The Pros and Cons of Doing Your Own Oil Change

May 19th, 2015 by

When it comes to oil changes, crucial to your car’s optimal performance, it’s tough to know whether you’re better having an expert do it or whether you should take a crack at it yourself.

As with most decisions, there are pros and cons to both scenarios.

But in this case, one column outweighs the other.

Even if you’ve done your own oil change before, you should consider scheduling your next oil change in Latham, NY.

In Defense of the DIY Oil Change

DIY Oil Change

Most of us, since we were little kids, have enjoyed a certain measure of pride in saying, “I can do it myself.”

And we still do.

There is a deep satisfaction that comes from taking care of anything ourselves, without anyone else’s help.

This is especially true of mechanical repairs, or car services that require most people shell out their hard-earned money.

That brings us to the first reason, at least the one most people commonly cite for opting to do their own oil changes.

Pennies on the Dollar

You will likely save money by doing your own oil change, but how much you save will depend on whether you already possess the necessary equipment to perform this service.

At-home, DIY oil changes require the following equipment: a wrench, an oil filter wrench, oil drain pan, funnel, latex gloves, jack and jack stands.

And then, of course, you’ve got the materials: oil, oil filter, and replacement drain plug washer.

Now, depending on the make and model of your car, these items, specifically the oil, whether you use synthetic or conventional. will vary in price.

Of course, this holds true if you take your car in for an oil change and you will be charged accordingly.

But, what might be pricier for you to purchase individually is likely something your auto shop orders in bulk and therefore might end up costing a bit less.

Time is Money


Yeah, it’s a cliché, but it’s true.

Even if changing your oil all by yourself saves you a couple of bucks, you have to ask yourself how much your time is worth.

Granted, no one wants to sit in a dingy waiting room in a service station, counting the minutes until your car’s oil has been changed and you’re finally free to go about your day.

However, and this is especially true of first time DIY oil changes, the time it takes you might exceed that pesky wait time at your service station.

So, you have to evaluate how much the satisfaction of performing your own oil change is worth when it comes to your time.

Time Well Spent

But, for some people and you may be one of them, tinkering around in your garage or driveway may very well be time well spent, no matter how long it takes.

In fact, it could be the longer the better, depending on what else that oil change is keeping you from.

There are plenty of folks who find working away on their car to be worthwhile, even relaxing, stress-relieving endeavor.

If you’re one of those people, a DIY oil change, no matter how time-consuming, might be just the thing you need to enjoy and commune with you car.

After all, cars aren’t just for getting around.

And if yours is as much a hobby as a mode of transportation, get under that jacked up car and get to work.

Or play.

On the Other Hand…

Professional Oil Change

If you’re on the fence about doing your own oil change or you just want affirmation that a DIY oil change isn’t worth the time, money, or energy…read on.

Penny Pincher

Okay, most of us are interested in saving money anywhere or anyway we can. We’ll take shortcuts, clip coupons, and do things ourselves rather than pay someone else, if the savings are worth it.

When it comes to DIY oil changes, those savings might not be.

Yes, you will likely save a few bucks, but at a greater expense, particularly if you’re a novice.

Even if you invest in the equipment and materials needed to do your own oil changes, if you make a mistake, it’ll cost you.

And likely, if you’re just learning how to do oil changes, that mistake is not something you’re equipped to fix.

What you’ve essentially done in the quest to save a few dollars, is incurred additional fees that are likely more expensive than paying for an oil change at a service station would have been.

So, now you’ve done it and you’re in deeper than you intended because you have no recourse.

Someone to Blame

Let’s say you do decide to pay for an oil change and you take it into a quick-change lube and oil shop.

That was a mistake.

Avoid the quick service stations where they don’t know you and you don’t know them.

They are a dime a dozen and as such do not necessarily engage in the best business practices.

The one-stop generic shops like these can be good in a pinch, but they can also be a real roll of the dice when it comes to reliability.

Regardless of where you go, let’s say you’re cruising down the road fifteen minutes later and the “check engine” light illuminates.

You can turn that car right around and take it back to the shop where it is incumbent on them to address the issue.

Now, if you’ve already lost faith in their abilities, you can go elsewhere, with paperwork in hand showing what was done and, at the very least, proving that you didn’t do it.

Maybe even more fun than the “I can do it myself” mantra of childhood was the “Not it!” declaration in times of trouble.

So, rest easy.

You’re not it.

The Paper Trail

Yes, you’ve got the paperwork from the service station, and this is crucial not only because it shows who is responsible for the work, whether or not there was an issue.

But also because it protects any warranties on your vehicle, which a DIY oil change might have negated.

For some cars, whether leased or financed, the dealership requires that all maintenance and repairs are done by a professional mechanic.

If you take it upon yourself to take care of even a minor repair or service you might void your warranty, which could really come back to bite you in the event of a major repair or service need.

You’ve Got a Friend

Car mechanic changing oil - model and oil motion blurred.

An unintended consequence of doing your own oil changes is that you miss out on a golden opportunity to establish a relationship with a trustworthy and reliable mechanic.

Now, this isn’t the same circumstance as mentioned earlier with the quick-change, no appointment necessary, oil and lube service stations.

What you want is to find a qualified and capable mechanic with an outstanding reputation for fair dealings so that you can rest easy when it comes to routine maintenance, but also have a go-to person in case you need more extensive work.

Generally, a good mechanic is going to be more invested in you and your car in order to support and grow his or her business.

What this means for you is more than quick and shoddy services.

With a routine oil change you can also expect a full, but complimentary inspection.

Your mechanic will notice any immediate issues or suggest when certain filters and fluids will need to be replaced.

One sign of a great mechanic is when the repair suggestions are not immediate, unless they absolutely need to be, but projected for some point down the road.

This helps plan and save for repairs and services that, even when addressed early, can still be costly just by nature of the parts or amount of labor required.

Environmental Ease

Fairly new to the debate between DIY oil changes versus those done by a mechanic is the environment.

The used, dirty oil that you’ve just changed out of your car and replaced with new, needs to be disposed of properly.

Most landfills will not take used oil, even if it is sealed in a storage container because it can leach out into the ground and pollute water sources.

Your mechanic has already got this covered and knows how to dispose of the used oil in an environmentally-friendly, safe, and EPA-approved way.

Another hassle you can avoid by entrusting this service to the experts.

While there are some potential perks when it comes to doing your own oil changes, this debate falls on the side of the experts.

Let the mechanics do what they do best to keep your car doing what it does best.

Posted in NY