Is Changing Your Own Oil Worth It?

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should you change your own oil
Yesterday I wrote about how Valvoline messed up my oil change. They screwed on an oil filter canister too tightly and it cost me $15 to get a new one. I could have gone back to their oil change location to try and get them to foot the bill and replace the part, but I…

Yesterday I wrote about how Valvoline messed up my oil change. They screwed on an oil filter canister too tightly and it cost me $15 to get a new one. I could have gone back to their oil change location to try and get them to foot the bill and replace the part, but I decided it wasn’t worth the hassle.

should you change your own oil

I figure it would have taken me at least half an hour of arguing my point to try and get them to replace the part and I determined that it wasn’t worth $15 for me to deal with the time and heartache. Instead they have lost my business and I will be sure to warn my friends before going to that franchise.

There were many different viewpoints left in the comments of that article. Some people mentioned they would have done the same thing as me, while others mentioned they would have gone back to Valvoline out of principle. Some people mentioned they change their own oil to avoid circumstances like this.

While changing your own oil is an excellent way to ensure that something like this doesn’t happen, that doesn’t mean that everyone should start changing their own oil. If you think about changing your own oil every type that you have to fork over that $30-ish to have someone else do, then this post is for you.

Should you change your own oil?

I take my car to the mechanic to get the oil changed. I know how to do it and I’ve done it before. I was also an aircraft mechanic in the USAF, so I know my way around tools, and I am not afraid to get dirty.

But I don’t change my oil anymore for several reasons:

  • The savings isn’t very much – $5 at best.
  • You still need to dispose of the used oil and filter and pay the disposal fee.
  • I don’t have the specialized tools and equipment (special wrench for my car, oil pans, ramps, etc).
  • I get my tires rotated for free where I normally get my oil change (I bought my tires there). This is important for the tire warranty.
  • Included extras like the 22 point inspection and fluid top off. Mechanics are trained to look for abnormalities and can catch some problems before they become big (read: expensive) problems.

Benefits of changing your own oil. There are some benefits to changing your car’s oil yourself – such as saving a few dollars, knowing the job was done correctly, and the satisfaction of getting your hands dirty. But for me, those aren’t enough – not when I can take a few minutes out of my day and pay a couple extra dollars to have it done for me.

Reader Poll: Do you change your car’s oil yourself, or take it to the mechanic?

  • I take it to a mechanic (44%, 622 Votes)
  • I change it myself (39%, 557 Votes)
  • Sometimes both (17%, 249 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,428 (poll closed – thanks for participating!)

If you enjoy doing minor work on your car, then it can be worth it to save that money. For anyone that has a car that’s very low to the ground that requires a lot of work to get under, it’s going to take longer.

If you have an auto repair shop or a mechanic that you trust that does oil changes for $20, I would suggest having a professional do it. Not only can they check the oil, but they can also look for any other problems as well. While you might have a lot of mechanical knowledge, I don’t. Sure, I had a bad experience with a Valvoline, but that doesn’t mean that I’ll start changing my own oil.

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About Ryan Guina

Ryan Guina is the founder and editor of Cash Money Life. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over 6 years on active duty in the USAF and is a current member of the IL Air National Guard.

Ryan started Cash Money Life in 2007 after separating from active duty military service and has been writing about financial, small business, and military benefits topics since then. He also writes about military money topics and military and veterans benefits at The Military Wallet.

Ryan uses Personal Capital to track and manage his finances. Personal Capital is a free software program that allows him to track his net worth, balance his investment portfolio, track his income and expenses, and much more. You can open a free account here.

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  1. Jeremy says

    I used to change my own oil. It was sort of fun. I really liked tinkering around with cars and stuff. But the savings as you pointed out wasn’t much. Sure, with most of the tools already it is obviously cheaper, but the time involved along with the few dollars saved really didn’t amount to much.

    One of the reasons I always changed oil my own in the past was because I used to always have Jeeps or trucks. These are VERY easy vehicles to change the oil in. You don’t have to worry about tight spaces under the vehicle or jack it up and you don’t need to be double jointed to reach a filter or something. Now that we have a car, you couldn’t pay me $100 to do my own oil change.

    If I had those vehicles back I’d probably still change my own oil just because it’s refreshing to get outside and tinker in the garage and work with my hands. But as it stands right now, I have no problem spending a couple extra bucks to have it done. Saves me a lot of pain and frustration.

