Author Topic: Cheap motor oil?  (Read 4058 times)

Pizzabrewer

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Cheap motor oil?
« on: January 24, 2017, 12:25:31 PM »
My 2002 Outback has the dreaded Subaru head gasket problem. The fix is about $1800 or I can just keep adding a couple quarts per month and put up with the burning oil smell. At $5-6 per quart at the gas station or grocery store it does add up.

Those of you who change your own oil (and therefore buy multiple quarts at a time), what type of places do you find better prices?

Thanks.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2017, 12:33:27 PM by Pizzabrewer »

davef

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Re: Cheap motor oil?
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2017, 12:48:23 PM »
Believe it or not. some grocery stores have better prices.

acroy

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Re: Cheap motor oil?
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2017, 01:01:27 PM »
Wally-world is hard to beat - 5qt jug of decent dino oil for around $15 ($3/qt).

Syonyk

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Re: Cheap motor oil?
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2017, 02:18:35 PM »
Walmart, store brand at NAPA.

Seriously, though, fix your head gasket.  You'll foul your catalytic converter in short order with a significant oil leak.

And I'm glad I got rid of my 02 Outback. :)

TrMama

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Re: Cheap motor oil?
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2017, 02:29:01 PM »

Seriously, though, fix your head gasket.  You'll foul your catalytic converter in short order with a significant oil leak.

This. I had a Chevy with a leaky head gasket (decades ago) and was warned the oil covering my entire engine was actually a fire hazard. Not sure if it was true or not, but it certainly seemed plausible.

I had it fixed and went on to drive the car for another 5 years.

Pizzabrewer

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Re: Cheap motor oil?
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2017, 02:47:10 PM »

Seriously, though, fix your head gasket.  You'll foul your catalytic converter in short order with a significant oil leak.

This. I had a Chevy with a leaky head gasket (decades ago) and was warned the oil covering my entire engine was actually a fire hazard. Not sure if it was true or not, but it certainly seemed plausible.

I had it fixed and went on to drive the car for another 5 years.

At the risk of going off-tangent here, I'm undecided what to do with this car.  It has 165k miles on it and with the exception of the oil leak it performs well.  So you'd think the investment would be worth it--I put 314k miles on my first Suby.  By that metric the $1800 is a cheap "new used" car with 100k+ miles left.

HOWEVER, in our new home my work is 3.5 miles away.  I'm considering selling it (although what would I get for a 15 YO car in need of $1800 in gaskets?) and doing the MMM biking/walking/bussing thing.  DW will still have her Honda but is very resistant to the idea of being a one-car family.  She thinks I've lost my mind whenever I bring up the idea.

So for now I'm putting under 100 miles per week on the thing. Oil usage is actually less than the 2qts per month that I mentioned earlier.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2017, 02:49:52 PM by Pizzabrewer »

Pizzabrewer

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Re: Cheap motor oil?
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2017, 02:53:56 PM »
...and of course the other option is to put no money into the car AT ALL (other than enough oil to keep the oil light from flashing) and keep driving it until it's ready for the junk heap.  That's kind of where I'm at right now and I would think it would limp along another year-to-18-months-or-so.  There is also body rust happening that's not getting better on the heavily-salted roads of Central NY.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2017, 02:59:36 PM by Pizzabrewer »

Syonyk

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Re: Cheap motor oil?
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2017, 03:10:21 PM »
Have you called around to different shops?

A head gasket on an 02 Subaru isn't that hard to do - and they're a pretty common failure, as you note.

I can see a dealership that didn't actually want to do the work quoting $1800, but an independent shop should be able to do it for $500-ish.

Are you burning oil or leaking oil?  If it's leaking externally, yeah, just keep filling up.  That doesn't really do anything but make a mess.  If you're burning it, internally, there's a decent enough chance that the coolant passages are involve as well, and oil and coolant mixing is just a bad thing.

TrMama

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Re: Cheap motor oil?
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2017, 03:13:58 PM »
Yes, that info does change the equation quite a bit. Why not try storing the keys for 6 months to see if you can get by with just one car? If so, then you can sell it knowing it's the right decision. If not, you can reassess the fix vs sell question knowing you need 2 cars.

FWIW both my DH and I have wanted to go to one car at different times. First I said, "I'll just bike 26km round trip every day" and he thought I was crazy. Turns out I was crazy ;-) Now he wants to sell his car when he retires from the military and I think he's nuts. Anyway, I failed the 6 month test and I suspect he will too when it's his turn.

Pizzabrewer

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Re: Cheap motor oil?
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2017, 03:26:38 PM »
Have you called around to different shops?

A head gasket on an 02 Subaru isn't that hard to do - and they're a pretty common failure, as you note.

I can see a dealership that didn't actually want to do the work quoting $1800, but an independent shop should be able to do it for $500-ish.

Are you burning oil or leaking oil?  If it's leaking externally, yeah, just keep filling up.  That doesn't really do anything but make a mess.  If you're burning it, internally, there's a decent enough chance that the coolant passages are involve as well, and oil and coolant mixing is just a bad thing.

