Forum Post: How Americans can save 284.5 million gallons of oil a year, plus $4.6 billion, . . . without doing a damn thing.
Posted 2 years ago on Jan. 27, 2013, 7:47 p.m. EST by gnomunny
from St Louis, MO
This content is user submitted and not an official statement
It's a ball park estimate, of course, since there are a number of variables. The numbers may be lower. But they could be a hell of a lot higher. And I'm talking about refined oil, not crude. Here's the deal: Stop changing your oil so damn much! It's becoming fairly well-known that the 3000 mile oil change myth isn't valid. In fact, I'm being kind by referring to it as a myth. In my opinion it's a scam. You could Google something like “How often should I change my oil” or something similar but this article is what got me thinking about it:
Here's a fun fact: The United States spent about $330 billion on imported oil last year.
First off, I found it very interesting that Jiffy Lube is owned by Shell Oil Corporation and that in itself is very telling. As a professional delivery driver (ex-driver actually) we were, as 'independent contractors,' required to use our own vehicles and during a typical five day week 800 to 1000 miles were the norm. It was also not uncommon to haul 1000 pounds or more during a delivery. A few times I delivered a ton (40 boxes of letterhead at 50 pounds a box, for example, or a bed full of steel re-bar) which far exceeds the load capacity of your typical Ford Ranger or Mazda B series, and absolutely fits the owner's manual definition of “severe duty.” In 1994 I bought a brand new Mazda B2300 with a whopping 24 miles on the odometer and, at first, followed the 3000 mile oil change mantra but being an abashed procrastinator, it wasn't too long before my 3000 mile oil changes (that would be every three to four weeks) often stretched into 6000 or 7000 miles, occasionally 8500 or so. For the record, I do my own changes, I don't take it to the shops (I've known a few people whose engines were ruined by places like Jiffy Lube for such idiocy as forgetting to tighten the oil pan drain plug, and in one case the rookie forgot to even put the fresh oil in!). Also for the record I use products like Slick50 and am convinced these products do exactly as they claim. When I finally traded in my Mazda (for suspension and electrical issues, NOT mechanical), it had a little over 320,000 miles on the odometer and the engine still “purred like a kitten;” not a tap, knock or rough idle of any kind. So I can attest from hard-core experience that the 3000 mile oil change story is complete bullshit, perpetrated, obviously, by Big Oil for the express purpose of selling more oil and increasing their already obscene profits. I would absolutely follow Edmunds advice and use your owner's manual recommendations for scheduled oil changes and ignore that sticker Jiffy Lube (I mean Shell Oil Corp.) puts on your windshield as a 'courtesy reminder.' In fact, considering the auto makers are essentially members of the same club as Shell Oil/Jiffy Lube, in most cases you could probably stretch it out a bit further, although I wouldn't overdo it very much. Now the math, again just ballpark estimates (especially since it's almost impossible to know how many vehicle owners follow the 3000 mile limit. I've also known people who've NEVER changed their oil the entire time they've owned their ride. These people, friends or not, are morons.):
The average person drives approximately 15,000 miles a year which translates to five oil changes a year and at five quarts per change, 25 quarts a year. When I checked earlier today on line Jiffy Lube charges $25 per change, but some shops charge a little less and you may have a coupon for JL so let's say $20 per change. If you do it yourself it's almost double that. It's also higher if you use synthetic, but supposedly you get more miles between changes with synthetic. But for the sake of averages, let's call it 20 bucks a change, five times a year. Half as many oil changes a year translates to a savings of 3.1 gallons of oil and $50 cash savings PER VEHICLE.
According to the US Bureau of Transportation statistics for 2009, vehicle registration in the US was broken down thus: 193,979,654 classified as “light-duty vehicle, short wheel base.” 40,488,025 classified as “light-duty vehicle, long wheel base.” 8,356,097 classified as “two-axle, six tire.” 2,617,118 classified as “truck, combination” 7,929,725 classified as “motorcycles”
For this post I've only counted the 234,467,679 vehicles classified as “light-duty short and long wheelbase.” I've excluded motorcycles. I've excluded “truck, combination” because I'm assuming those are commercial vehicles. I've also excluded “two-axle, six tire” for the same reason, although a good portion of these are, in fact, what would be considered passenger vehicles (trucks with dual wheels on the rear) used as 'daily drivers.' So, excluding those three categories equates to about 234.5 million 'daily drivers' registered as of 2009.
Also according to the Bureau there are approximately 3.69 million new vehicle registrations a year, but assuming they mean vehicles fitting all five categories above, only 92% could be classified as “light-duty long and short wheelbase” which means there were somewhere around 244.7 million registered “daily drivers” in the US by 2012. If only three-quarters of these vehicles were running at any given time (we have four vehicles in our household but only two are being driven) that's 183.5 million passenger vehicles on the road regularly. If only half these vehicles (91.75 million) changed their oil half as much that equates to 284,425,000 gallons of engine oil (91.75 million vehicles x 3.1 gallons of oil per year) and, at a $50 per year savings per vehicle, $4,587,000,000. And, by the way, that nearly $4.6 billion goes straight into the pockets of the consumers, tax-free of course. I know 50 bucks a year doesn't sound like much on an individual basis, but cumulatively that's $4.6 billion a year spent in other areas of the US economy, but equally as important, NOT into the pockets of Big Oil!
And all without changing our habits or lifestyles one iota. Easy as pie. Spread the word.
P.S. My calculator broke and I was too lazy to dig another one out of storage so I did the math 'old school,' with paper and pen so if I misplaced a decimal point somewhere or, in the immortal words of Jethro Bodine, forgot to “carry the naught,” please let me know so I can edit the post. I'm sure the numbers are significant either way.