    • William says

      This is stupid, unless you are going with a ridiculously barebones oil change with a non-mechanic (jiffylube, Valvoline, Walmart, etc) you will save more than 5 dollars and spend less than 15 minutes of active time changing you oil on most cars. You can change oil with tools you probably should have access to anyway, and best of all, many of the auto parts stores will loan the tools to you for FREE. In my area the autoparts shops will even let you change the oil right there, assuming you do not have to jack your car up. My corolla takes me all of 15 active minutes to change the oil. Most of that time is jacking the car up. Actual time to change the oil is about 5 minutes. My F250 does not need to be jacked up, and I only have about 3 minutes of active time changing its oil. Jiffy Lube base oil change price is about $45 and moves up to $100 or more for full synthetic. Walmart base oil change is $20 and up to $50 for full synthetic. I can buy from local parts store conventional oil for about $2 per quart for my F250 and a filter can be had for as little as 3 bucks. That is $13 dollars. I save at least $7 for less than 5 minutes of actual work that is like the equivalent of $84 an hour (surprisingly close to mechanic shop rates, wonder why). On my corolla that requires synthetic oil (5 qts) I can buy synthetic oil for $4 per quart, and a higher end filter for about $6 bucks. That is $26. I save at least $19, but since my corolla takes about 15 minutes of active time the hourly rate comes to only an equivalent of $76 an hour (again really close to shop rates, weird).

      Worse is regardless of the promise of time savings by any of the company’s 10-30 minute oil and lube job is I am inevitably waiting an hour or more, in a place that I cannot be productive in an environment that has so much conversation, noise, and upselling. Ultimately to each their own, but in my opinion people who do not change their oil, are not doing it because they are too lazy to figure out the math properly. Or maybe just too lazy to learn. Excuses are like, something, but I forget.

  2. DDFD at DivorcedDadFrugalDad says

    I am starting to do my own, because I have the equipment (about $30 investment) and I want better quality oil and filters used. As for disposal, in my state the oil change places have to take spent oil and anti-freeze at no charge . . .

  3. PK says

    * The savings isn’t very much – $5 at best.
    —Wrong, just plain wrong. Oil change full synthetic at the lube shop costs over $60 bucks, but I can get the oil for $1 a quart (5 quarts) and an oem filter for $8. Total is $13 and some time, versus $60 and even more time. Savings is roughly $45 and about a half hour gained.
    * You still need to dispose of the used oil and filter and pay the disposal fee.
    —No you don’t, just take it to your auto parts store (Checker, Schucks, Kragen, O’Rielly, Napa, Parts Plus, Advance etc).
    * I don’t have the specialized tools and equipment (special wrench for my car, oil pans, ramps, etc).
    —Every garage should have these tools except maybe the wrench, but I bet the wrench is less than $45 dollars so it’s still a gain in the first time you change it. As for ramps, you may not need them and oil pans I just use discarded kitty litter trays (free from curbside shopping).
    * I get my tires rotated for free where I normally get my oil change (I bought my tires there). This is important for the tire warranty.
    —Nearly every place that put the tires on the car will rotate for free after you purchase there. Also not hard to do yourself and easiest when you change between summer and winter tires.
    * Included extras like the 22 point inspection and fluid top off. Mechanics are trained to look for abnormalities and can catch some problems before they become big (read: expensive) problems.
    —Again not hard to do yourself, but many of the points of inspection don’t even exist on newer cars. Also the guys at the tire shop will probably take a look around and warn you too. Finally, be aware that these guys will try to sell you extras that you don’t need. One tried to tell me my air filter was dirty and clogged but I had just reoiled it ( it’s a K&N reusable filter) the night before and he brought it to me full of dirt that I knew he had put there (or dropped on the floor).

    So yeah the savings of money and time, plus you get to know your car better is entirely worth it. Added plus that you know exactly what oil is going in your car.

    • Ryan says

      PK: LOL. You used the opposite extreme example for every comment I made, and that’s fine. I simply wrote about my experience. I could write about every single possibility, but that would take pages and frankly wouldn’t be worth reading.

      For my situation:

      • I don’t use synthetic oil. 5 quarts of quality oil and a good filter will cost me about $13; it costs me about $17 for an oil change. Less than $5.
      • Oil disposal fee: some people have mentioned it is free at many places. I stand corrected. But it still goes against the convenience factor of having to drop it off.
      • I don’t have the tools and don’t want to buy the tools. My car is too low to the ground and would require ramps or jacks to perform an oil change. I don’t feel like curbside shopping for discarded kitty litter trays. My purpose for paying for an oil change is convenience. Curbside shopping is not convenient for me.
      • The place I bought my tires will rotate them for free, which is why I get it done while I get my oil changed. I don’t use summer and winter tires; I use the same set year round, which is what many people do because their situation does not warrant buying two sets of tires. Having documentation of tire rotations can also be important for tire warranties, which can be notoriously difficult to claim because of the number of stipulations in the warranty.
      • Well aware that some shops will try to sell you things you don’t need. I always verify what is going on and I am not afraid to go for a second opinion. I would have brought the K&N filter to the manager’s attention and would never do business with that company again. By the way, I love the K&N filters.

