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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: nushagak on July 12, 2014, 04:52:38 PM

Title: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: nushagak on July 12, 2014, 04:52:38 PM
To the MMM crowd - is it cheaper to do your oil changes yourself or take it to the local Jiffy Lube / Valvoline / whatever?

Particularly if you get a discount card in the mail or online (usually $5-10 off) an oil change for a non-monsterous domestic car runs $20-35.

Purchasing the equipment to do it yourself, however, is:

So I'm all for doing it myself but I'm having a hard time seeing how changing my own oil will be less expensive - even if only taking expenses 5&6 into account (as everything else in the list is a one-time expense). Will it be better quality? Yes, absolutely. But cheaper? Not that I can tell.

Am I missing something here?
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: swiper on July 12, 2014, 05:03:47 PM
I do my own. For me it's more than just the direct $ outlay.

Benefits:
+ You know how its been done (hopefully correctly ;)
+ You choose oil and filter brands
+ You gain skills and confidence to do other more lucrative jobs
+ No need to get an apt and wait




Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: 1tolivesimply on July 12, 2014, 05:30:17 PM
As you said, most of the items are a one time expense.

And as swiper said, you can also choose oil and filter brands and not use the cheap ones they use at jiffy lube type places or pay the high price for the oil/filter you want.

For example, a few years ago I was not able to change my oil so I decided to stop by one Mobil place (I use Mobil 1 synthetic oil), I still remember they charged me $64.99 + tax of course; the same oil & filter cost me about $30 and I do it myself, the only "hassle", if you want to call it that way, is having to stop by the auto parts to properly dispose of the used oil and filter; I just make sure to stop by while I'm out running other errands.
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: frugalnacho on July 12, 2014, 06:18:07 PM
I find oil change places never charge a reasonable amount to change the oil. They always have some advertised price that never applies to any vehicle.  There is always an up charge for a special filter, or "extra" oil.  Then they always add a few dollar "shop fee" and "oil disposal fee" in addition to sales tax. 
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: Joggernot on July 12, 2014, 06:21:51 PM
To the MMM crowd - is it cheaper to do your oil changes yourself or take it to the local Jiffy Lube / Valvoline / whatever?

Particularly if you get a discount card in the mail or online (usually $5-10 off) an oil change for a non-monsterous domestic car runs $20-35.

Purchasing the equipment to do it yourself, however, is:
  • Oil pan ~ $7-15
  • Oil filter wrench ~ $10
  • Funnel ~ $2-5
  • Jack & Jack Stands or Ramps ~ $40-50
  • Oil filter ~ $5-6
  • Oil ~ $20-30

So I'm all for doing it myself but I'm having a hard time seeing how changing my own oil will be less expensive - even if only taking expenses 5&6 into account (as everything else in the list is a one-time expense). Will it be better quality? Yes, absolutely. But cheaper? Not that I can tell.

Am I missing something here?
I've never needed an oil filter wrench.  If you install the filter per instructions, it will be easy to remove.  You only need a wrench to remove one put on by a quick lube shop.
I've never needed a funnel.  The quarts of oil have a pour spout that works just fine.
I use ramps that cost $12 on sale at an auto store.  Probably can get the same at Harbor Freight.
The oil and filter costs look close.  The oil pan/catch basin was cheap and lasts a very long time, if you wipe it clean afterwards.
After a few changes you will be saving half the cost, if you use the same oil & filter that the quick lube uses.  I use Mobile 1 oil and filters and it still cheaper than going to quick lube shops.
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: iamadummy on July 12, 2014, 06:48:25 PM
Not worth the hassle when not saving much
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: RyanHesson on July 12, 2014, 06:50:15 PM
They used to do them at my high school for $15 each (though you'd have high school kids in auto-shop class doing it). Since I moved here I don't think I have that option anymore, so I may do it myself. I'll look into it. Would probably have to take it to the city to do the oil change which is $7 in gas to and from, so when that's added in it may really be cheaper to do it myself.
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: Woodshark on July 12, 2014, 07:09:58 PM
I'm beyond frugal, I'm cheap.  Still, after years of changing my own oil I pay to have it done. Using the discount coupons I can generally have it done for around $25 to $30 and that includes a free car wash. With the cost of oil fairly high I think I might, just might save $5 to $10 doing it myself. You figure the time to go the auto parts store, then the time to change the oil, add to that the time to clean up after the oil change then add in again the time to take the oil to a disposable/ recycle place and hope the container doesn't leak on the way. All this to save $10? Not-work-the-trouble.
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: chasesfish on July 12, 2014, 07:12:59 PM
I completely pay for someone else to change it. 

