I don’t do my own oil changes. I don’t know how, and I have no interest in learning. You probably want to scream at me about how much money I could be saving. I’m a personal finance junkie after all. Don’t worry, enough people have already told me about all the savings I’m missing out on. But if you want to tell me again, feel free to leave it in the comments.
Changing Your Own Oil Wouldn’t Save Me That Much
So this really depends on where you live, but in my small town, almost all the mechanics do oil changes for $20-$30. Cheap oil changes gets customers in the door for bigger repair jobs, so no one wants to be outbid on oil changes. Changing your own oil costs roughly $17-25. So on the high end, I’m saving $10 per oil change. Between our two vehicles, I’d save $60 per year. And that’s not factoring in the startup cost of jacks/ramps, drip pans, and all the other accessories.
The Cost is Totally Worth It to Me
I know, $60 is nothing to cough at. Nor is $10. I’ve got a whole guest roundup of little money saving things that add up (one of which is doing your own oil changes). But, I also firmly believe in spending money on things that you value. In this case, the $60 extra I spend is well worth it for a number of reasons.
In the first place, the $10 per oil change is buying me time. From start to finish, (shower included), an oil change would take me close to an hour. Perhaps I’d get faster after several attempts, but I’m sure there would also be frustration involved. However, time alone would not keep me from changing my own oil, since in general I am willing to devote several hours to learning new skills.
A far bigger benefit I get from the $60 a year is the routine inspections. Since I don’t even know how to change my own oil, I really don’t know the ins and outs of a car engine, or anything else on a car. Instead, I rely on my mechanic to catch potential problems before they become expensive side-of-the-road problems.
Now this is where trust really comes into play. Yes, oil changes and the accompanying inspection are a doorway for more business. And unfortunately way too many mechanics have taken advantage of this. Less-than-ethical mechanics use these inspections to sell customers repairs that they don’t really need. Really sketch mechanics won’t even do the work! However, in our case, we’re fortunate to have a mechanic that I trust completely. And because he catches potential problems at the regular oil changes, even our old Caravan has been breakdown free since we’ve owned it (knock on wood). And if I do have a breakdown, my oil change comes with complimentary road side assistance for 6 months.
So What’s My Point?
I don’t write this post specifically to defend myself from the onslaught of people telling me how much money I could save by changing my own oil. Although perhaps I’ll just keep a stack of cards with the URL to this post to hand out whenever I get such a comment :). And I don’t write this post to persuade everyone to give up doing their own oil changes. If you’re a car guy and are confident you can catch problems, by all means keep changing your own oil.
Rather, my point is much broader. Know yourself. Recognize how much value something has to you. Analyze exactly what you’re getting in a transaction. I know that I would hate doing my own oil changes. I also don’t trust myself to spot mechanical problems. For $60/year, I get my oil changed for me, and I get a whole lot of peace of mind. And that’s totally worth it to me.
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