This is an article on whether the cost savings of DIY oil changes are worth it. First, a story to help get us there. My wife and I wrapped up our kitchen renovation project a few months ago, and the only thing we paid someone else to do was to install our countertops (kind of hard to transport (30 lbs. per square foot), cut, and polish stone unless you are in the fabrication business).
The tear-down, appliance plumbing/wiring install, sink and faucet plumbing/install, backsplash tile cutting/grouting, and soon-to-be-completed cabinet resurfacing were all things that we learned how to do ourselves, for the first time ever.
There were some headaches along the way, but there were three big payoffs:
- It is rewarding to see the fruits of our own labor, multiple times daily.
- Our work saved us thousands of dollars versus outsourcing – no exaggeration.
- If we sell our house in the next decade plus, we’ll more than make back our time and monetary investment.
Despite this growing appreciation for DIY work (I like to refer to it as insourcing), there is one common DIY auto maintenance skill I have never been excited to take on: the oil change.
Many years ago, I learned how to change automotive air filters – which turns out to be an amazingly simple task. A new air filter (typically purchased from a big box or auto parts store for $10 or less) plus a socket wrench or screwdriver and five minutes of your time, and you will have saved the $20 or $30 an auto mechanic would charge you.
Easy, minimal time requirement, and most importantly – notable cost savings. Oil changes are different.
There are plenty of YouTube videos out there (like this one) to learn how to do an oil change. It seems easy enough. But here is where things veer off course with DIY oil changes versus no-brainer DIY projects like changing your vehicle’s air filter:
- oil changes require more up front investment, including an oil drain pan ($23+), car jack stands ($35+), jack ($320), funnel, towels, and rubber gloves.
- there are more safety concerns: potential to be burned by oil, human/pet/environmental exposure to oil, and the possibility that the car could fall on you and kill you if not jacked and stood properly.
- it makes a mess every time, even if you are a pro at it.
- you have to dispose of the oil properly, which means finding a place that will take it and then the cost of driving there (and hopefully not spilling it in your car).
- the possibility to really screw things up and create large repair expenses if you don’t know what you are doing or forget to complete a step: buy the wrong oil or filter, don’t properly attach the filter or re-plug the engine, or don’t use appropriate levels of oil.
- there isn’t the same type of noticeable reward and satisfaction that you get from many DIY projects where you can see the fruits of your labor.
DIY Oil Change Cost Savings? Or Lack of
Now, all of these things might be worth the time, risk, and effort if you were to realize significant cost savings for that time, risk, and effort. Here’s where your experience may vary quite a bit by make and model.
My current make and model uses 5 quarts of full-synthetic dexos1 oil. The cost for the oil plus a filter can be had for as low as $35 (after tax) from Amazon ($45+ in many other locations). Add this on top of the aforementioned up-front investments.
What does it cost to get the synthetic oil and filter change done at an auto shop? I’d recommend sticking only with reputable mechanics or dealerships (who run surprisingly good deals on oil changes) versus looking for a bargain basement deal. The last few oil changes I’ve had have been through the dealer for my car. Recently they were running $50 Visa gift card promo for anyone who came in to do a test drive. The cost of the oil change? $35, including tax. We literally pocketed $15 (and they didn’t even ask us to do the test drive).
Lets assume I pay the full $35 charge every single time (rare, but I want to do a worst case comparison here). My actual cost savings for a DIY oil change? $1. All the time, effort, risk, purchase/disposal run, and mess for one freakin’ dollar!!! I have to go through about seven years of oil changes just to pay off the oil drain pan.
This, to me, makes choosing not to do my own oil changes a no-brainer, even if it means a few points have been subtracted from my DIY or man card.
Historically, I don’t think the lack of cost savings was always like this. My guess is that automotive maintenance business models have changed over the years to look at oil changes as a loss leader as more people have moved away from DIY oil changes. Quite literally, on an at-cost oil change, the shop is losing money because they have to pay their mechanics for labor. They are hoping that they will be able to discover and get you to come back for much more profitable maintenance work. Maybe even have you add-on that $30 air filter change. ;-)
Don’t get me wrong – I clearly appreciate self-sustainability and learning how to do things on your own. But if auto shops are willing to subsidize the cost of my oil changes, save my time, and lower my risk, just to get me in the door – then I’m more than willing to oblige.
Maybe you have a difficult-to-service luxury foreign make/model and would be charged hundreds for an oil change. Or maybe you live an hour from the closest auto shop. Then, I get the DIY oil change.
Otherwise, please convince me why I should do my own oil changes, with the lack of cost savings. I’m open to reconsideration.
For $1 and retaining your man card, that’s why! :)
Actually, I’ve been on the fence a lot about this lately. I just bought the oil and filter yesterday, so I’ll still do it, but it might be the last time…
I also just bought an extra jack, a trolley jack for $35. This will allow me to rotate my own tires for cheap. I’ll also be using the jack that came with my car (my car just needs front to back on the same side). This should pay off pretty quickly.
