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I love working on my car, and I certainly have all the tools I need to get the job done.  I’ve been working on my car for years.  But when it comes to an oil change, I’ll be the first to admit that I just cough up the $15-$30 and let someone else do it.

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Why?  It’s messy.  It takes a long time — especially when you dispose of the oil properly (which you should).  And it’s pretty hard to screw up when I’m watching.  So a number of years ago, I just gave in and started using one of the local quick lube places.

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How about you?  Do you slog through the process to save the $10, or do you farm it out?  And if so, what motivated your decision?  Let us know in comments.

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(Thanks to Pierre Lascott for this great CC-licensed photo.)

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56 Responses to Hot Or Not? Quick-Lube Oil Changes

  1. Kevin Jack says:

    Where I live (Quebec, Qc) we don’t save anything by doing it ourselves. The only reason I still do it is because I like to choose my oil and filter (Castrol and Napa Premium made by Wix) instead of some lube place putting some generic oil or a crap filter (read FRAM). I will admit that I am probably wasting my time, though!

  2. ba614 says:

    Not … I do my own service work on all my vehicles

    I want the job done right with the oil and filter of my choice. It allows me to change my oil any time I choose. I don’t have to go anywhere or wait on anybody to do it. It doesn’t take me as long to do it as it would if I took it somewhere to be done. I pour all my used oil into a 5 gal. gas container and take it with me to despose of when I’m at the parts house buying oil and filters. I save time and money doing my own work.

    Btw – when I go to the parts house I buy 4 oil filters, 2 air filters and 20+ qts. of oil and return the used oil in the 5 gal. container – that covers a year’s oil and filter changes – how hard is that?

  3. Randy says:

    No way. The places around here put crappy or undersized filters on and use cheap oil. Sure, the DIY cost is break even at best and it costs me time to do it myself, but I know that the drain plug is snug but not stripped, that the oil fill cap is on, that the filter is the right model and properly tightened, and that the oil is good and I used the right amount.

    Also, I can look for other signs of items that need my attention. Fluids leaking, damaged parts, etc.

    Those quick lube shops do not get my business unless I have no other choice.

  4. Randy says:

    Plus, the guy in that picture looks like he want’s to grab a couple of CDs and a handfull of change out of the next guy’s console. Just kidding…kinda.

  5. Jay Kominek says:

    I do it myself; I know what oil and filter I’m getting, and honestly it is more convenient for me. By doing it myself, I get to do my waiting in my living room, not a waiting room. I’m not stuck in line waiting for my turn, and I’m not helping out businesses that are frequently sketchy.

    (That said, more power to the folks who want to have someone else do it. It isn’t as though the process is enjoyable.)

  6. Chris says:

    For my daily driver, hot.

    For my motorcycle and collector-type cars I could afford to spend more time on, not so much.

    ba614 makes a very good point, though — being able to get the service done with the oil and filter of your choice is important, and with the premiums a lot of places charge for synthetic, you’re definitely better off money-wise if you can do the job yourself. I just wish it was a little more practical.

    A lot of the quickie places don’t stock some little important parts for certain cars, either. My ’92 Accord requires a fiber washer on the oil plug to be replaced every oil change. The quickie places don’t stock it and just put the plain plug back in, which causes a very slow oil leak that stains the driveway. Fortunately, the local Honda dealer charges about the same price as the quickie places, and they actually have the washer.

    cl

  7. Dave O says:

    I change oil in our vehicles because I enjoy it. I’ve done it enough times that it’s pretty routine, I don’t mind spending the few minutes it takes, and it gives me a chance to take a close look at the vehicle to see what other preventative maintenance tasks may be required. Usually I mix other chores in: start the old oil draining and go do something else, or top off with new oil and go do chores while the oil settles in the pan. I don’t have to jack or ramp any of our vehicles to get at filters or drain bolts.

    Our county makes disposal of old oil and filters easy, altho I’ll admit old oil tends to accumulate in my garage until I remember to recycle it.

    The cost savings becomes apparent on my wife’s German car: both the Spiffy Lube and a local mechanic charge about US$80, where I can do it for about $35 – $40.

  8. olderty says:

    Not. Same as above, I want a better filter on my car. And I do end up saving about $15 as compared to the Valvoline shop I used to go to.

    However, when I used to live in an apartment (read: no garage) I would bring my own filter to Jiffy Lube and they didn’t have a problem with it, nor did they charge me for one of theirs.

