You have a checkup with your doctor once a year or every 100 miles you walk. Now that you walk a lot less, you only need a checkup once every five years. The problem with that as it relates to your car is the dealer won't see you as often and won't make as much money.
That's the comical answer. In reality, I wouldn't wait 5,000 miles to have the oil changed. If that is what's specified in the owner's manual, you will likely find that is for "normal" driving condition. When Ford pulls this trick, it is almost impossible to meet the normal schedule. If you drive in the city, or if you drive on the highway, or if you drive at slow speeds, or you drive at high speeds, or you drive on dusty roads, or, as the joke goes, you drive too much after dark or you make too many right turns, you fall under the "severe use" maintenance schedule. Their normal use schedule is just there so they can advertise a lower cost of maintenance and ownership than their competitors.
I would feel more comfortable having the oil changed at 3,000 miles. The idea behind the "or 6 months" is people who put on fewer miles typically do that by driving short distances repeatedly. That is very hard on engine oil. Moisture condenses in the oil. Blowby also condenses and forms sludge. It takes time to vaporize those harmful products so they can be drawn out and burned. That requires a regular 20 - 30 minute drive once a week. If you don't do that, they want that oil out of there. Also, there's detergents, seal conditioners, anti-corrosive agents, and other additives in engine oil that wear out over time, not mileage. Your oil could have only 1,000 miles since it was last changed, but it has lost many of its protective properties.
As long as the car is under warranty, I would follow the mileage AND time recommendations for oil changes, at a minimum. Use your judgement on other recommended services. Typically when I worked at a dealership, we wanted to see how the tires were wearing, what the old oil looked like, and if anything on the car wasn't working properly. The advantage to having the dealer do the work is they keep a detailed record of their service, and if any engine-related problem occurs, the manufacturer will likely insist on proof of regular maintenance. With Chrysler, they will accept a receipt from a different shop as proof of maintenance. Other manufacturers may not. Hyundai, Toyota, and Chrysler are very customer-friendly manufacturers.
Wednesday, March 13th, 2013 AT 7:13 PM