That’s a good point. Taking a car in and actually paying for tire rotations is incredibly inefficient and annoying. A trolley jack might be a good pickup.
you need to find a local tire shop. the local shop near me has yokohama tires for far cheaper 300$ for 4 on a vw jetta 2.0t than the big chains charge for same tire. they also offer free tire rotations for life of the tire.
Syn oil change = $75 here. Diy = $35. .diff = $45 in pocket for 10 minutes of work
Yep. I pay $75-$80 for my oil changes. I wish I could find one for $35 like the author was able to.
I made a little spreadsheet that shows the savings of doing your own oil change. Here are my results for somebody who drives 14,000 miles annually and changes their oil every 7,500 miles. The calculations for total are over a 2 year period.
Oil Change at Home
One Time Expenses: $91.52
Annual Cost: $66.30
Total Cost: $224.12
Oil Change at Shop
Annual Cost: $136.00
Total Cost: $271.99
Annual Savings: $69.70
Savings per Change: $34.85
Total Savings: $47.87
Here are the results if you drive 25,000 miles per year and change the oil every 7,500 miles.
Oil Change at Home
One Time Expenses: $91.52
Annual Cost: $99.45
Total Cost: $290.42
Oil Change at Shop
Annual Cost: $203.99
Total Cost: $407.99
Annual Savings: $104.54
Savings per Change: $34.85
Total Savings: $117.57
The following numbers remain the same in all scenarios:
One Time (Upfront) Expenses: $91.52
Motor Oil: $26.68
Oil Filter: $6.47
Avg Retail Price for Oil Change: $68.00
You can check out the spreadsheet here: https://goo.gl/TEPgqA
Amen brother! I’m not sure what this guy is rambling about, but guys that need 2 talk about loosing his man card lost it a long time ago!
All the oil change places I stopped at here in Wisconsin:
1) Will not put in or have a supply of Mobil extended performance, the 15K/ 1 year motor oil. The grease monkeys insist its no good and will destroy your engine. Mobil engineers have done extensive testing!! oil change businesses want your money, bad.
2) Insist one must change their oil every 5000 miles, no matter what
3) Charge anywhere from $75 to $85
4) My costs are $26 for 5 qrts of Mobil 15k synthetic, $10 mobil filter. I have quart left over. My toyota has 219 thousand miles and burns 1/2 quart in 15000 miles. Oil filter wrench is $6, disposal container $7. I save $40 to $50 every oil change…the wrench and container last forever.
Container is $1 at Dollar Tree, wrench is not needed. So it’s even cheaper ;)
I would only trust keeping that oil all year in my car if I had an oil tester. Believe it or not the issue is not the oil. Its having a filter large enough to get the crud out of it for a year as well as having the oil system completely sealed off so the oil is not contaminated. I typically do some research on filter comparability of my cars and essentially if I have a 4 cylinder I try to get a filter from the same car manufacturer but from one of their suv or truck models because they have larger filters. You will have to add slightly more oil because of the bigger filter but you wont have to worry about your oil staying clean for 5-7k miles. I would never go more than that though because people do not realize most of the time at least 2 seasons of the year are considered severe driving conditions and they do not change their oil early enough. I highly recommend buying a oil tester, they are $50 and reusable. Let’s be honest most people have 2+ cars in a household so it basically pays for itself in a year by not taking your car to a stealership.
Couldn’t agree more that currently (and always IMHO) changing your own oil is a GREAT way to not only save money, but actually take care of your thousands-of-dollars-of-investment.
First, my Honda Civic requires a full syn 0w-20… those in Central Wisconsin range from $70-$85. Nothing BUT Mobil 1 Full Synthetic Advanced Fuel Economy has been or will go into that awesome work of art engine Honda put into my car… I can get 5 quarts and a Mobil 1 filter for around $30-$35…. crush washer for maybe a dollar… less on Amazon Prime… then you can sell your used motor oil (for the love of God don’t pay someone to take it).
Second, changing your oil requires you to take time and look under your car and inspect what’s happening!!! Open the hood and look around… these cars cost thousands of dollars and get you to and from where you need to go on time. I don’t always trust the quick lube places and their (no offense) minimally educated employees on doing what I need. If you’re OK with that, go for it… that’s why they exist.
Third, glad my father taught me how to do this simple task… and I’m hoping to do this for my 2 daughters, because how people are these days and men… well you give me proof. It’s so easy if you actually understand it… and it isn’t hard. Heck, my oil plug uses a metric crush washer… never had that on the American made cars I owned… Will change my full synthetic until it doesn’t pay.
*Singed… a public high school science teacher.
I mean i get synthetic oil and synthetic oil filter for 35 bucks. the dealer charges me 90 for the same oil and shitty acura (honda) oil filter. i save 45 bucks every time i do my oil change, FOR a 65 investment i put in for all the tools. it will pay off with 2 oil changes i do. plus you retain your man card and the satisfaction of taking care of your own car.
