California EPA and General Motors Team up to Help Drivers Reduce Motor Oil Consumption
General Motors, the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) and the California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB) announced today that they are joining forces to encourage drivers to follow their vehicle manufacturer's recommendations on oil changes, which for millions of GM vehicles could be much longer than the decades-old standard of 3,000 miles between changes.
This summer, General Motors will support public outreach efforts by the Cal/EPA and the CIWMB to help motorists understand how frequently they need to change their engine oil, and the proper methods of doing so.
The traditional 3,000-mile oil change recommendation was based on engine and oil technologies of the past. Today's engines are built to stricter tolerances using advanced technology that reduces or eliminates contaminants that might enter the engine. In-vehicle technologies such as the GM Oil Life System can also reduce the frequency between oil changes by determining each engine's oil "life."
"Driving conditions vary from one driver to another," said Peter Lord, executive director of GM Service Operations. "The GM Oil Life System is a sophisticated technology that determines the ideal time to change your oil. A driver whose fuel tank is still half full wouldn't empty the tank just to refill it. This same logic applies to oil. We should not waste motor oil that still has life."
According to the American Petroleum Institute, more than 1 billion gallons of motor oil are sold each year in the U.S. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that about 185 million gallons of used motor oil are improperly disposed of each year - dumped onto the ground, tossed into the trash or poured down the drain.
According to research conducted for the state of California, the need to reduce waste oil is significant. "Today, California generates more than 150 million gallons of used oil. If that oil isn't recycled it can find its way into our lakes, streams and oceans," said CIWMB Chair Margo Reid Brown. "And just one gallon of oil can contaminate a million gallons of drinking water."
The GM Oil Life System
Motorists can help prevent the unnecessary use of motor oil by following their automaker's recommendations for oil change intervals. For drivers of GM vehicles equipped with the GM Oil Life System, your car or truck can "tell" you when it's time to change the oil.
The GM Oil Life System can extend oil change intervals significantly compared to the former 3,000-mile recommendation, depending on the vehicle/engine combination and other factors. The system is based on a sophisticated algorithm that measures key engine functions to determine the ideal time for an oil change. Because people drive differently, and under different operating conditions, the rate of oil breakdown varies from vehicle to vehicle.
"In California alone, more than 2.5 million GM vehicles are equipped with the GM Oil Life System," said Ron Strayhorn, regional service manager, GM's Western Region. "Owners of these vehicles can reduce the amount of oil they consume simply by following their GM Oil Life System, which for many drivers can be thousands of miles between changes as opposed to the old standard recommendation."
The average GM vehicle equipped with the GM Oil Life System typically needs oil changes half as often as the 3,000-mile recommendation. Based on driving 15,000 miles per year, this could mean between two and three fewer oil changes annually. If used as intended by all drivers of GM vehicles equipped with the system in the state of California, more than 8 million fewer gallons of motor oil would be consumed annually, compared to a 3,000-mile interval. That would help reduce the environmental impact and save motorists money.
All 2007 model year and newer GM vehicles, as well as certain qualified 2003 model year and newer GM Certified Used Vehicles, are backed by GM's five-year/100,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty. So, GM customers who follow their GM Oil Life System recommendation can have peace of mind of knowing that their vehicle is being well maintained.
It is possible that under the best conditions, the GM Oil Life System might not indicate that an oil change is necessary for more than a year. However, the engine oil and filter must be changed at least every 12 months and at this time, the system must be reset. For vehicles not equipped with the GM Oil Life System, owners should follow the recommended maintenance schedules in their owner's manual.