U.S. Auto Owners’ Attitudes about Motor Oil Change Intervals are Shifting but Half Still Believe in 3,000 Miles or Three Months Oil Change as a General Rule, Reports NPD

Houston, Texas, December 6, 2011 —There was a time when changing an auto’s motor oil at three months or 3,000 miles was a maintenance commandment, but consumers’ attitudes about changing their vehicles motor oil are shifting, according to auto aftermarket research by The NPD Group, a leading marketing research company.  In response to NPD’s 2012 Aftermarket Outlook Survey conducted in August 2011, 51 percent of vehicle owners said they believe that oil should be changed every 3,000 miles or three months, down from the 59 percent of consumers who held this belief in 2007.

Although the percentage of consumers who believe that oil should be changed every 3,000 miles or three months has declined by eight percent over the last several years, those that actually have their oil changed between 2,000 to 3,000 miles have dropped by ten percent. Thirty-nine percent of auto owners responded to the 2012 Aftermarket Outlook Survey that they wait between 2,000 to 3,000 miles to have their oil changed, down from the 49 percent who changed their oil at this interval in 2007. Twenty percent of 2012 survey respondents change their oil between 3,001 and 4,000 miles, 22 percent between 4,001 and 5,000 miles and 11 percent over 5,000.  

Source: The NPD Group/2012 Aftermarket Outlook Survey

Fifty-seven percent of auto owners are guided to change their oil by their vehicle’s service indicator light, 31 percent by the next oil change sticker put in their car, and ten percent keep track of the mileage and months on their own, according to NPD’s 2012 Aftermarket Outlook Survey.  

“The oil intervals recommended by auto manufacturers do vary now due to advancements in auto and motor oil technologies,” says David Portalatin, executive director, auto aftermarket industry analyst.  “As a result we’re seeing a shift in consumer attitudes and behaviors in regards to changing their car’s motor oil, but still top-of-mind with consumers is the 3,000 miles or three months rule of thumb.”


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