      So yeah, for me it is a savings of time and money. I can drop my car off at lunch, and pick it up after work, or I can make an appointment and wait 30 minutes or less. I save time, I save money, I get my tires rotated, I get my car inspected, and I even know exactly what oil is going in my car. It’s labeled at the store.

      • Marc says

        It takes me 5 min and even non synthetic oil changes can be upwards of $30-40 at Jiffy Lube nowadays.

        And yes synthetic is worth it… 10k between changes and my engine at 240k miles is still feeling like brand new.

        I also change my own auto transmission fluid after putting in a pan with a drain. Every 50k.

        I calculated doing my own maintenance on my truck saved me 10k over 12 years, and the need NOT to have another car.

      • Michael says

        I pick up boxes of 12 for between $11 and $15. I buy “generic” at a regional department store. The maker is Citgo, and it’s the same oil they’re selling for twice as much under their own brand at the same store. I agree that the savings are much more than $5.

  4. Miranda says

    I love my mechanic. And I love that it costs $15 for an oil change for a regular customer with my mechanic. I’ve had experiences in the past, with other repairs, that lead me to believe he’s honest. Sure I could change my own oil. But for $15 it’s totally worth it to have someone else do it. It would take me 30 minutes to 45 minutes, and it only takes the mechanic 20 to 30 minutes. And I can be doing something else (like reading or even working on my laptop) while the mechanic is doing it. I look at my time, and since I don’t particularly enjoy working with the car, the $15 is worth it.

  5. Blaine Moore says

    Those are basically the reasons that I don’t change my own oil; I can, I know how, but I don’t bother. It isn’t worth the extra hassle, especially as I live in a climate where there is snow and ice on the ground 9 months out of the year.

    As I mentioned in the other post about Valvoline, the big thing is getting my car checked out by a professional. I’m not one, and cars don’t interest me. Sure, I could save a half hour doing it myself rather than sitting in the shop, but I can spend the time at the shop reading or doing work or going for a walk – basically anything other than sitting under my car which doesn’t interest me at all.

    That and I’m not qualified to recognize problems with my car past the simple and obvious.

  6. tom says

    I don;t change it myself, although I do admit going to the mechanic and waiting an hour sometimes plus the drive there is a bit of a hassle.
    So in that case, I should probably take my laptop and do some work while waiting.

    On the other hand, if someone is a mechanic themselves, then it makes sense for them to get the oil changed themselves.

    But it probably isn’t worth investing in all the tools and equipment just for oil changes, unless you are about to like build a car in terms of tuning it or something.

  7. pfmoron says

    I change my own oil most of the time but I am completely aware that there is virtually no savings and my car would receive a more complete job (tire rotation, etc.) and a thorough inspection by my mechanic. I just do it out of habit and every time I do it I tell myself that this is a waste of my time and I’m going to drop it off at the mechanic from now on.

  8. Andrew says

    @PK: Where on earth do you find a quality full synthetic motor oil at a paltry $1/quart? Near impossible to find, even with rebates, unless they’re also clearance items. Please share with me and the rest of the world. You are correct, though, that synthetic oil at almost any shop tends to be exorbitantly expensive, at upwards of $7-8/qt (or more).

    @Ryan: I don’t know that I would blame Valvoline. I’ve found that MANY quicklube places, and even dealerships, overtighten the filters. Every owner’s and service manual I’ve seen (for my cars, at least) generally say to go a 1/4 turn past hand tight. If anything, the place you went before likely overtightened the filter and created a condition which could result in damage.

  9. Pinyo says

    A definite no for me. I don’t mind changing air filter and battery, but I always go to mechanic for oil and tire rotation.

  10. Clean Simple says

    I don’t change my own. I take my car to the dealer, where they change the oil, top up all the fluids, tell me what is wearing out, vacuum the interior and wash the exterior. Well worth it to me. If I did it myself I’d have to a) learn how and b) collect all the gear.

  11. mbhunter says

    I change my own.

    I had a stripped oil pan that cost me $400 to replace. (The screw threading was stripped.) Wal-Mart said that my mechanic did it, and my mechanic said that Wal-Mart did it. Like the scarecrow pointing both ways.

    Never again. (Or at least until I can’t do it myself anymore.)