$3.20 per quart for extended life Mobil conventional oil x 6 is $19.20 (Walmart)
$5 for fram extra guard filter.
Total cost $ 24.20 every time.
Takes maybe 15 minutes.
If there is a mess cheap cat litter cleans it.
Filters screw on , nothing to it.
Find an old plastic oil change drain reservoir at garage sale.
Take used oil periodically to recycle center in your city.
While you’re changing your oil, check other items too.
Learn everything you can about something you are soooo dependent on,as your car.
It pays big dividends when talking to a mechanic, they know you’re no dummy!
Leave the big problems them,they have the equipment, don’t be foolish.
My first source years ago when I knew nothing, auto mechanics for dummies. Or just go online.
well..it is also about not having to wait in line and also making sure you get what you pay for….stripped drain plug threads, correct oil and filter….was the change done at all etc…if you do iit yourself you are sure it is done correctly…fumoto drain plugs make the work easy
I do agree that the individual cost of doing JUST an oil change is not a huge amount of savings however, since I do ALL of the maintenance on my cars, I usually time my oil changes with other under-the-car maintenance events thus using my time more efficiently and combining a lower-savings maintenance event with other much higher-savings maintenance events (rotating tires, inspecting suspension parts, checking / replacing brake pads/rotors, etc)
While I think it would be hard to convince a frugal minded individual such as yourself. There are several things to consider.
1) Risk, you mention the risks regarding changing the oil, but neglect risks of your other undertakings such electrocution from wiring your kitchen, fires from improper wiring, busting a pipe, or improper install causing leaks….etc etc. I don’t see an oil change being any more or less dangerous/risky.
2)Temptation,I think you recognize that the more you surround yourself with the consumer based world, the more likely you are to spend. Going to get an oil change by someone else and the aforementioned sales tactics, promos, specials etc are bound to eventually win. Sure, they wont convince you the 1st, second or 5th time to buy something, but maybe that 6th time, when your XYZ is really worn out, and you are already there, they can just put it in for you for right now.
3) Over-exaggeration for worst case scenario. While i have found 5qts of synthetic plus a filter to almost always be on sale for $35 (as long as you are fine with multiple brands) Those dealer promos you mention don’t last forever. Not to mention, using your “dealers special promotion” stretched out to infinity as the “worst case” example seems a little unfair, can we at least see a best case scenario?
Love your blog, but i think you missed the mark by discouraging this frugal habit.
I have the same qualms about this article, though I too enjoy the site.
Sure, you could screw up your car changing an oil filter, but you could also wreck it pulling into the garage. So apply the same principle to both possibilities equally: personal responsibility. I find it weird that people don’t trust themselves to empty/fill 5 qts of liquid from a tube with the physics of a drinking straw, but they’re perfectly fine trusting themselves to steer a 3500 pound hunk of metal moving at 70 miles an hour.
I find oil changes/general car maintenance meditative because of the attention, intention, and patience necessary to do it right. I’d pay $1 extra just to get the personal lessons out of the experience.
One reason I do my own oil changes is that i know it’s done right. I’m not saying I’m better than a mechanic, but when i do my own oil change, i know what has been done to my vehicle and that it has been done right. No more stripped drain plug holes, jacking up the car without using jackpoints,…
Im currently also using an oil extractor, cost me less than $50, and i don’t even have to get under the car, and i don’t need a catch pan. Extract the oil, poor new oil in (and replace filter), poor old oil in the oil jugs you just emptied. Easy.
Lets be honnest most( not all but most of the guys doing your oil chang ARE NOT MECHANICS. Hell some are still in highschool. Not saying thats bad, thats when i learned to change my oil but this is a different generation and alot of kids are not tought this.
Like my neighbors son who thought my Pittsburgh torque wrench can be used as a breaker bar becouse its long. And i had to explain to him why that will break the wrench
I usually save $10-$15 by doing it myself, but I don’t really like the hassle either. I do my own breaks, air filter, cabin filter and anything else that comes along, but I don’t think doing your own oil change is worth it. It takes me an hour to two hours to do it, with getting the oil, filter, oil pan, getting the car ready, going to the recycling center to drop the old oil. I could just pay an extra $15 and be done in 30 minutes or less, without me doing any work other than driving the car to the place… and I get a free car wash.
I’m all about DIY and I think everybody should try to do their own oil change at least once – to get their man card – but it’s really not worth it in my book.
Most of that travelling around gets done when you are doing other stuff. Hitting Walmart for the week’s groceries. Get the oil and filter then. Drop off old oil the next time. Zero time invested.
