GM V6 Oil Change Warning

Can't fix your car problem on your own? Ask a live mechanic!

GM 3.6 L V-6 engineThis post and a two minute video at the bottom will cover a factory issued technical service bulletin that was brought to my attention when I went to the Cadillac dealer to pick up an oil filter for an 09 Cadillac SRX with a 3.6 L V-6. The parts counter person pointed over to the wall where he had hung a notification for dealer employees to remind them about the bulletin.

I asked for a copy or at least a catalog number of the notification from the factory so I could write about it. The Parts manager stated he couldn’t do that, but he did say I could take the notification off-the-wall as everybody in the dealership had already seen it and were ignoring it at this point.

When to Change Oil on a Cadillac

oil life remainingI probably don’t drive my SRX like most people drive their cars. On average I’m good for about 8 to 10,000 miles a year. Consulting my owner’s manual on when to change the oil basically leads me to follow the recommendation of the oil life monitoring system. This maintenance notification feature was part of a Cadillac recall a few years back.

Basically it reports a percentage number on the driver information center of the life remaining in the currently installed engine oil. The determination is based on engine revolutions and temperature and not related to mileage. If I followed this recommendation I would be changing my oil about once a year. Since I’m from the old-school this just seems too long and I opt to change it about every 6 to 8 months.

Oil Change Parts

Cadillac oil change partsAnybody familiar with the 3.6 L GM engine is also aware that mobile one full synthetic is the factory recommended lubricant of choice. You can buy a 5 quart jug for about $25-$30. Unfortunately the engine holds 6 quarts, so you have to buy an additional bottle of 5W-30 mobile one full synthetic oil at an additional cost of about eight dollars. On many of the Cadillac models the oil filter is a paper cartridge type and this is not readily available at most part stores or Wal-Mart’s.

This is okay with me because I prefer to purchase the Delco style paper element that matches what was installed from the factory. When I did my first oil change on this automobile I asked the parts manager why the O-ring seal didn’t come with the new filter. He stated the O-ring is reusable and it was not necessary to replace it. Which brings us to the bulletin that was issued by the General?

Cadillac Technical Service Bulletin

oil filter housing o-ringWell the parts manager was right; the O-ring seal on the cap side of the oil filter housing is reusable. General Motors has determined it is only reusable to a certain point. They even went as far as to assign a specific mileage of exactly when the seal is to be replaced. This magical number is 50,000 miles. If I sound a little sarcastic, then I didn’t do a good job of hiding my feelings. I truly believe that the seal should be replaced on every oil change.

I would practice this myself but the seal is an additional seven dollars which is pretty high for what it is. If you buy an oil filter for a diesel engine that commonly uses a cartridge type oil filter they always come with the O-ring in the oil filter box. This applies to any German cars, Ford and Cummings diesels as well. Why GM is separating this O-ring seal and placing it in a separate plastic bag, marking it with a part number, shipping it separately and making us pay seven dollars for a thin piece of rubber, I have no idea.

Rant about GM Oil Filters

SRX oil filter cartridgeSome would say they’re just trying to make extra money by issuing a bulletin that forces us to pay seven dollars for a part that must cost eleven cents to make. I don’t think this is the case, because they are taking the time to package each individual seal separately and ship it separated from the oil filter, which probably brings their expenses up to a few dollars per seal. If they were in it for the money they would ship a bag of 100 to the dealership to maximize profit.

I don’t think that GM realizes what they’re doing here. I don’t think they’re in it to make extra money. Somebody in the position of power must know how other car companies handle the same exact situation. Specifically automobiles with cartridge type oil filters ship with the O-ring in the box. General Motors is never been good at choosing an oil filter method and sticking with it. They have swayed back and forth from spin on type filters to cartridge filters throughout the entire length of their existence.

When they decide to use a cartridge they also have a hard time deciding where to put it. Back in the mid-80s they used a cartridge oil filter on the 2.5 L iron Duke four-cylinder engine found in millions of cars. The part was installed in the oil pan for a couple of years and saying this was an utter debacle would be kind and generous. Personally I don’t know if a spin on filter is better than a cartridge one, but I do know that General Motors should pick a method and stick with it for the long haul. When a cartridge is selected they should not hesitate including the sealing O-ring in the same box as the filter, like every other car company that uses this method of filtration. I expect more from Cadillac especially.


Can't fix your car problem on your own? Ask a live mechanic!

6 Replies to “GM V6 Oil Change Warning”

  1. Bruce Nunnally

    I enjoyed your article. It is odd that this o-ring would be $7 (or even worse I see $8.50 at an auto parts store or even $15 on some sites). I wonder if the seal actually wears or if GM has simply noted that at some point they leak — in other words could be improper tightening of the can? I think your solution is best, put the o-ring in with the paper filter so it can be changed with each oil change if it does wear.

  2. Mark Gittelman

    Bruce: Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. My original equipment o-ring was showing signs of fatigue with slight checking on the sealing surface. I think GM did a good thing by issuing a service bulletin, but a bad thing by selling the seal separately. I would rather pay more for the filter and have it in the box!

  3. John Underwood

    Late in reading this by about a year, but thought I would mention that K&N filter for the 3.6 LLT V-6 in my Camaro comes with a new o-ring in the box.

  4. TinMan

    Yes, these O-rings do, indeed, leak. I almost always replace my O-ring when I change my oil. My last oil change (9800 miles on my oil) I did not swap it out. I immediately took a 250 mile trip and my engine blew! I had checked my oil just before I got on the expressway and it was fine. Within 8 miles my engine bucked, smoke blew out in copious amounts of blue smoke and my engine died. Diagnosis was a totally ruined engine. $9000 cost. For $7 please replace your O-ring each and every time you change your oil.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *