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Low Mileage Oil Changes

  1. #1
    Posting Freak OneCheekRider's Avatar
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    Low Mileage Oil Changes


    I inherited my dad's bike which I ride maybe 200-500 miles per year. I typically change the oil when I feel like it or when I remember which is probably around 18 months on average. Any issues with this or should I do more of a yearly change? I also change the filter every time, which I think may be overkill for the low mileage but figure might as well while I'm down there. I'll have the oil analyzed on the the next change to get some hard data.

    In the meantime, any thoughts on this?

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  2. #2
    Don't bother me! R7's Avatar
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    Re: Low Mileage Oil Changes

    My rule of thumb has always been at least once per year, both oil and filter. I also do it in the spring, changes in temps and humidity usually makes condensation.

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  3. #3
    Expert Agitator GearHd6's Avatar
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    Re: Low Mileage Oil Changes

    I say, send out an oil sample and you'll get a general idea of what condition the oil is in. I have a truck I hardly drive and it never make it to the oil change mileage per year. I sent in a sample at 14 months and the oil was still perfectly fine.

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    Kosher Assassin Stoneman's Avatar
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    Re: Low Mileage Oil Changes

    At the very least, I'm a once a year kinda guy.

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    Lifer Garandman's Avatar
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    Re: Low Mileage Oil Changes

    Quote Originally Posted by GearHd6 View Post
    I say, send out an oil sample and you'll get a general idea of what condition the oil is in. I have a truck I hardly drive and it never make it to the oil change mileage per year. I sent in a sample at 14 months and the oil was still perfectly fine.
    We used to analyze our fleet vehicles so I asked the Tribologist if there was any advantage to changing oil early.

    “Yes! You create very high quality waste oil!”

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  6. #6
    Expert Agitator GearHd6's Avatar
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    Re: Low Mileage Oil Changes

    Quote Originally Posted by Garandman View Post
    We used to analyze our fleet vehicles so I asked the Tribologist if there was any advantage to changing oil early.

    “Yes! You create very high quality waste oil!”
    Ha ha! I make fun of my nephew for that. He has a newer truck and is always changing his oil way too early. I tell him to save it and I'll use it in my vehicles.

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    BMW track whore e30addict's Avatar
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    Re: Low Mileage Oil Changes

    I aim for once a year on the truck, but it doesn't always happen. I'd rather create high quality waste oil then hurt that motor and it doesn't cost much in comparison.

    Still rocking 15k changes on the car because that absolutely adds up.

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    Last edited by e30addict; 01-16-21 at 11:45 AM.
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    Re: Low Mileage Oil Changes

    Quote Originally Posted by R7 View Post
    My rule of thumb has always been at least once per year, both oil and filter. I also do it in the spring, changes in temps and humidity usually makes condensation.
    Last 2 years i've only averages 1,000 mile/year, still always change the oil/filter every season

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  9. #9
    Dictionary quoting knob stoinkythepig's Avatar
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    Re: Low Mileage Oil Changes

    I changed it every 5000 miles regardless of time in my last bike a 2001 ZX9R. Still going strong at 125,000 miles.

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  10. #10
    Lifer golden chicken's Avatar
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    Re: Low Mileage Oil Changes

    With a quality synthetic I agree with the high quality waste oil comment. But if it makes you feel better, I'm not gonna stop you from doing yearly changes.

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    Posting Freak OneCheekRider's Avatar
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    Re: Low Mileage Oil Changes

    I put Amsoil in all the bikes because they're the only brand I've found that advertises anti-rust/storage additives. Could be marketing hype but we'll see when I send it for analysis.

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  12. #12
    ^ It's my bike and my car tls25rs's Avatar
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    Re: Low Mileage Oil Changes

    Quote Originally Posted by Stoneman View Post
    At the very least, I'm a once a year kinda guy.
    But what about the poor little Craftsman mower?

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  13. #13
    Kosher Assassin Stoneman's Avatar
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    Re: Low Mileage Oil Changes

    Quote Originally Posted by tls25rs View Post
    But what about the poor little Craftsman mower?
    That thing is the enigma. The exception rather than the rule. And that's the one thing I actually want to kill (naturally though).

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  14. #14
    Lifer BSR6's Avatar
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    Re: Low Mileage Oil Changes

    It's always been my understanding that changing your oil is more about addressing carbon build up than moisture.

    If if you're not running it much my assumption is that the oil won't be very saturated with carbon so you should be fine.

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    Re: Low Mileage Oil Changes

    Quote Originally Posted by BSR6 View Post
    It's always been my understanding that changing your oil is more about addressing carbon build up than moisture.

    If if you're not running it much my assumption is that the oil won't be very saturated with carbon so you should be fine.
    That makes zero sense to me.

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    Dictionary quoting knob stoinkythepig's Avatar
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    Re: Low Mileage Oil Changes

    I was under the impression that motor oil breaks down chemically and absorbs contaminants with use and thus will eventually become sludge if you don't change it routinely. My experience with sludge is limited to the story below.

