Want to save some money on your vehicle? How often do you change the oil in your car? If you listen to advertising from Oil Can Henry and Jiffy Lube, you’d think a change every 3,000 miles was essential. You’d be wrong.

Last winter, an AskMetafilter user wondered:

Is the 3,000-mile oil change a scam? My wife, like a good American driver, goes for an oil change every 3,000 miles. My dad, like a good British driver, has never gone for an oil change in nearly 30 years on the road. There’s no equivalent of the quick-lube shop in the UK; manufacturers ‘recommend’ yearly/twice-yearly changes (or 12-18,000-miles) but standard practice is just to top up the oil level sporadically. Is there something specific to US-model cars or American driving practices that makes frequent oil-changes necessary, or is it just a nice little earner sustained by popular wisdom?

The responses vary — and nobody who answers is really an expert — but the consensus seems to be that yes, it’s a scam. (Or, more precisely, a marketing ploy.)

Change your oil every 5,000 miles or so, or as recommended in your owners manual. But don’t let yourself be swayed by advertising from quick-lube places: they’re just trying to increase their sales by 40%.

(To save even more money, learn to change the oil yourself.)

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