Plus once you know what you are doing it takes about 30 mins total. That includes a spin around the block to warm it up, jacking the car, doing the change, and cleanup. And the biggest plus is, you become familiar with your car and it gives you the confidence to do other little fixes and maintenance items. It grows from there. I started by changing my oil as a college kid decades ago. Now I fully cover my family fleet of 6 cars and I do all repairs except alignments and new tires.
Oil, tire rotations, brakes, trans fluid changes, belts and hoses, plugs and wires, AC systems, head gaskets, all fluid changes, ball joints, on and on. I keep my cars for 15+ years and 300K miles. This ability has saved me tens of thousands of dollars not needing to replace cars because I can do something in my driveway that others have to take their car to a shop, wait all day, and spend tons of money on. So, it’s more than “an oil change” it’s a way of life.
Interesting take on DIY. I also agree that some DIY projects are ineffective and not worth your time (i.e. sunscreen). While we can all learn to save extra money by learning certain DIYs, we also need to keep in mind if the time cost is actually worth it. Also, people often think DIY can be applied to everything (including bedbug repellants, cleaning formula, etc.), which often case is not true.
I agree with Trevor. Once you’ve changed the oil a couple of times and feel comfortable it is no more dangerous than other DIY procedures around the home. I think it also makes a big difference the type of car you are servicing. Being relatively thin, I can service my 02 tacoma with no jack, simply lay a piece of cardboard underneath for my back, crawl down there and change my oil in about 30 minutes.
Besides there is more to DIYing oil changes than just the added savings. For me the 5 bucks that I save actually may be the least important reason for doing it anyway. I cant put a value on the satisfaction I get knowing that I am increasingly rare among people in their 20’s-30’s [Im 34] who have little to no mechanical aptitude nowadays.
Also, by doing it myself I know its getting done right, I know the oil that’s going in there and I know the filter that’s going in there. You’d be amazed at how incompetent technicians at dealerships can be. The last time I had my oil changed at a dealership (I was living in an apartment and had no choice) the technician also replaced the air filter and put it on backwards!
This is so true. I remember sitting in the first day of aero engineering class a couple years ago and the instructor going through the course and the career. Part of that included making sure that the stuff the engineers designed was serviceable afterwards, but it’s hard to do that when one isn’t familiar with mechanical tinkering. Needless to say, I was one of maybe 4-5 in a class of over 30 who know how to change brakes, oil, spark plugs, etc. and most didn’t even know how to change a flat tire. This does have serious implications for the mechanics of the future, especially with 3D printing allowing engineers to design truly outlandish stuff.
I stopped changing my own oil because it changes itself. Prior to that, I did acquire a vacuum pump that allowed me to literally do it in my pajamas (with gloves, of course) since my oil filter is on the top of the engine bay. I never bothered taking it anywhere to have them change it because learning to change the oil in a car are literally some of my earliest memories. I’ve always done it on my own cars. Walmart cannot be beat for price on the oil I need and it’s one of the few places that I’m even able to find the viscosity that my car should have. But I stay away from those Fram filters and order the OEM ones from Amazon in bulk. If I were to do a full change, oil + filter is about $65 total. Since it changes itself, I just buy a 5-gallon jug every couple weeks and change the filter yearly.
I change the oil in my own car. It’s only slightly more difficult than filling a glass with water. I do it because I want to know it’s done right and I want to know what get’s put in my car. I’ve seen too many things go wrong to trust the guys at the lube shop. Where I live they just put filtered oil in your car unless you specify otherwise. Might as well not change the oil. I’ve seen them leave the old filter on. I’ve paid for synthetic and watch them put in the filtered brown stuff. I had a friend who’s engine was ruined because they forgot to refill it with oil at all. All this is anecdotal, but I feel better putting in the filter that I know is the right kind for my car and pouring in the oil myself. I know it’s done right.
Besides, who has time to sit and wait in a disgusting waiting room for 45 mins to 3 hours? (That was the last time I took my dealer’s flyer special.) I’d rather start the oil draining in my garage, go inside for 30 minutes to play with my boy and then go back out to finish the job. Much more convenient.
The risks you mention are not substantial if you are sober and follow reasonable precautions. With my current car and my previous car I don’t have to jack up at all. I just keep it on the ground, lie at the front of the car and the filter and plug are within arms reach and I’m 5’4. Try doing the oil change once, it might change your mind.
Oh and Costco has a sale on synthetic oil at least twice a year for $25 for 6 quarts. If you buy then, you can save much more than a dollar.
If by playing with your boy you mean your son…. PLEASE!! PLEASE..
When he is of an age that seems appropriate bring him in the garage and teach him how to service this car!!! :)
Teach him those life skills that most folks seem to lack in this day and age…
LOL – Nice Tim, you win the big laugh award for the day.
oh yeah and ONE DAY….
HE WILL, THANK YOU FOR IT!!
G.E. You forgot to mention another benefit of paying to have someone else (a auto shop) do you oil changes for you. Usually when you pay for an oil change, a shop will throw in a “safety check” for free where they will do a xx point inspection of your car to look for any potential maintenance items to have done in the future.