I had enough childhood memories of crawling under the car to save $10 for my father who would then go buy a $3 pack of cigarettes.  There's nothing like unscrewing a filter or removing an oil pan screw and having some semi-hot oil hit your hand.  I'm sure I could do it, but I haven't brought myself back to re-live those memories.
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: fixer-upper on July 12, 2014, 07:34:43 PM
Changing the oil isn't the whole job.  Quick lube places tend to not grease the joints which are hard to get to, which also means expensive to replace.  They're also known for stripping out the oil plug.  After paying $500 in repairs to fix one of their screw ups, doing it yourself becomes much more attractive.

Getting under the car yourself also gives you the chance to look for small problems before they turn into big ones.  They may ignore a bulging radiator hose which could leave you stranded, or a leak from your transmission which could cost thousands to replace after you cluelessly drive away.
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: darkadams00 on July 12, 2014, 08:19:42 PM
I have a company-based discount at a local mechanic's shop so the difference for me to buy everything vs let them do it is $1.03. That's a no-brainer for me since this is the best shop we've had since we moved to this burg almost ten years ago. Also, my wife can do it while she's out running an errand if needed. They've never tried to "up-sell" her on a maintenance or repair bill which is unfortunately the norm in Mechanicsville. They've been great about scheduling, they're right beside a bus stop so I can drop off/pick up my car with my bike if I need a lengthier repair, they stand behind their work, and they have a great lobby with wi-fi, so I've even worked several hours there before when an issue took a bit longer than expected.

 
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: CarDude on July 12, 2014, 08:23:24 PM
I always do it on my own...partly for the savings, partly for the convenience (I hate waiting for other people), and partly for the security of knowing it's been done correctly.
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: Milspecstache on July 13, 2014, 06:46:52 AM
I do it mainly for convenience.  I can pull the car up one day when I drive home and be done within 10 minutes.  Far better than waiting at a shop while they try to upsell me on air filters, windshield wipers, fuel treatments, etc.  What really irritates me is when they upsell on things that I just replaced and their replacements are the cheap stuff replacing my better parts.

Also, if you run anything other than the super-cheap Dino oil you will be financially better off doing it yourself.  For instance, I run synthetic in my newest car and it saves me a lot of money by doing it myself, even though the car only takes 3 quarts.  A shop would make good profit on a synthetic oil change.  And yes, I'm convinced that synthetic will pay off in the long run as I can now go 5k miles (vs 3k) between changes and I think the engine will last longer as well.
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: avongil on July 13, 2014, 06:54:57 AM
The big savings comes from purchasing synthetic oil in the 5 liter jugs at and using it for the correct lifespan or until dirty.  For synthetic, some place around 15K miles.  3K mile oil changes are very old school, modern oils and engines require much less oil maintenance.  It is a scam to make dealers and service stations money.

If you are still changing your oil every 3K you are wasting money.  http://www.blackstone-labs.com/gas-engine.php
Send it out for an oil analysis every 3K and you will see, the oil is perfectly good way longer than you think.
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: zolotiyeruki on July 13, 2014, 06:59:16 AM
Changing the oil isn't the whole job.  Quick lube places tend to not grease the joints which are hard to get to, which also means expensive to replace.  They're also known for stripping out the oil plug.  After paying $500 in repairs to fix one of their screw ups, doing it yourself becomes much more attractive.

Getting under the car yourself also gives you the chance to look for small problems before they turn into big ones.  They may ignore a bulging radiator hose which could leave you stranded, or a leak from your transmission which could cost thousands to replace after you cluelessly drive away.
This just happened to me, actually--I noticed my transmission was leaking when I changed the oil (just an output shaft seal, no big deal).

I also get a sense of fulfillment for having done it myself.  Kinda hard to put a price on endorphins, but I like it!
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: rtrnow on July 13, 2014, 08:49:14 AM
I do it myself mostly for the reasons mentioned above. Sam's/Costco can be great places for oil. I just picked up 6 quarts of Mobil 1 full syn for $25 and my car only needs 4 per change.

My other big reason for doing my own changes is a result of a bad experience with a quickie place. They put my car on the lift wrong and did $2,500 worth of body damage and didn't even bother to mention it. I didn't notice until later in the day when my passenger door wouldn't even open. Ultimately they paid for the damage but what a huge hassle (body shop for estimate, back and forth with pep boys, car in the shop for several days, etc).

