Changing Your Own Oil: Does it Really Save Money?

When most people think of maintaining their vehicle they think first of keeping it washed and waxed. Then they think of changing the oil and filter. To change your own oil is pretty simple and a very acceptable do it yourself kind of weekend warrior task but does it really save you money?

What are the costs involved?

Changing your own oil and filter does seem to be a pretty cheap with the oil being under two dollars a quart and the filter under five in most cases. You will also need a number of accessories prior to getting started. You will require a wrench to remove the oil filter, as well as a drip pan and funnel for changing the oil. You should be able to change the oil and oil filter in about half an hour. It then costs another couple of dollars to discard the filter and oil oil. The first time you change your own oil and filter you will be unlikely to save any money.

What are the benefits of paying to have the oil changed?

Paying to have your oil and filter changed will vary depending on the garage and if you have a coupon. Somewhere between twenty and forty dollars is a good estimate. Any good service garage will do more than just change the oil and filter. They will do a quick check on your tires, wash windows, refill the windshield washer tank, and do a check for any potential problems. These additional checks may be worth the price of your oil change if you are not a mechanic yourself. In many cases a trained mechanic will notice minor issues before they turn into expensive problems.

How often should the oil and filter be changed?

There are varying opinions regarding the frequency of oil changes. Most garages recommend that you have your vehicle’s oil changed every 3,000 miles and will put a sticker on your windshield to remind you of this. However, in the case of some newer model vehicles, manufacturers actually recommend 6,000 miles. Your oil filter, on the other hand, may only need to be changed on every other oil change.

In many cases, mechanics will still recommend that you change your filter whenever you change your oil. The argument for changing your filter with every oil change is based on the fact that doing so leaves a full quart of old oil in the engine. Leaving dirty oil in your engine is obviously going to prevent your vehicle from performing as efficiently as it would if it had all clean oil.  

In fact, there is no reason not to change your oil and filter more often. By ensuring that you vehicle is running with clean oil and a clean filter, you will save money on gas consumption and also avoid potentially expensive repairs. With all of this in mind, is there really any benefit in changing your own oil and filter after 6,000 miles? Or is it more cost effective in the long run to allow a mechanic to service your vehicle on a regular basis.

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