Is It Cheaper to Change Your Own Oil?

Changing my own oil was something I always took pride in doing. Not to mention the fact that I enjoyed saving money.

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But, is it cheaper to change your own oil? Not really. It might save you a little bit of money, but it’s probably not worth doing since the savings are negligible — especially if you are able to find deals/coupons to have it done professionally.

How much does it cost to do it yourself?

Well, to do an oil change yourself, you need to buy the oil and oil filter, you need a few tools, and you need to find the time to do it.

Let’s assume you have the time and the tools, so how much will it cost?

Well, most vehicles need about 4-5 quarts of oil. If you buy the cheapest oil you can find (around $3 a quart), you will be paying at least $16 in oil alone. Now you need to buy an oil filter.

If you’re lucky, the cheapest oil filter for your vehicle will be around $4.

Total: $20

If you buy the cheapest stuff there is, it will cost you no less than $20.

All you have to do is make the time to do it, and prepare yourself to get pretty dirty. $20 should be able to get it done.

How much does it cost to take it in?

You can look online (or even call around), but a basic oil change will run you anywhere from $25 to $50 (or more), depending on the vehicle.

So, is it worth it if you save $5? Some people might think so, but I still think it’s better to take it in.

Here’s why.

Why you should take it in

When you take your vehicle in to have an oil change done, it usually comes with a few complimentary services attached to it.

This will generally be some sort of basic inspection, tire rotation, and fluid check/fill-up.

What’s nice about this is that rotating your tires regularly will lengthen the life of your tires, get you better gas mileage, and save you more money in the long-run.

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What’s nice about the inspection, is that they will tell you about any upcoming maintenance or possible issue that might be affecting your vehicle.

If there is any recommendation for repairs, they will quote you a price and give you the option to get it fixed (or not).

Since paying them to fix your vehicle is usually more expensive than fixing it yourself (or getting quotes elsewhere), what I like to do is shop around and possibly consider making the repair myself. I have done this on numerous occasions and have saved a lot of money as a result.

Finally, I will say that the standard $25-$50 rate that most places will charge for a routine oil change is not what I ever pay.

Every time I take my car in for an oil change, I never pay full price — I always find deals.

Find deals

The easiest way to save money for an oil change is to find deals or coupons. I do this with every oil change — every time, and I usually find a deal for about $20.

For example, Big O Tire will charge around $30 or more for a standard oil change. You can go to their website to see this yourself (or just give them a call).

However, also on their website, you can click on the link for promotional offers in your particular region. This is what I do every time — which allows me to print a coupon for a $20 oil change (almost every time).

$20 oil change coupon

So, now you are spending the same amount you would be having done the oil change yourself — $20, but without the extra benefits mentioned above.

Pro tip

You can save more money by changing your oil according to what the manufacturer recommends — this is usually longer than what mechanics and others recommend.

For example, when I was changing my oil myself, I would religiously change it every 3000 miles — because that’s what I was taught.

When I started taking it in, mechanics would recommend having it changed every 5000 miles. They told me that every 3000 miles was excessive and unnecessary, and that I was wasting money doing that. Needless to say, I was thrilled to take their advice and save money. Then I decided to research this phenomenon further.

I decided to check the manual on my vehicle to see what it said about how often I should change the oil. I was shocked when I noticed that they recommended changing it every 7500 miles!

Does anyone really know how often you’re supposed to change your oil? You would think the car manufacturer would know best, so I decided to go by that.

Now, I change my oil every 7500 miles, which is 2.5 times longer than I would have when I was changing it.

The fact of the matter is, a lot has changed since I “learned” how to change my own oil, and that’s to be expected.

Cars are made better, and so are able to run longer without breaking down oil like they used to, so the oil lasts longer. Even oil has changed over the years with synthetic and synthetic blends.

Best thing to do, I think, is to do what the car manufacturer recommends, and call it good.

A word of caution

If you do decide to go by what the manufacturer recommends (7500 or whatever), make sure you pop the hood and check the dip stick every now and then.

If you have an older vehicle, or a vehicle that leaks/burns oil, you don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you are ever low on oil. That will surely cause your engine to fail, which could be as costly as buying a new car entirely — you don’t want to do that.

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Bottom line

Changing your own oil in order to save money is not really a thing anymore. Perhaps it was back in the day, but those days are gone.

You might get lucky and save a couple of dollars — maybe, but it’s probably not worth it, considering you have to make time for it, have the tools, buy the oil and filter, do the oil change, clean up, and then possibly clean up yourself. No thanks.

If you ask me, it’s not worth it — you’re better off taking it in, especially if you find a good $20 deal.