Oil Changes Are They Worth Doing Yourself

Posted by: Lydia on 3/08/2017

Category: Maintenance


Often there are two sorts of DIY car owners: those who think they can fix everything themselves, and those who learn otherwise.

By default, car maintenance can be a bit of trial and error. Nobody wants an engine to catch fire, but small things like changing your windscreen wiper are doable.

What about under the bonnet? Sure, retuning your engine or rewiring your car’s electronics is best left to the professionals. But do you really need to visit the mechanic for basic things like oil changes? Read on for our guide on the ins and outs of doing this maintenance task yourself.

Your mechanic likes you but doesn't need to see you all the time

As we’ve said frequently in previous posts, building a good working relationship with your mechanic is important. It ensures you’ve got a professional you can depend on when something goes wrong, and who can make the whole process of car service and repairs seamless. Mechanics value repeat business, and will often cut costs and add extras once you become a regular.

This doesn't mean they need to see you all the time, though. In reality, while mechanics will do it, time spent on oil changes and basic tasks keeps them from bigger and more lucrative jobs. Changing your own oil is also a chance to fill the role of your mechanic, and do a mini-check of your car for issues. Regular inspections should be part of your routine anyway, but the more often, the better.

The issue of costs

Prices vary from mechanic to mechanic, but you’re not usually looking at pocket change when it comes to oil changes. Multiply the cost by how many times per year you need one done, and that’s a significant sum of money - money you can easily save if you change your own oil. Some drivers might be hesitant due to the time required to change their own oil, but in reality, it’s quicker than driving to the mechanic and waiting for service.

It’s also a reality that car ownership can be an expensive proposition. When everything is going well, it's affordable and wonderful. When you start seeing smoke coming out of the engine? An expensive bill may be headed your way, so saving money on small services when you can is important.

It’s an opportunity to build your knowledge

When it comes to cars, the more knowledge you have, the better. Even drivers that just want to get from A to B will find that it’s still in their best interest to learn as much as they can. This is because the costs for maintenance and service of your car are often directly linked to your knowledge of them.

Sure, if your battery dies, you’ll need a new battery no matter what. Yet, with some knowledge about your tyre use, driving habits, and overall car performance, you’ll find you can save a ton of money on costs. Central to all this is “getting your hands dirty” when you can. Changing your oil and doing other minor servicing will guarantee you have hands-on experience that builds your car IQ.

Just don’t try to do everything

As we discussed earlier, there is always that car owner who tries to do everything, with mixed results. At its best, it could just be a case of a car enthusiast who went one step too far and broke something. At its worst, the person might create a dangerous situation by trying to fix a major problem in their car without a mechanic’s expertise.

Having an interest in your car is a great thing, but so too is knowing where your limits are. That’s why changing your oil is an important thing to do regularly, and also the first step in car maintenance 101. If you find yourself able to change your oil regularly without much fuss or drama, that’s great. If you find it a real hassle or struggle with it, though, that’s a sign that you should know your limits when it comes to DIY car servicing.

Tyreright tip: look to buy and store

In 2014, oil prices were over $100 Australian per barrel‚ but in 2016 they were barely over $50.  Generally, manufacturers will have a large reserve to navigate any bumps in the market. But if you see a great sale on oil, buy it.  When stored safely in a cool‚ dry place‚ oil can last for years. It’s never a bad idea to stock up if you see a sale on‚ especially if you have more than one car in your garage.

If you can build the habit of changing your own oil, you may find you also feel more comfortable doing small maintenance tasks and fixing other minor issues. If you find something is wrong though? Be ready to visit your mechanic as normal - it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Changing your oil and filter

One of the best things about the era we live in is the access to great car content online.
Some of the videos available are pure fun, like this channel that creates amazing videos. Other clips can be really practical and useful, like these videos that show step-by-step how to change your oil. Over time, you can watch and improve your technique too.

Beyond changing your oil, it’s also worthwhile to learn how to change your filter. The old golden rule is “every 5000 kms or 3 months, whichever comes first”. Not every car will require you to change the filter along with the oil, so check with your car’s manual for specifics. Finally, once your oil change is done, store the old oil safely, and dispose of it properly.

Do you change your own oil? Do you feel it’s worthwhile? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below:

Image: Pixabay