Yes, I admit some of these shops over-recommend items for maintenance but if you take your car to 2 different places and hear the same thing twice, it’s probably valid.
BAM!! Some people nailed it right on the head. Probably 85% of my friends who can be put in that Male 28-24 year old category have no freaking clue how to change a tire on a car let alone do an oil change or make an assessment of when and how to change the brakes and do other very basic car maintenance procedures.
I have been doing ALL of the vehicle maintenance for myself and my significant other and a few friends over the year and can say without a doubt that I have surely saved thousands of dollars and doing something I enjoy. The only thing I haven’t done was a motor and transmission swap on an old Buick I had.
My oil changes still seem to be MUCH cheaper than your. I still don’t run synthetic and I buy my oil when it is on sale. The typical oil change for me run $15 with a filter. Yes there are many other costs in general with tools, jacks and other expendables.
I have taken my vehicle once or twice for an oil service when I thought I didn’t have time for it… It seems I would have been better off doing it on my own. It roughly takes me 30 minutes to do that service. (I typically spend more time looking over other things over along the way as well so overall it is longer than 30 minutes.) However, it would generally take me an hour or more to go to a service station and have it done for me. So generally it saves me time which is money in my book for me.
From where I live NOW the closest auto service center is probably 25 minutes away each direction so in the time I can drive there and dive home I can do all the work anyway all the while in my garage having a beer or 2 at the same time. So for me it is a win-win all the way around to DIY.
15 bucks for an oil change! How are you getting it so cheap?!?
I usually go to Autozone when their 5 quart jugs are on sale which used to be #9.99…. prices have jumped up a bit and now their sale price on those is generally $12.99.
They also have this sale where they have integrated the oil jug and filter all into one which is generally about $17.99 so the prices have crept up in recent years.
A couple of years ago they were running a deal for $24.99 on a jug with the recycled oil in which they gave you a $20 gift card for the purchase. So at the end of the day the oil change was $4.99.
I practically bought the store out. I got 10 of those deals. Plus not to mention with their rewards card every 5th one becomes essentially free with the $20 reward credit.
My only regret is not buying their stock in 2008 when everyone started holding on to their cars and making them last a little longer.. the autoparts sector had performed very well. AZO in particular.
Just was at Autozone……$36 per 5 quart jug of any synt oil. Stop there for some car parts and have for 20 years. Never seen oil on sale, never.
I felt the same way about changing my oil. I ran the costs on it and would only end up saving about $5. No way am I sitting out in the Texas heat in the summer under a car spending an hour of work for $5, not including the cost to me to go pick up the parts (gas & time), water to wash my sweaty clothes, etc…
However, I think you could do a very thorough segment on car care in general. I found a couple things out over the years.
Transmission flushes are almost useless, and can even be detrimental. However, draining your own transmission fluid is as easy as draining your oil, and can save considerably more money. The auto shops charge more for these because they’re done more infrequently and they have the word “transmission” in them. I found I could save quite a bit of money on these.
I also found out air filters and spark plugs are just as easy to change and can save a lot of $$$ in labor.
Changing your own brakes requires a bit more skill, but it’s still quite minimal. If you can use a jack and a socket wrench, you can change your own brakes.
I got a quote to repair my struts on my old car. Cost? $1,600. I found a Youtube video online. It took a day, but the total cost to me at the end of the day was about $550.
There are a lot of opportunities to fix your own car, or perform routine maintenance. Don’t be afraid. Most of them are mechanical components that are fairly straightforward in how they run. I’ve saved thousands at this point by trying a DIY method and using YouTube :). If only the body work was so easy…
The 5 quart container has a cheaper unit price per quart than the single quarts, but I suppose the 55 gallon drum that the mechanics buy is still significantly cheaper per quart. Not to mention buying filters 100’s at a time.
Even though they do one car at a time, it’s rather an assembly line process. Put the car on the lift, put the pan under the car, remove the plug, and then walk away to do something else on another vehicle while the oil drains. Come back later, replace the plug, replace the filter and lower the car, add the oil. And it’s done.
I have a hard time viewing this as something that’s worth my time to replace with my own labor. Especially since I would then have to make an additional trip to the location where used oil is returned.
This is completely different from rebuilding a kitchen where your own labor is the replacement for expensive custom work.
I think people are forgetting the worst part about getting your oil changed by a mechanic. Sitting in that little room waiting for them to do it… looking like a schmuck who can’t do their own oil change! No thanks… man card retained.
My dad used to change my oil all of the time when I was a teenager. But it seems that when I purchased a newer car, he stopped doing it and he said it was cheaper to just go get it done at the shop (which looking at it now-he is full of it). I think he got to the point where it was just too much work for him and he didn’t feel like doing it. I don’t blame him, it’s a dirty job.
Nice post G.E. I just wrote one about building a work bench and the importance of weighing your choices when taking on DIY.