  12. Reid says

    There are advantages and disadvantages of each.
    I care about my car, the “mechanic” might not.
    I know that every grease fitting is greased, I can prove the mechanics often don’t
    Saves me $15 at a minimum
    Peace of mind it was done correctly, nothing stripped.
    Personal sense of accomplishment
    Developing new skills and becoming more self sufficient
    Getting dirty
    You get to buy tools and won’t be in trouble for it.
    Making sure your significant other maintains their car correctly.
    Changing oil in a Minnesota January sucks.
    Once a year you have to make a trip and return your stored up used oil
    Getting dirty
    Having to make sure your significant others car is maintained.

  13. Sarah says

    I have always changed the oil in my ’86 VW myself (occasionally with help from hubby). This winter we bought a newer car (’06) and considered taking it to a mechanic for its oil changes. We checked prices in our small, isolated, Alaskan town and they ranged from $43 – $62. Needless to say we are doing it ourselves.

    It’s not a big deal to return spent oil to the store or hit the hazardous waste day.

    As for rotating the tires and brake inspections…that’s what’s happening tomorrow at my house. Studs have to come off for spring anyway. 🙂

  14. TStrump says

    I would never attempt to change my own oil.
    The service is fairly cheap, anyways.
    Plus, I would destroy the engine somehow.

  15. Crystal Groves says

    I change my own, have since I was a teenager. But we’ve always had the tools and resources to make it frugal and cheap.

  16. Funny about Money says

    I take mine the the Mechanic Par Excellence because I’m a grrlll and am not about to start climbing under the car. However, my guy sure doesn’t charge what PK’s does (sixty dollah????? what’s he putting in there? molten gold?), and he also rotates the tires and checks all the belts and fixes small items, often for free.

    Around here, Checker Parts will take used oil off your hands for free. Costco or Discount Tire will rotate your tires for free — Costco while you’re shopping, so you don’t have to waste a lot of time twiddling your thumbs.

    IMHO, the best argument vs. changing your own is the experience that happened to Semi-Demi-Ex-Boyfriend, an inveterate DIY oil-changer. One day he proudly finished the job, climbed out from under the truck, and started the engine, headed for Checker to turn in the old oil. And SPLAT! A whole load of brand-new oil gurgled out all over the floor of the garage! He’d forgotten to put the filter thingie back on.

    Since it was my garage, he had to clean the bejayzus out of the floor. Not that he wouldn’t have, anyway… But at least if it has been his, he wouldn’t have had to put up with some woman trying to stifle her laughter!

  17. Daron says

    Always change my own.

    1. Done right.
    2. Known materials
    3. Saves time (drive there, wait to get in, 20 minutes when in, wait to pay, drive home)…takes me 22 minutes start to finish, dropping off used oil is on way to grocery store so takes maybe 5 minutes, and then I take in 3-4 oil changes worth at a time
    4. Something to do in down time
    5. Listen to radio, so somewhat equivalent to reading
    6. Simple, and can check things myself
    7. In my bought used cars, most of them have simple damage from careless mechanics from oil changes, like beginnings of bolt strippings

  18. Smith says

    I am using the Fumoto oil drain valve to drain my oil. The valve replaces your oil drain plug and you can drain oil without a wrench. It is really convenient if you change the oil yourself. I bought one from

  19. Reese says

    Change your own oil instead of using a fast in and out lube shop. First, the quality of the filters they use are cheap. No big deal if you change them every few months. If you want extended use, bring your own filter.
    Second, fast lube shops such a Jiffy Lube, and Walmart shops are just that fast. You need about an hour to properly drain your engine oil. The ten minutes allowed to drain oil at most shops is not enough time to remove all the oil.
    Third, by changing your own oil you have a better selection of oil and filter at a lower price. I use synthetic mobil-1 10w-30. Its $7 a quart at autozone and about $15 at a shop.
    Finally, you know the job is done right. Fast lube shops like fast food restaurants are full of kids and other people who rather be some where else. I can’t count the times I’ve had too much oil, too little oil, leaking oil, missing dip sticks, missing oil cap or something totally unrelated to my oil change screwed up do to incompetence.
    If you have a good professional mechanic that normally works on your Porsche, Audi or BMW by all means let them change your oil too. But, do yourself a favor and avoid fast lube places.

  20. Jose' A. Morales, Jr. says

    It is stupid not to change your own oil. Auto Zone takes oil for free and doing the job yourself says money in the long scheme of things. YOu know the job is done right when you DIY so I think that’s the way to go. You worked on air crafts man, save some money. I will always change my own oil and do my own brakes. It is very easy, just go to your local Auto Zone and they will explain how easy it is to do your own owl and get a great deal on oil. Valvoline recycles their oil, so you never know what your going to get when you let other people work on your cars.

    Jose A. Morales, Jr.

