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Hi I am going to ask the question: does the engine oil 'get old'? The main reason I ask is that I usually use a motorcycle to commute to and from work. My commute route is basically 7 miles of 50mph dual carriageway and as such my car will only cover 5000 miles per year with no real start /stop traffic - quite a gentle operating duty really.

Under normal driving I would take about 3 and a half years between servicing intervals but this seems too long for me. I normally have a service every year regardless of miles covered, but this seems a bit too frequent.

Would the oil age and be useless after 18 months? Will the car tell me if it needs the oil changed?

Are there any other age related considerations I should make to decide my servicing interval?

My car is nearly 4 years old so I'm not too bothered by warranty issues.
 
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I'm considering having an independent garage change the oil and do a minor service every 18 months and then do a dealer service on the manufacturer recommended service interval, but I'm a bit aware that I won't get any software updates for a number of years. I'm also a bit concerned that I won't get drive belts and hoses (items that do degrade with age) inspected on a regular basis. Although having said that, I do tend to look these items over whenever I lift the bonnet (filling the washer bottle etc). Tricky one.
 

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This oil change lark is odd. Petrol engines under 6k per year need a yearly oil change, otherwise 18k or 2 yrs. Why?
Diesel engines don't get an oil change at regular service unless car says it needs doing, or you do!
One is disposing of possibly under-used oil, the other is when its done 21k or had additives used up? :confused:
 

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Madness not to change oil at least every 12k or 12 months (whichever sooner)

New(ish) car and £50 of oil is the only thing keeps it from chewing itself up from the insides!
 
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I understand, but it used to be madness not to change the oil every 3000 miles or 6 months whichever was sooner. Times have changed and technology has moved on. If the oil doesn't actually age with time and my car doesn't have a particularly harsh operating regime, why change it? Would people still change oil in a car even if it only did a single two hundred mile journey in a year?

I suppose conversely I could state that it would be madness to throw £100 worth of oil into the waste recycling centre if its life hasn't actually been used up ie still perfectly good.

I guess I'm asking where does the 12 month calendar date come from? It used to be based on a car covering a low number of miles (lots of town driving) which is considered a harsh operating regime. But my operating regime isn't like that. Most of the time, it's just sat on the drive while I use my bike.
 

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I understand, but it used to be madness not to change the oil every 3000 miles or 6 months whichever was sooner. Times have changed and technology has moved on. If the oil doesn't actually age with time and my car doesn't have a particularly harsh operating regime, why change it? Would people still change oil in a car even if it only did a single two hundred mile journey in a year?

I suppose conversely I could state that it would be madness to throw £100 worth of oil into the waste recycling centre if its life hasn't actually been used up ie still perfectly good.

I guess I'm asking where does the 12 month calendar date come from? It used to be based on a car covering a low number of miles (lots of town driving) which is considered a harsh operating regime. But my operating regime isn't like that. Most of the time, it's just sat on the drive while I use my bike.
I would suggest that the first oil change is the most important, so depends on the age of the car. Bedding in a new engine must generate some metal deposits in the oil so a change would make sense at 12months or so.

I would have thought that small infrequent trips might not be healthy for the engine and you should change it more frequently anyway.
 
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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Looking at the manual, it appears that there is no scheduled change of oil for a diesel engine based on distance driven. Under normal driving conditions it's when the dashboard tells you or 24 months whichever is earlier. Below that are the standard caveats concerning harsh operating regimes - which my car doesn't fall into. Then below that is if the car covers less than 10,000km**, then: '...... just change the oil every 12 months......'

Given the way a lot of independent garages discount an MoT when you get a standard service, it might work out cheaper to get a standard service (including oil change) at the time of the MoT ( ie annually) than trying to get a separate inspection for all the other items in the car (minus oil change) plus a separate MoT.

All very odd.
 

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You really should change frequently, especially if you do a lot of short trips. Cheap insurance for a modern motor with small tolerances, doubly so for a turbo motor.

Main issue is that engine oil absorbs metal fragments and chemicals like oxidants, water, nitrates, etc. The chemicals are mostly burnt off when the motor and oil get really hot, but not all of them. Similarly, the oil filter doesn't get all the metal fragments. Only safe way is to change the oil for a nice clean & fresh batch!


The other half of the question is what happens, long term, in cars that aren't used much...
From memory, fully synthetic oils don't age, but mineral oils age a bit - I think the friction modifiers somehow separate and react with something. The MiTo uses a mixture?

Also, heavy load oils, like differential oil, age a lot if exposed to air (sulphurs in then absorb water and form H2S04?).
 

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x1 nigelpearson, water can only evaporate from the oil when it has got hot for a prolonged period, 7 miles may not be long enough to boil off the vapour, resulting in your engine internals corroding whilst sat on the drive. Although it seems a waste of oil, i change my oil yearly, its a lot cheaper than a turbo.
 

