8101 Hempstead Road (I-10 at Washington) - Houston, Texas 77008

Background –


Vehicle manufacturers produce new cars. Most offer “free warranty service” for oil changes during the warranty period. Most define service intervals in the 10,000 to 15,000 mile range… ie – bring your car in every 10,000 or 15,000 miles and retain your engine and vehicle warranty…. When a car gets to 45,000 miles… the reality is that the car has only had TWO – that is TWO oil changes….. is that enough ?

But wait…. There is a small blurb in the maintenance manual that provides for “Normal Service Intervals” (10,000 to 15,000 miles between services) and “Severe Service Intervals” (5,000 to 7,500 miles between services). It says that if the vehicle is being used in a severe operating environment – towing, driving in the Sahara desert sand and heat, in the mountains, in extreme heat conditions, that the owner should consider “Severe Service Intervals”… ie: “get your oil changed more often. Get the axles serviced more often. It is a no-brainer.


So we live in Houston. Most vehicle owners rarely see the city limits… they go for groceries, car pool, drive to and from work… very few go rock climbing or actually tow a trailer…. So, is our environment “Normal Service” or “Severe Service” ?


Houston roads. Houston Heat running 95 – 105 degrees F for six months out of the year. Glacially slow traffic. Park the car cold, drive it five minutes, shut it down, restart a heat soaked engine…. Idle for 45 minutes on Katy Freeway with air conditioning blowing full tilt – don’t lower the window for fear of the hot blast of Sahara “air” off of the concrete… does that actually sound like “Normal Service” ? I don’t think so either.


Stop and Go Traffic
Plaque 8101 Hempstead

Lets take this a step further…


Every week or so, we see beautiful 2016, 2017, 2018 cars with 3.0 and 5.0 liter engines…. With thrown timing chains and inoperative valve timing devices all controlled with – you guessed it – oil pressure…. What happens to oil if over heated time and time again ? It gets flaky, it makes carbon flakes… it gets sticky… it clogs up the very small orifices in the engine that deliver the oil to the parts that need it most: timing chain tensioners and VVT control units…. How does one prevent this from happening ? Change the oil more frequently…. i.e. – move from the “Normal Service Interval” to the “Severe Service Interval”.


Why don’t you get the straight story from the dealers ? Because they don’t want to have to “give” you a free oil change more often than they have to – no matter how severe the service you operate in. By so doing, the manufacturers reduce their post sale costs during the “warranty period”….. but in so doing, limit the actual life of the engine after warranty. (Yes, it wears out faster)…

Wet Roads

BUT, wait !! there is more… imagine the new car owner who had their oil changed just twice in 45,000 miles…. and (hypothetically) their warranty was for 36,000 miles….. and they start having engine problems …. which I guarantee that they will…. Well, the owner will plead “but I changed my oil exactly as you said that I needed to do”….


POINT: In Houston, everyone who drives needs to adopt a “Severe Service Interval” for their services and oil changes… DO NOT leave it up to the service writers at the dealer to tell you how often you need to change your oil and filter… In Houston, you have to pretend you are going across the desert and take care of your vehicle as if that were true. For reasons we do not understand, all of the vehicle manufacturers have extended their recommended service intervals beyond the sensible limits of lubricant endurance, especially in high demand or “Severe Service” use…

Driving in the heat!
XKE with Triple Webers

At Motorcars Ltd., we feel that all cars should have an oil and filter change and the other services based upon a 6,000 mile service interval…. i.e. – the “Severe Service Interval” …. and if driven less than 6,000 miles in a year, that the oil and filter should be changed no less than annually.


Take care of your engine and it will take care of you.

Normal or Severe Driving