I have to agree with the oil change scenario as well. With the cost of oil and filter so high (30+) why would I do it myself when my local dealer only charges 29.99… I actually save money by going to the dealer!
Thanks for the breakdown. It’s so easy to find places that do oil changes for cheap it seems like there’s always a place running a special on it. I’ve even found some secret shopper jobs at dealerships where I get paid to get an oil change.
I also like to use the waiting time to be productive. I’ll usually bring my current book or my laptop to get some work done. Even if they take longer than usual I don’t even notice it because I’m trying to get some work done.
I’ve done my own oil changes before but honestly, like you said, the difference in cost is very minimal. Plus, my time is worth more doing other things and letting a dealership or oil change shop do it for me only takes about 20-30 minutes (if they’re busy). I can also deduct these car maintenace charges from my tax return, lessening the money savings between DIY and getting it done professionally even more. There are lots of things I do DIY to save money, but my oil change isn’t usually one of them.
I’ve always done my own oil changes rather than take my car somewhere, and while the cost savings isn’t (generally) significant, I myself get personal enjoyment and a sense of satisfaction about doing it.
If you’re not the type of person that likes working on cars, then I don’t really see a reason to do your own oil changes or other car maintenance, especially if you can get it done for relatively cheap and you trust the mechanic.
I change the oil in my own car because I got tired of having guys at shops tell me I have to do this or that when it really wasn’t necessary (both at dealerships and at jiffy lube type of places). I also enjoy learning about the ins and outs of my car.
As for the mess that changing the oil makes – I just put a valve on my car’s oil pan. I can put a hose on the valve and have it drain directly to the oil drain pan so it’s less messy.
Just one question…
The quote you got from the dealer is for full synthetic?
If it’s really $35 for full synthetic, I’d say it’s really good price.
But if it was for like conventional or blend, you might be comparing wrong.
In my town, full synthetic oil change goes at least $60 from the dealer ($40 for blend)
Hope you took the quality of oil into account, rather than just comparing the price.
Depends on the car and shop also .
I actually loose money if I do my own oil change on my f150 it takes around 6.9 quarts of conventional,so i have to go to the shops that don’t charge more (off the books) for over 5qts.
but i save close to $27 if i do my own oil change on my mirage 2.9
quarts of 0w20 full synthetic.
Mobil has a nice mail-in rebate right now for buying their oil. $12 back if you get either 5 quarts or a 5 quart jug. WalMart has the 5 qt jugs of Mobil 1 Synthetic for $22.98 right now, making it only $11 + tax (and stamp and envelope) by the time you get your rebate back. You can use this for up to two qualifying offers per household per the fine print.
http://www.atwoods.com/images/rebates/mobil.pdf (Work safe link)
Thanks Greg!! Amazon had one of these earlier this year and was $20 off. I got a couple oil changes for about $10.
Looks like another good opportunity to stock up.
I like to use a certain type of oil, and filters ( wix). And stp oil. Can’t always find at store the kind I like , I order on line the oil, I like to use an oil treatment also.. The filters, wiper blades , PCI valve, ect I get at rock auto.com. Don’t have to leave the house for parts. Here’s a hint, if you change your oil at regular intervals, 4-5 thousand miles, synthetic oil is a waste of money,
I have a hard time believing a full synthetic oil change for $35 (especially at a dealer).
The places around here all charge $29.95 for conventional and synthetic gets to anywhere from $79-$100.
DIY cost is $40-$50
$20-$30 oil (depends on sales etc)
$10 “stuff” (pan, towels, etc)
So total savings is anywhere from $30-$60 per change. Also, the tire rotations, seasonal wheel swap etc ($29.95 at shop) is completely money in your pocket no material cost.
Jack + stands + chocks cost me $130.
In one winter my 2 vehicles swapping to winter tires basically pays off the tools (4 swaps @ $29.95 = $119.80). Add one oil change and I’m saving money. Also, one of the vehicles has a front brake job coming up so that’s another big saving.
DIY car maintenance is not that hard, saves money, and is a good way to spend time with your kids.
You’re an idiot if you can’t change the oil in YOUR car! Jack stands should be a requirement and proudly displayed in every garage. What bizarro world does this mathematical wiz skip through where he gets out of a shop with a synthetic oil change for $1 over DIY With basic care your jack stands, funnel, a wrench and socket set, and an oil pan & rags ✔(ALL garage staples) will last practically forever…you wouldn’t buy them each time! I raised an eyebrow while reading he wears gloves,followed by the other one as I questioned how he makes such a mess each time while burning himself (you’re not supposed to drive across the state before immediately draining the oil and belly flopping into it!), but my eyebrows almost jumped off of my forehead after reading his fuzzy math when comparing pricing for each over the life of the car. The truth is that if you’re an able bodied person who is fortunate enough to have a garage in which to play, you can and should DIY and pocket the other half of your money that you didn’t fork over for a service so basic that I assure you you’ll have no problem DIY. If you need someone to hold your hand the first few time YouTube is a click away. HAPPY WRENCHING!
