Should you change your own oil?

guy changing oil

shhh… don’t tell anyone, this is actually a tractor


Ah, a quintessential image of American manliness, a dude changing his own oil.  Grease-stained jacket, crew cut, work rag, socket wrench in hand.  Self-sufficient to the max, except the part about needing a very expensive piece of machinery to get from point A to point B.

Not that I have any room to judge; being a two-car household means we need our fair share of oil changes too.  On average, I would say that our vehicles get their oil changed a little under two times a year, although it should be less now that I started biking to work more often.

Oil changes aren’t a huge yearly expense, but forking over that $30 dollars is never fun.  What is even worse, however, is forking over $100+ dollars for all the extras you think you need.  I’m talking new cabin air filter, transmission flush, reverse light etc.  Anyway, the point is, if you can save some money doing it yourself, why the hell not?

Well, truth be told, you don’t really save a lot of money changing your own oil.  And if you include your labor costs, you are probably better off having a professional do it for you.

Before the numbers, though, I want to talk about actual ways you can save money on oil changes.  First, stop getting them every 3,000 miles!  You can cut your oil change costs by more than 50% if you decrease your frequency to a recommended once every 7,500 to 10,000 miles.  And if you have a newer car, you probably have an oil change indicator that takes all the guesswork out of it.

Check your owner’s manual for manufacturer recommendations, but the bottom line is that the 3,000 mile rule is sort of outdated.   Save yourself some money and stop making charitable donations to your local oil change outfit, even if that little sticker they gave you says otherwise.

Second, don’t fall for the up-sell.  It is hard to save money by changing your own oil because oil changes are loss leaders for a lot of places.  This means that your local quick lube joint prices oil changes at a very low, sometimes negative, profit margin to get you in the door.  Then they hit you with the higher-margin air filter and transmission work, which is where they really make their money.  Apparently grocery stores do this too with cooked rotisserie chickens, which is why the cooked birds in the front are often times cheaper than the uncooked ones in the back… that’s what gets you, the hungry, tired, low-will-power afterwork shopper, in the store to buy all the other higher-margin stuff.

Anyway, just don’t be naïve.  Keep track of the last time you had those things done and what constitutes a good, acceptable, or bad condition for these various parts and systems.  Watch especially air filters and lights because they are very easy to install could cost you a lot less if you buy them from a parts store.  If there is something legitimate that needs to be done and you can’t do it yourself, wait a few days.  Get quotes from some other places and you are bound to save a good chunk of money.

Third, look for deals.  You don’t need to be a loyal customer for something as routine as an oil change.  Follow the best price; you can sometimes get them as low as $15.00.

truck oil change

So that is how you can save money outsourcing your oil changes.  Now here are the numbers.

The numbers:

This example is for having someone else change your oil, because that is where the positive ROI is.  I try to keep all the ROI’s positive for comparison sake.

  • 10-Year NPV: $37
  • 10-Year ROI: 6%
  • 10-Year Payback: 0.6 years
roi - oil change

click for link to live spreadsheet


roi - oil change

might be profitable after 20 years

As you can see, both scenarios are basically even.  Change your oil yourself, or have someone else change it.  What really pushes the needle in favor of having someone else do it, at least financially, is the initial investment in equipment.  Specifically, I’m talking about a drain pan, car ramps, and a filter wrench.  These add an additional $55 of expenses in year 1.

Over a long period of time, the investment slowly loses value because your tangible profits are negative, and there is a growing opportunity cost associated with losing $10.00 every year.  It is the intangible costs (your own time) that keeps the investment afloat.  If you wanted to exclude those, it actually would save you about $4.50 each year to change your own oil, as opposed to costing you $3.70 if you include them.


Personally, I’m glad to see that it doesn’t really matter one way or the other.  Having someone else change my oil is quick, convenient, and mess-free.  On top of that, I get a free car inspection.  If I changed my own oil, I would be pretty lost to other potential problems and maintenance issues.

I really like both this and the garden example, and the beer example, because they help reign in my DIY enthusiasm.  This is one of the beauties of capitalism, the division of labor, and economies of scale… it doesn’t make sense to do everything yourself, and my life is much simpler for it.

So this is your excuse to take the path of least resistance when it comes to oil changes.  Don’t feel guilty, but also don’t get hosed on the up-sell!