  9. Blind says:

    The local quick lube place I used to live near told me that they dispose of their oil by mixing it with kitty litter and throwing it in the trash. If (and that’s a big if) that’s legal, I can do that just as easily myself. I see little reason to pay for them to do it, especially with all of the places that will let you dispose of oil for free. If my car is in the shop for something else anyhow, then sure, but i wouldn’t be at a quick change place in the first place then, and I’d probably be providing oil and filter.

  10. Fong says:

    Not. As many have already iterated, I put my own blend of synthetic/conventional oil and preferred filter. The time issue is moot as it’s draining while I’m rotating my tires anyway. I’ve also got a valve (http://www.fumotovalve.com) where the drain plug is so the most time consuming part is pouring oil back in.

  11. Paul Sparks says:

    Do my own on 7 cars and trucks. Enjoy the work and it lets me keep an eye on things that might need my attention. Last year the daughter took a mazda 6 to quickie lube while I was on vacation and the clown cracked the filter cover and insurance ended up replacing a motor. It also gives me an excuse to use my 2 post lift and various tools.

  12. Steve Thompson says:

    I do it myself or let my mechanic (who also does all the mods, etc that I can’t do myself) do it when I’m in to see him and don’t wantto deal with the mess. Nobody else touches my MINI!

    Most of the time I usually get a bunch of my MINI friends over for a garage day and we do maintenance, mods and detailing and stuff, drink beer, and bbq. That’s the proper way to do an oil change.

  13. Eric says:

    Not. No way someone else is touching my baby unless there is no way I can do it myself. Especially not a quicky lube place, I’ve heard way to many horror stories about them screwing stuff up.

  14. John says:

    I do my own since I moved out of an apartment and had a driveway to work in. The quickie lube cost $70 for the synthetic and crap filter. I bought a case of filters (12) and cases of oil as needed and my cost is now $30 plus my time. I just save up the oil in 5 gallon fryer oil jugs I pick up from behind the local restaurants and take it to the local recycling place when they fill up. I have to admit I’m lazy and have 3 full jugs of old oil in the garage because I’m too lazy to take it to the recycler. it’s been easier to just pick up a new oil jug. i’ll get off my ass and take it in some weekend soon.

  15. Jim Nutt says:

    I do it myself as well, I use a synthetic in all the vehicles and it’s significantly cheaper to buy it and the filters myself. Besides, the Jeep doesn’t have to be jacked up and the Malibu goes up on ramps, so it’s pretty straightforward. I have to say, whoever designed the Malibu did a great job in terms of making oil changes easy, the filter and drain plug are right up front and close enough together that a single drain pan handles them both cleanly.

  16. Rob says:

    Not for all of the same reasons. I like to choose my oil and filter and I know the job is done right. Plus, it’s only 20 minutes tops.

    Rob

  17. theminor says:

    Not. Those places charge extra for my Jetta TDI (Diesel), and they don’t use the right oil. They also don’t usually don’t even know how to change my cartridge-style filter. I do it and I know it is done right. I can change my oil without even lifting the car off the ground since the filter is changed above the hood and I use my Pela Oil extractor (http://www.pelaproducts.com/) to pump the oil out. It takes me less time to change the oil than it would to take it somewhere and I can easily take the pela container to the local Autozone to dump the oil.

  18. Ed says:

    Proper disposal of the oil is the main reason why I let a professional do the job. But Blind makes a good point, confirm with the shop that they don’t just dump it into the trash.

  19. Waylan says:

    I, like most others here, do it myself. I want to choose the oil and filter myself. I know my father used to take his to a place that charged less (and used decent Pennzoil) than he could buy the oil and filter for himself. But that didn’t last too long so he’s back to changing his own as well.

  20. l_bilyk says:

    I do my own oil change on the corvette
    All other cars are done by someone else

  21. John Eisenhower says:

    I dont trust the quick lube places. The local news channel did an expose on a few in my area, and what they found out was pitiful. Some places weren’t even changing the filter. They’d just drop the oil, refill it and send you on your way.

    I also don’t trust anyone messing with the blood (oil) of my car, one loose plug or filter will equal thousands of dollars in repair if not noticed.

  22. Tracy Lauricella (TMIB_Seattle) says:

    On my shovelhead I absolutely do it myself. Not only would I not trust someone else to do it, it’s a good chance to inspect stuff you don’t normally look at as often.

    On my truck I do it myself, but that’s primarily because I rebuilt the engine completely and want to keep an eye on how it is doing.

    On my beater commuter car (20 year old Buick) I will stop by the local Jiffy lube and let them do it. It’s convenient and cheap since I don’t take any of the extra services they suggest.

  23. Eric G. says:

    NOT.

    The “savings” just aren’t worth it. I can use Mobil 1 and a good filter for the same price and time, and we have curbside oil recycling where I live so disposal is easy. The other advantage is that I can keep a closer eye on what’s going on under the hood and spot potential maintenance before it’s a problem.

  24. ryan says:

    HOT. only because buying Amsoil is about the same price as getting one place I know to do it….

  25. Fred says:

    I let my local Saturn dealer service my Nissan. They change the oil and filter, and wash the car. While I’m waiting, I get coffee and a fresh baked cookie.

  26. Leslie says:

    I used to do my own but since I started owning high-maintenance old houses 2 decades ago, I farm it out – no time and zero interest in doing my own auto work. I will admit to when absolutely necessary I’ll bring it to a quick lube place (though I watch carefully, which clearly bugs the S#!+ out of them but I don’t trust them), but normally I drop the car off with a local independent mechanic that I trust to do good work with good materials – not drop-in/quick, but no more $$ than the quicklube places and service I trust.

  27. shrique says:

    Hot:

    It takes time and is a pain. In my case if you get the 30k mile service done at the dealership you get free oil changes after that point. They don’t care if you bring in your own oil or not. Either way I get it for cost of the oil.

    Also a local chain place has for the most part got my trust. I went in there once with my wifes leased car and they found that the oil plug was all mashed up. The tech went out got an easy out from his own car to get it off and then the manager gave me the new oil plug for free. It know it’s a small thing but it was good customer service.

  28. RobinB says:

    Most certainly NOT!

    Did it once, never again.

    They managed to disconnect the oil pressure gauge sending wire. They also replaced the quality copper washer that had not leaked over who knows how many oil changes with a crappy plastic one that was chewed up after two.

  29. false_cause says:

    Disposing of the oil is a bummer for me, so I pay JiffyLube to save me the trouble. I do glance into the engine compartment or watch them do the work to make sure I’m not going to find out they messed something up when the engine seizes 1/4 mile down the road.

    In a world where disposing of the oil wasn’t a hassle, I’d do it myself every time.

  30. Jeff Wheeler says:

    Not, as in “not even on a dare.” Peruse your classifieds for the help-wanted ads for your local quick-lube; chances are you’ll see “no experience required.” In the experience of friends and family of mine who didn’t take my advice initially, they use inferior parts and oil, they almost always try to sell filters, wiper blades, and such, and some have even disconnected sensor wires and then tried to sell the resulting “needed repair.”

  31. Mark Bennett says:

    Absfrickenlutely not. I know too many people who have had their engines toasted by minimum-wage quick-oil-change employees forgetting to replace drain plugs or to add oil.

  32. John Laur says:

    I find it odd how many people seem to claim that they do it themselves because they want a specific oil and filter used — If that’s the only reason, you can take in your own oil and filters and ask them to use those instead.

    A better reason for not using them is that they are crappy places with unskilled workers (note I didnt say mecahnics) who are notorious for doing a bad job (if they do it at all) and ripping customers off.

    While I am fully capable of changing my own oil, it’s a real pain to do it — but since I dont trust the lube places either and I want specific parts used I make an appointment in advance with my mechanic and bring him all the stuff for the job. I pay a little more I guess, but I dont have to worry about having to sit there and look over someone’s shoulder to make sure the work is even getting done!

    Oddly though, I really enjoy changing the oil in the lawnmower. It gives me a great deal of satisfaction… Maybe that’s because it’s a lot easier.

  33. Jim says:

    Hot, sometimes. Essentially when I get lazy or the weather doesn’t cooperate then I’ll head to the local oil change shop. The one that I use lets you bring your own oil/filter and gives you a discount off the cost of the change (so I can use my preferred oil which they don’t carry and I can pick up on sale by the case to save more $s). After checking their work a few times after going there I felt pretty good about it so it’s become a reliable option for the occasions when I otherwise might let it slide (bad idea).

  34. James B Brauer 66 says:

    NOT
    I’ll take vehicles to those places for transmission fluid changes and fuel filters because those are the really messy jobs, and I can’t stand the smell of fuel on my hair.

    I do oil on three vehicles at once and some economies of scale kick in versus three trips to the lube place – mostly in terms of time spent. And while there are some yo-yos working at those places, most of the guys around here are OK to work with.

  35. Abe says:

    NOT!!! Let somebody else touch my car…are you kidding?

    The only other person that touches my car is an alignment tech and that’s only because I don’t have the space for a rack in my garage.

    Abe

  36. Old Donn says:

    Not. Of all the driveway jobs, this is one of the easiest. Choice of oil & filter, plus tightening the drain plug with a torque wrench, (Yes, even the drain plug has a torque spec). Yeah, it’s a PITA sometimes, (especially in winter), but well worth the trouble.

  37. Mike says:

    HOT!!!

    Changing oil isn’t rocket science. In 15 years of regular changes on 3 cars I’ve never had a problem and my local lube shop has every lube that I could ever want. They also recycle the waste which saves me a trip to the local hazardous waste disposal facility.

    Oh, I also have better things to do with my time … like play with my kids.

  38. Charlie says:

    I do it myself, because then I know that it’s completely empty before I spin the drain plug back in, and so I can control the quality of the products I’m putting on/in. And I certainly wouldn’t go to Wal-Mart if I gave up and farmed it out, because we (family-business Auto Repair shop) had to replace a customers oil pan because some genious at Wally World put the drainplug back on with an IMPACT GUN, and WAY screwed up the threads.

  39. Smee says:

    I lost faith in the local Jiffy Lube when the tech running through his checklist told me that he didn’t check the transfer case in my Jeep because I didn’t have 4 wheel drive.

    I did have 4 wheel drive. Somehow, when he was underneath the Jeep he didn’t notice all the extra parts?

  40. TomCat says:

    I get together with some of the guys from my church, and we change oil in the church parking lot. Nothing brings guys together like bangin’ knuckles, and fixin’ machines!

  41. Evan N. says:

    I always change my own oil. Since places which change oil always have room in their used oil tank, I take it there if Kragen’s is empty. Even dropped off antifreeze at the Jiffy Lube once. I think that Quick Lube and Jiffy Lube are sketchy as far as quality goes. Plus you can’t get Rotella T at those places (use it to prevent cam wear on a gen I/II 350. Lastly, even the freakin’ dealer can screw up, as I had the Honda dealer strip my oil pan plug when I had a Civic. Had to yell at them for a while to fix it.

  42. Evan N. says:

    Sorry, meant if Kragen’s tank is FULL.

  43. Brau says:

    Lukewarm. I do my own oil mostly as it costs a lot less (I wait for sales at Walmart and get the oil for about $6 and a filter for $2). I have used Mr lube a couple of times when travelling or too busy, and they’ve only botched it once by failing to remove the old oil filter seal meaning it blew out shortly after. There’s not a lot to an oil change and not much to bugger up so I feel fairly safe going to these places.

  44. Chris says:

    I change it cause I at least feel that I’m saving money even though I know I”m not. Figured 5 quarts of the Mobil 1, a decent oil filter, Fram or something along those lines, right there along costs about $25 bucks, not to mention the time (which i dont mind cause I love wrenching). I once took it to a shop and asked for them to put my own mobil 1 and filter in and it still ran me $20 bucks in labor from them. Blaaa

  45. Mel says:

    I usually let Wally-World do mine. $18.94 + tax, and the wife can do it!

  46. Rick says:

    Don’t think I’ve responded to this one yet..

    NOT
    I do my own.. Walmart for the oil – Mobil 1 in the big 5qt jugs. – and then online for the filters – I use OEM Mahle filters for the BMW (comes with the two o-rings and two metal washers that need to be replaced at each change as well) and AC Delco filters for the Trailblazer. I’m not a fan of non OEM filters. From what I’ve heard FRAM is garbage.. the only thing good about them is their marketing firm.

    When I didn’t have a place to wrench I would take it to the Valvoline oil change place… but I’d watch them like a hawk. Or I’d do it on some weekend when I went to visit my parents. They were ok. But I don’t trust anyone except one independent mechanic that is like the car whisperer – he once identified my tire by brand and model as we were driving down the street and he was in the passenger seat.. Since then, he’s the only one I really trust with my car – wish he was closer.