  21. Chrisbrl88 says

    I do my own (and that’s saying something, considering I’m a porter at a car dealership and I could have a mechanic do it for me in exchange for beer). I only run synthetic and it’s a hell of a lot cheaper to watch the ads and get a good price for it. I just did mine last week and I got 5 quarts of Castrol Syntec along with a good filter for 17 dollars on sale. That’s around what it would cost me to have it done at a quickie place with conventional oil.

    Like many of the people here have said, many places will take the used oil and filter for free (there are AutoZones and Advance Auto Parts everywhere around me, so stopping it to hand off the old oil took me all of 30 seconds). You can probably even talk car dealerships into taking it for free (many use heaters that burn the used oil in winter, plus they have a lot of old oil to get rid of anyway). I don’t even need ramps to do it because I drive an SUV. I went to do it on my girlfriend’s Cobalt the same day I did mine, and the mechanic she went to last time completely stripped the head of the drain plug, so there was no way for me to get it off. She HAD to go to a quickie place for that one (I suspect the last place she went to intentionally stripped it so she wouldn’t have a choice but to go back). I didn’t need ramps to get under the Cobalt either – I just used a floor jack.

    For anyone concerned about the cost of supplies to do it, they’re not that bad and (depending on the type of oil you run vs cost for a quickie place) they end up paying for themselves in savings. An oil filter wrench only costs about 6 bucks and that’s really the only tool you need that a substantial number of people wouldn’t have lying around already, and that’s only if you have a canister-type filter that’s been over-tightened. You can pick up a good floor jack or a set of ramps for around 50 bucks (watch the ads). I would suggest going with the floor jack instead of the ramps because you can use the floor jack for getting the wheels off, as opposed to a single function for the ramps. As for a container for the used oil, make an event of the oil change – get a few friends over and drink a few 40s while you wait on the engine to cool off some then put the old oil in the empty bottles (just don’t go out driving after having all that beer).

    My oil changes are about to get a whole hell of a lot easier thanks to Smith’s suggestion of the Qwik Valve. I’m ordering one before my next oil change (November or so – I can get 5000 miles out of my 99 Olds Bravada on synthetic… probably more but I don’t want to push my luck).

    It seems like the less money I want to spend, the more I learn to do by myself. I’ve done my radiator flush and my oil so far on this vehicle (had it since March) and the next step is to do my brakes. The only things I would really think about taking it to a mechanic for are just things that need a lift in order to do them (alignments, ball joints, bushings, anything having to do with the transmission, etc). As far as I’m concerned, if the job can be done with a floor jack and a socket set or less, it’s routine maintenance I can do by myself. And it’s saved me (a broke 21 year old college student) a fairly substantial amount of money over the last few years.

  22. Chrisbrl88 says

    One more thing – K&N sells filters with a nut welded to the end so they can be removed with a standard 1″ wrench or socket. That way, you don’t even need the filter tool.

  23. jeff says

    I change mine myself because I have a 4×4 and it’s easy and cheaper for me and
    I do the job properly. My father had me look at his car after he changed the oil
    at an Arco dealer becuase it was leaking all over his driveway. So he takes it
    back and they say no problem loose plug. Still leaks but less.So I take a look at
    it only to find they stripped the threads on the pan and used plumbers tape
    to try a quick fix. Well they claimed no liability and my father was $450 .00
    lighter in the wallet .
    Also my sister worked at a car repair shop and she couldn’t believe the
    how crooked they were in creating problems and charging people for work they
    didn’t actually do. Her conscious got to her and she had to quite the job.

  24. kiera says

    i took my car, which was running perfectlty, to wal-mart for a routine oil change They finished the oil change I try to drive off but my car dosen’t start! and i got the check engine coming on !, which wasn’t on before!…so they tell me oh your battery is dead, however the battery was the first thing they checked when i got there and it tested as “Good”…. so then they say oh you got some bolts loose and i’m thinking well who loosened them!!!!!!!. A simple oil change at walmart and i needed a jump start to leave …..with no explanation or sorry or discount!

  25. Paul says

    I change it myself and I really enjoy doing it. I really agree with most of what PK said. The savings can be significant. I don’t know where the heck you folks live but in Southern California you’d be hard pressed to find a place that will change your oil for less than $25. There are a few deals here and there for $20 but that’s the cheapest I’ve seen it. BTW. those cheapie shops are always crowded, grimy, and I never trust the mechanics there.

    Let’s also not just gloss over the advantage of knowing the job is done right. This is a huge advantage. I once had some idiot mechanic loosen my radiator cap and it popped off on the freeway going 70 mph. Lovely. He was probably doing one of those useless 22 point inspections. C’mon folks, it’s not that hard to check your fluids, air filter, and tire pressure. Good grief, it takes 5 minutes.

