Thursday, June 19, 2008

The 3,000 Mile Oil Change

The state of California recently launched a campaign to persuade consumers that they may not need to change the oil in their cars every 3,000 miles. In fact, for most new cars, the manufacturers recommend that you change your oil less frequently. For my car, Honda suggests changing the oil every 5,000 miles, for instance. (For older cars, the 3,000 mile benchmark may still make sense.) If everyone changes their behavior, Americans could reduce their consumption of oil and reduce the amount of waste generated.

If more attention on this issue spreads across the country, we could see important implications for businesses such as Jiffy Lube and other auto maintenance centers. They have profited from the disciplined approach that many Americans take to changing their oil every 3,000 miles. If people begin to adhere to manufacturers' guidelines for new cars, we may see substantial challenges for these firms. It will be interesting to watch to see if this trend takes hold, and how the auto maintenance centers respond. With oil above $130 per barrel, it's also interesting to see how many different ideas are being pursued to eliminate wasteful consumption.