    In 1985, I bought a used Plymouth Grand Fury solely for its 360 engine (to put in my 1973 Charger that had a 340 with cracks in the lifter valley). When I disassembled the engine to freshen it up, the spaces that contained no moving parts under each of the valve covers was packed with thick, black sludge. I don't know the history of the engine, but no engine that I have ever maintained from new ever had sludge build up like that and I'd be willing to bet the used engine I bought was severely lacking in routine maintenance. That said, the bearings were still fine in the engine and once cleaned up, it ran really strong with a new cam, 4bbl carburetor and headers, driving the tires through an 11" converter and 3.73 gears in an LSD.

    When I "built" the engine, I followed a Hot Rod magazine budget build recipe for a plain old 360 that was supposed to make 290HP net, very cheaply. I know 290HP net is not that much today, but in the mid 1980s, that was 60 more HP than a brand new Corvette made. Was a fun and cheap project on a junky car that would have made Roadkill proud. Guessing the car would have run high 14s in the 1/4 mile. I ended up giving the car away to a friend that helped me with the build, when he fell on hard times. He eventually sold it.

    For the last 30+ years I have done oil changes on all my family cars and trucks at 10,000 mile intervals and use synthetic oil. All of them easily exceeded 200,000 miles with no issues with any lubricated engine part. I think short oil change intervals are a waste of money. The only reason I changed motorcycle oil in 5000 mile intervals was because the shifting became noticeably less smooth as the oil aged. That said, Rottella T6 5W40 at 5000 miles still shifts better than brand-new 10W30 cheap motor oil, IMO.

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  17. #17
    BMW track whore e30addict's Avatar
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    Re: Low Mileage Oil Changes

    Quote Originally Posted by stoinkythepig View Post
    I was under the impression that motor oil breaks down chemically and absorbs contaminants with use and thus will eventually become sludge if you don't change it routinely.
    That's been my understanding more or less. The base oil isn't "worn out" but the additives break down and/or are used up from fighting contamination from moisture, acids and fuel dilution among other things.

    Recent turbo GDI motors seem to be complete hell on the fuel dilution side. Even the best synthetics seem to have a hard time holding up for too long on them. I sure wouldn't go 10K on a Hyundai/Kia one without analysis. Longer intervals on more basic motors has been working well for me so far though.

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  18. #18
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    Re: Low Mileage Oil Changes

    Exactly, as far as new cars, DI + Turbo + 10k OCI = ISSUES

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  19. #19
    Lifer BSR6's Avatar
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    Re: Low Mileage Oil Changes

    Quote Originally Posted by e30addict View Post
    That makes zero sense to me.
    Apparently, carbon finds it's way into the oil over time (I think it primarily comes from blow by but I could be wrong there). That's why it turns black. The sludge you see in oil is a combination of the carbon build up along with the breakdown of additives mentioned above. The same person explained to me that "old" oil is still fine. The idea that it absorbs moisture and breaks down is true, but the extent to which this occurs is negligible and not nearly as harmful as the carbon build up. When you combine carbon with the breakdown of additives that's where things get ugly. But if you take the carbon away, the breakdown of the additives isn't nearly as much of an issue.

    I can't speak for the logic above first hand, but it was explained to me by an engineer who worked in an industry where understanding the breakdown of oil was apparently part of his job. He could have been full of shit as I didn't know him well personally, but he seemed like he knew his stuff.

    In short, he was answering the very same question being asked here and his response was it's more about how much it's driven (miles) than time. Yes, time is a factor, but not as much as you'd think.

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  20. #20
    BMW track whore e30addict's Avatar
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    Re: Low Mileage Oil Changes

    Quote Originally Posted by BSR6 View Post
    Apparently, carbon finds it's way into the oil over time (I think it primarily comes from blow by but I could be wrong there). That's why it turns black. The sludge you see in oil is a combination of the carbon build up along with the breakdown of additives mentioned above. The same person explained to me that "old" oil is still fine. The idea that it absorbs moisture and breaks down is true, but the extent to which this occurs is negligible and not nearly as harmful as the carbon build up. When you combine carbon with the breakdown of additives that's where things get ugly. But if you take the carbon away, the breakdown of the additives isn't nearly as much of an issue.

    I can't speak for the logic above first hand, but it was explained to me by an engineer who worked in an industry where understanding the breakdown of oil was apparently part of his job. He could have been full of shit as I didn't know him well personally, but he seemed like he knew his stuff.

    In short, he was answering the very same question being asked here and his response was it's more about how much it's driven (miles) than time. Yes, time is a factor, but not as much as you'd think.
    I kinda see where he's going with that. I'm no tribologist, but it seems that from oil analysis oil condemnation is more based on TBN crashing and/or oil thickening/thinning out of grade.

    We're probably splitting hairs on this

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  21. #21
    Angry Gumball RandyO's Avatar
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    Re: Low Mileage Oil Changes

    "absorb contaminates" not sure what this means, I always understood that oil holds the contaminants in suspension, but I suppose, it may dissolve some as well

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  22. #22
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    Re: Low Mileage Oil Changes

    Just wanted to note, this is (so far) the most civilized motor oil debate in the history of the internet.

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  23. #23
    Expert Agitator GearHd6's Avatar
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    Re: Low Mileage Oil Changes

    Quote Originally Posted by jeantarrou View Post
    Just wanted to note, this is (so far) the most civilized motor oil debate in the history of the internet.
    Run Rotella and you never have to change it. Only the best...

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