Changing oil in my Fit is crazy easy too. I don't even lift the car. You can reach everything from the front.
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: Joel on July 13, 2014, 10:37:38 AM
I change my own oil. I use a napa filter and napa oil (which is actually valvoline oil without the advertising - I know because I used to work there). It is always cheaper than some quick stop place and it is a higher quality product. Jack stands are a great investment for many reasons not just oil changes. And lastly, you know the job is done right.
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: m8547 on July 13, 2014, 11:40:32 AM
Changing the oil isn't the whole job.  Quick lube places tend to not grease the joints which are hard to get to, which also means expensive to replace.  They're also known for stripping out the oil plug.  After paying $500 in repairs to fix one of their screw ups, doing it yourself becomes much more attractive.


What joints should one grease, and how does one grease them? Do they typically have grease ports (so use a grease gun), or do you just smear grease on stuff?
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: rmendpara on July 13, 2014, 12:04:57 PM
To the MMM crowd - is it cheaper to do your oil changes yourself or take it to the local Jiffy Lube / Valvoline / whatever?

Particularly if you get a discount card in the mail or online (usually $5-10 off) an oil change for a non-monsterous domestic car runs $20-35.

Purchasing the equipment to do it yourself, however, is:
  • Oil pan ~ $7-15
  • Oil filter wrench ~ $10
  • Funnel ~ $2-5
  • Jack & Jack Stands or Ramps ~ $40-50
  • Oil filter ~ $5-6
  • Oil ~ $20-30

So I'm all for doing it myself but I'm having a hard time seeing how changing my own oil will be less expensive - even if only taking expenses 5&6 into account (as everything else in the list is a one-time expense). Will it be better quality? Yes, absolutely. But cheaper? Not that I can tell.

Am I missing something here?

For the average person, it's probably better to get it done by someone else.

It's close to the same if you get regular oil as there are deals often to get that type of oil for very cheap and have a shop do it.

The real savings are if you do it yourself and use synthetic oil, as you can go a little longer between oil changes and the price difference is also significant ($60+ to do at a shop vs $35ish to buy the oil & filter).

The equipment you listed is a one time expense, and will pay off faster/slower depending on how much you drive, how many cars you have, etc.
Title: Re: Oil change:
Post by: okashira on July 13, 2014, 12:36:36 PM
Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?

Yes.
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: rtrnow on July 13, 2014, 01:31:42 PM
Changing the oil isn't the whole job.  Quick lube places tend to not grease the joints which are hard to get to, which also means expensive to replace.  They're also known for stripping out the oil plug.  After paying $500 in repairs to fix one of their screw ups, doing it yourself becomes much more attractive.


What joints should one grease, and how does one grease them? Do they typically have grease ports (so use a grease gun), or do you just smear grease on stuff?

Google your car to check, but most newer (especially post 2000) cars have closed systems without grease fittings.
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: Nords on July 13, 2014, 02:35:07 PM
Purchasing the equipment to do it yourself, however, is:
  • Oil pan ~ $7-15
  • Oil filter wrench ~ $10
  • Funnel ~ $2-5
  • Jack & Jack Stands or Ramps ~ $40-50
  • Oil filter ~ $5-6
  • Oil ~ $20-30
Am I missing something here?
Yes, the hassle factor.

1.  Driving to Jiffy Lube.
2.  Having an appointment that turns out to be running late... or "first come, first served".
3.  Pushing back on the upsells.
4.  Waiting for the oil change to occur.  (Bonus hassle factor:  waiting room with a loud TV or screaming kids.)
5.  "Um, yeah, Mr. Nords, we found a small problem during the oil change..."
6.  Refer back to #3 until #5 stops happening.
7.  Drive back home.

I don't know about you, but I can change my oil faster than the round trip to the oil-change place, let alone the waiting & debating time. 

My time is also worth more than the $80 for the first four items on your list... especially when the equipment that I buy will last at least as long as the car.

Anyone who has a child over the age of 13 should be teaching them how to change the oil (under supervision) and placing them in charge of that job as long as they plan to drive Mom & Dad's vehicle...
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: clarkfan1979 on July 13, 2014, 04:17:26 PM
I changed my own oil a few times and never found it to be cheaper. I would go to small garage that advertised 19.99 oil changes. They would try to sell me on repairs and I refused every time. I think it cost me $25-$30 to do it myself.

Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: beltim on July 13, 2014, 06:14:29 PM
For the people sayings it's a hassle to go to an oil change place: where do you dispose of old oil? I've also found that oil disposal places are 10 times less convenient to go to than an oil change place - and unless you have a garage, you have to go every time you change the oil anyway.
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: boarder42 on July 13, 2014, 06:18:23 PM
man thats crazy i pay 18 bucks and get a car wash to have someone else do it for me.  there is always a groupon for this price in my area
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: TreeTired on July 13, 2014, 06:21:26 PM
I always change my own oil in my classic car,  but I take the drivers to a garage for their oil change.  I have changed the oil in the past, and its really not worth it -  especially the Lexus with the upside down oil filter that spills oil all over the place when you remove it.     I have had Tire Kingdom change the oil and filter for $19.99.   Hard to beat that on my own.   I take the old oil back to Autozone.  They have a big drum in back (with paper towels and hand cleaner)  and they don't hassle you if you walk in with a bucket of old oil,  ie they don't care if you bought the oil from them originally. 
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: zolotiyeruki on July 13, 2014, 06:45:52 PM
For the people sayings it's a hassle to go to an oil change place: where do you dispose of old oil? I've also found that oil disposal places are 10 times less convenient to go to than an oil change place - and unless you have a garage, you have to go every time you change the oil anyway.
You can drop off the oil pretty much at any mechanic or oil change place.  I'm pretty sure they get money for recycling oil.  It's still quite useful--it either gets cleaned up and blended into new oil, or fuel oil, or something else.
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: fixer-upper on July 13, 2014, 08:51:15 PM
I change my own oil. I use a napa filter and napa oil (which is actually valvoline oil without the advertising - I know because I used to work there). It is always cheaper than some quick stop place and it is a higher quality product. Jack stands are a great investment for many reasons not just oil changes. And lastly, you know the job is done right.

Fleet filter has the same wix filters as napa at about half the price.  I order enough to get free shipping, and always have spares handy when they're needed.  By stocking up on synthetic oil when it goes on sale, you save even more, and don't have to run to the store for supplies whenever it's time for an oil change.

Having economy of scale also helps:

I change oil twice a year on three vehicles, and to have them done in a shop would cost around $225 per change.   Doing it myself takes about an hour, and costs around $125. 

Between that and keeping extra sets of rims mounted with snow tires, I average $680/yr in savings, and spend four hours of my time.  Having the same work done at shops would take ~ 10 hours in addition to the extra costs.
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: ketchup on July 13, 2014, 09:36:10 PM
I always do it on my own...partly for the savings, partly for the convenience (I hate waiting for other people), and partly for the security of knowing it's been done correctly.
This.  If I use the cheapo oil and filter (which you can bet quick-lube places do), an oil change costs me less than $10.  Synthetic oil and fancy filter, and we're at around $25.  But the real benefits are knowing that I didn't overtighten anything, and that I actually did in fact put oil in the engine after draining it (Believe it or not, this has been an issue for people, and it can cost you your engine.).  Also, not having to schedule anything or go anywhere is really nice too.  I collect used oil over time and then bring it all somewhere about once a year.
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: Nords on July 13, 2014, 10:03:47 PM
For the people sayings it's a hassle to go to an oil change place: where do you dispose of old oil?
Luckily, we can throw it in the trash!

Oahu's HPOWER plant incinerates most of the island's trash (to generate electricity) instead of putting it into a landfill.  They ask you to put the oil into an oil-change box (a $2 cardboard box filled with absorbent material like finely-shredded newspaper).  I put the oil into a 13-gallon plastic trash bag filled with manually shredded newsprint from our weekly advertising circular-- and with old clothing that not even Goodwill would accept.
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: MBot on July 13, 2014, 10:07:42 PM
$17 in Northern Michigan. I pay for it. The downside is that if it's needed,  the filter on a Honda Fit is often not in stock because it's mostly trucks out here.
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: Glenstache on July 13, 2014, 10:22:11 PM
I change my own because it is both easier and cheaper. I like the fumoto valves because it allows me to drain the oil directly into my disposal/storage container without dealing with an oily pan. The county haz waste facility is on the way to work, so I just drop it off (no fee) when my schedule aligns. The oil change on my subaru is absurdly easy and I get a chance to look for other things that are wrong (this time is was a torn steering rack boot).

On the whole it is (or should be) an infrequent expense, so whichever way a mustachian goes it is probably not going to change someone's FI date.
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: frugal_engineer on July 14, 2014, 06:12:59 AM
To the MMM crowd - is it cheaper to do your oil changes yourself or take it to the local Jiffy Lube / Valvoline / whatever?

Particularly if you get a discount card in the mail or online (usually $5-10 off) an oil change for a non-monsterous domestic car runs $20-35.