    Perhaps the one advantage that I love is the fact that I can do it whenever I want. I often get home too late from work and the shops are always closed. Who the heck wants to spend a lunch or a Saturday morning driving down to an oil change place? Not me.

  26. Tarango says

    I work at a dealership, so for me I can put the car on a lift. Plus I have access to all the tools. (I plan on getting my own eventually). I can dispose of the old oil here at work for free.

    Some here have said they can get their oil changed at a shop for $17. That’s pretty good. Over here, shops charge $25 or more for conventional oil (3000 miles or 3 months).

    I use Mobil 1 Clean 5000 and change the oil every 5000 miles or 6 months for the cost of $16.

    If I go on a trip and the car is due for an oil change, I take it to a shop.

  27. alex says

    I live in Australia, NSW. It is much cheaper to do the oil change and filter yourself. Generally I’d have to book the car in and leave it there minimum 1/2 a day. Factoring in the cost of driving to and fro garage, plus either a taxi/public transport once car dropped off makes pretty easy to realize that DIY is appropriate. The problem is that many car warranties require maintenance records be kept from registered vehicle repair business. Therefore in many instances we are forced to get someone else to do it.

  28. Jasper says

    I would have to disagree that it is only a $5 savings at best. Maybe double that and even more. I’ve seen crazy places where an oil change is like $30 or more.

    • Ryan says

      jasers, there are a lot of places that charge around $30 – usually the quick stop oil change places. It all depends on where you live and the competition. Where we live there are quite a few places with standard prices of $25, and they almost always have coupons in the $17 range. The oil filter for my car costs around $8, and it takes roughly 5 quarts of oil. I would rather pay someone because I don’t see much savings doing it on my own. I also take it to the same place where I purchased my tires so I have them inspect and rotate them so they remain under warranty. It works for me, but I understand why many people want to change their car’s oil instead of taking it to a shop.

  29. Lou N says

    I live in a suburb of NY, and own two vehicles. I use synthetic oil on both vehicles. A local lube shop charges 84.95 for a full sythetic oil change, plus 20.99 for tire rotation. For 2 cars every 6 months thats $212 excluding tax.

    I can change the oil for 60 myself. and i found a mavis which charges 11.99 for tire rotation. I am saving 264 a year

  30. Rick says

    A few years ago, I would have said to have your oil changed at an oil shop. You used to be able to get an oil change for $20-25. Nowadays, it cost’s almost $40 to get your oil changed at Jiffy Lube! This is now ridiculous. On top of that, you never know if they are doing a good job. Also, the oil they use is garbage! I can get a much better oil, and a better filter, and do the job myself for $25. That’s $15 savings per change. We aren’t talking “just a few dollars savings” over the life of your vehicle. The money really adds up. Also, any Auto Zone will gladly take your old oil at no charge. It’s nice to see places that promote DIY projects offer services like this. So, if you were to ask me now, I would say change your own oil, and enjoy being a man for little while!

  31. mike says

    If the coupons are only for 5 quarts or less and your truck takes 6.2 then you will save at least $12 for conventional and much more money if you go synthetic.

    Sometimes you save alot of time too, i’ve had places tell me they werent busy on the phone only to make me wait an hour and a half to get to the job. I suppose getting your vehicle done at a walmart or bj’s while you shop would be a time savings though.

    If you need ramps and can cut wood then several 2×10 of various lengths nailed on top of each other make stepped ramps that work better and cost half of the commercial ramps.

    All the other tools you might need cost less than $20 total at harbor freight.

    I have a fumoto valve, lifetime investment and quick and clean oil changes.

    Many towns around here will pick up used motor oil with the curbside recycling . The rest of us wait till we go shopping at a walmart or autoparts store. I transfer my waste oil to the empty containers the new oil came in then write a W on them so I remember they’re waste oil.

  32. Will says

    I change my own, for reasons others have mentioned. I only use synthetic so for me it is cheaper to do it myself, and i can be sure that the job is done right. I have heard so many stories about the filter not being changed because someone was lazy, or from personal experience, the mechanic leaving items in the car, getting home and finding a rag or a wrench left under the hood(score!). Bottom line is yeah it may take longer for me to do it and the savings may or not be that much, but I own the car and I am the only one I fully trust to work on it…

  33. Frank says

    I got screwed up twice by the mechanics. One time, they stripped the oil pan screw, but didn’t tell me. I found it out when it was leaking, and fortunately it was just leaking – the plug was barely there – you can easily pull it out. I can’t imaging what would be if the plug fell off on a freeway.