D. Dennington… gotta say I do love your response on here!! Kind of one of those heart to heart statements that just says.. REALLY?? come on man. Agreed every American Garage should have a set of jack stands… I feel bad for the folks that don’t have a garage to work in.. I’ve literally saved thousands on car repairs over the past decade doing them at home.
On an even better note I’ve been getting deals on my conventional oil change products lately and my latest cost on oil and filter has been around $13!!! Bringing back the prices of the early 90s right there.
I have been changing my oil for forty years. It takes me about 15 minutes to do a car. I can do all four of mine in just over an hour. My cost for full synthetic is usually 25 dollars after any rebates. Or I can have it done for 65 dollars in my area. Last time I went to the dealers to have it changed since I was in the area. They told me there would be a three hour wait. Really? The only other time was once when I was younger and paid one of the Valvoline places to change it. They charged me a high price and then after a couple of days I noticed oil leaking on my driveway. They didn’t tighten the drain bolt sufficiently! So I had to get underneath the car anyway. So. yes- I will always change my own oil.
You didn’t get a synthetic oil change for $35. You got conventional oil, a synthetic oil change is around $70 everywhere. I do my own because all the cheapo shops are known to use too much oil, too little, or not change it at all. Takes 15 minutes and you don’t spill a drop of it if you put your purse down while you do it.
Reasons I ALWAYS change my own oil:
1. I can use good oil and a good filter. What do you suppose that they use at Jiffy Lube for those $19.99 oil changes? If you guessed ‘the cheapest stuff they can get their hands on’, you are right.
2. I use full synthetic oil. Ask for synthetic at a shop, and the price you pay SOARS. If ANY shop offers synthetic oil at a cheap price, you are almost certainly getting blend.
3. I don’t have to worry about insufficiently tightened or stripped oil plugs.
4. Admittedly, I take longer than 15 minutes to change my oil. I want as much of the old oil out as possible, so I let my car drain until it is EMPTY. But even so, it is faster than waiting for someone else to do it, especially if there are people ahead of me.
5. No upselling.
6. I can do it anytime I want. I’m not limited to business hours only (when I would rather/need to be doing other stuff). If I’m bored on a Sunday night, I can go change my oil.
Just look on one of those coupon sites and pay for an oil change that way. Of course that will try to get you for a new serpentine belt, transmission fluid change, tire rotation, new air filter and new cabin filter. Sometimes the other things are needed and you can probably get is less expensive elsewhere. They do check your tires and all your fluids. Just my thoughts.
I know this is a terrible reason for doing my own oil changes and not everyone is single like me, but I STRONGLY DISLIKE sitting at a shop for as long as it takes them to change my oil. Even in this age of technological productivity from anywhere. Usually it’s about 30 minutes. I’ve had longer wait time experiences. I know how long it takes to change my oil myself and be on my way.
Not a bad reason at all! In fact, this is a GREAT reason to change your own oil. Not only does changing your own mean that you don’t have to wait for someone else to do it. It also means that you don’t need to have it done at times when there are other things you need to do. You can save oil changes for times when you have nothing else to do.
Obviously, not sure myself, hence the visit.
But made up my mind now:
Go to the mechanic at nearly the end of the day with your own manufacturer’s recommended synthetic oil and your own OEM filter and your own new washer for the drain plug. Once a year for the average car. Done!
Use Lubricheck Motor Oil Tester every 3 months to be sure you’re protected, and avoid unnecessary oil changes.
Changing your own oil flat on your back is dangerous, you are at a mechanical disadvantage, and yes, you are not inspecting vital parts that can leave you stranded.
Enjoy the ride.
In my case, I have two Chevies. So Dexos1 synthetic oil. I’ll be into a 5 quart jug of Mobil1 for $25 and then the filter for $8-10 more. I’ve changed my own oil and rotated my own tires and done my own brakes and such, and have all the needed tools, but when the dealer falls all over themselves sending me flyers with $50 oil change/tire rotation coupons, it’s hard to justify getting all dirty and dealing with the hassle. Brake jobs, now that’s another matter entirely.
I’ve been doing my own oil changes for 40 years. Still in 2018, costs no more than $20. I purchase high mileage oil and a filter at Walmart and periodically return the used oil there (free). I don’t use a jack; just crawl under the front of the car a little ways in my garage with an oil pan and pop the drain plug and filter. Whole job takes 15 to 20 min. Every 5000 miles, like clockwork. Inexpensive, easy, and fun.
Most oil changer companies will destroy your car and they don’t care about your car. My mother’s car old 2005 cadillac was totalled becUse drain plug was missing after oil change. My girlfriend car under cover is always missing some screws after change oil and always need to come back and tell the oil changer(speedy and oil changers companies). Oil changers are not mechanic and usually they are teenagers who are stoned and do not care at all. I hope you guys do your oil change. Unless you do know somebody that will take care of your car properly, do your own oil change.
