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After saving up and building your credit score, the moment finally came when you were able to purchase your first car! A pivotal milestone moment in your adult life, being a car owner signifies greater independence and freedom. But to sustain the privileges a car brings, it’s important to maintain the health of your vehicle. Car maintenance is an ongoing expense most consumers have to budget for. Among the various maintenance and repair needs you may encounter over the life of your vehicle, oil changes will be one of the most frequent.
If the little light on your dashboard is illuminated, your engine is overheating, or you’re hearing grinding noises when you drive your car, it might be time for an oil change. Don’t overlook these warning signs. You can go to a mechanic or dealer to get an oil change, or you can do it yourself. Either way, you’ll want to know what to expect cost-wise, so you’ll be better prepared to budget for it when the time comes.
How Much Does an Oil Change Cost?
Unless you have an all-electric car, oil is going to play a crucial role in the health and longevity of your automobile. To keep the engine’s internal parts from deteriorating, you’ll need to schedule frequent oil changes throughout your vehicle’s lifespan.
The general rule of thumb is to get your oil changed every 3,000 miles to keep the engine healthy; however, some cars with more advanced technology can go 5,000 to 7,500 miles before needing an oil change. It’s a safe bet to say you’ll need to change your oil at least once a year, which means this annual expense should be incorporated into your budgeting efforts.
The cost of an oil change typically includes replacing the oil, adding a new oil filter, and the cost of labor. According to Kelley Blue Book, you can expect to pay around $25 to $75 for an oil change. But ultimately, the price you pay for an oil change will vary depending on several factors.
Factors That Influence the Cost of an Oil Change
Type of Oil
There are several types of motor oil available for your car. These oil types can generally be put into one of 4 categories: conventional, synthetic, semi-synthetic, and high mileage. To determine the type of oil that’s right for your car, consult your owner’s manual.
Some cars require a certain type and grade of oil, while others can properly function on whichever type of oil the owner prefers to use. In that case, you’ll need to decide if you want to go for the cheaper choice, which would be conventional oil, or pay extra for synthetic oil, which might be better for your car in the long run. An AAA survey found that opting for synthetic oil over conventional will cost the average driver around $64 more per year, or an extra $5.33 per month.
Amount of Oil Required
The amount of oil you’ll need will depend on the year, make, and model of your car, as well as the size of your vehicle’s engine. A typical oil change includes 4 to 5 quarts of oil, but if you drive a bigger vehicle with a larger engine, like a truck, you may need more than the standard amount. The added oil will cost you a little more.
Labor and Location
The cost of an oil change varies depending on whether you do it yourself or hire a mechanic. If you have the knowledge and suitable tools at hand, then a DIY oil change could save you some money since you won’t need to pay for the labor of having someone else do it. But you must know what you’re doing as any mishaps to the car’s engine can cost you more money than the initial price of the oil change.
Location will also play a role in the cost of your oil change. You can typically expect to pay more for an oil change in a more affluent area where the price of living is higher.
Oil Change Pricing: Comparing Popular Retailers
To give you a better sense of how much an oil change might cost you, this table breaks down the price of an oil change at some of the most popular retailers. These prices are solely based on online listings, and the actual price for your oil change will vary depending on your location.
Some retailers offer various coupons, promotions, and discounts for car maintenance services, so look for those ways to save before booking an appointment.
|Retailer||Estimated Price Range|
|Valvoline||$39.99 – $89.99|
|Jiffy Lube||$37.99 – $109.99|
|Take 5||$37 – $80|
|Firestone||$19.99 – $70|
|Pep Boys||$34 – $74|
|Goodyear||$24.90 – $69.95|
|Meineke||$34.95 – $69.95|
|Walmart||$22.88 – $46.88|
How Can I Save Money on an Oil Change?
There are a few ways you can save money when it’s time to get your oil changed. The first thing to do is to shop around for the best prices, and don’t take the first estimate that’s offered to you. Look for coupons and other discounts to save a few bucks. You can also do the oil change yourself and save on the cost of labor (just as long as you know what you’re doing).
Lastly, you’ll want to avoid any upsells that some mechanics or shops might try to get you to purchase. Things like tire rotations, air filter replacements, coolant flush, and brake replacements are all additional services that might be offered. Consider carefully if you need these things right away or can hold off and save some money in the interim.
What's the average price for an oil change?
Prices will vary, but expect to pay around $25 to $55 for a conventional oil change and anywhere from $45 to $75 for a synthetic oil change.
What’s the difference between synthetic and conventional oil?
The main difference between synthetic and conventional oil is that synthetic oil is human-made while conventional oil comes from crude oil. Synthetic oil is believed to better protect your engine due to its human-made compounds.
In addition to conventional and synthetic oils, there’s also an in-between option called a synthetic blend or semi-synthetic oil. Synthetic blend oil mixes some properties of synthetic oil with conventional as a way to offer the benefits of synthetic oil at a lesser price.
How much is a transmission fluid change?
A transmission fluid change involves transmission fluid rather than engine oil. This type of oil change will be significantly more expensive than a regular oil change because there are more moving parts involved, and it involves more labor. The price for a transmission fluid change will vary, but you can typically expect to pay around $200 to $500.
Oil changes and other routine vehicle maintenance can quickly add up and eat away at your budget. It’s important that you get into the habit of setting aside a portion of your income to deal with things of this nature — luckily, Chime can help with that. When you open a savings account through Chime with automatic savings¹ enabled, 10% of your paycheck will instantly be saved into your account every time you get paid. When your deposits are saved automatically, you can rest assured that you’ll have something in your account to fall back on when you need it most.