Keeping your vehicle maintained and in good working order is essential to saving money in the long run. After all, if you don’t take your car into the shop every once in a while, it will eventually break down and require more expensive repairs — or a replacement.
One of the most important routine maintenance tasks is changing your car’s oil. But if you’ve never done it before, you might be wondering how much an oil change costs. Read on for the answer to this question and more.
Why should you change your car’s oil?
Simply put, the oil for your car’s engine is a lubricant that prevents all metal and mechanical parts from grinding against each other, causing corrosion, damage and malfunctions. Without engine oil, your car won’t run very well, if at all.
However, your engine oil gradually accumulates debris, grit, dirt and other bits of matter. Furthermore, your engine oil loses some of its lubricity or its slippery state. This can accelerate wear and tear on your machines internal components.
When you change your car’s oil, the fresh oil reduces friction and allows all the mechanical parts inside the engine to run smoothly. In addition, new oil helps fuel economy by allowing your vehicle to run more efficiently (thereby consuming less fuel per mile driven).
So, all in all, you should change your car’s oil regularly to prevent engine damage and ensure your car runs as smoothly as possible. It’s about car care, engine protection and a healthy vehicle maintenance schedule.
What does a oil change service include?
An oil change service can include a variety of specific actions or services depending on who you hire and what is involved.
At a bare minimum, a oil change involves:
- Removing the drain plug under your car’s oil pan.
- Gravity is allowed to drain the oil completely into another pan called the catch pan. This old oil will be disposed of in a legal and environmentally safe manner.
- Replacing the drain plug.
- Changing the oil filter.
- Replacing old oil with new oil. Most car engines take about 5 quarts of oil.
As you can see, a conventional oil change service is quite straightforward. That said, it’s not a good idea to do this important maintenance task if you’re not ready for it or if you don’t have any experience.
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How much is a oil change?
There is no general price for an oil change service. Your oil change will usually cost anywhere between $30 to $100 if you take it to a lube shop or a car dealership. Alternatively, it usually costs anywhere between $30 and $50 if you change your oil yourself.
In general, higher oil change costs will come from higher labor costs (which depends on where you live), differences in filter quality and any additional service performed (tire rotation, etc. .). For the most part, oil prices will not vary between locations for the same vehicle.
Affecting factors oil change cost
The price of an oil change can vary depending on several important factors:
Type of oil
First, the type of oil used will affect how much your oil change will cost, whether you take it to a professional or do it yourself.
There are two main types of oil used for most oil changes:
- Standard oil is common and more affordable but more common for older vehicles. This is the traditional type of oil used to lubricate machines and mechanical parts.
- Synthetic oil is required by most modern vehicles and is more expensive. A synthetic oil blend is generally seen as better than conventional motor oil because it is specially formulated to improve lubricity and engine quality over time. You can get a full synthetic oil change at most service centers, and many car warranties also include it.
If your car doesn’t explicitly require synthetic oil, you can choose between them when you take your car to the shop or have your oil changed in person.
Synthetic oil is almost always better for your car, however. Your engine will break down less and last longer. Therefore, depending on how often you need to change your oil in the first place, paying a little extra for synthetic oil may save you more money overall.
The most significant price difference between conventional and synthetic high-mileage oil is about $32, so it won’t break the bank. What should you do? Go synthetic whenever possible, and read your car’s owner’s manual to find out what type of oil your car needs.
The type of vehicle can also affect the cost of an oil change. Some vehicle models require a specific type of oil to be used, such as a specific brand of synthetic oil. This is more common in expensive cars.
In addition, the type of your vehicle can affect how much oil you need for a full oil change. For example, a large truck that drives hundreds of miles each day will require more oil per change than a small sedan that only drives a few miles each day.
Finally, the location where you change your oil can affect its cost. If you live in a more expensive area, oil changes will make more sense because the car dealership or lube shop service will have to pay more for its rent and related costs.
Keep in mind that if you do your own oil change, location probably won’t affect the total price you pay.
Quickly lubricant stores vs. dealerships
When you need professional help to change your oil (recommended if you don’t have any experience doing this), you have two options: Take your car to a lube shop or a dealership.
A dealership may know more about the make or model of your vehicle, especially if you take it to a dealership for your vehicle brand. Therefore, it may be wise to take your car to the dealership to have its oil changed.
As a side benefit, the dealership can look at other aspects of your vehicle and tell you if you need to replace your tires or other replacement parts. It might be wise to go to the dealership for a double check on your vehicle’s overall health.
Conversely, a quick lube shop may be a more cost-effective, quick solution. You can find quick lube stores in most major metropolitan areas; some are even mobile.
They don’t specialize in any particular type of vehicle, but they can change your car’s oil in minutes if you arrive on time.
A quick lube shop may be the best solution if you need to change your oil more often due to long drives or other reasons. Many quick lube stores also sell the right oil you need for your car, but you should call ahead to check to be sure.
How often should you change your oil?
That depends on the make and model of your car, as well as the type of oil you have. In general, better types of oil allow you to change your oil less often. But it’s still a good idea to change your oil after about 5,000 to 7,000 miles, depending on your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations.
You should change your oil twice per year, assuming you drive your car every day. If you drive your car many miles every day, you will need to change the oil more often.
When in doubt, talk to the local dealership or oil change expert you hired to perform this service. Based on the oil they supply and the make and model of your vehicle, they should know how often you need to change your oil to avoid major issues.
How to lower the oil change cost
While an oil change shouldn’t be too much of a burden on your wallet, you can lower the cost of that oil change with some smart tips and strategies.
First, look for coupons or discounts in your local area, especially if you just need an oil change and don’t need all the bells and whistles from an associated car maintenance service. If a quick lube shop has a discount, you can visit that shop and get an oil change for cheap.
Second, look into learning how to change your oil yourself. Knowing how to change your oil is an important life skill and will help you get back on the road if your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere.
Furthermore, it is not very difficult; once you learn how to do this, you can save yourself $50 or more by changing your own oil instead of taking your car to a shop or dealership.
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Third, take care of your car in general. If you drive your car all the time or don’t take care of it, the oil will need to be changed more often.
But if you take care of your car, have it inspected regularly by a maintenance technician, and practice good driving habits, your oil will only need to be changed occasionally, saving you money.
Ultimately, an oil change will cost you anywhere from $20-$100 or more, depending on the quality you expect, the type of oil you need, and several other factors.
Although it’s an inconvenient expense, getting your car’s oil changed when necessary; otherwise, you’ll be setting your car up for more expensive repairs later down the road.
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