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One of the most effective things you can do to protect the health and value of your car’s engine is to get regular oil changes.
Whether you choose to do it yourself or opt for a professional oil change, the service typically costs between $20 and $70. Keeping up to date on oil changes may extend the life of your car’s engine and help your vehicle run more efficiently.
In this article, we’ll discuss the factors that can affect the cost of your oil change as well as the benefits of getting oil changes done regularly.
- What factors affect oil change cost?
- Where you go to get an oil change
- How often should I get an oil change?
What factors affect oil change cost?
A basic oil change is pretty straightforward: The vehicle’s oil is replaced, along with its oil filter. You can typically expect to pay anywhere from $20 to $70 for an oil change. But the cost will vary based on a few factors, including the type of motor oil that you choose, the size of your car’s engine and where you have the service done.
Types of motor oil
There are four main types of motor oil to choose from when you get an oil change.
- Conventional — This is made by refining crude oil, and it’s typically less expensive than synthetics.
- Full synthetic — Synthetic oil is crude oil that’s been refined, distilled and purified. It contains fewer impurities than conventional oil, so it offers greater engine protection. Synthetic oil typically costs more than conventional motor oil. According to a AAA study, full synthetic oil is especially beneficial for newer vehicles with turbocharged engines, as well as those that frequently drive in extreme weather or that tow heavy loads.
- Synthetic blend — This is a blend of conventional and synthetic oils. A synthetic oil blend offers some of the additional engine protection provided by synthetic oil, but it’s less expensive than fully synthetic oil.
- High mileage — This is oil specially designed to support engines with more than 75,000 miles on the odometer. It contains special additives that can help reduce corrosion and friction. High-mileage oils may be conventional, synthetic or synthetic blends.
An oil change using conventional motor oil will usually be the most cost-effective option. At Goodyear Auto Service, for example, an oil change with conventional motor oil starts at about $23.
An oil change using full synthetic oil will usually be the costliest option — Goodyear charges about $70 for this type of oil change.
Which type of motor oil should I choose?
Your car’s owner’s manual will tell you what type of motor oil to choose for your vehicle. According to a consumer report, in the 2019 model year, about 70% of new cars get either fully synthetic or blended oil — it offers the highest level of engine protection.
Even if your car doesn’t require synthetic oil, it’s still worth considering. Though it’s the most expensive option, synthetic oil may help reduce maintenance costs by extending the life of your engine and helping it run more cleanly.
Keep in mind that your engine is often the most expensive part of your car — engine repairs can cost thousands of dollars. So making sure it runs optimally with regular oil changes might help you avoid costly repairs down the road.
Additionally, some synthetic oils can go for much longer intervals than conventional oils before needing to be changed. This can mean less money spent on oil changes over time. And since it reduces engine friction, synthetic oil may also help optimize your car’s fuel economy.
The size of your car’s engine
Another factor that affects oil change cost is the size of your vehicle’s engine.
With a typical oil change, you get up to five quarts of oil included in the cost of the service. But your costs can start going up if you drive a car with a larger engine, like a truck, which may require more than the standard five quarts of oil.
Where you go to get an oil change
When it’s time for an oil change, you can tackle the task yourself or have it done at a dealership or specialty auto shop.
The DIY route is the least expensive option, but it involves some elbow grease on your part. And while you’ll typically save some money by doing the oil change yourself, you may be missing out on some extra value — that’s because accompanying maintenance services are often offered by professionals doing an oil change.
So while getting a professional oil change is typically the most expensive way to go, the additional bells and whistles it might come with, like a tire pressure check, visual brake check, fluid top-off and a tire inspection, could make it worth the cost.
Heads up: Some people believe that oil changes need to be done at the dealership to keep a car’s warranty in effect. But it’s illegal for manufacturers or dealers to deny warranty coverage simply because maintenance was handled by someone other than the dealer, according to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.
How often should I get an oil change?
Your car’s make, model and year will affect the frequency of your oil changes. Many of today’s carmakers recommend oil changes at every 5,000, 7,000 or even 10,000 miles. But check your owner’s manual to see what the manufacturer recommends for your vehicle.
Sticking to your manufacturer’s recommendations is important, because regular oil changes can help lower your vehicle’s ownership costs in a couple of ways.
Oil helps your engine run efficiently. Your car’s engine is made up of several moving components. If these components aren’t lubricated, it can harm the engine. Oil provides this lubrication, but it breaks down over time and can become contaminated with dirt and debris, which can cause damage and compromise fuel economy — both of which will cost you money in the long run.
Driving conditions also play a role in how often you’ll need to get an oil change. If you tow a trailer regularly, drive in extreme heat or cold, spend lots of time idling in stop-and-go traffic, or make lots of short-distance trips that are less than five miles, your owner’s manual may recommend shorter intervals between oil changes.
A consistent oil change schedule can go a long way toward protecting the health and value of your car’s engine.
Check your owner’s manual to see how frequently you should change your oil and verify you’re not overdue for an oil change. If you don’t have a manual, you may be able to research the car’s recommended oil change interval online.
And when you take your car in for an oil change, be aware that the technician may try to upsell other services. Again, use your owner’s manual as a guide to help you determine whether those services are necessary or worthwhile.