If you do still want to change your own oil, however, don’t be discouraged.  It actually looks pretty easy.  A quick Google or YouTube search provides more than enough information. I thought this Edmonds article was a good place to start.

  1. Get oil changed 2x per year (U.S. average miles per year = 15,000, AAA)
  2. Average outsource oil change costs $30 and takes 20 minutes (experience)
  3. Your time is worth $8.00 per hour while waiting at oil change place because you can do other productive stuff (versus $10)
  4. Your time is worth $10.00 per hour while doing your own oil change (my own personal number)
  5. It takes an average of 40 minutes per oil change when you do it yourself and account for all the cleanup, disposal, and parts shopping required (various internet sources, including Edmonds, The Art of Manliness, and The Simple Dollar)
  6. Oil + oil filter cost $25.00 combined (Walmart and Amazon)
  7. Drain pan, car ramps, and filter wrench cost $55 combined (Walmart and Amazon)
Happy hour at the stock market
Gardening costs: 400 square feet and a spade
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterGoogle+Email to someone

Top of Page ↑↓ Leave a Comment


Like what you see?
Put the mail in the box and sign up for email updates!

sign up for email updates


  1. Tom Bogacz says:

    This makes me feel much less guilty about all of my oil changes… Embarrassed to admit that I may have paid $16 to have 2 tail light bulbs changed during the upsell

    • I mean, lights might actually be closer to break even the more I think about it, or at least only dropping a few bucks every few years. Depending on how hard they are to get to. If it was a tail light, I would probably do the same thing myself (hypocrite I know…). I think the headlights are usually easier to get to.

      I made the same mistake with a cabin air filter that cost me like an extra $40 or $50. The next time they suggested the same thing and I found it at the parts store for about $10. For sure never doing that again.

      • I feel there is a level of self-sufficiency you should maintain with your cars. I don’t know if anyone else feels this way, but oftentimes it is a pain to make an appointment to get my car in to a garage. Almost anything that doesn’t require ripping the engine apart is worth doing myself for convince… Some cite feeling that the 30 minutes they save under their car is worth the additional cost. Meanwhile you spend 20 minutes driving to and dropping off and picking up your car from the garage.

        By the way I paid $5.91 for my last cabin air filter and it took about 5 minutes to replace. Totally worth it!

      • Richard Siders says:

        I can change the oil in both my SUV,s with out jacking them up. I only need one tool, a 17m wrench. Also a pan for oil recovery, and some paper towel’s. I used to pay to have my oil changed but once they left off my fill cape. I drove that car 3,000 miles that way and only discovered it when i got another oil change. Oil was all over my brand new motor. They replaced the cap with something they had laying around that did not fit. Another trip back to them and this time i insisted on the exact factory cap that they lost. That required another trip back after they got the factory cap from the dealer. What is worse is that the owners were friends of mine. Another time i went in for an oil change and later i noticed oil on my garage floor. I took it to the dealer who informed me the they (the oil change people) had put on the wrong oil filter. So they changed out my new fully synthetic oil with basic oil and the right filter this time. I then had to go back to the oil change people and ask them to please put my full synthetic oil with the right filter this time. I just changed my oil my self and discovered that they again had put the wrong oil filter.
        I can change my oil myself in 10 min and I put exactly the right filter and oil. No only was the oil filter that i took off the wrong one, it was also the wrong size and it was a brand x white filter. I save $40 each oil change and now i know it has the right oil, the right filter, and that the filler cap was put back on.

  2. eliot rosewater says:

    I love it when the oil change guy casually walks over with my cabin filter, starts coughing away with how dusty it is, etc. No matter how dusty it is, I always just smile and say, “Looks great!”

    Something that just occurred to me: When I go to these Quick Lube type places, I ask for the cheapest oil change they’ve got. I don’t ever recall saying: “In addition to changing my oil, could you also find a bunch of piddly shit wrong with my car that I might pay to fix?” Those words don’t come out of my mouth. I mean, are they also going through my trunk, looking through my CDs, etc? (“The Rush disc has a smudge on it… thought you should know about it…”

    Actual money tip: almost all of these franchise oil change shops have downloadable coupons from their website for $5 off or $10 off, etc. Take 5 minutes before you go and save $5. But make sure that you present the coupon only after they start to ring you up at the register and committed to that price. Otherwise they may try to pull some funny business with the pricing.

