Oil changes are a regular part of car maintenance. Just like with the air filter replacement, these simple tasks must be done regularly to keep the engine running its best. Yet, oil changes also leave drivers with many questions. For example, you might be wondering how much an oil change costs.
You not only want to know what the oil change cost is but what affects this price. In the guide, we review everything you need to know about the typical oil change price. We also review the options for oil type and show you what locations are best for the maintenance task.
How Much Does an Oil Change Cost?
Oil changes are not expensive, whether you do them yourself or take the vehicle to a shop. In general, you can expect to pay between $20 and $120 for most oil changes. Cost is determined by the type of oil used, the amount of oil needed, and the location where you take the vehicle.
This small cost is nothing compared to what you might spend by neglecting regular engine maintenance. If you perform the oil change yourself, your expenses remain extremely low. By putting out this minimal amount now, you reduce the chances that you will need major engine repair later. Consider the regular oil change as an insurance policy keeping you from dealing with engine replacement or repairs.
Factors Determining Oil Change Cost
1. Motor Oil Type
The oil you use will have a dramatic impact on the overall cost. In general, there are four types of oil to choose from. Conventional oil is the most basic and traditional type. It’s the least expensive and is produced by simply refining the crude oil.
Full synthetic oil uses a crude oil that has been refined, but it’s also be purified and distilled. With this base, chemically produced materials are added, such as petroleum formulations. Synthetic oil is considered a man-made lubricant that provides the best protection for the engine. However, it’s also the most expensive option. New vehicles and those with a turbo engine benefit the most from these oils.
The synthetic blend oil mixes the properties of synthetic with conventional. Because of the formulation, it can provide many benefits of the synthetic type but doesn’t have an excessive cost associated with it.
Finally, high mileage oil is a type used for engines that contain 75,000 miles or more. Additives are included in the formulation to reduce friction and corrosion. The typical high-mileage oil can be synthetic, a blend or conventional, but it always has the added properties.
2. Engine Size
The oil change cost depends heavily on how much lubricant is needed. If you have a larger engine, you will need to use more oil than if you have a smaller motor.
Most four-cylinder motors are going to use about five quarts of oil. Additionally, a six-cylinder engine often holds six quarts, while the eight-cylinder can handle up to eight quarts of motor oil, depending on what type it is.
In general, most professional oil change services include five quarts of oil. If you need more than that, you will need to pay extra.
3. Location of Service
The cost changes greatly based on where you take your vehicle. You can do it at home, take it to a local dealership, visit an auto shop or drive into one of the fast lube locations.
The least expensive route is to perform the oil change yourself. However, you need to have the expertise to perform the task at home. For this job, you just need a few tools and the necessary materials. If you perform your own oil changes, it’s also recommended that you do other maintenance tasks at the same time. Remember to change the oil filter and give the vehicle a quick inspection to ensure nothing else requires your attention.
Professional oil changes will cost more, but you can save money based on where you visit. If you take your vehicle to the local lube station, you will spend less than at the dealership. However, these technicians don’t have the same experience working on your vehicle. In fact, it’s not uncommon for them to strip the oil pan plug or cause other damage.
With that said, you don’t have to get your oil changed at the dealership unless you already have an agreement to do so. These are often the most comprehensive oil change services, including other tasks, such as topping off other fluids, an inspection of the brakes and a tire pressure check. You might find that these other services provide enough benefit to pay the extra cost.
Oil Change Intervals
With every vehicle, it’s important that the oil gets changed at its appropriate interval. However, the recommendation can be different based on your vehicle’s year, make and model. You can find the recommendation in your owner’s manual or speak to your local dealership. In general, the intervals will be set at every 5,000, 7,500 or 10,000 miles.
The driving conditions also affect the frequency of oil changes. If you are hard on the car engine, it might require more regular oil changes. In many cases, regular towing, driving in extreme temperatures (hot or cold) and idling often can cause more wear to the engine. The motor also receives more abuse when you drive in city traffic versus highway roads.
By following the manufacturer’s recommendations, you ensure the engine remains running its best. Synthetic oil will last longer than conventional oil, further helping to protect the vital motor components. No matter what type of oil you use, it’s important to get regular oil changes to ensure maximum lubrication of the internal engine components. If the parts rub and create friction, severe engine damage can occur. This problem only leads to more costly repair bills down the road.
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