  47. Hot says:

    Hot. When I was a teenage ‘motor head’ I did all my own work including rebuilding a couple of engines and a transmission that I kept blowing out. Now my truck is just transportation and gets replaced every few years so there is no love lost in letting someone else do the dirty work. I’m getting the itch to restore a classic muscle car now which will be a different story.

  48. Greg says:

    I do mine myself becasue it keeps me in better tune with my vehicle and aware of potential problems. By that I mean, noticing the belts and/or hoses are worn. Or the while lubing behind the tire noticing my tread is wearing un-evenly on the tire or a front end part is wearing. You just notice more about what’s going on with your vehicle. Most places recommend everything besides the kitchen sink every other change, so most people shut them out. (including me) But I will admit it actually costs me 5-10 dollars more to do it myself, so I’m not saving any money.

  49. Ivan says:

    So far I have been doing them myself with the exception of the winter months as I really don’t feel like changing oil on the driveway in minus degrees of weather.
    On the other hand, I’m always waiting for the 99cent/quart deals from Murray’s so I get a pretty good deal on the oil change. However, last I purchased more expensive oil and was wondering that it didn’t make sense to do my own anymore as the combined total of oil plus filter is more than a cheap oil change.

    And yes, I really don’t care about the oil as long as it is 10W30 in the summer and 10W40 in the winter. My motto: oil is oil and as long as you change it every 3000 miles it really doesn’t matter. By the way, I have 2 cars and the one is 8+ years with around 120K miles on it. So that’s a proof that it doesn’t work.

  50. Ronnie P. says:

    There is something manly about changing your own oil, that sense of accomplishment for a job well done by yours truely. I’m not to sure I’d want to part with that or the $20 hanging around in my wallet.

    Chicks dig guys with greasey hands and extra lube. So guys, ask her often if she’d like her oil changed…. and she’ll think your her hero for about 10 minutes until something around the house breaks.

    I know that Fram makes a quick drain product (that I totally reccomend), it’s a spring loaded valve you perminantly leave pluged into your oilpan and when its time for a change, simply unscrew the cap, screw on the hose adapter and presto! A quick and controlled drain! I think I paid $12 for it and it’s saved me countless T-shirts.

  51. Bren R. says:

    I have a late 80s GM “in the pan” filter… it’s worth the extra $10-$15 to have someone else replace my oil for that reason alone.

    The drive-thru lube place I use hires mainly current or former Power Mechanics students and they’re pretty good.

  52. Fletcher says:

    Another vote for not. I’m probably not saving any money (buying higher grade oil and a Purolator or Wix filter over whatever generics the quickie lube places use) but at least I know I’m using quality materials.

  53. Tracy says:

    NOT!!!

    I tool my last car to one of these places regularly, they were quick and cheap. One day I noticed 3 of them in the pit looking up at my engine. They told me that “someone” had put the wrong size drain plug on the oil pan, and I would need to get it rethreaded. Never mind that the last oil change was done in that very place and I had a receipt for it, I ended up having to replace the oil pan, and never took my car there again. Plus some of their workers made the guy in the photo look like Pat Boone. I figure the business they lost from me since then evens out the repair cost.

  54. TL says:

    Not.

    For all the usual reasons… don’t trust unskilled grease monkeys, I want control of what oil and filter are used, and it’s really not that tough a job. Mostly though it’s a chance to connect with my inner gearhead. He gets ignored a bit too much since I started buying “fixer” houses.

  55. Teacher says:

    Always do it myself. I enjoy doing it, I can do it anytime I want, no waiting, no sales pitch, no driving to get there, I can check other things on the car while it drains, I can watch football while it drains, I can mess around with my other tools while it drains, I know it’s done the way I want, my wife thinks hubby getting dirty is “hot”, 3 year old daughters think daddy’s superman for “Fixing the car”, and a good way to teach my son and daughter how to use tools when they get older.

    Plus I can do it a lot cheaper than the quick lube places. Around here the cheapest is Wal Mart($18 but a 3 hour wait). Jiffy Lube etc charge $40+. I can do it for $7. I buy oil on sale for $1/quart and Purolator/Wix filters on sale for $2 a piece.

    Advance and Auto Zone take old oil so I just empty a 5 gallon container every couple months when I’m there for something else.

  56. Travis says:

    I live in Texas where we have two seasons: summer and January. I’d rather let someone else bake or freeze when it comes to changing the oil.

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