  3. There’s more variables than presented above. Pro-DIY: Does $30 get you an oil filter change too? Do they use fully synthetic oil for that price? Do they use the cheapest paper oil filter that’s the wrong size and blows your engine?

    Pro scam shop: do you have a garage? Many people don’t. Are you a single female without a knowledgable friend to help? Risk of injury is eliminated by taking it in.

    • I´m a single female and I can learn on youtub how to change oil. I don´t need a knowledgable friend to help, not have I ever needed one, I do everything myself just like any guy could.

  4. jimmy lomax says:

    I used to play the coupon game… until the day before we got married my wife had her oil changed and they stripped the tapped aluminum drain pan plug hole. Put that in your ROI. (Her cousin owns a shop and actually fixed it for free as a wedding gift, but I’d guess it’d be ~$500 for anyone else… and I believe we did have to pay to have it towed across town past next nearest shop – wagging finger at you State Farm)

    I’d tell you what low-rate company did it, but they’re all the same aren’t they? What do you expect when you pay high school kids $9 to do this all day? And do you think this cut-rate shop owned it and fixed the problem? Absolutely not. They alleged that it was already weak/stripped and that had we been coming to them every time it would be much more easy to place blame on them. A) it’s good she dealt with them and not me. #2) had I changed the oil myself the time before, I could have spoken to the fastening torque or at least made a convincing bs argument.

    I don’t pay myself too much in my own ROI calcs, but peace-of-mind/quality of work is worth something to me as well.

    • Good point. I didn’t mean to imply one should chase the absolute cheapest deal in town. Probably a good idea to check yelp reviews or the equivalent before trying a new place.

      And if doing it yourself brings more peace of mind / quality of work, more power to you. For a non-mechanical dude like me, having someone else do it is what brings me more peace of mind knowing that I won’t screw something up myself…

      • There’s a saying in any kind of DIY work… ‘Nobody will care about your car as much as you do’. I had an alternator die. $1200 after two power steering pump replacements from different dealers, the alternator still died and left me stranded. Instead of dropping another $600 to have them change the alternator, I did it myself for $100.

        My father has had stealerships mix transmission fluid into the oil, forget to put the oil actually back in the vehicle, put the wrong kind of oil, etc, etc. Why? Because the shops don’t give a rats ass. They are careless and only out for a quick buck. If you want something done RIGHT, DO IT YOURSELF. 🙂

        It isn’t rocket science, assuming that unlike the monkeys in the shop, you aren’t the lowest-common-denominator.

        • Chris Uken says:

          There are many shops out there that don’t do unnecessary work and don’t do shady dishonest things. I worked for a few of those honest shops when I was a mechanic. Blaming the mechanics in the back for shop policy decisions is crap. The dealerships you went to had service managers that pushed their employees to have dishonest practices and probably threatened their job if they didn’t comply. Whatever you do as a job I am sure that there are some companies in a similar field to yours that are managed poorly and treat customers badly. And your negative experiences with a few shops don’t mean that mechanics are monkeys. Seriously, modern cars have some weird stuff that goes wrong with them and mechanics often have to diagnose what is wrong with diagnostic equipment that is barely capable. If it was rocket science there would be a nice large budget for proper equipment and you, the customer, would have to pay an arm and a leg to get anything done.

          Do whatever work you feel like doing to your car and do a better job of picking the shops when you want someone else to fix it. A shop with a real verifiable reputation that they care about will try to make things right. In some states, California for instance, there are divisions of the government set up to pursue consumer fraud and negligent service companies. If your state is one that does you could have opened a case and probably got some if not all of your money back. It also would have helped get rid of some bad actors in the industry.

  5. Probably is better to get it done by someone else, by in my case I decided to start doing it my self, is true that time may be worth 10 an hour, but when you are doing nothing your time is actually worth nothing, so I may as well make valuable by doing something that will save me a few bucks, rather than watch tv for an hour, plus I know what oil and filter oil I’m putting on, plus I will either way waste around 30-60 minutes of my time, sometimes even more if there is a lot of people, I hate going to the shop and being told, I have to wait and hour and half because there is some people first, in the shop it would cost me 55 + tax around $60.00, if I buy the oil my self, 24 + filter 6 that’s 30 dollars, I saved 30 dollars , (plus better oil and better filter) by the way I use synthetic oil always, so make you own math and check if the savings are worth it.

