DIY Oil Change: A DIY Don’t

November 23rd, 2020 by

Contrary to popular belief, performing a DIY oil change may not actually save you time or money. Find out why you should leave it to the experts.

Have you thought about doing your own oil changes? How hard can it be, anyway? Simply drain the old oil and add the new. Simple, right?

Car maintenance costs can quickly add up, so it makes sense that many owners might look to what they can do on their own. And with an oil change seemingly not needing any special equipment, that makes it an obvious choice.

However, there’s a reason almost everyone you know gets theirs done at the dealership or garage. While not impossible, it’s certainly not as convenient as one might think.

Keep reading to find out why a DIY oil change is a DIY don’t.

Why Oil Changes are Necessary

Before going further, it’s important to stress the importance of regular oil changes. Not everyone understands the purpose of this, and are willing to push their scheduled maintenance longer than recommended, not knowing the consequences.

A car’s engine is made up of various moving metal parts. They need to operate in unison to run optimally.

The oil keeps all of the components running smoothly. It helps dissipate the heat that builds up and prevents the accumulation of harmful substances.

Without clean oil, the engine can easily be damaged. Once this occurs, you need to consider at least a new engine if not a whole new car.

An Oil Change is More than an Oil Change

When you bring your vehicle in for an oil change, the technicians do more than replace the oil. The go through a checklist to make sure that your car is in optimal running condition and doesn’t require additional maintenance.

While it can be nerve-wracking to think about what ‘hidden costs’ you might be presented with, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Not knowing that your oil filter needs to be replaced can cost you in both fuel economy and performance.

Technicians will also top up your other fluids, too. Unless you’re willing to buy and store all the necessary fluids for your vehicle, you could start running low on something essential and not even notice. At least not until it’s too late.

Save on the Overhead

You don’t need a hydraulic lift or pneumatic tools to change the oil in your vehicle. But you do require a few other tools to do so.

First, you need an oil pan, jacks to raise the car, car jack stands, as well as a funnel, towels, and gloves. You also need cleaning materials strong enough to get all the oil off these products when you’re finished.

Even if you’re willing to go out of pocket to get these items, you need someplace safe to store them. Bear in mind that they could still have oil residue on them, so be mindful that you don’t get them in contact with other items.

Avoid the Mess

Changing oil is inherently messy. Even seasoned professionals can find themselves stained with oil after a job. And they’re experienced at it!

There’s enough of a learning curve that you need to accept that you’ll likely make a considerable mess the first few times you change the oil. Do you have a workspace that can take that kind of mess?

Limit Your Risk

Changing your oil isn’t an especially complex job. However, it has a very narrow margin of error.

There are many small errors that could have a huge impact on the health of your vehicle. Failing to replug the engine, or not installing the filter properly can put significant stress on your engine.

Even using the wrong oil or adding the wrong amount can affect the engine’s performance. The scariest part is that you might not even know until you’re driving at 55mph, surrounded by traffic.

If a mechanic makes an error, they’re responsible for it. That saves you the liability of getting your car back to its proper condition. If you make an error, that liability is on you.

Consider the Environment

You don’t have to look at the news for long to come across a story about the devastating effects of an oil spill. Now, the oil from your car doesn’t compare to a spill from an industrial accident, but the damage is still real.

The first risk comes from draining the old oil. If it spills and gets into the soil or water source, it’s impact may be marginal. However, imagine the consequences of everyone having such a lax attitude.

Secondly, the old oil needs to be disposed of properly. Finding places that will take it isn’t difficult, but it is a demand on your time. Now you have to plan for a trip to get to the disposal center, cutting into your time and savings.

Finally, you have to transport the oil to the disposal center in your car. What happens if the container leaks or, worse yet, spills? That cost of clean-up can be quite high.

Enjoy the Break

It doesn’t take long for an oil change to be done by a professional. But you do need to bring your vehicle to them to get it done. Instead of struggling under your car and in your driveway doing the change yourself, enjoy the downtime.

It may seem trivial to say, but getting an oil change done is a great opportunity for a moment’s peace. It can also be a chance to get some work done, too, or reply to emails and messages.

You’re also saved any trips to big box stores if you realize you bought the wrong oil or filter size. This alone saves you time and stress.

Final Thoughts on the DIY Oil Change

Cars are becoming increasingly sophisticated every year. What was once a minor job now needs to consider the array of sensors and computers that keep the car safe.

Oil changes have stayed relatively simple, but they offer their own challenges. From the cost of materials to the inconvenience of work to the disposal of the old oil, it’s a multi-faceted job.

Riskier yet is the potential damage caused by any errors in a DIY oil change. It can be scary to put your trust in a car that wasn’t serviced by a professional.

If you’re in need of an oil change, or you’d like to schedule any other service, call the experts at the Huber Service Center at: (402) 238-1775.

Posted in Service and Parts