If an experienced professional is servicing your car, they might also check your vehicle's overall health, making sure your car is tuned up. Having your oil changed is a perfect opportunity to have your car checked for potential problems.
So, if it takes less than an hour to have a car's engine oil changed, why do many car owners wait long to do it?
A survey done by Cooper Tires in 2018 revealed that many Americans knew very little about car care and troubleshooting, but 54% of the 2,000 car owners surveyed felt intimidated to deal with a car mechanic. Four in 10 Americans also didn't want to bring their car to the shop for fear they couldn't afford the repairs or other procedures. They would rather “look under the hood” if they suspected a problem, without knowing if they’re doing things right.
So, even though nearly half of the respondents knew nothing about changing their engine oil or how often it should be done (one-third didn’t even know the correct oil to use), they still preferred not to go to a shop.
This article discusses a few oil-related car care tips to help vehicle owners be more confident working with car repair professionals.
How Often Should You Change Your Car's Oil?
First of all, the common belief that you need to change your engine oil every 3,000 miles is no longer true. Experts say it depends on driving patterns, car age, or type of oil. So how long can you go without an oil change?
There are two ways to find out.
- Check the owner's manual. When you are in the scheduled maintenance section, the manual should tell you the miles or the time required before changing oils.
- Check the service light on your dash. Some cars have a light that indicates when it's time to schedule an oil change. It can show up as a symbol, such as a wrench, or simply say "service."
With modern lubricants and car engines, it's possible to have your vehicle's oil changed every 5,000 to 7,000 miles, depending on how often you use the car. Engines that require synthetic motor oil can go as far as 15,000 miles before requiring a change.
For example, the owner's manual for a 2016 Mazda3 compact car recommends changing the car’s oil every 7,500 miles for normal driving. Extreme driving requires oil changes every 5,000 miles.
What Happens If You Don't Change Your Oil?
Engine oil is one of your car's most important fluids. A car's engine components spin thousands of times a minute, and the oil keeps all of them moving smoothly. The longer a car goes without changing its oil, the more serious its issues will be in the long run.
- The engine will seize — Car oil lubricates cylinders, pistons, and other engine components. Without it, metal-on-metal friction will generate enough heat to weld surfaces together and cause extensive damage. In most cases, you'll be forced to replace the engine.
- The engine will overheat — Some cars utilize oil to lower the temperature of engines. The process is called oil cooling. Engines produce a lot of heat, and oil helps take that heat and pass it through a radiator called the oil cooler. It prevents the engine from overheating. If you don’t change your oil often, the old oil loses its cooling capability over time and can no longer prevent overheating.
The website Jalopnik for auto enthusiasts once ran a diagnostic on a nine-year-old 2007 Dodge Caliber that made strange noises and had poor engine performance. The lab results found that the amount of iron in the vehicle's oil was 15 times more than the universal average.
With modern lubricants and car engines, it's possible to have your vehicle's oil changed every 5,000 to 7,000 miles.
The car's oil hasn't been changed in more than 12,000 miles and has been causing massive engine wear. If the driver had continued using the vehicle, the engine would have shut down. Car engines are durable and built to withstand constant use, but they can't handle exposure to old oil for extended periods.
What's the Cost of Having Your Oil Changed?
The cost of having your engine oil changed depends on your state's taxes, the type of oil required, and the model of your car. On average, an oil change can cost anywhere from $20 to $100 or more.
- New Oil: The cost depends on the volume and the type of oil your car requires. Conventional oil may cost around $28 per 5 quarts. Synthetic oil tends to be more expensive, ranging from $20 to $50 per 5 quarts.
- Oil Filter: These filters remove the contaminants from your car's engine oil. Some car manufacturers recommend changing the oil filters every time the oil is changed. Car filters usually cost $5 to $100, depending on the filter your vehicle needs.
- Labor Cost: Labor costs are often computed hourly and depend largely on the location. The classier the area, the more you may have to pay. Labor costs are anywhere between $20 and $60/hour.
Other additional costs may surface, including disposal fees and replacement fees for any damage found, like leaks. A trusted car repair shop like Auto Works of Brandon provides a detailed estimate and invoice that you can look over before agreeing to any additional cost.
The cost of having your engine oil changed depends on your state's taxes, the type of oil required, and the model of your car.
Spending on an oil change makes good financial sense in the long run. It's the ideal way to prevent any major damage to your vehicle and help your car be more fuel-efficient.
Is It Faster to Change the Oil on Your Own?
If you’re into tinkering with your engine as a passion project, then by all means, do it. But honestly, it’s just too much trouble. Remember that it would entail 30 to 50 minutes of your time—about the same duration as a client call, a dental appointment, or a jog. And if you don’t have the tools and know-how, it might take longer.
It's also worth noting that changing the oil yourself requires you to dispose of the used oil and filters properly. Dumping your used oil anywhere is not only dangerous to the environment but also illegal in some states like Florida.
If you insist on changing your oil, you need to comply with the following engine oil collection and storage best practices:
- Use good quality containers: The container should not have leaks, rust, or any form of deterioration.
- Provide signage: Containers should always include a sign that reads "Used Oil." This helps prevent accidental mixing with other hazardous waste.
- Keep absorbent materials: You must have absorbent materials like sand or sawdust ready in case of spills. Use the materials to clean the spill and store them in another labeled container.
Then, you need to transport the used oil you collected safely to your local recycling or disposal facility.
Why You Should Consider a Professional’s Help
No one is saying you can’t perform an oil change yourself, but it can be messy and time-consuming. It requires specific equipment that is not always available in many households. Using alternatives can be dangerous, especially since you will have to go under your car to do some steps.
Auto repair shops have special gear for these services and materials like filters and engine oils. Mechanics also have the proper training to perform an oil change safely and quickly. If you own a luxury car, your vehicle may require licensed technicians to work on it, too.
Bringing your vehicle to a car maintenance professional is more convenient and saves you time. Waiting won’t be a problem. Auto Works of Brandon has free Wi-Fi and refreshments so you can be comfortable and occupied while we take care of your car.
If you have somewhere else to go or need your car for work, you may drop off your vehicle before or after business hours and pick it up when we’re done with the oil change—at your convenient time. Just call us in advance so we can prepare for your arrival.
When your car requires routine maintenance, an oil change, or any other auto care services, call us or visit our shop. We specialize in European and import vehicles, from Mercedes Benz to Audi. Contact us today to set an appointment.