    • Thanks for the comment Daniel. I recently just posted about the value of free time… check it out here:

      I would argue, especially after, say, a really long and hard week of work, that an hour of sitting watching TV is worth something… maybe not $10, but each person has their own numbers… these are just mine.

      I did forget to mention a few extra assumptions in this one, which is that the oil change place isn’t out of the way at all (no extra driving) and that you don’t have to wait in line (my experience the past few times I’ve gone to jiffy lube).

      Sounds like you’ve got the math figured out though, and I agree 100%, do your own math for your own situation. You have a lower time value and more expensive oil changes than I do, partly because of your preference for synthetic oil (not recommended for my car).

      As I’ve mentioned before, these things are meant to be more directionally accurate since they involve so many assumptions, and on such a close call ROI like this one, it is the tiny details that really make all the difference.

      Thanks for the note.

  6. When you do it yourself you know it was done properly and completely. Some oil change places will measure and leave a quart of dirty oil in the car then short you 1 quart when filling it back up, yet still charge you for the 5 quarts of oil your car needs when they only put in 4. They also rip you off on air filters. They change them when unnecessary and sometimes don’t change them at all, but you think they did and paid $18 for a $6 air filter you didn’t need or receive. Let’s not forget how they will change the oil filter every other visit on their regular and loyal customers. Oil change places would go out of business doing these $15 to $30 oil changes if they didn’t rip people off. Just because every 4th or 5th customer falls for the up sale, it’s not enough to keep the business afloat, let alone make a profit. It’s always best to change your oil on your own vehicle. If you don’t know how to, learn. There is no exact mileage marker for oil changes either. Every vehicle and every engine is different. The best rule of thumb is to change your oil no later than 2,500 miles after it looks dirty. You should check your oil often enough to know and follow this. Once you do, you’ll see that you can get almost 10,000 miles between oil changes out of some engines. The average for most vehicles is between 5,000 to 6,000 miles.

    The last thing you should know is that you NEVER flush a transmission, EVER! This is a great money maker for the service stations and one of their best profit tools, but it’s also a load of crap…. harmful crap. When it’s time to CHANGE, NOT FLUSH, your transmission fluid, you do it the same way you change the oil. Simply drain and fill. That’s it. If you flush it, you cause all of the metal shavings and debris to be flushed all around the transmission. So what if half of it (maybe a bit more) was flushed out, the rest is still in there and now all over the transmission components. So now your car drives away and without realizing it you just caused damage to your transmission and it’s running on borrowed time. Seems like every time someone does this “important” service, it’s not even 3 months or 2,000 miles until their car is acting up… not shifting properly, gears slipping, hesitation, etc.. To learn more about your car and what you need to do to maintain it properly, contact a master mechanic in your area. Don’t be cheap, pay him/her something for their time and get answers to any questions you may have, have them check out your car to see what needs attention, and learn what you can from them or what you can get them to show/teach you about your vehicle. That’s money well spent and great piece of mind.

  7. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but
    I find this topic to be really something which I think I would
    never understand. It seems too complex and extremely
    broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post,
    I’ll try to get the hang of it!

  8. Sorry, but around $15 dollars from doing it yourself or have someone do it for you is not enough to say I would get under the car to do it. I would rather go some where and wait, then get under car. No is not enough reasoning to waste all that time going around to shops to pick these things up, and get under the car, and actually take longer doing it yourself for about the same quality of work.

    I have never waited more than 30 minutes on any of my cars. I have had old cars that burn oil too. So people would rather waste twice as much time to just save a couple of bucks. Not me. I like saving money, but I am not over doing it for a couple of bucks. Even the slight difference of buying your own supplies to paying someone to actually do it for you is slim. What is funny is you get people that know about cars and tell you to do it yourself to save money, and then that person tries it, then does something wrong screws something up, because that person that told them to do it, does not help them or give them the right instructions, and the person that owns the car ends up paying more to get it redone.

