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Old 09-01-2007, 03:24 PM   #1
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They say a butterfly's wing beat can influence world events

Last spring I visited the Natural Resources Canada website http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/transportatio...dex.cfm?attr=0 while searching for info on idling, block heaters, and the like. I came across this from the site:

"Inspect and replace the air filter in your car. A clogged air filter can reduce your gas mileage and cause higher emissions. Your air filter should be changed every 25,000 km (15,000 miles) or more often if you are in a dusty area."


"Change the oil and oil filter in your car. It will reduce damage to your engine and reduce fuel consumption. For Canadian road and climate conditions, the average time between oil changes should be every three months or 5000 km (3000 miles). Using oil with the label "Energy Conserving" can also reduce your fuel consumption."

...and said to myself "No Way!" as excessive oil changing is one of my (many) pet peeves. So I fired this (slightly edited for here) email off to them:

"You only quoted the typical "severe duty" service intervals and frankly, most motorists don't operate in "severe duty" mode. The standard recommended service intervals are far more lenient and I'm sure the auto manufacturers have a vast knowledge base and did extensive testing to arrive at service intervals that are very conservative in order to cover the broad range of operating conditions their equipment is subject to at the hands of the average motorist, yet is not wasteful of resources.

Looking in one owner's manual (for an '89 Dodge car, that just happened to be setting here next to the computer), I see a recommended air filter service schedule of every 52,500 miles, recommended oil changes every 12 months or 7,500 miles, and oil filter changes every OTHER oil change. As you can see that is more than triple the service life for the air filter, more than double for the oil, and FIVE TIMES the service life for the oil filters!!!

As a mechanic I can say even these service intervals can be stretched a bit by a knowledgeable motorist who operates under good conditions and has a vehicle roughly 20 years old or newer (older carbureted vehicles do need more frequent service intervals). I have put 80,000 miles on a FACTORY paper air filter element and have 13 years service on a FACTORY battery and they are still good to go. Not that I would make those intervals a general recommendation to the public; my point is changing filters and fluids at the severe duty schedule is a tremendous and unnecessary waste, not only of the materials but of time and money, especially if it is hired out.

Oil is a finite resource and people are wasteful of it enough as it is. I realize that old habits and old wive's tales die hard but it is high time to try to educate the public to the new realities of auto maintenance. I hope after you double-check this with your own expert(s) of choice, the site gets updated accordingly.

P.S. The statement "when you have a choice, remember that a four-lane highway is more fuel-efficient than a two-lane highway" isn't necessarily so, as traffic on many four-lane highways flows roughly 20 mph faster than that on two-lane roads and you know as well as I the effect of higher speed on fuel economy. It's a "your mileage may vary" sort of thing depending on the route; if you drive 55 mph on a four-lane it can be the more economical choice than 55 mph on a two-lane due to encountering fewer reduced speed zones and stops... but who (besides me) does that?

Also I wanted to congratulate you, for the rest of your tips are good and I wish there was some way to educate more motorists, as it appears to be sorely needed and the only ones we reach on the net are those that are seeking this sort of thing. Every day I see countless examples of excessive idling, jack-rabbit starting and stopping, low tire air pressure, needless autostart use, plugging block heaters in overnight, using full-size V8 trucks as single passenger commuter cars, and on and on. It is quite maddening."

Don't know why, but I decided to pay the site a visit today. I never got a reply to my email but it looks like the site was updated in June, and all the points I brought up have been addressed! I don't know how many hits they get but if it causes even a few to reconsider changing their oil every 3,000 miles, or not plugging a block heater in too much or too little, or etc., I'll be tickled.
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Old 09-01-2007, 04:42 PM   #2
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I've always assumed, maybe wrongly, that most used oil was recycled. I worked at an oil re-refinery in California for a couple years in the 70s. The process if fairly simple using acid, activated clay, filters and heat. The end product is just as good as "new" base stock oil.

Congratulations on getting 13 years out of a battery. My record is 10.5 years.

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Old 09-01-2007, 05:03 PM   #3
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Battery was new in '94 and it's not done yet- not even weak.

Quick web search shows 40-60% of oil is recycled. Also 600,000,000- 640,000,000 gallons of used motor oil is changed annually in the U.S.. That would put about 310,000,000 gallons of used oil on the ground or in the garbage.

If most people (and it sure seems to me that it is most people) have the oil changed twice or even three times more frequently than necessary, that's a lotta oil not making it into the recycling process.
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Old 09-01-2007, 07:21 PM   #4
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theclencher -

Most excellent. I like the way the e-mail was written the most. Very professional and concise. By getting the website to make the advice more nuanced (aka it depends on how you drive and what conditions you drive under), you can reach different levels of drivers.

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Old 09-01-2007, 07:51 PM   #5
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Thank you Carlo!

I decided to share this with you guys for a couple reasons:

1. It is so rare for action to take place because of something I've done. I'm so used to getting blown off that I just about fell over from shock upon realizing what happened. My communications to newspaper "letters to the editor", to congresspeople and senators, and to leaders in business and/or special interest groups always end in utter failure.

2. Just think of the impact of GS! Matt, you can be proud of what you've built. And the useful contributers can be proud as well.

Back when I was doing my net search, it was a real eye-opener to me to find that almost ALL the quality data on idling, block heaters, etc., was coming from the Canadian government, one way or another. I wondered, is this really so? So I undertook to find the U.S. equivalent. I looked... and I looked. EPA? Nope. DOT? Nope. Where? I don't know- never found anything. If it's there, great. But that begs the question: Can anyone find it? Why the lack of visibility?
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Old 09-07-2007, 07:06 PM   #6
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I commend you on your activism. People like you who take the time to inform others is what makes all the difference. If this knowledge is not made available to people, they can never know any better to change their ways.
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Old 09-07-2007, 07:36 PM   #7
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Thanks- now to get large numbers of motorists to seek out that site!
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Old 09-08-2007, 11:03 AM   #8
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Encouraging thread, clencher. Good on ya.
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