Although automotive technology has advanced a lot in recent years, some basic facts remain the same, especially if you are driving a traditional gasoline or hybrid car. One of them is that, no matter the make and model of your vehicle, you will need the change the oil at some stage to safeguard the engine from damage.
Oil lubricates, cools, and cleans the many moving parts of which an engine is made-up. However, over time, the quality of engine oil deteriorates. Additives lose their effect and the color of the oil changes from a golden hue to a dark brown or black. The oil also becomes thicker, and more glutinous, and tends to clog up the oil filter with debris and chemical residue.
However, to make sure that it is done properly and that you are doing all you can to maintain your vehicle in top condition, it is important that you choose the best place and time for an oil change. Here are some suggestions.
Best Place To Get An Oil Change
In terms of place, drivers have three basic options – at a dealership, at a full-service center, or at a “Quick Lube” shop. Each of them comes with their own advantages and disadvantages.
When it comes to the particular make and model of your car, nobody will have the same knowledge and expertise as your local dealership. They employ skilled technicians who have been trained specifically how to service your type of car, and who, as an added benefit, may be able to spot other problems that need to be fixed over and above the oil change.
These technicians are motivated to do a good job – positive customer reviews can earn them bonuses and other benefits from the owners of the dealership.
At the same time, your car may need a particular type of oil to ensure optimal performance. A dealership is more likely than any of the other alternatives to stock manufacturers’ parts and supplies and, even if it has to be specially ordered, they will have better access to original suppliers.
If you bought the car via the same dealership, you may be able to get a free oil change under warranty.
On the flip side, getting the oil changed at a dealership usually means you have to pay more than you would elsewhere. You are paying for their specialist expertise. There is also a convenience factor. Dealerships may be busy and you might have to wait days for an appointment. And your nearest dealership may be located a lot further away than your local service center or auto shop, meaning that a simple oil change will take you a lot longer.
Full Service Center
A Full Service Center will often offer special deals in the local media or their website, with combination deals which offer an inexpensive oil change in combination with a broader service of your vehicle.
One of the biggest advantages of these centers, especially if you go to a locally owned one that is not part of a national chain, is that you are likely to get a superior quality of service. Firstly, because they will not be swamped by the volume of cars that a more well-known place might attract, but also, because, it is paramount for their business success. In a highly competitive market, having a good local reputation can be the difference between succeeding in business or failing.
On the other hand, technicians are less likely to have expertise with your specific make and model of the vehicle and the center will probably carry lower levels of stock, meaning that you may have to wait for supplies to be ordered. You may also have to wait for an appointment. Last, but not least, many of these chains are called full-service centers for a reason – they prefer to offer a range of services, and just wanting a simple oil change means that you might get pushed to the back of the line.
The third and cheapest alternative is to use one of the national auto shops that offer a quick and affordable service – Jiffy Lube, Pep Boys, Valvoline, and Express Oil are just a handful of examples. Others may well be available in your locale, many offering substantial discounts.
Apart from the cost advantages, the other main benefit of these shops is time. No appointment is necessary – you just turn up at the auto shop and, with luck, you can get seen straight away.
Naturally, auto shops come with their share of disadvantages as well. Technicians at these facilities tend to be relatively inexperienced and, consequently, paid less, meaning staff turnover is high. Auto shops do not carry specialist oil, just generic products which may be less beneficial for your engine.
In addition, there have been quality issues associated with many of these auto shops in the past. It is highly recommended that you read the online reviews before putting your own vehicle in for an oil change at your local shop.
There is actually a fourth option if you want an oil change – and that is to do it yourself. However, unless you have the right knowledge, tools, and space in which to carry out the change, it is generally best left to those more qualified than you.
Best Time To Get An Oil Change
Timing is more easily dealt with than place. The standard advice used to be every 3 months, or 3,000 miles, but, thanks to technological advances, many cars today can drive for much longer before the oil needs to be changed.
Although there is no absolute rule, and it depends very much on the age, make and model of your car, as well as the type of oil that it uses, the recommendation now is that the oil for most vehicles should be changed every 7,500 to 10, 000 miles.
Apart from the age of the vehicle, another factor that should be considered is what type of mileage your car is doing. If you drive mainly on the highway, then your engine will suffer less wear and tear than if it spends most of its time in town stopping and starting at low speeds. Equally, more frequent oil changes will be required for those who drive off-road frequently in dusty or muddy conditions, or who tow or carry heavy loads.
Every gasoline powered or hybrid car needs its oil changed every so often to protect the engine from damage. Whilst there is no hard and fast rule as to when a change should take place, anywhere between every 7,500 and 10,000 miles seems to a reliable yardstick. In terms of where the oil change takes place, the main choices are at a dealership, a full service center, or an auto shop.
Each has its pros and cons. However, whichever one you select, choosing not to change the oil in your car is not a viable alternative. The longer you leave it, the greater the risk of engine failure, the consequences of which can be much more severe in terms of cost and convenience than a simple oil change.