    “Be smarter, not work harder”. Have you heard that phrase before? A lot of people ignore it, and think they know it all, and end up fixing something they broke, and pay more by paying someone else to fix it anyways. Just like illiterate computer people. Same goes for cars.

    • Brian Castellanos says:

      Come on.. Seriously? It’s an oil change, not a head gasket change. Know how to change a tire? Not much mor difficult. And you only save $15 if you buy the cheapest junk possible. I’m disgusted that people are saying they’d take it in to get conventional oil for $20 to save 10 mins of work.

      I have a BMW 328i that needs six quarts of full synthetic mobile 1. That’s 9 bucks a quart buddy. Take it to the dealer, it’s closer to $150.00 for an oil change. Do it yourself for $50 and take your girl out to a nice dinner with the other hundred. If you can’t do the most basic maintenance on your own, what are you going to do when you need valve work done, or if your fuel pump goes bad? I’m not a mechanic by trade, but I know how to maintain my own cars, just like I know how to clean my own house. I don’t need a maid to do that for me because I calculated the ROI on my unpaid time.

      Jeez, take a little pride in what you have and learn to fix your own stuff, even the basics: air filters, oil, wipers, brake pads, and radiator coolant. Simple stuff that you don’t even need special tools for.

  9. Chris Kelly says:

    As I am sitting here at the car shop waiting for a front end alignment I was reading pros and cons on doing my own oil change. So far I have been here for over an hour and my jeep hasn’t moved. My time is very valuable as I make $34/hour. A front end alignment isn’t something I can do at home but I’m using this situation for an oil change. I get here at 715, 15 min before they open and there is already 8 people here. $50 for oil change, 1-2 hours waiting, that $68. So far $118 for this oil change.
    I can buy the oil and filter around $30-50 depending on type of oil. Change it myself and while I wait for it to fully drain I can cut the grass, have a beer, I’m not wasting time sitting here.
    There isn’t much saving in the oil change itself, it’s your time that you save at least for me. What’s your time worth?

    • Good point. I was going to say the same thing. If you want to change your oil at 11 pm on a sunday night, you can, and it takes 10 minutes. If you want someone else to do it, you have to go during business hours, or give up your weekend, and it will take at least 10 minutes to drive there. Then you have to wait forever and they use cheap oil and cheap filters. You can do the same job in less time with better parts. Plus, you don’t have to listen to them drone on about how they can change your air filter for “only” $50 (which would cost $10 and 5 minutes to do yourself). The challenge here is finding reasonably priced filters and oil. I’ve started buying my oil at walmart, and filters from advance auto. That combo is much cheaper than the “oil change special” from the auto parts store. Beware, these “specials” are a rip-off.

    • So plan ahead by making appointments. It gets dropped off the night before or before work and gets picked up at lunch or after work. No time lost. Changing ones own oil seems a lot more attractive when you add self imposed inconveniences into the equation.

  10. There is one thing to consider when buying a 15 dollar oil change, and that is the quality of the oil that you are putting in your car. Sure, a place like Jiffy-lube will get volume discounts, but at the end of the day they place oil of questionable quality in your motor. This probably isn’t a big deal if you have a commuter that you plan to keep for 50000 miles, but if you want your car to go the long haul, there is some value in putting quality fluids in your car.

  11. elRudy63 says:

    You don’t actually lose any time by doing your own oil changes. If you pay to have the service done, you still sit around waiting on the work to be completed which is usually longer than if you did it yourself. Also, by doing the work yourself you can look for other issues (torn CV boots, oil leaks, etc..).

  12. Sitting around waiting for your oil change isnt time well spent. Knowing it was done right is worth something. Gives you a sense of pride you can’t place as a factor in any metric or data visualization. Those tools are used for other repairs which certainly save you money. Rotating tires changing brake pads etc.

  13. First of all, I completely agree with you about the 3,000 mile oil change myth. It might have made sense years ago but like you said, see what the manufacturer recommends. They obviously didn’t just pick a mileage number out of the air.

    Secondly, I’ve heard too many horror stories about these quick oil change places. Usually it has something to do with the drain pan bolt. They either tighten it too tight or too loose. The only time I’ve ever gone to Jiffy Lube, they forgot to put a crush washer in.