Purchasing the equipment to do it yourself, however, is:
  • Oil pan ~ $7-15
  • Oil filter wrench ~ $10
  • Funnel ~ $2-5
  • Jack & Jack Stands or Ramps ~ $40-50
  • Oil filter ~ $5-6
  • Oil ~ $20-30

So I'm all for doing it myself but I'm having a hard time seeing how changing my own oil will be less expensive - even if only taking expenses 5&6 into account (as everything else in the list is a one-time expense). Will it be better quality? Yes, absolutely. But cheaper? Not that I can tell.

Am I missing something here?
I've never needed an oil filter wrench.  If you install the filter per instructions, it will be easy to remove.  You only need a wrench to remove one put on by a quick lube shop.

PROTIP - if you find yourself lacking a strap wrench for filter removal, you can use a screwdriver.  Pound it through the filter radially, and now the filter has a nice handle to help you unscrew it.

Note - this method is messy.
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: zolotiyeruki on July 14, 2014, 06:27:16 AM
While we're on the topic, I'm looking for a tip on how to remove the oil filter without splashing oil everywhere.  It's not such a big deal on our minivan, where the filter is mounted with the threads more or less pointing up, but on my '95 corolla, the filter points straight forward, and there's always enough residual oil in the filter and nearby lines that it drips when I remove it, even after draining the oil pan.

Any tips?
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: rtrnow on July 14, 2014, 07:40:38 AM
$17 in Northern Michigan. I pay for it. The downside is that if it's needed,  the filter on a Honda Fit is often not in stock because it's mostly trucks out here.

I pay <$20 in parts for my fit oil change and that's for Mobil 1 full syn and a bosch filter. It would be much cheaper with cheap oil and filter. The fit is probably the easiest car I have ever changed oil on. You don't even need to jack it up and I'm not a small guy. I can have the oil change done in <15 mins, and I know it was done right. The fit oil life monitor hit's 15% at about 12K miles for me so I choose to use the higher quality parts. The fit also holds less than 4qts so I usually put the old oil in a milk jug and drop it off at any of the auto parts stores when I'm out doing errands. Because of the long interval b/t changes, I usually go ahead and change the engine and cabin air filters, and rotate the tires. The whole process takes me about 30-45 mins. I have found Sam's great for oil and the rest of the parts come from amazon.
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: Glenstache on July 14, 2014, 09:44:18 AM
While we're on the topic, I'm looking for a tip on how to remove the oil filter without splashing oil everywhere.  It's not such a big deal on our minivan, where the filter is mounted with the threads more or less pointing up, but on my '95 corolla, the filter points straight forward, and there's always enough residual oil in the filter and nearby lines that it drips when I remove it, even after draining the oil pan.

Any tips?

This sounds similar to the design on my old Tacoma. I cut the bottom out of a bleach bottle to make a small bowl and set it on a frame member immediately below the filter. I also used nitrile gloves. I wasn't willing to spend the money on a filter relocate kit, which would have allowed a less messy configuration, so I just mitigated the mess as best I could. It is usually only about 1/2 a cup of oil, so you may also have luck folding tin foil into a bowl, etc depending on your car's specifics.
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: guitar_stitch on July 14, 2014, 09:51:50 AM
Pro-tip!

Get your oil from Walmart.  Their SuperTec brand is actually really good oil manufactured by Warren Performance Products.  $17 for 5 qts of full synthetic.
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: gt7152b on July 14, 2014, 10:26:03 AM
In my area Advance Auto usually has an oil change special that includes 5qts and a filter for $12 to $15. It's not gonna be the greatest brand but probably much better than the bulk stuff they use at the quick lube shops. It's much more convenient for me to change the oil at home on my own schedule than to take my car in. Having to deal with these shops once a year at inspection time is enough for me. I also have severe trust issues with people working on my cars, even for simple things. Too many bad experiences myself and too many horror stories of cars driving off with no oil after the "change." The last one I heard: Co- worker's wife leaves the Toyota dealership with an almost brand new car after her last included free oil change. Oil light comes on. Back to dealership where they figure out that no oil was added after draining. Dealership adds oil and claims the car is OK since it isn't making any noises. Ha!
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: Better Change on July 14, 2014, 10:37:52 AM
After my experience at Valvoline on Saturday, I will wholeheartedly say, "YES!"