    The second time, they messed up the fitting that connects the transmission liquid, and the liquid was leaking; I should have gone back to have them fix it (if I was lucky it might be free); but that week I was soaked with important meetings so I decided to go back on Saturday. Wrong. The transmission was burned out. It cost me merely $2000 to have it rebuilt.

    From that time on I would take my car to the dealer ONLY if it is absolutely necessary. It is not just saving some $$ (about $30 for a synthetic), it also saves me about 2 hours, a round trip to the shop, and most important of all, you take good care of you own car.

    • Rog says

      My brother-in-law went to jiffy lube before going to NY. An hour of driving and hisncar started smoking…there was no oil; the dudes failed to tighen then oil drain plug.
      Generally dont trust mechanics. Another dude at an Exxon in Woodbridge, VA told me i had a leak in my AC system and it’d cost me $700 to fix; 4 years later my AC kicks ass. If u can tinker and do work in a safely manner, try to do urself; like many have said, there’s satisfaction, you know u’re getting the job done well, and u’re not getting ripped off.

  34. Joe says

    I like doing my own work, not just because I like knowing it’s done right like some others have said, but I just like knowing what’s going on with my car in general, my second-biggest purchase. That way when I DO have to take it to the shop for something, I am “up to speed”. Doing as much of my own work as possible, it would seem silly to hand off the oil changes, it’s just part of the normal routine. Plus, oil changes are over $60 here.

  35. Brett says

    I fail to see how having someone change it saves time unless they come pick up your car at home, it’s next to where you work, etc. I personally get 2 free oil changes a year for 4 years due to a mistake the dealership made on the pricing of my car. It’s such a hassle to stop at the dealer, either get a ride from a co-worker or use the dealer shuttle, not have my car at work, then get a ride back. Ends up being at least 30 minutes and I work only 2 miles from the dealer.

    As far as “quick lube” ships like Jiffy Lube go, I’ve heard so many horror stories about them, it’s awful. A few examples are forgetting to put the oil cap back on, not changing the filter, not tightening the drain plug properly, over-tightening the filter, using regular oil instead of synthetic, etc.

    • Ryan Guina says

      It can definitely save time if you don’t have the tools or equipment, your oil filter is in a place that is difficult to reach, you don’t have the skills, you need additional work done on your vehicle, or… fill in the blank.

      I have the skills to change the oil in my car – I’ve sone much more advanced maintenance and repair jobs. But my car requires me to remove a splash panel under the engine compartment, just to get to the oil filter. I need to life the front end of the vehicle to accomplish this. I don’t have ramps, and jacking is easy enough to do, but cramped in my garage. Then I need to drain the oil into a container and drop it off at an approved recycling location when I am done (this can be lumped in with other errands, so it’s not a huge time commitment). Then I need to swap the filter, pour in the new oil and put everything back together.

      All in all, it’s not a difficult job, but that doesn’t account for the other work I have done at the auto repair shop where I get my oil changed. They perform an inspection where they top up tire pressure, fluids, look over the brakes, shocks, etc. I also buy my tires there, so I have them balance and rotate the tires if necessary (free because I bought the tires there). And I often have them check the alignment, since I purchased a lifetime alignment option. I schedule my appointments for the first thing in the morning and my car is one of the first vehicles serviced. The longest I ever wait for my car to be completed is about an hour, and that is only if they have to do a full alignment or something unexpected pops up. Otherwise, I’m usually in and out in about 30 minutes. Which is roughly the same amount of time would take me to jack my vehicle, remove the splash panel, perform the work, and put everything back together. And for the minor added cost (the oil change costs about $10 more than if I were to do it myself), I don’t have to deal with the clean up, old oil disposal, and I have the fluids topped up, my tires balanced and rotated, and car inspected. It’s $10 and 30 minutes well spent.

  36. David Allans says

    I’ve recently contemplated doing my own oil changes. If I manage to get a 5 L jug of conventional oil on sale, and an oil filter, the savings are approximately $5 – 7 maximum, pre-tax. This is as of November 2012 in SW-Ontario,Canada.

    In terms of oil and filter quality, I’m sure what I would use is slightly better, yet by how much I’m not sure. Besides, I still get my oil changed every 6,000 KM, so the oil and filter, even if sub-par quality are going to last. The oil life indicator in the car is overly generous in my opinion.

    More importantly as Ryan illustrated, it gives your mechanic a chance to look over the car for anything that should be brought to your attention. I don’t have the skill sets, let alone hoist to properly look over a vehicle, so I’m happy to pay an extra $20-28 / year + tax, to have a professional do the work (+ those essential extras). Of course, then there’s the disposal fee…no idea.

    Of course, I carry around some essential fluids in the trunk just to be on the safe side, if the need arises to top up oil, pwr.steering,coolant,brake/clutch fluids etc.