It leaks and drips down onto the exhaust manifold where it burns/smokes. One of the charms of owning older Subarus, and as this is my fourth one I'm quite familiar with this feature.  Unfortunately there are a number of seals to change, necessitating pulling the engine. $1800 is actually quite a fair price.

Syonyk

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Re: Cheap motor oil?
« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2017, 03:32:35 PM »
Ah, ok.  I thought it was burning it internally.  If it's just an external leak, some light metal folding and installation to route it away from the exhaust should help significantly. :)  In that case, yeah, just get gallons of cheap oil and go.

Spork

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Re: Cheap motor oil?
« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2017, 03:59:13 PM »

Since we're sure it's a leak and not blowing out the tailpipe, my sources for cheap would be (not necessarily in order):
Walmart, Sams, Tractor Supply, Atwoods

darknight

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Re: Cheap motor oil?
« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2017, 04:30:54 PM »
My 2002 Outback has the dreaded Subaru head gasket problem. The fix is about $1800 or I can just keep adding a couple quarts per month and put up with the burning oil smell. At $5-6 per quart at the gas station or grocery store it does add up.

Those of you who change your own oil (and therefore buy multiple quarts at a time), what type of places do you find better prices?

Thanks.

Walmart, Supertech brand. $2 a quart... just as good or better.

Reynolds531

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Re: Cheap motor oil?
« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2017, 07:40:50 PM »
Leaking oil is a pretty tough thing to justify environmentally. Huge water contamination issue.


JAYSLOL

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Re: Cheap motor oil?
« Reply #14 on: January 24, 2017, 08:19:24 PM »
As far as getting the wife on board with getting rid of your car, the way to do that is obvious.  Stop driving it.  Like for a few months of zero use.  She has to SEE that it's unessisary, and she can't do that if you drive it, even a few miles a week.

radram

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Re: Cheap motor oil?
« Reply #15 on: January 24, 2017, 08:33:43 PM »
I would not put in the $1800 to a car with so many miles.

I like the "park it for a while" option. 1 car might be enough.


With the drive it till it dies option, I have 2 ideas with environmental concerns:
1. Check sale papers. We have stores called Farm and Fleet in my area. They often have oil for $1 per quart after rebate.
2. EXTRA BONUS environmental concern. Use old oil from friends, family and local businesses. If it drains out in 2-3 months anyway, why use new oil. If you can talk them into it, it might be close to free.

One more idea: Call your local high school or tech college to see if they want a vehicle to practice on. They might do it, and charge a lot less then $1800.

Spork

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Re: Cheap motor oil?
« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2017, 08:23:54 AM »
Let me also throw this out there:  Changing brands of oil is probably the last thing you want to do.  Every brand formulation has their own set of detergents and such to set themselves apart from the rest.  Every brand will, in some situations, get little sludgy bits here and there.  The problem is, one brand's detergent will often remove the other brands sludge.  And in an old car ... sometimes the sludge is actually part of the oil seal.

My college roommate (we're going back a long way here) had a very old car that leaked about a quart between oil changes.  He knew it had been run with BrandX since the day it came out of the dealer.  But he found BrandY on sale.  I warned him that wasn't a good idea.  He went from one quart leak between oil changes to one quart per about 100 miles.  When we'd drive home from college for the weekend, he would have to pull over at least twice to add a quart of oil.

radram

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Re: Cheap motor oil?
« Reply #17 on: January 25, 2017, 09:01:17 AM »
Let me also throw this out there:  Changing brands of oil is probably the last thing you want to do.  Every brand formulation has their own set of detergents and such to set themselves apart from the rest.  Every brand will, in some situations, get little sludgy bits here and there.  The problem is, one brand's detergent will often remove the other brands sludge.  And in an old car ... sometimes the sludge is actually part of the oil seal.

My college roommate (we're going back a long way here) had a very old car that leaked about a quart between oil changes.  He knew it had been run with BrandX since the day it came out of the dealer.  But he found BrandY on sale.  I warned him that wasn't a good idea.  He went from one quart leak between oil changes to one quart per about 100 miles.  When we'd drive home from college for the weekend, he would have to pull over at least twice to add a quart of oil.

It is not the brand that can be important, it is the level, which is marked on an API oval on each bottle ( for example, API SN). This is according to an oil manufacturer http://www.valvoline.com/about-us/faq/general-motor-oil-myths

The claim of sludge acting as a seal can possibly be a concern in new conversion to synthetic oils in vehicles that were 15+ years old. They no longer cause leeks in seals(1st generation synthetics could), but they can do a good job at finding them. Of course the result is the same, but since the OP is leaking anyway.....

Other common myths
Every 3,000 miles is usually twice as often as necessary and switching from synthetic to petroleum back and forth is NOT harmful.
https://www.pepboys.com/car_care_corner/car_care_basics/maintenance/oil_myths/

The 3,000 miles myth was a marketing genius plan similar toothpaste. They say to use a pea-sized amount right on the tube, but look at any commercial or ad:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klTjA9GhBtM
No harm, but a shit-load more than you need.