$50 for the tow so far.  Car is currently at the shop waiting to see what kind of damage the morons did.  I literally drove the car out of the station when the low oil pressure light came on and the engine stalled.  I was stupid enough to return to Valvoline after they jostled some sensor last time and I couldn't get the emissions warning light to go off....

and yes.  if it's their fault, they will be paying for all of this nonsense.
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: frugalnacho on July 14, 2014, 11:45:51 AM
To all the people that say it is cheaper to have it done rather than DIY, how does the math add up?  How is an oil change shop able to purchase comparable oil and filter to what you would buy, have the over head of the shop, and pay for their employees, all for cheaper than you can get the supplies?  I understand economies of scale, but it still doesn't add up to me how they could offer it cheaper than DIY.
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: zolotiyeruki on July 14, 2014, 12:27:36 PM
To all the people that say it is cheaper to have it done rather than DIY, how does the math add up?  How is an oil change shop able to purchase comparable oil and filter to what you would buy, have the over head of the shop, and pay for their employees, all for cheaper than you can get the supplies?  I understand economies of scale, but it still doesn't add up to me how they could offer it cheaper than DIY.
Without knowing the specific financial details, it's just a tradeoff of "economy of scale" (i.e. they pay less for filters and oil) vs. "employee cost & overhead" (i.e. I don't pay for a shop or employees).  For me, the DIY cost is in the $12-15 range for the filter and (cheap) oil.  I occasionally see flyers in the mail for $17 oil changes, but never less than that.
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: Mississippi Mudstache on July 14, 2014, 02:05:23 PM
Oil pan ~ $7-15
Oil filter wrench ~ $10
Funnel ~ $2-5
Jack & Jack Stands or Ramps ~ $40-50
Oil filter ~ $5-6
Oil ~ $20-30
[/list]

Once you cut out the superfluous tools, the list doesn't look so bad. I've never had to use an oil filter wrench, jack stands, or ramps (and I've had everything from a Dodge Ram to a Prius). I prefer to use fully synthetic oil, and I can do that myself for way cheaper than Jiffy Lube offers. Also it takes like 15 minutes, tops, to do it myself. Much less time than paying someone else to do it. I save my oil in a 5-gallon bucket until it's full, then I drop it off for recycling. Simple.
Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
Post by: fwttg on July 14, 2014, 03:23:27 PM
    Oil pan ~ $7-15
    Oil filter wrench ~ $10
    Funnel ~ $2-5
    Jack & Jack Stands or Ramps ~ $40-50
    Oil filter ~ $5-6
    Oil ~ $20-30
    [/list]

    Once you cut out the superfluous tools, the list doesn't look so bad. I've never had to use an oil filter wrench, jack stands, or ramps (and I've had everything from a Dodge Ram to a Prius). I prefer to use fully synthetic oil, and I can do that myself for way cheaper than Jiffy Lube offers. Also it takes like 15 minutes, tops, to do it myself. Much less time than paying someone else to do it. I save my oil in a 5-gallon bucket until it's full, then I drop it off for recycling. Simple.


    The basic low cost oil and filter change is to get customers in the door. I suspect the real money is made up-selling products and services that may or may not be required, legitimate or even completed.

    CBC's Marketplace had an episode on a quick lube company last year that might provide some insight for anyone susceptible to the up-selling: http://www.cbc.ca/marketplace/episodes/2013-2014/greasy-business
    Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
    Post by: daveydinner on July 14, 2014, 04:16:09 PM
    I was firmly in the DIY camp before, until my wife got a new (to her) car, so i sent it out to the pros while i save up for some more tools & knowledge.

    There's an aluminum protective cover over the whole front end of the vehicle that covers the oil pan, so I can't get to the drain plug. I need to buy a torx wrench set and some ramps (no need on previous car). But once I'm comfortable with that, I"ll be doing it myself again.
    Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
    Post by: davef on July 15, 2014, 03:53:59 AM
    Well, I have the tools, and may look at it differently if i didn't but here's my opinions.
    IF YOUR CAR IS UNDER WARRANTY use the manufacturer recommend oil and interval and document it. Saving $20 every 3k or 5k is not worth invalidating you warranty. For this reason I tell my wife to go to jiffy lube and turn down anything extra they offer. (its always $26 even though they advertise 19.99.

