A lot of drivers prefer to avoid going to the dealership for service because of the high costs, long waits, and upselling tactics. For such a simple job as an oil change, can’t any good mechanic handle it just the same?

As long as you get an appropriate type of oil for your car and the mechanic knows what he or she is doing, you can absolutely get a perfect oil change at your neighborhood auto shop. Take a look at your owner’s manual so you know what your vehicle needs. Then find a shop with experienced labor (not just teenagers cutting their teeth).

The Truth About Oil Changes at the Dealership

There’s little chance of something going wrong if you take your car to the dealer. Peace of mind surely has its value. The downsides are that the dealership will probably charge a significantly higher price and usually require advance appointments.

Beyond that, your dealership service center would rather be working on bigger jobs than an oil change. That’s why they nickel and dime you with surprise fees. You’re paying the salary of a brand-specific specialist to do something any good mechanic can do.

How to Know the Best Place for an Oil Change

Drivers only need to know a few things to choose an affordable oil change shop with confidence:

  • Find a trusted mechanic who is familiar with your make and model.
  • Know the manufacturer recommendation for oil-change intervals, oil weight, and conventional or synthetic oil.
  • Your driving probably does not constitute “severe” conditions. High speeds, stop-and-go traffic, and extreme weather can shorten your oil lifespan. Are you a taxi driver? Do you commute to Los Angeles twice a month? Did the car sit in Death Valley over the summer? If not, you are a regular driver.
  • Trust your dashboard alerts if the car tells you when it’s time for new oil or an oil filter replacement. Modern cars use automated sensors that are more sophisticated than going by a magic mileage number.
  • Use premium synthetic oil if you want added engine protection or if the manufacturer says so.
  • Know your warranty because it might dictate a minimum oil interval. Don’t pay for an extended mileage oil if it’ll make you go too long between changes while in warranty.

How Often Do You Really Need to Change Oil?

When all vehicles needed an oil change every 3,000 miles, there was very little debate about it. Nowadays, some of the pushier mechanics out there continue to insist on the 3,000-mile interval while the auto manufacturers tout the ability to go 7,500, 10,000, or even 15,000 miles between changes.

If you want a straight answer, you’re not alone.

Virtually every car can get away with going 4,000 to 5,000 miles between changes. Fancy imports like BMW or Porsche tend to go even longer, so don’t think you have to baby your car.

Talk to your mechanic about your driving habits, too. For example, a car you don’t use will still need new oil every year regardless of the mileage.

Get a personalized recommendation for how often you need to replace oil and the best type of oil for your car. Contact us at All Around Auto Repair with any questions, or drive on in for your next oil change in Windsor, CA.