Why You SHOULDN’T change your own oil

“But you dedicated an entire post on how to change your own oil. What gives?”

You know WHY to change your oil (right?) and probably when (check your owners manual to be sure), but let’s delve into the whys and why-nots of the DIY oil change. 

I’m not saying you should never change your own oil, but there is a lot more involved in a quality oil change than just draining the old oil, installing a new filter, and putting fresh oil in the engine. For many a weekend warrior, the driveway/garage oil change is a staple of the weekend “To Do” list. It’s a manly escape from the plush interior of your castle, a time to reconnect with mechanical companions often forgotten in the bottom of the toolbox or the back of the work bench. It’s a time to pull out the blue Scott shop towels, blow the dust off the socket set, and splash hot oil all over your face and arms. Who wouldn’t want that?!

Changing your own oil is a great learning experience for the DIYer, but look at some of the things you could be missing by not taking your vehicle to a trained professional for service.

1. A quality oil change often comes with a full complimentary vehicle inspection. Notice I said a QUALITY oil change. If you take your car to the local quickie lube place, you will probably be up-sold an air filter At an exorbitant rate and more fluid flushes than you knew were possible on a vehicle, but if you take your car to a qualified, experienced technician, they can often give you a good idea of the overall health of your car. Speaking of air filters, they do need to be changed about every 10k-15k miles, so don’t be too hard on the guys to try to sell you one. They’re not all liars. 

2. When you take your car to a local shop for service, you begin building a good relationship with someone who can help you out in the future. If you do it yourself, you miss out on this opportunity.  I recommend finding a trustworthy local mechanic to whom you can take your vehicle for just about anything. Most shops like that will do an oil change for near the price of a quick lube places and they are a bit more invested in your car and you as a customer. If you find a good local mechanic, they will get to know you and your vehicle and be able to advise you concerning future repairs and maintenance. Most quick lubes do not build relationships like that with their customers.

3. Should something go awry during the process of changing the oil, you have no one to blame but yourself! If something goes wrong after a shop does it, you have someone to “blame” for the trouble. 

4. Frankly, it usually isn’t much if any cheaper to change your oil yourself unless you already have all the supplies (tools, towels, drain pan, etc.). Most oil change specials run around $20-25 and you usually don’t pay much more than that at a shop. Many late model cars require special sockets or other tools to remove modern cartridge filters. I say “modern cartridge filters,” but that’s how oil filters started out back in the day. Then they went to a canister type spin-on filter; now we’ve come full circle back to the cartridge style. 

5. If you take your car to a competent shop, they will service your vehicle, not just change the oil. Servicing includes a full inspection as mentioned before, and usually a chassis lubrication if your vehicle has grease fittings. 

Overall, I still like to see people changing their own oil, but I wanted to give you a few things to think about before you headed to the local parts house and grabbed the supplies for your weekend project. Stay greasy! 

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