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Oil changes: How often do you need them? (Marketplace)

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David: This is your Marketplace.

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David: When should you get your oil changed?

Six months, or 8,000 kilometres.

David: We put that to the test.

Man: This is the used oil, this is the new oil.

David: You might be surprised what we find.

People have to recognize this is a sales job

every time you go in to get your car fixed.

David: You can't afford to miss your Marketplace.

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David: We're hanging out at the pumps.

How often do you get your oil changed?

Every six months.

David: To gauge what drivers know about when

to get an oil change.

David: Can I ask you a really quick question for CBC?

Sure.

David: Your oil change sticker up there.

Yes.

David: How often do you get the oil done?

Whenever it tells me.

Whatever that kilometres on there, that's when

I take it in.

David: And do you know how often that is, every--?

About every six months.

David: How often do you change your oil?

Once every three months.

Every 5,000 kilometres.

Why?

'Cause that's what they recommend to do.

David: Who does? -The-- the dealership.

David: But with oil changes costing as much as a hundred

bucks a pop, is that the right advice?

Can you read something for me?

Sure.

David: What's that line there say?

Change the engine oil every year.

Davis: Change the engine oil every year.

Yeah.

David: How often are you doing it?

I do it every three months or so.

David: Check out most owner's manuals and you'll see more and

more auto makers now say you can go longer before

replacing your oil.

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Siri From Phone: The destination is on your left.

David: We want to see what dealerships,

which are owned independently from the manufacturer,

will recommend to us.

So we choose six vehicles with the same instructions in their

owner's manual.

That is, replace the oil when the indicator light comes on.

Not to exceed 12 months or 16,000 kilometres,

whichever comes first.

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David: Then we pay a visit to one of each

corresponding dealerships.

David: The service advisor at this Honda dealership gives the

same recommendation as the owner's manual.

David: Similar advice at this Acura garage.

David: But at this Fiat facility.

David: How about this Dodge dealership?

David: And at this Ford dealer.

David: Remember, the manual says as long as the indicator

doesn't come on, it can go twice that.

David: So who's telling the truth and who's taking

us for a ride?

Mark Wynnton is a licensed mechanic and former instructor

in south-western Ontario.

Oil changes, what if the dealership says get it done

every six months but your owner's manual there says

only every year.

The people who built the car and engineered it and assembled

it, all their knowledge is in that book,

and that is king.

It overrides anything a dealer can tell you.

In most cases today, cars have an oil change monitoring system

where the car alerts the driver to the oil change requirement

when that might be.

That's what you follow.

Nothing else.

Otherwise, you're changing your oil too soon,

you're polluting the environment,

you're wasting your money.

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David: So far,

three of the five dealerships we visit do not

even mention following that oil change monitoring system.

So we head out for one last test drive

with our 6th vehicle,

this 2013 Jeep Wrangler.

It belongs to Eric.

He works for us.

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David: Just like our other five test vehicles,

Eric's owner's manual says to change the oil when that change

oil message appears.

But no later than 12 months or 16,000 kilometres,

whichever comes first.

It's been eight months and about a thousand kilometres

since the oil's been changed.

And there's no oil change message.

So what will they recommend we do at this Jeep dealership?

I was looking at the owner's manual and it was saying that

you can go up to 12 months or like 16,000 so --

But why is it -- like why would --

David: A marketing ploy?

Time to call in science.

Fluid Life in Brantford, Ontario.

It's one of the largest providers of oil analysis in

North America.

Manager Mark Sherman first pumps out

a sample to be tested.

He also takes a sample of brand-new,

unused oil.

Mark: A little basis of comparison.

David: Certainly looks darker but does it need to be changed?

I'm using sample stickers, Mark.

David: The samples are then shaken, weighed,

and placed in this ICP spectrometer.

Mark: What we're doing here is we're taking the sample,

inserting it into the instrument

and it burns it at temperatures

that are actually hotter than the sun.

We're really looking at whether or not the oil looks like it is

in a typical state for your engine or whether it looks like

it's in an unacceptable state.

David: The results should tell us whether the oil in the

Jeep is still good.

Give me the upshot.

What have you found?

Overall, these engine oil results look really

good actually.

There was a slight amount of oil degradation,

but contamination level was nice and the wear metals

were quite low.

David: Do you have a sense of how much longer it could stay

in that vehicle before it needs to be changed?

Well, it's always difficult to say that with a definitive

answer but I can probably tell you that this engine oil is

good for probably another 3,000, 4,000 kilometres.

David: Is there any need to change it right now?

I would not change this oil right now.

No, it looks good.

David: So why might some dealerships push more frequent

oil changes than needed?

Lucas Leung, he's got a possible answer.

He's a former service advisor who's worked

at six different dealerships.

Because they're coming in more often,

every time they walk in, it's an opportunity for us

to find things on the vehicle that may be wrong.

David: So if you can upsell the customer to have them doing

an oil change more often than maybe they need to do it,

that's your opportunity to sell them other stuff.

Correct.

So every time they come more often, it is a possibility that

I can recommend more.

David: We contact the four dealerships whose service

advisors told us to change the oil more often than the

indicator says.

Dodge and Fiat say they stand by the advice given by their

service advisors.

Jeep's got nothing to add.

But the Ford dealership confirms

drivers should consult their

owner's manual to determine their oil change interval.

So let's take a look at this.

Back at the gas station, we ask people to take a look at their

owner's manual.

What's that say there?

However your engine oil and filter must be changed at least

once a year.

It says every year, yeah.

David: Yeah, it means maybe you're doing the oil four times

more often than you're supposed to.

Now I will go back to Honda and tell them that.

David: So, you're going right to the dealership?

Absolutely.

David: Why would a dealership want you to come in to get

something done more often?

For the money.

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There's 50 million cars in Canada and they all take four,

five litres so that's a lot of hazardous waste and it's a

waste of money.

I mean, people have to recognize this is a sales job.

Every time you go in to get your car fixed,

there is no two ways about that.

And I don't know how to put that any clearer than that.

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David: Ever wonder what happens when your email lands

in our in-box?

Oh, hi, I'm calling from Marketplace.

She thinks it's an accident waiting to happen.

Asha: When you hit send, it sends us into action.

David: You count on us and we count on you.

And together, create change.

So help us decide what to investigate next.

Asha: Because this is your Marketplace.

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