Getting a cheap oil change can involve more than just searching for oil change coupons. Looking for the cheapest oil change around by finding the lowest advertised price might not even be your best bet either.
A friend of mine once had a cheap oil change done at a place advertising low prices above all and was surprised to find that they’d forgotten to tighten the oil plug after the oil change. So not only did he end up with a mess of oil on his driveway the next morning but he was fortunate that he wasn’t driving at the time otherwise he might have had an expensive engine repair to go with it.
Of course, this sort of mistake could happen at any oil change facility but the point is that you don’t want to scrimp on quality and service just to save a few bucks especially when the problems that can arise might cost you significantly more.
Saving money on each oil change doesn’t necessarily mean just considering the cost of each oil change that you’re getting done. Understanding a few other things about oil changes is your best bet to saving money and time (which is also money!) in the long run…
Here’s what I mean:
1. Learn about the ideal oil change frequency of your vehicle. Most people still think an oil change has to happen every 3,000 miles or about every 5,000 km or 3 months, whichever comes first. These days, vehicles can go double that without an oil change in some cases. Check your owner’s manual to see the recommended oil change frequency as use that as your schedule. Forget what the little sticker installed by your oil change center at the top left of your windshield says. They’d be happy if you changed your oil every week since you pay them for each visit. Save money and time and learn about the oil change schedule that your vehicle needs, not what your oil change center tells you.
2. Avoid your car dealer. Car dealerships tend to make most of their money from service. No wonder too when their oil changes seem to cost double what the oil change centers charge. Double check to be safe but you aren’t going to void your vehicle’s warranty by not getting an oil change done at your dealer. Not only are the dealers more expensive in my experience they’re also a lot slower too. Which brings us to point #3…
3. Consider your time. Your time costs money too. In my experience the car dealers are among the slowest for service. Perhaps it’s because they also sell cars and most of their customers are ones who bought their vehicles there and as a result, they tend to do a wide range of often expensive (i.e. lucrative) repairs and servicing. Who do you think will get priority: you with your cheap oil change or another customer who came in for a new set of $1,000+ tires? I’ve visited the rapid oil change centers who don’t require an appointment where you drive your car into the bay and wait in the car while the oil change is being done below you and I can’t say I have an issue with their level of service. While you might pay a bit more for the oil change if you’re in and out in 30 minutes perhaps your time is worth more than having to wait for over an hour for service at your dealer, no?
4. Consider what extras you can get from your chosen oil change center. While you don’t necessarily want to choose your service center based on loyalty miles or things of that nature, certainly they do add up especially if you end up getting other work done at this service center (ie. new tires, transmission servicing, new brakes, etc) and your bill ends up being a lot higher. If your chosen service centre offers loyalty points for a card that you carry, these points can add up over time especially when you’re only paying things that you had to buy. Over the past 10 years, my wife and I have gotten a $1,200 barbeque and $1,000 digital SLR camera through our combined loyalty points accounts. Granted, it took 10 years to get these prizes…but we did so by only purchasing stuff we were planning on buying anyways!
Think of oil changes as a necessity. Don’t go cheap on oil changes and think that avoiding having them done will save you money or that shopping for a cheap oil change option is your only way to go to save money. Getting regular oil changes based on your vehicle’s recommended schedule is your best bet and don’t be afraid to shop around a bit for the best combination of price and service.