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Oil breaks down over time. It's not the actual oil itself, it's the additives in it that degrade due to oxidisation.

Also, not doing many miles per year is likely to lead to fuel and moisture contamination of the oil, it needs to be used and allowed to get hot so the fuel and moisture can evaporate off. That would be the reason for annual servicing under 6k.

Cheers

Tim
 
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Discussion Starter #12
I thought it best to continue a previous thread because there were some people following it having the same driving profile as me.

I actually carried out a physical check of my oil 6 months after buying this car. The oil level was way above the maximum level and looked quite thin and black. This is only 2000 miles after the last oil change. After reading some stories on the internet about diesel engine oil becoming contaminated with fuel due to failed DPF regens, I'm now a bit worried from both a 'loss of lubrication' point of view and also running the engine with a high level of oil/overfill situation.

I am definitely going to follow the previous advice and change the oil every year as a minimum, but now I'm thinking that it might need changing twice per year. The car dashboard readout hasn't advised me to change the oil, so I am assuming that it's still doing its job and the oil degradation might be slow enough that only once per year with the service will be ok but I'm not sure how I can tell.

I think that I have 4 choices:

1) Change the car for a petrol version.
2) Have the DPF removed and the engine remapped (but is there a chance that it will then fail the MoT smoke test)
3) Change the oil every 2000 miles or 6 months.
4) leave it and trust that the machine will tell me in good time that the oil is losing its lubrication properties and that the oil level has not risen to dangerous levels.

For the other low mileage diesel engine operators following this thread - definately worth a physical check of your oil......!!
 
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Discussion Starter #13
As an addition to this thread, does anyone know what/how the oil quantity graph is on the display when the car is started up? I am wondering if it's only on diesel models so that it's possible to track the increase in oil quantity if it becomes contaminated with fuel. I couldn't see it mentioned in the manual.
 

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oil intervals are fine.....(as long as the correct spec oil is used .. the 5w30 / 5w40 bit not so importand as spec) we sell commercial 10w40 fully synthetic oils that can do 50,000 - 60,000 km in trucks fine...so for 18k / 2 years is no problem for a fully synthetic car oil...

this is the oil listed for my 170 multiair in the range we do... important bit is probably the ACEA C3 bit... very high spec...

WAVE POWER LE 5W-40 is based on high performance 100% synthetic
base oil in combination with a specially selected additive technology to ensure the following properties:
• Good thermal and oxidation stability.
• MID SAPS technology.
• Good protection against wear, foam en corrosion.
• Low temperature properties, to ensure a smooth cold start.
• Equipped for diesel engines with an exhaust after treatment system.
• Fuel saving properties
WAVE POWER LE 5W-40 exceeds the following performance criteria:
Approved MB-Approval 229.51 VW 502.00/505.00 & 505.01
Exceeds API SN/CF ACEA A3/B4, C3 Renault RN 0700/0710


Mito QV is same spec and intervals on their website 30,000 km or 24 months

only worry i would have that if its a multi franchise dealer they do a bulk deal and put the same oil in toyota, renault, volvo and alfa...very WRONG.. but i know it goes on....

hope this helps
 

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Considering the investment in a complete car , especially the engine , why would you change oil at manufacturers advised mileages/years ? If engines were ok on black oil , regardless of it's time in the engine , why not put dirty black oil in it from the start --------------- engines like clean oil -- fullstop !!!
The advised services are simply to sell cars , against another manufacturer that advises less mileage before service. Most people pay someone to do it so it adds cost that's not there if you do your own. I have always ignored '' book '' service times regarding oil changes , especially on diesels . Petrol engine oil stays cleaner much much longer than diesel oil. My 4x4 used to get changed every 4000 miles and other petrol cars I've had at 6 months or 10,000 miles.
The 159 2.4 ti I've got now gets done at 8,000 miles or less if towing some of that mileage ----- what's a filter and oil bill compaired to other more expensive repairs OR shorter efficient engine life ?
 
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Well I couldn't wait for the manufacturers recommended servicing interval to come round so I have changed the oil after 6 months/2500 miles. Having said that, I am assuming that it was changed when I bought the car. I was told it had been serviced, but that doesn't necessarily mean the oil was changed if the garage followed Alfa's advice (ie if the oil change warning wasn't illuminated, they may not have done it). I removed just over 5 litres of thin black oil - didn't look at all good. Clearly some contamination with fuel.

I'll be doing it every six months from now on!!
 

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Old diesels can turn the oil black that quickly, but on tight new petrol motors there is barely any discolouration.

I remember checking oil level before my first oil change - could barely make out where it was on the dipstick, because the oil looked like weak tea!
 
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