    I’ve gotten it down to a science where I can change my oil in 15 minutes including cleanup. All you need is a good pair of car ramps and wheel chocks. I buy oil in bulk when it’s on sale and purchase filters a dozen at a time.

  14. I wasn’t doing my oil change before, now I do. More often than most, they don’t replace the gasket for the oil drain leading to leaks (same if they forget to put it back). They also over torque the plug.

    Once I tried to remove it and couldn’t because the plug was also all worn out. I had to go back for another oil change and ask them to change the plug which they did.

    I have 2 cars and I usually change oil anywhere between 5000 to 8000 miles depending of the filter quality, I usually use 5w20 synthetic, I don’t really care about the brand though, the cheapest the better.

    I’ve seen some places where even though it says 5w20 on the oil cap of the engine, they put 10w30. Another reason why I do my oil change.

    I’m not a mechanic however I learnt through youtube how to do this and many other maintenance on my cars (brakes, cv axle, power steering and transmission fluids, …). Sure I would like to know more and be able to do my own timing belt change but I know my limits and know when I’m not comfortable doing things, then I delegate to a garage who is not a chain if available.

    It sure is fun to be under the car and you like quite good knowing your neighbors are watching you. You’re the man!

  15. You aren’t saving money by having the pros change your oil for this reason: they use cheap products! When you get the $15 oil change special, you are getting bulk generic oil and a cheap filter. I use a Fram filter and Mobil1 synthetic on my truck and it costs around $25 compared to the $80 charged for a shop to use that product. Never take manly advice from a guy who rides a bicycle to work.

    • As a mechanic I have work in enough shops to witness the good and the bad of oil changes. As for the comment about generic oil and cheap filters , who do you think makes the filters and supplies the oil. Most oil delivery trucks will have several different brands on the side from the parent company. And the cheap filters are usually made by the major companies for the little guys. Don’t forget that after you drive and get you new oil and filter you will have to drive to someplace to legally dispose of the used oil and filter. Most likely an oil change place. LOL How much time and money did you really save?

  16. Definitely agreed about the quality of the products a typical oil change shop uses. When they are charging you around $20 for an oil change (but still have to pay employees, rent space, etc), it is a no-brainer that they are going to use the cheapest oil and filter they can get their hands on. If you insist on using better oil, forget about the $20! A synthetic oil change is going to cost closer to $100 (and they’ll probably STILL use a cheap filter). This is where you REALLY save when you DIY. For about $35-$40, I can change my oil using Mobil 1 synthetic oil and a K&N oil filter. And, of course, I don’t have to worry about stripped oil plugs.

  17. Honestly, if you own a home or you do some sort of mechanical (or technical) work. your gonna need those tools anyway, so it’s not like those tools should be DIRECTLY connected to year 1 oil change. Those tools don’t STRICTLY reserve for oil changing. They can fix a door, tighen a sink pipe or whatever else. Buy tools that can be used universally so it’s not so much an oil cost, but just a life maintenance cost. Secondly, this ONLY works out well if you live in an area of low interest. You live in places like NY, LA, Miami, etc, those rates are gonna spike higher than they would if you did it yourself. It’s not like you have NO time on your hands. Your a hard working person, you should know how to balance out your time by now. So essentially it seems to come down to location, location location. If it’s cheaper in your neighborhood, great, pull the trigger. If it’s gonna cost you $50+ dollars for a SINGLE oil change, RUN like the dickens and stick to your DIY methods because that’s a rip off if I ever seen it.

  18. I’m a mechanic, we always use premium grade oil, but I would have to say if your mechanically minded there is no reason you cant change your own oil. Some people simply prefer others to do it, whilst others arn’t that handy, but if you are then a DIY oil change is no difficult task and you will save a good $50 on labour charges alone.

  19. I was thinking that I should change my own oil to save some money, but after reading this I will stick to a professional! I like how convenient it is to have someone else do it, and it saves me from making a mess! It was also interesting to see how much my time was worth when someone else was changing the oil. I’ll make sure to use that time for something productive! Thanks for all this great information.

