The Pros and Cons of a Do-It-Yourself Oil Change

Doing your own basic maintenance saves time and cost, but is it right for you?

Sometimes cars are so streamlined and fancy these days that it’s easy to forget they are complicated pieces of machinery that need some care and attention every now and then. Whether you commute to work, go on rugged outdoor adventures, or just cruise around town, make sure your vehicle always runs smoothly with occasional proper maintenance and service. 

When it comes to maintenance, there are a few basic services to address—like an oil change. While some people leave an oil change to a mechanic, others like to do it themselves and save a bit of money. But as with most things, there are some pros and cons to a do-it-yourself oil change. Read on to see if a DIY oil change is right for you.

Pros of a do-it-yourself oil change

There are definitely a few advantages to a DIY oil change, such as:

  • It can be completed quickly in a short period of time. You actually can save a lot of time completing an oil change on your vehicle. Rather than scheduling an appointment with a mechanic, driving to the maintenance center, and waiting around for your car for a few hours, doing your own oil change takes roughly 20-30 minutes—significantly less time than dropping your vehicle off at a service center. 
  • It’s less strain on your wallet. When you do your own oil change, you can save a decent amount of money. Because you are doing the labor yourself and sourcing your own materials, the cost goes way down with a DIY oil change. Just know that if you do an oil change on your own, you’ll need the right tools to complete the task. Some basic tools needed for a DIY oil change are:

1. An oil drain pan

2. An oil filter wrench

3. A floor jack

4. Jack stands

5. A funnel

6. Latex gloves

7. A socket wrench

8. A replacement drain plug washer

9. Wheel chocks

Cons of a do-it-yourself oil change

Errors can be expensive to fix. Changing your vehicle’s motor oil isn’t overly complicated, but it’s important to be thorough and careful.

  • If you use the wrong oil grade, the hydraulic components might be affected, which could ultimately cause engine damage. Using too little oil will lead to a lack of lubrication, resulting in damage to engine parts. Then again, using too much oil can lead to leaky gaskets and engine seals. And not tightening the oil drain plug or forgetting to remove the previous oil filter gasket can be detrimental to your vehicle.
  • Remembering when to complete an oil change. Vehicles that use standard motor oil require an oil change every three months or every 3,000-5,000 miles (whichever comes first). When professionals handle the oil change, they place a sticker on your windshield that reminds you when to schedule your next servicing date. If you are changing engine oil on your own, make sure to write down the date of the next required oil change to keep your car running smoothly; otherwise, take the guesswork out, and schedule an appointment with an oil change expert.

If you have questions about or need help with an oil change, request an appointment at any of the AAA Owned Auto Repair Centers near you. Or, find a AAA Approved Auto Repair Facility in your neighborhood. AAA Members receive a 10% discount on labor and a 24-month, 24,000-mile warranty. Not a Member? Not a problem! All are welcome.