About Oil Change
An oil change is the act of replacing the oil and oil filter in your car, truck or SUV’s crankcase. Oil has a limited life span and should be changed according to the maintenance schedule in your Owner’s Manual. Many modern vehicles use synthetic motor oil that can stretch the time/mileage interval to as long as 12,000 miles/12 months.
Auto Repair Centers
Oil Change Prices by Make
- Alfa Romeo
- Aston Martin
- Land Rover
Oil Change Questions & Answers
How much is an oil change? What’s the synthetic vs conventional oil price?
Typically, an oil and filter change using conventional oil will cost between $35 and $75, depending on your area. If your car requires synthetic oil, you should expect to pay anywhere from $65 to $125.
Some people are handy and have the time and tools to replace their own oil and filter. (If that’s not you – no problem!) Five quarts of conventional oil and a new filter will set you back around $30 depending on where you live. For synthetic motor oil and a new filter, it’ll cost around $45 plus tax. Consult your local auto parts store for actual prices.
Regular maintenance won’t just keep your car running well, it’ll help protect your car’s value over time. For more ways to do this, see How to Maintain the Value of Your Car.
What’s included in an oil change service?
During an oil change, the technician will remove the drain plug from the bottom of the oil pan and gravity does its thing: the oil drains out completely into a catch pan so it can be properly discarded. Note: If you’re changing your oil yourself, never dump your oil randomly! From there, the technician will replace the drain plug, change the oil filter and fill the engine with the correct amount of oil. (Most engines take about 5 quarts.)
It’s worth noting that, although an oil change is a simple service, it often makes sense to go to the dealer. Nobody knows your vehicle better than your local dealership service department. Not only have they undergone specific training about your car, truck or SUV, they’re in the best position to advise you about other repairs, maintenance items and even open safety recalls affecting your vehicle.
How often should I change my oil?
In the “old days”, experts recommended changing conventional oil and oil filters every 3,000 miles. Some people still have that stuck in their mind as a guideline, so if it gives you peace of mind to visit the dealer every few months, go for it! But today’s newer-tech engines often use synthetic-blend oil or full synthetic oil and are engineered to go anywhere from 7,500 to 15,000 miles between oil changes. Yes, synthetic oil changes cost more than conventional ones, but you’re also changing the oil less often. Of course, always follow your manufacturer’s recommended service interval. Not every engine needs synthetic oil.
Something else that can affect how often you need to change your oil is where you live and how you drive. If you drive like the little old lady (from Pasadena or otherwise), the recommended interval is probably just fine. But if you live in the desert (or in an especially icy location) or tow a trailer often or do a lot of stop-and-go driving, you’re operating under severe driving conditions and might need to change your oil more often. As usual, your owner’s manual can tell you more. For more info about caring for your car long-term, see Top 10 Car Care Tips.
Do I need to use synthetic oil for an oil change?
To know what type of oil your engine needs, just consult your owner’s manual. It will tell you the type and grade of oil, plus how often you should change your engine’s oil. Or, as another source, some vehicles have this information printed right on a label inside the driver’s door jamb.
How long does an oil change take?
You’ve probably seen banners and ads for an oil change “in 30 minutes or less”. And while this may be true in ideal conditions, plan on about an hour for the service to be complete and for you to be on your way.