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Hi Lou, your recent column caught my eye. I have a 2009 Pontiac G8, and the GM oil life monitor regularly allows me 15,000-20,000 kilometres on an oil change with regular oil. Should I ignore it and change more frequently? I’ve made it to 192 kilometres so far. Does the eight-litre sump make a difference? Thanks. – Dennis

Given the quantity of oil your car uses, I’m going to assume your vehicle sports the larger 6.0 or 6.2 litre engine. According to GM specs, the ideal oil is API – SAE 5W30 conventional oil. I couldn’t find any posted information on GM Canada’s website detailing an actual kilometre-based service interval. All the information I could find suggests depending solely on the oil life monitor system, supplemented with regular oil level checks and top ups. However, I did find that GM USA website mentioned a 12,000-mile interval, but once again suggests to depend primarily on the oil life monitor system. 15-20,000 km on a non-synthetic oil change gives me the willies, yet you have gone 192 km in this manner, so I guess it must be doing something right. If this were my car and I wanted to continue going that distance on a single oil change, I would be using a high-quality synthetic oil for peace of mind. And yes, an 8-litre sump most definitely helps. The larger oil pan allows oil to sit longer cooling, and aids in heat dissipation through the larger surface area of the pan itself.


Hi Lou, is it ok if l go from conventional to synthetic oil in my Toyota Rav4 2010 with 56,000 kilometers on it. Thanks. – Jorge F.

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Your vehicle manufacturer specifies oil type, viscosity and capacities differing from model to model. If your vehicle has the 2.5 litre four-cylinder engine, Toyota specifies a SAE OW-20 oil, which is only available as a synthetic. This means that if you have the four-cylinder Rav4, you should already be using a synthetic. 5W-30 is to be used in the 3.5 litre six-cylinder based RAV4, which can be bought as either conventional, synthetic or a blend.

Gone are the days when one had to worry about switching to a synthetic oil product and/or changing back and forth between the two. As long as you are meeting the minimum oil specifications and using the correct viscosity, you are free to switch back and forth as you wish. Using a synthetic oil in place of a conventional oil is never a mistake, it’s simply a better oil and provides benefits at a price tag. It’s a get-what-you-pay-for situation. Talk with your service provider about the benefits of synthetic if own a V-6 RAv4 and if you are driving the four-cylinder model, ask your service provider why they are not using the correct oil.

Lou Trottier is owner-operator of All About Imports in Mississauga. Have a question about maintenance and repair? E-mail globedrive@globeandmail.com, placing “Lou’s Garage” in the subject line.

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