How Much You Should Actually Be Paying For An Oil Change

Everyone's experienced the feeling; or at least, everyone has heard a horror story from a friend or family member leaving the auto mechanic. The simple oil change inevitably blooms into something far more expensive and way more invasive. Popular Mechanics reports that you should get an oil change on your car twice a year. Often, this will be a simple top-up that doesn't take much time at all. However, on occasion, you'll need a more substantial tune-up of the vehicle which may include additional fluids, routine maintenance tasks, and perhaps even replacement parts. You may also want to get scratches removed or add new window tint (but not a shade that's too dark) while the car is in the shop. Still, whether you've been treated fairly or not by your mechanic in the past, every trip to get your car's oil changed often involves hopes and prayers.

It's worth noting that an oil change is a regular service for an internal combustion engine vehicle, but that oil changes alone will not prevent your car from breaking down while out on the road. Of course, steering clear of snake oil salesman is a must for any sort of car owner, but there will be times when more invasive and robust repairs or part replacements are essential to keeping your vehicle running smoothly.

The age and make of your car can dictate much of the price

Oil changes have a price tag that is intimately linked to the type of oil that your car needs in order to continue running. Nerd Wallet reports that a typical oil change and filter replacement will cost between $20 and $100. This is the standard service and makes use of conventional oil.

KBB also suggests that a car running with synthetic oil rather than conventional oil often sees a price tag ranging between $65 and $125 for the same service. However, synthetic oil lasts longer (up to as many as 15,000 miles versus the 5,000 to 7,500 mark for conventional oil, according to MetroMile) and so an oil change with this formula won't be required as often as one that uses conventional oil. All in all, the cost of continuous oil changes typically comes out in a wash, regardless of the oil type that your car takes.

However, this doesn't change the price that you pay on the day. Therefore, budgeting for an oil change based on the type of car that you drive is a critical part of the calculation. Even though you'll recover your costs over time if you need synthetic oil, the price tag can sting if you aren't prepared for the upcharge, especially if this is your first oil change with a new car that requires the premium product.

A full service will cost more than a routine top off

A full service is something that you will have to get for your car from time to time. This is not the same thing as the potentially random add-ons that a mechanic finds while performing a routine oil change on your vehicle, however. An honest mechanic won't try to overcharge you or suggest repair works or replacement parts that aren't actually necessary. As a result, it's always a good idea to have your car serviced by someone you trust, and ideally the same mechanic or company each time.

Building relationships is always the way you go with any type of service that you might rely on as a consumer. The same goes for repairs and routine maintenance on your vehicle. MyCarNeedsA reports that a full service typically includes additional parts and checks, including brake pads or discs, additional fluid top-offs and inspections, and other diagnostic tests that help mechanics understand more about your car's performance and how standard wear and tear may be affecting the ride that you experience. It's typical for a car owner to bring their vehicle in for a full service every second or third time they get an oil change just to ensure that the vehicle is continuing to perform at its peak level. For most problems that a car might develop, catching it early and replacing a part before it fails is far cheaper than replacing a part and repairing any damage that it may cause in the process of breaking or leaking.

Electric vehicles demand a different approach to standard maintenance

Forbes notes that an EV won't require oil changes. This is because the electric motor that replaces the standard internal combustion engine (ICE) of a traditional, gasoline-powered model doesn't make use of the same small, mechanical parts like spark plugs, pistons, and valves. As well, an EV costs an owner an average of $0.06 per mile, whereas a traditional vehicle comes in at roughly $0.10 per mile. This difference might not sound large but over the course of a typical year of driving (which is roughly 14,000 miles, according to The Zebra), this price reduction really adds up.

An EV won't require oil changes, but this type of car does demand a routine maintenance schedule to keep the car driving well and performing at its best. EVs will need to have their tires and brakes checked and changed out from time to time, and many of the other standard maintenance features inherent to car ownership more broadly remain essential components of electric vehicle use. In addition, you'll eventually need to replace the battery in your electric vehicle if you drive it long enough. This can cost a significant amount, with Statista noting that the battery in an EV makes up roughly 1/3 of its total price tag (although this share is projected to fall significantly over the coming decade). Still, it's nice to know that you won't have to continuously change the oil and worry about any extras that your mechanic might tack on as suggested or required fixes.