    I do my own, I use mobil 1 full synthetic every 12 months (I normally only drive about 10-12k a year) It costs me $27 for 6 quarts and $4 for a filter. A 6 quart mobil 1 oil change at jiffy lube is about $60. so yes, it saves me about $30.

    note: I used to be an ASE Certified mechanic. Still an enthusiast
    Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
    Post by: Ashyukun on July 15, 2014, 08:18:13 AM
    It does somewhat depend on the car- they seem to be making it more and more challenging to change the oil yourself. My parent's old car (Olds Intrigue) used a filter cartridge and not a normal filter and took a specialized tool to remove the cover. Took me a while to get a strap wrench on it to get it off. My Saturn is a bit of a challenge since it requires either the ramps or taking off a wheel, the DeLorean and (when it's finished) the El Camino are a piece of cake, and my wife's Mariner- when an oil change place hasn't used a gun to torque it down- isn't too bad. Newer cars seem to be moving more and more toward being designed to be difficult for the hobbyist mechanic to do ANYTHING on them.
    Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
    Post by: zarfus on July 15, 2014, 11:22:03 AM
    My least favorite place to go in the world is the auto shop.  I will do anything I can myself before I go there.
    Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
    Post by: MillenialMustache on July 15, 2014, 12:26:52 PM
    I just did a quick search on walmart.com - changing your own oil costs about $13.64 with the cheap oil and filter - probably what the oil change place is using anyway. My car has over 160,000 miles on it, with me putting over 100,000 on it myself. My DH or father have changed the oil its entire life with the cheap oil, so I think that oil works just fine. This is obviously a savings, even if you get the $19.99 oil change - $6.35 to be exact. Also, I don't know about you guys, but I do a lot of couponing. It isn't unusual for me to get a mail in rebate for 5 qts of oil free. Also, a local dealership used to sent me $25 off coupons at their service center - I would just go and get 4-5 filters for free. Sometimes, to use my favorite MMM term, you have to be a hasselhoff. Financial independence is gained $1 at a time.
    Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
    Post by: Eric on July 15, 2014, 01:50:20 PM
    I think the last time I was in a Jiffy Lube (or equivalent, can't remember exactly), they took my air filter out, went out back to grab some dirt, and then showed me "how filthy it was".  They literally sprinkled dirt and pine needles over the top of the air filter.  And I'm supposed to trust (any of) these guys with my car's engine?  No thanks.  I now gladly pay more to have my mechanic do it and give my car an overall check up with no ridiculous upsell.
    Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
    Post by: ketchup on July 15, 2014, 02:17:47 PM
    I think the last time I was in a Jiffy Lube (or equivalent, can't remember exactly), they took my air filter out, went out back to grab some dirt, and then showed me "how filthy it was".  They literally sprinkled dirt and pine needles over the top of the air filter.  And I'm supposed to trust (any of) these guys with my car's engine?  No thanks.  I now gladly pay more to have my mechanic do it and give my car an overall check up with no ridiculous upsell.
    Damn.  I'd have been pretty pissed if it was a brand new filter I'd just put in there.  My dad had something similar happen with his serpentine belt.  They told him he needed a new one.  He didn't think he did from the looks of it but he changed it (himself) anyway.  Next time he was in, they seemed to think he needed a new serpentine belt.  He was pissed.
    Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
    Post by: Eggman111 on July 15, 2014, 02:31:03 PM
    My dad had something similar happen with his serpentine belt.  They told him he needed a new one.  He didn't think he did from the looks of it but he changed it (himself) anyway.  Next time he was in, they seemed to think he needed a new serpentine belt.  He was pissed.

    I went to Mr. Lube one time and they told me my differential and transmission fluids needed changing. They wanted some exorbitant amount, well over $100, for the service. I figured it probably needed to be done since I got the car used, but I did it myself a bit later with my dad's help. (The old fluids did legitimately look like they needed changing.)

    I went again for a change in a few months and they told me that the same fluids needed changing again. When I said that I already did it, the employee had a surprised and confused look on his face.

    Since then, I haven't been back. I can't change it at home since they don't really approve of that in our apartment parkade, but I just go over to my parents' house. It's worth not having them try to up-sell as much as possible every time.
    Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
    Post by: Joggernot on July 15, 2014, 03:39:18 PM
    ...Also, I don't know about you guys, but I do a lot of couponing. It isn't unusual for me to get a mail in rebate for 5 qts of oil free. Also, a local dealership used to sent me $25 off coupons at their service center - I would just go and get 4-5 filters for free. Sometimes, to use my favorite MMM term, you have to be a hasselhoff. Financial independence is gained $1 at a time.
    People in populous areas get coupons because of the competition.  We don't get coupons and Groupon just doesn't have any for our area either.  Never seen a mail-in rebate either.  The only thing I get from the dealer service center is a coupon for $x off a $250 brake job or $26.95 oil change special.  One nearby auto store has had their synthetic oil on sale twice in three years.  The others don't bother.  Dino oil does work if you change it often.  I like the interval between changes of synthetic oil.
    Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
    Post by: davef on July 15, 2014, 04:47:57 PM
    Eggman,
    They dont look at it. They go off the manufactuters maint schedule and assume if you havent done it with them, then you havent done it. It works if you have them do everything but it is a bit dishonest.
    Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
    Post by: Eggman111 on July 15, 2014, 05:01:11 PM
    Eggman,
    They dont look at it. They go off the manufactuters maint schedule and assume if you havent done it with them, then you havent done it. It works if you have them do everything but it is a bit dishonest.