I have no idea how all of you have such high oil change rates. On my 2008 Ford mustang: a synthetic blend oil change AT THE DEALER costs $25 + tax. I can’t beat that unfortunately. If I did my own I’d save like 7 dollars, but my time is worth more than that.
Oil changes are not difficult. Not for you or a shop. But the problem is shops do them in a hurried manner since they are a low margin activity (they dont make money on them). And that is when mistakes happen that can damage or ruin your engine.
Shortly after I learned to drive and got a car I took my car to the quicky lube places. But after they rounded out my drain bolt (using air tools) then later stripped out my drain bolt (again using air tools to save time) I decided to start doing it myself. So glad I did!
Some tips from a guy whose done it for more than a decade: Change your oil every 5000 miles using conventional oil you buy on sale. That way your odometer will tell you when you need an oil change. Use a name brand filter that will last 5000 t0 10000 miles (if filter is in a hard to reach place just change it every 10000 miles). Drive your car up on 2×4 blocks of wood. I have 4 blocks each about 2 feet in length. This may give you enough room to get the drain bolt off and change the filter (this works great on my Kia Sorento, Honda Element, and BMW. No need for jacking or jack stands. Get a big 4 gallon jug and store your used oil in it so you do not have to recycle your oil every oil change. For old filters take an old water jug and cut the top off. Store your old filters in it and cover top with Saran wrap. Again, no need to go to recycling after every oil change.
I think the only thing that would keep me from doing my own oil changes would be if I lived in an apartment with no garage or car port.
Why DIY? I can think of several reasons:
1. Shops tend to use the cheapest garbage they can. Think about this for one second. If a shop is going to change your oil for you on top of buying the supplies and paying all of their business expenses (ie rent, utilities, insurance, etc), you better believe they are going to cut corners SOMEWHERE. That somewhere is going to be the quality of the oil and filter they use.
2. You pay dearly for synthetic oil changes. $35? I have yet to see a synthetic oil change under $50-$60. But you can get a five quart jug of Synthetic oil and a quality filter (like Wix) for a little over $30.
3. You can do it whenever you want. There is no need to take up your time during daytime business hours to drive somewhere and get your oil changed (and possibly have to wait). Change it in the evening when you have nothing better to do. Or do it early Sunday morning. YOU decide rather than them. Not to mention that, in all reality, changing your oil is quicker than calling, being put on hold, making an appointment, and driving down there. You will NEVER not be able to do what you want to do because you need to take your car somewhere for an oil change.
4. No worries about screwups. I’m sure you have heard the horror stories of stripped oil plugs and oil they forgot to add. Most of these things happen because employees are rushed. If you do things yourself, you can take the time and do things right.
5. You get a better idea of the general state of your car. For example, if you are one of those folks who never opens their hood because ‘someone else will take care of it’, you might not know your car excessively uses oil. This could lead to the engine running dry and self destructing. But if you DIY, you will see how much comes out. And when you get into the habit of doing such things as changing oil, you just might also get into the habit of periodically checking the oil level.
If you’re making a mess every time, you’re doing it wrong. And good luck finding an oil and filter change for $35 in Australia. Lowest I found was about $250, and they insist on using the oil out of their unmarked barrel (ie, oil of unknown parentage).
I change my Landcruiser 100, my wife’s Camry, my mother’s Madza 6 and my boat engine (Mercruiser 4.3). It’s not a difficult job, if you set yourself up for it.
The biggest issue is disposing of the old oil. My local council will only take 20 litres at a time…
All valid points … I prefer to KNOW that the Mobil1 synthetic is in the engine of my car … the only way to know that is to buy it yourself and change it yourself. For me, this is KEY. Sure, it can take a bit of time – but I know the quality of lubrication is top drawer. Are dealerships really replacing the oil with top grade ? There is NO way to know that. On the very first oil change on my wife’s new RDX, not only did they not change the oil filter, but the level on the dipstick was about one and a half quarts low. Needless to say, they will never touch her car again. Although I do use OEM filters on her RDX and OEM filters on my Outback – I just purchase those filters thru a different Acura dealership and Subaru dealership where we bought the cars. Trust is the issue here.
https://www.discounttirecenters.com/oil-change-services $18.95* vs no matter!!!!!
Interesting article but I have to agree with many of the others on here that it is worth it. Not only the time saved but you know exactly what was done to your vehicle and when, what brand/quality product was used, gives you a chance to check other parts of you vehicle that you would generally not even see. As far as safety, like any other DIY project you need to be aware of the hazards and take precautions. And as far as keeping your man card…. I’m a woman and proud to say my father taught me how to do most of my own car repairs and maintenance myself and I have been doing it for 31 years, man card not required ;-)