specified in the manual) is for maintaining warranty. Once outside warranty, you only need to change your oil when your oil needs to be changed, and 6 months (or one year) has nothing to do with that. If not oil would come with an expiration date on the bottle and significantly shorter shelf life.

And don't get me wrong. I've got my own maintenance fetish, it just doesn't include unnecessary oil changes. In europe no one ever thinks of changing their oil less than once a year. When I came back to the States I couldn't believe that 3 months is the norm. It's just plain wasteful. Oil technology has advanced ridiculously since then. I personally tailor my oil change schedule to the vehicle and usage scenario (and religiously log and monitor it via Acar app. That apps worth gold), so in the bike it's about 1 year or 12k miles. And even I know that's out of personal vanity and a "feel good" feeling, not an actual need.


For every other vehicle, or in case of doubt, I do what any fact and reality minded user would do (rather than asking strangers on the interwebs :wink2:), I do an oil analysis. While this is pretty standard in the aeronautic industry, it never caught on to the automotive industry. Probably since it would annihilate the JiffyLubes in a moment. Basically, I buy a few oil analysis kits for about 15$ shipped, analysis included, and before changing my oil I take a sample. I send it to the lab and they check all the variables that your engine would ever care about: Water %, Coolant, all the additives, all the contaminants, all the metals, etc. Along with graphs to compliment. The real number you care about is the Base Number. Basically that indicates how much of the additive package is left. Once that number is out of spec or close to that, you need to change the oil. If it's within spec, there just isn't enough of a reason to change the oil. That's the hard truth.

As a personal experiment, I've been doing oil analysis on a Toyota prius ever 3-6 months to see when I actually have to change the oil, and the vehicle had done 15K miles and 2 years and a half and the oil is still perfectly good. While oil certainly deteriorates and gets acidic with age, modern oil simply has good enough additives to cope with regular use and low mileage over long time periods. That is, as long as the vehicle gets some use with some regularity (enough to evaporate any condensated water in the oil), you oil should be good for at least 1.5-2 years.

Just don't take my word for it, or anyone else's for that matter. For 15 bucks find out exactly how often you have to change your oil, on your specific bike, and your specific usage pattern.
 

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I wanted to attach it before, but apparently it didn't work. Attached you'll find a copy of my last oil analysis on the Toyota Prius I mentioned. There it probably has about 2 years on the same oil and some 12k miles or so if I remember right. The doc has the details anyways.

If there was a factual reason to change oil every 3k miles, I'd wanna know. I just can't find any actual evidence to support that.
 

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I do the same. I use Blackstone labs for my oil analysis. My 300 is around 26k miles. Last year, I rode 13k miles. I usually do my changes every 5k miles. But I decided to stretch it to 8k (or was it 9k???) before I did the oil change. I sent the oil into Blackstone to compare it to my 5k interval changes. Pretty much identical results. Nothing out of the ordinary.

The only reason I don't want to do 5k changes is not because I'm cheap and don't want to spend the money. It's because I don't want to spend the time doing oil changes. A 5k mile change would = an oil change every 2 months for last summer when I was commuting 75 miles a day, 5 days a week (plus wkend fun rides).

This season, since I don't plan on putting nearly as many miles on the bike as I did last, and the fact I'll be riding in harsher environment (short rides vs 75 mile freeway commuting last year), I'll start doing them at 5k intervals.
 

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I change my oil every 5K and I don't pay any attention on how long the oil is in the cases. I use Red Line oil and it is a quality product. Expensive but I want the best lubrication that I can get for the motorcycles in my garage. Red Line has served me well over many years.
 

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Ok, I'm going to give the unpopular, but factual, opinion.

The only reason for changing oil every year (or as specified in the manual) is for maintaining warranty. Once outside warranty, you only need to change your oil when your oil needs to be changed, and 6 months (or one year) has nothing to do with that. If not oil would come with an expiration date on the bottle and significantly shorter shelf life.

And don't get me wrong. I've got my own maintenance fetish, it just doesn't include unnecessary oil changes. In europe no one ever thinks of changing their oil less than once a year. When I came back to the States I couldn't believe that 3 months is the norm. It's just plain wasteful. Oil technology has advanced ridiculously since then. I personally tailor my oil change schedule to the vehicle and usage scenario (and religiously log and monitor it via Acar app. That apps worth gold), so in the bike it's about 1 year or 12k miles. And even I know that's out of personal vanity and a "feel good" feeling, not an actual need.


For every other vehicle, or in case of doubt, I do what any fact and reality minded user would do (rather than asking strangers on the interwebs :wink2:), I do an oil analysis. While this is pretty standard in the aeronautic industry, it never caught on to the automotive industry. Probably since it would annihilate the JiffyLubes in a moment. Basically, I buy a few oil analysis kits for about 15$ shipped, analysis included, and before changing my oil I take a sample. I send it to the lab and they check all the variables that your engine would ever care about: Water %, Coolant, all the additives, all the contaminants, all the metals, etc. Along with graphs to compliment. The real number you care about is the Base Number. Basically that indicates how much of the additive package is left. Once that number is out of spec or close to that, you need to change the oil. If it's within spec, there just isn't enough of a reason to change the oil. That's the hard truth.

As a personal experiment, I've been doing oil analysis on a Toyota prius ever 3-6 months to see when I actually have to change the oil, and the vehicle had done 15K miles and 2 years and a half and the oil is still perfectly good. While oil certainly deteriorates and gets acidic with age, modern oil simply has good enough additives to cope with regular use and low mileage over long time periods. That is, as long as the vehicle gets some use with some regularity (enough to evaporate any condensated water in the oil), you oil should be good for at least 1.5-2 years.

Just don't take my word for it, or anyone else's for that matter. For 15 bucks find out exactly how often you have to change your oil, on your specific bike, and your specific usage pattern.
So you spend between $30 and $60 dollars a year to analyze your oil?
Damn I can easily do two oil changes a year on my Ninja cheaper then that.
New oil doesn't need to be analyzed.
 

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I do the same. I use Blackstone labs for my oil analysis. ...

The only reason I don't want to do 5k changes is not because I'm cheap and don't want to spend the money. It's because I don't want to spend the time doing oil changes. ...
I've thought about trying Blackstone, but since they don't include the TBN it kinda puts me off. The rest of the numbers let you know if something is way off, but as I understand it the TBN is the best general indicator of oil condition.

And yeah, it's definitely time too. Not just changing the oil, but deciding to change the oil, getting the tools, putting it all away, going to buy the oil, etc.

So you spend between $30 and $60 dollars a year to analyze your oil?
Damn I can easily do two oil changes a year on my Ninja cheaper then that.
New oil doesn't need to be analyzed.
I don't test new oil.

The frequent tests is only on the Prius because I want to see how the oil changes at time, and when it goes bad. On the bike it's just once yearly for personal reassurance, along with the oil change. On the Prius if I were to test it every 6 months, I'd be wondering exactly when it deteriorated in a measurable way. And thats because I still haven't found out how long it takes for the oil to go bad. If it takes 3 or 4 years for oil to be measurably "bad", which for starters would be very interesting, than instead of changing the oil yearly I'd just test it yearly. 15$ toolless test that doesn't even get me dirty certainly is easier than any oil change.

3 or 4 years without an oil change does sound heresy on an automotive forum. At this point I'm just curious.
 

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I wanted to attach it before, but apparently it didn't work. Attached you'll find a copy of my last oil analysis on the Toyota Prius I mentioned. There it probably has about 2 years on the same oil and some 12k miles or so if I remember right. The doc has the details anyways.

If there was a factual reason to change oil every 3k miles, I'd wanna know. I just can't find any actual evidence to support that.
good info.

I'm still going to change mine every 5k miles (regardless of time) just so I can keep track easily and for good measure; it brings me peace of mind. considering I drive a truck and 3 motorcycles, that's only about 2 oil changes a year that I have to perform anyway. It's good to know my oil is safe even if I double the mileage on it, though.
 
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