  20. My truck has almost 130,000 miles. I stopped taking my truck to the shop for an oil change when most of them wanted to start charging me around $50 for high mileage service. I get that the high mileage oil is a little more, but double? Yeah, they can go pound sand. I do, in fact save money by doing my own fluid changes. And, I can change my oil in under 30 minutes which is the average time a shop takes. While I’d rather do other things, I’d rather not part with my money for things I can handle myself Also, if you’re handy and confident, you won’t quit with the oil change. I changed my oil, front diff oil, rear diff oil, transfer case fluid, transmission drain and fill, and I flushed my radiator today, along with replacing the radiator hoses. Granted, I spent the day doing it all, but I piddled around, ate lunch and watched some tv. The radiator flush took a couple hours because it’s a drain, fill, run, cooldown, lather, rinse, repeat process I paid $100 in fluids. I saved hundreds by doing it myself, and I mean hundreds, like $500 or more. I think it’s just a matter of perspective and the car you have. If I do it, I know it’s getting done. Shop quality varies these days. Now, the O2 sensors I couldn’t get off this weekend, I might have to go to a shop, grrr.

  21. I agree that changing your own oil isn’t really worth it. I have a friend who refuses to take his car into the shop for it, and I feel like he just uses a lot of time and effort for no reason. I would much rather take it into a professional and let them do it.

  22. Chris Uken says:

    Manufacturer recommended service intervals have different tiers depending on how a vehicle owner drives their car and under what conditions. Many Americans actually should be following a severe service schedule. While it is true that the lubricating properties of oil last a very long time; the detergent, anti-foaming, friction modifier, and other additives in the oil can be consumed more quickly than the factory recommended normal service interval.

    If a person intends to keep their car a long time then they should follow the service interval that matches how their car is used. In many cases 3000 miles is the correct oil change interval(for non-synthetic oil) to get maximum life out of their vehicle. All oil that has an API American Petroleum Institute logo and rating and correct viscosity to match your vehicle will work fine in it. Synthetic has longer service intervals because it has better high temperature stability and can carry higher concentrations of additives. But in terms of “oil performance” synthetic has a 2% nominal reduction of friction in an engine. 2% reduction of friction makes less than a 1% difference in overall performance of the vehicle. The higher concentration of additives makes for longer service intervals which is the main reason many manufacturers recommend using synthetic. They can save money on the maintenance plans they use to help sell vehicles.

    In terms of changing your own oil it makes sense to do if you can do it quickly enough and are getting good synthetic oil and quality filters for the same price or less than what a shop would charge you for conventional oil with a cheap filter. If you are slow at changing oil and don’t know or have time to shop around a tiny bit then do what most people do and pay someone to do it. The author of the article is right for a subset of people out there. But people like myself that can change my oil in less than 10 minutes, can get Mobil 1 synthetic 5 qts. for $25 at Walmart, buy Toyota oil filters online in bulk so they end up being only $4 a piece, and recycle the used oil for free at O’ Reilly Auto Parts will continue changing it until I am physically unable or am so filthy rich that I can afford to be so lazy. I am not saying everyone else is lazy that get other people to change their oil. But as a former auto mechanic who knows how to do it cheaply and quickly it would be laziness for me not to do it myself.

  23. It is important to change your oil regularly in order for your car to function well. It needs oil to lubricate, seal, clean and cool the engine and preventing it from any future damages.

  24. This does not take into account at all that doing a 12 dollar oil change will be conventional oil. I can change the oil in my car for full synthetic + filter for 32 dollars. There is no shop that can do the same.
    Also, the people doing your oil change can hardly be called “professionals”. Plus, I don’t have to drive anywhere and wait, and then have to deal with the incompetent mechanics trying to upsell stuff to me.

  25. For me I enjoy doing my own work but I have paid to have my oil changed due to time constraints. My advice is to ask family and friends where they get their work done if you are worried about finding a place you can trust. For the record not all mechanics are a** holes , most of us take pride in doing honest work.

  26. Remember to always use a coupon to save money. You can almost always save at least $5 just by having a coupon. Last month Firestone had a $15.00 off deal. All the big companies offer discounts for oil changes because they just want to get you in the door. I’m in Northeast Ohio and I created a website that makes to easy to see all the best oil change coupons in my area.

  27. I think one thing to keep in mind as well, is that oil changes tend to be way too regular. Modern engines and oils can go for so long without a change that most people are literally throwing away money and potentially harming the environment as well, since not all of the oil gets disposed properly.

    Here’s a good read about that.

Speak Your Mind