Oil changes

I own an 2007 Saturn Aura XR with about 59,000 miles. I've had the car since July of last year and so far I've put on about 23,000
miles. I drive on average of about 950 miles per week. I've only had the oil changed twice in the nearly 6 months that I've owned it. Both times that I've had it changed I've waited until the "oil life" reading on the DIC had decremented itself down to 0%. Today, when I was in for my most recent oil change, the oil change tech scolded me for not bringing in the car sooner. I specified that it had been nearly 11,000 miles since my last change but that the oil life reading had only very recently went all the way down to 0%. He told me that I can't use that as an indicator as to when the oil should be changed if I'm using standard oil. He said that I'd need to be using a premium type oil in order to go that long without a change. I double checked my owners manual and reread the portion that talked about oil changes. As I expected, the manual said that the car uses the onboard computer to determine when the oil needs to be changed. As well, the manual didn't say anything at all about only using high grade synthetic oils. My question is this - if I'm using regular grade 10w - 30 oil should I "trust" the car and only get my oil changed when the life meter decrements itself all the way down to, or near, 0% (even if this means that 10 or 11 thousand miles have passed since my last change) or should I religiously change my oil every 3 months or 3,000 miles as has been preached to us since time immeasurable. I think that the oil change tech was probably just regurgitating what he was told when he was hired - "tell everyone that has gone more then 3 months or 3,000 miles since their last change that this is a bad practice and that it should be done every 3 months or 3,000 regardless." Thanks for any help!
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I regularly check my oil level. (after all, most saturn's consume some oil) Don't just look at the level of the oil on the dipstick, look at the color too (and smell). When it is getting dark, it's probably worth changing.
The change oil indicator is set by the ECU and is related to engine temperature, RPM and interval since last change. It is good but not infallible.

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Shawn, Remember, the mechanic has a goal of you changing your oil more frequently. A biased opinion indeed. I just don't like when a shop gets aggressive at pushing an oil change or other maintenance when I have to take it in for a state inspection. A simple "No thanks" falls on deaf ears. I had an oil change done in December as my state inspection was due. I usually do my own oil change, but thought I was going to have the inspection shop do it as it was too cold and miserable outside to do it myself. They charged $40.00 for the oil change. The last time I had any shop do an oil change was about 15 years ago and it was $25.00.
chuck
On 1/22/2010 3:49 PM, Shawn wrote:

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From the standpoint of the Saturn techs I used to work with, specifically how they handled their *own* newer cars (and one of the best guys did in fact have an '07 Aura):
They were more comfortable with the 3 month/3000 mile framework, but recognized that the gap can be longer on the newer cars. That said, they were really uncomfortable with letting it go longer than 5 mos/5000 miles.
It's all fine and good to say "well, the COMPUTER said I didn't need to bother to change my oil that often." The problem with that is that long gaps (especially miles) between changes does shorten the life of the engine somewhat. And knowing that you followed the wishes of the computer will not be much consolation if you end up having major engine problems at a relatively young engine age.
--pig
On 1/22/10 3:49 PM, in article snipped-for-privacy@c4g2000yqa.googlegroups.com, "Shawn"

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Thanks to all that provided an informative reply!
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when the car is new and IMHO intervals can be extended (to 100,000km+) after good (150,000km) break-in. A manual trans change only uses under 3 ltrs and is cheap easy maintenance. I use only extended life coolant and change that every 5 years.
This car has 340,000km, and has had no engine or trans problems or repairs, is still on the factory clutch and original water pump. Alternators are reported as problematic so I picked up a used spare but am still on the original. IMHE, 'nothing you have a spare part for ever breaks.'
Good luck, YMMV
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Thanks so much for the helpful information. . .!!
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I used to take my 92 Saturn SL1 to the dealer for oil changes when it was new, as this is what I was told by their salespeople. Little did I know, I could have taken it to Mr. Lube and paid half of what the dealership charged me (about 60 dollars back in early nineties), but... I was young and stupid back then and didn't know any better.
Soon as the warranty expired, I started doing my own changes and at 100,000 km I switched to Synthetic. Almost 18 years later I'm still using the same brand of Synth oil and a el-cheapo filter from Canadian Tire. The car now has 554,000 kms on it (334,000 mi) and about the only MAJOR engine job I had to do on it was timing chain swap about 2 months ago (one of the guides shattered). The compression in each cylinder is 185+ PSI cold and dry. Engine consumes about a quart every 10,000 kms (6000 mi) and that's when I do my changes too - no sooner and no later than that.
Alex
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Congratulations, sounds like you have broke the bank on this one. Your cumulative miles suggest that you probably do a lot of highway driving. Is that correct?
My 97 SL2 has been good to me. Currently have 209,000 miles. The first 7 years was virtually all highway driving, which I think contributed to its longevity. I did dealer oil changes about every 3000 miles, but they only charged $19 - $25 each.
I'm now considering dropping it and buying something other than GM. I'm kinda' pissed off at them. The A/C compressor died this winter, and I'm not looking forward to a summer of sweltering heat. I figure 13 years is pretty good, but now it's time to put Old Yeller down.
JimR
navaidstech wrote:

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Thanks Jim! Guys at work are telling me that I have contributed to Saturn's demise by not buying any more of their cars. LOL. I had no reason to. The car runs great and is very low on maintenance.... well, except the last year when all sorts of problems crept up (new rack and pinion, power steering pump and hoses, timing chain, alternator to name a few). I better not say anything positive about the car or it will start giving me new troubles. LOL. Much like your car, I strongly believe the longevity of mine was due to a lot of highway driving (SENSIBLE highway driving - not speeding, jackrabbit starts, etc) however now that I've been transferred to a different work location, I have a feeling that the clutch may not be able to handle the extra stress as I'm doing a 50/50 mix of highway and city street driving. I am thinking of getting another car as well and much like yourself I'm leaning towards a non-GM product. Same reason - I'm pissed at them and probably for the same reason as you. Good luck with your search!
Alex
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IMHO, This is excellent service life, and your maintenance program and schedule is obviously working well for your driving conditions and your driving style. I suspect you do mostly highway with few short trips, have a std tranny and keep your revs low. Are you still on your original clutch?
Good luck,
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Thanks!
I did exactly that ever since I got the car. Kept the revs at between 2000 and 2500 on the highway, which put me at around 60-65 mph. VERY RARELY has the engine gone past 2500 RPM. I did a lot of highway driving up until about 3 years ago when I got transferred to a work location much closer to my house. I used to drive about 40 miles each way for about 15 years, 80% of which was highway miles. The engine went through all sorts of weather conditions that you can encounter up here in the Toronto area - very hot summers and cold winters - I think the money I invested in Synthetic oil sure have paid off. I currently drive about 15 miles each way, and it's a 50-50 mix highway/city streets. I have a feeling that this increased stress will eventually kill the clutch, which has never been replaced since I bought the car.
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snip

Thanks!
I did exactly that ever since I got the car. Kept the revs at between 2000 and 2500 on the highway, which put me at around 60-65 mph. VERY RARELY has the engine gone past 2500 RPM. I did a lot of highway driving up until about 3 years ago when I got transferred to a work location much closer to my house. I used to drive about 40 miles each way for about 15 years, 80% of which was highway miles. The engine went through all sorts of weather conditions that you can encounter up here in the Toronto area - very hot summers and cold winters - I think the money I invested in Synthetic oil sure have paid off. I currently drive about 15 miles each way, and it's a 50-50 mix highway/city streets. I have a feeling that this increased stress will eventually kill the clutch, which has never been replaced since I bought the car.
I am impressed with both your service life and your disciplined driving style, it verifies much of what I have suggested previously. I will admit to reving slightly higher than you on occasion (usually under 3000 but occasionally higher) but in my defense also operate on much steeper mountain grades than you do, and often haul considerable weight. I have always thought that the S series SOHC engines greatest unappreciated strength was the flat low RPM torque curve that permits most operation at low engine speed which considerably reduces engine wear and fuel consumption.
I am unaware if you are a pilot in addition to your navaidtech work. Most people are unaware that aircraft engines operate in a similar RPM range and are designed with a flat torque curve. They use larger displacement engines operating at relatively low (1500-2700 rpm) to maximize service life and reliability. Smaller higher reving (Rotax and others) engines seldom have as long a TBO (time between overhaul) as the lower operating speed Continentals and Lycomings. The SOHC S series engine torque peak is at 2400 rpm. Torque peak is usually the point of maximum volumetric efficiency and of min fuel consumption (per HP produced)
The SOHC S series 5sp transmission has quite a low gear ratio in 1st gear which combined with the engines good low speed torque allows one to get rolling at low engine speed and without excessive clutch slippage. (Heavy vehicle drivers are trained to start out in the gear which will allow start-up without adding throttle.) I find that the shift to 2nd gear can be made in a very short distance and at quite low engine speed. I am a big believer in 'progressive shifting' where the shift point rpms are progressively raised as we work our way up the trany, but with the shifts been made as soon as possible. This is sometimes called 'short shifting'. I think this is the major factor in long clutch life but you should claim much of the credit for having and performing good and disciplined driving skills, I bet you keep your foot away from the clutch pedal unless you are using it.
I hesitate to suggest that you vary a maintenance schedule which is obviously working well, but most engines experience increased oil contamination rates as they age and this will also be increased by short trips, particularly in the winter months as the engine oil will spend less time at full operating temperature which will reduce moisture boil off and crankcase cleaning through the PCV valve and cause increased acid formation in the oil. Due to your decreased trip lengths, I would suggest that you consider reducing your change intervals particularly during the cold months.
I hope you can make it to 1,000,000 km. consider this a challenge.
Good luck, YMMV
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Thank you... I never thought I'd be able to keep up with this style of driving but it's been 18 years and I stuck to my old guns, LOL. The car does occasionally see around 3000 RPM but not often enough. The area where I live is flat as a pancake... we do have some hills and valleys north of us but I don't go there that often.

