Cheap Oil Change – Should You Get One?

cheap oil changeI have a simple question, or comment rather for you.  I have been on your site for hours today and love your information and comments you provide.

You mentioned (several times) that you are not a big fan of the cheap oil change places and would rather leave your car for a few hours at the mechanic or dealership instead. This is a real pain for me, why would I spend my time on an oil change and not get in and out as quickly as possible?

Thanks in advance,

Tommy K.


Hello there Tommy, thanks for your comment.

I feel your frustration, and I would rather do something else with my time than wait for a simple oil change as well, but here is my reasoning for doing so.

1. An oil change is an opportunity for an honest and experienced mechanic to look over your vehicle for problems or possible future problems that could arise.  Example, a worn out tire that could be a safety issue and is probably due to an alignment problem. In this example you are aware of the immediate problem (worn tire that can blow out) and you are alerted to a potential future problem, the alignment issue causing the worn tire.

2. Most quick lube places are only interested in “selling” additional services that THEY perform.  They are really good at checking your air filter and other fluids…which is great, but since those are really the only other services they offer they are not to interested in checking all other items under the hood or under the vehicle.

3. Going to a real repair shop with real mechanics (not just oil change guys) gives you the best look over of your vehicle and could potentially save you tons of money and frustration in the long term.

Take that worn out tire example again. Say that tire is on the rear of the vehicle, but the oil change place really only looks at the front of the vehicle where they are doing their work.  If they don’t take the time to really look over the vehicle they will probably miss the tire issue on the rear.

So a month later the rear tire blows out and it’s raining and late at night with your kids in the back seat, how much is this repair now going to cost you?  Tow truck?  Damage to the vehicle due to an accident? Other damage to the vehicle due to the blow out?  How much frustration do you have to deal with now in this situation?

I see this all the time in my shop and personally. I get an oil change, and a few days later open the hood and see my battery cables are severely corroded, which can leave me stranded.  The oil change guy was right there, they did not clean them or tell me about the issue, since they do not do that kind of work.

Incidentally we see more cars towed in on a wrecker due to dirty or loose battery cables than anything else….yet its an obvious repair that should have been done during the oil change.

So, I am not saying you have to leave your vehicle for a day, or even hours but what I am suggesting is you take the time to get your oil change at a real mechanical shop that you know and trust and has your best interest at heart.

Give me 3 minutes to look under the hood and under the vehicle of just about any car and I can spot current and future problems that if caught in time can save you money and frustration and time.

So do you want quick and cheap, or do you want 1 hour of thorough inspections…which are FREE with the oil change anyway? I like to give our customers a list of things we spotted and a time line of what needs to be done. Right rear tire is dangerously worn and needs immediate attention, air filter slightly dirty and should be changed next visit, small oil leak at the back of the engine needs investigation and brake pads are starting to show signs of needing replacement in 5,000 miles.

Now you know what is going on and can prepare yourself for the up coming repairs, but mentally and financially.

Also, since you asked about a cheap oil change I would want to make sure the place is using quality oil with the change and not some cheap no name knock off brand from China. Stick with the name brand oils and the proper oil weight for your vehicle. You can skimp a little on the oil and air filter…just in my opinion. I would rather use top grade oil and a cheap oil filter than the opposite.


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