    Yes, I've noticed that they are looking at a schedule, which is pretty much useless with a car bought when it was 10+ years old. They did take a swab of it and showed me to try to prove that it needed doing. The funny part with that for transmission or differential fluid is that it's almost impossible to get every last little bit out when changing it, so it always looks a little dirty.
    Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
    Post by: nushagak on July 19, 2014, 07:38:16 AM
    So the consensus is... there's no consensus. Mustachians seem to be falling on either side of this debate. But you all have inspired me, particularly because I want to put a fully synethetic oil change in there, to go out and get the stuff.

    Costs:
    Filter - $7.95
    Oil (5 quarts) - $28
    Oil pan (fancy one with the spout) - $14
    Funnel - (Free, just cleaned one I've had around the house)
    (No ramps needed for this vehicle, it's a small pickup and I can get under it pretty easily.)

    Cost 1st time: $49.95
    Next time: ~ $35

    And I'll keep my eye out for any coupons or promotions on discounted oil filters and oil to bring that cost down a little more.

    But today I get to learn a new skill: how to change oil - at the ripe old age of 32. Not a bad way to start a Saturday.
    Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
    Post by: ender on July 19, 2014, 07:45:26 AM
    Well, I have the tools, and may look at it differently if i didn't but here's my opinions.
    IF YOUR CAR IS UNDER WARRANTY use the manufacturer recommend oil and interval and document it. Saving $20 every 3k or 5k is not worth invalidating you warranty. For this reason I tell my wife to go to jiffy lube and turn down anything extra they offer. (its always $26 even though they advertise 19.99.

    I do my own, I use mobil 1 full synthetic every 12 months (I normally only drive about 10-12k a year) It costs me $27 for 6 quarts and $4 for a filter. A 6 quart mobil 1 oil change at jiffy lube is about $60. so yes, it saves me about $30.

    note: I used to be an ASE Certified mechanic. Still an enthusiast

    How many cars people would have a warranty on still recommend every 3k miles for an oil change?
    Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
    Post by: rtrnow on July 19, 2014, 08:15:02 AM
    Eggman,
    They dont look at it. They go off the manufactuters maint schedule and assume if you havent done it with them, then you havent done it. It works if you have them do everything but it is a bit dishonest.

    Yes, I've noticed that they are looking at a schedule, which is pretty much useless with a car bought when it was 10+ years old. They did take a swab of it and showed me to try to prove that it needed doing. The funny part with that for transmission or differential fluid is that it's almost impossible to get every last little bit out when changing it, so it always looks a little dirty.

    Sometimes they just lie and are too stupid to even know what they're talking about. I took my fit to the dealer while under warranty to check the AC. While there I got a call telling me the power steering fluid was very dirty and needed to be changed. I declined and waited until having that recommendation in writing to call them on it. The Fit does not have power steering fluid. Maybe I should have had the service performed and then called them out. I did receive a free service credit but I'm not letting those people touch my car again. It really sucks that this was a Honda dealer. Who can you trust?
    Title: Re: Oil change: Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?
    Post by: RiskDown on July 19, 2014, 10:33:15 AM
    I def. see things differently that some here...

    Many years ago I purchased the stuff needed to do my own oil changes (ramp, pan, tools, etc)... After doing it a few times, there was no question that it wasn't worth it for me personally...

    For me the equation was something like this....

    $34.99 and 15 minutes of time (we have quick in and out oil change businesses called superlube here, which you can eyeball and verify how busy they are)

    vs.

    30 minutes of my time doing it myself, having to plan around scorching Florida weather, having to spend time buying oil/filter, finding a place to discard oil, finding a place to store ramps+pan, having to roll around underneath a car, getting my hands dirty with oil + having to scrub, etc. etc.

    For me personally, far more mental stress was created through doing myself... and I was better off spending the $34.99 and using that spared energy to make up the $34.99 on something I'm better at and enjoy doing. With that said, I've changed the radiator+fan+break pads... and will continue to do the one-time, "non-specialized" tool maintenance.... I can stomach spending 4-hours on my car, if it's a one-time fix...and I'm saving hundreds.... But periodic maintenance, to save $10 = zzzz

    The true answer to this question is... it depends on your personality and how much mental energy it cost you... and if there is a more valuable use of your time.