Nope, not a pilot... just looking after all the navaids in the Toronto area.

Yes... I've noticed that as well.

Yes, this is something that my Dad told me a looong time ago - never keep your foot on the clutch unless you have to. As such, my shifter is always in neutral and my left foot is off the clutch pedal when I'm stopped at the lights. I'm still not sure what he meant by it, but I do remember him saying that when the clutch is depressed, there is some component in the transaxle that is doing some work and wears out over time. Unfortunately, my knowledge of manual transmissions is extremely limited (I can fix just about anything else in that car BUT the transmission) so I can't even picture as to what he was referring to. Bottom line is that his advice (whether right or wrong it might be) stuck with me and quite possibly prolonged the life of the clutch....maybe?

You know what? I agree with you and I think I'll start doing just that. Too bad this didn't occur to me sooner...

Oh boy... that will be tough. WIth my current driving schedule, it would take me about 20+ years to get up to a mil. The car is slowly falling apart in other places and I have a feeling that the engine will outlast the body, LOL. However, I will try to keep the car as long as I can until my wife threatens me with a divorce, LOL. You should have seen her face when I told her about the timing chain trouble and the car was on its last legs a couple of months back... she lit up like a Christmas tree and said "Does that mean you're getting rid of this piece of s... and buying a new car???". But in the end, when I fixed the car, her mood changed drastically. :)

Thanks!!!
Alex
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snip

Yes, this is something that my Dad told me a looong time ago - never keep your foot on the clutch unless you have to. As such, my shifter is always in neutral and my left foot is off the clutch pedal when I'm stopped at the lights. I'm still not sure what he meant by it, but I do remember him saying that when the clutch is depressed, there is some component in the transaxle that is doing some work and wears out over time. Unfortunately, my knowledge of manual transmissions is extremely limited (I can fix just about anything else in that car BUT the transmission) so I can't even picture as to what he was referring to. Bottom line is that his advice (whether right or wrong it might be) stuck with me and quite possibly prolonged the life of the clutch....maybe?
You are refering to the 'clutch release bearing' aka 'throwout bearing'. This bearing bears on the release forks of the clutch pressure plate when the clutch pedal is depressed. It is normally lifetime lubricated but that lifetime is affected by total time in operation, which is greatly reduced by placing trans in neutral (foot off the pedal) like you correctly do at stop lights. This bearing is normally replaced whenever the cluch driven plate is replaced.
When the clutch is released (pedal depressed), the driving surfaces (flywheel and pressure plate) are rotating very close (probably touching on one side) to the driven clutch plate surfaces, and while this will not provide substantial torque transfer, IMHO there is still wear to the now stationary driven plate as well as heat generation.
You indicate good driver disipline and training and IMHO this is a big reason for your good service life.
Happy trails, snip
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Yes! He did mention some sort of a bearing and that must be it. Thank you for confirming it for me.

You seem to be very knowledgeable on the subject. Thank you for your kind words... coming from you they really mean a lot to me.
Alex
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3 month/3000 miles is my standard
'94 SC2 still going strong > 200k miles Fred

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