    I realize this is redundant but just wanted to chime in with my similar reasoning for not doing it myself.

  37. Chris Jacobs says

    Changing you own oil is better.
    1. You can control the quality of oil you put in, i.e. using better synthetic (lasts 15,000 miles) over cheap regular oil you get from cheap oil change shops.
    2. You can control the quality of oil filter you buy for the vehicle, which can vary by a lot.
    3. It only involves removing one screw under the passenger side of the car, and a pan to catch the oil, and a funnel to put oil in. Maybe a jack if you cant get under there.
    4. You don’t need to make appointments. Cost is generally under $30 even for all of the good stuff.
    5. Once you do it once, most will see that it is amazingly easy. Getting oil changes at a mechanic is equivalent to having an attendant fill up your car with gas.

  38. Brian Phipps says

    Well…. I’m a bit skeptical here. Let me ask a question.

    Under what circumstances did you realize that your oil filter was too tight? I mean there is generally only one time the filter is removed, unless it is compromised anyways (i.e. damaged). Typically, on most vehicles, the filter only gets removed when it is to be changed anyways. So, what is there to achieve by having Valvoline replace the filter. Isn’t it headed for disposal anyways?

    The threads on any engine are made of a much harder metal than any canister or cartridge housing. So even if it was over torqued to the point of component failure, it still cannot damage the engine. The fail point will always be on the filter side.\

    I cannot fathom any situation where the filter would have otherwise been spent. Not that I have any reason to take any establishments side. I personally enjoy doing my own oil changes. Your scenario you propose in the body of this article, which by the way I feel is written well, does not match the title question. You have an example of poor customer service. Not their competency in performing the oil change.

    To answer the title question better: It does not matter who does the oil change, whether it be done by an establishment or an individual private party. The point is to achieve the objective goal behind the oil change. The engine was engineered to a certain specifications, which has a prescribed recommended oil service guideline. This includes oil type, viscosity, blend, API, filter, procedure, technique, etc. Which, regardless of who the owner or authorized operator of the vehicle elects to perform this, does this in accordance with it, should achieve the life which the engineers had expected.

    “Any engine will last forever, or until it gets its mouthful of dirt. Whichever comes first.” -Briggs and Stratton Corporation

    Again, it follows customer service. If you buy a car, which matters most, what you paid, or if you feel you got a good deal? Don’t get me wrong, I love saving a buck here and there just as much as anyone, but in the end, if you and satisfied, it sucks. Such is the case you refer to with Valvoline. If you do it yourself, you have no one to blame about shortcomings, but yourself. If you trust a mechanic to do it, I hope it works out. It probably will be fine. But if not, your next question ought to be: Am I setting myself up to be duped? That’s the disclaimer.

    There’s 2 types of guys out there (okay sorry, girls too):
    1. The classic type – the guy out there who is willing to go out and do the things which is required for everyday life to continue, and doesn’t rely on others to do what is necessary. This person either has the means to accomplish this, or is able to obtain the means to do these things. Also referred to as the traditional type.

    2. The romantic type – the guy which realizes that there is the guy out there who has capitalized on the fact that not everyone wants to do everything which is traditional and therefore relies on others. The romantics realize that the people that do these tasks have families to feed too and need the business. Don’t get carried away and try convincing your wife that paying the man makes you romantic, that ‘s not what I am getting at.

  39. Dan says

    It’s not an extreme example if it’s your actual experience. I arrived here because I am contemplating changing my own oil after being charged $115 for an oil change after taxes at Jiffy Lube for fully synthetic oil in a Volkswagen Jetta. I can get the oil and the filter for about $38. Buying the tools, ramps included, with the oil and filter is about the $115. So the second time I do it I’m saving money. My wife has a car that takes conventional and can get an oil change for <$20. I agree in that case why change your own? But it's much different with synthetic and more and more cars require it.

    • Ryan Guina says

      This is a very good example, Dan. I would probably change my own oil in that situation, or shop around for other shops. My vehicles both use conventional motor oil, so I take them to the same shop each time. I also bought my tires there, so there is free lifetime balance and rotation. An oil change is the perfect opportunity to have those routine maintenance items done. I also bought a lifetime alignment on both vehicles, so I get that done about once a year, or any time it seems like it’s pulling (which is rare). I’m generally able to get all of that maintenance accomplished for less than $30. They also double check air pressure in the tires, top up fluids, check the brakes, and give the car a general once-over. That’s a lot of work for less than $30!

      But the situation would be different if my car required a $115 oil change that I could do for about $40. I’d handle the oil change on my own and just take the car in every few months to have the other maintenance done. Thanks for sharing!

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