How Long Does an Oil Change Take?

You can’t really talk about automotive maintenance without talking about oil changes. An oil change is one of the most common maintenance projects on a vehicle. However, you may have questions surrounding this process. If you’re unsure about how long an oil change takes, where to take your car for an oil change, or any other questions about an oil change, find answers to these common questions today. Discover how to get the best oil change and keep your vehicle running efficiently.

How Long Does an Oil Change Take?

The duration of an oil change depends on several factors. Are you changing your own oil or taking it to a shop? Oil change professionals, especially those at “quick lube” shops, change oil every day and are generally good at changing oil quickly; but you might take a little bit longer if you’re changing oil yourself, especially if you only do this as often as is needed by your vehicle.

If you bring your vehicle in, expect to wait between 15 and 45 minutes for an oil change. If you take your vehicle to a quick lube shop and can be seen immediately, the process can take as little as 15 minutes. Longer estimates typically account for wait time due to customer backlog: the other customers who scheduled their service or got there before you did.

A repair shop may take a bit longer, so expect a wait time between 30 and 45 minutes at these locations. Finally, DIY oil changes typically take between 30 minutes and an hour, depending on your tools, experience, and garage setup.

Another factor is what kind of car you drive. Many cars have oil drain plugs and filters that are easily accessible on the bottom of the vehicle, but not all cars do. If your car’s plug is less accessible, it might be a bit more difficult and time-consuming.

Why Do Repair Shops Take Longer Than Quick Lube Shops?

There are two main factors that make a quick lube shop faster than a repair shop. First, a quick lube shop specializes in oil changes, so the setup may be geared toward rapid oil changes. Second, a repair shop typically performs other routine inspections and tune ups, so it can take additional time as they check your tire pressure, coolant level, and other maintenance areas.

Determine whether you need additional maintenance inspections or not before choosing the best professional to service your vehicle. While a repair shop may spot other issues that need immediate attention, a quick lube shop typically performs an oil change much more quickly and affordably. If you consistently have your oil changed at a quick lube location, consider scheduling routine inspections at your local auto repair shop for preventative maintenance and other fluid top-off.

Is It Faster to Change My Own Oil?

If you’re looking for a way to save money and take charge of caring for your automobile, you may be asking, “Can I change my own oil?” Changing your own oil is possible, but it typically takes longer than a professional job. If you have professional tools and enough experience, you may be able to change your oil in as little as 30 minutes. That said, it is highly unlikely that you’ll change your oil faster than a professional could, if for no other reason, because the professional does oil changes potentially every day. It may, however, save you money, and it could be fun too!

Learn how to change your car’s oil

How Often Should I Change My Oil?

While the old rule of thumb has always been 3,000 miles or three months in between oil changes, this is a general, and outdated, idea. While it’s essential to have oil changes that keep your vehicle running efficiently and keep your warranties valid, many vehicles perform well after 3,000 miles.

Some vehicles need oil changes even more frequently. If you only drive your vehicles at low speeds and are frequently starting up your engine, you may need an oil change as often as every 1,000 miles. Vehicles that consistently drive only 10 miles or less can collect condensation in the system, which causes oil to break down faster.

On the other extreme, many vehicles can safely drive for up to 10,000 miles. When you run synthetic oil and drive longer distances on a newer vehicle, you may be able to drive up to 10,000 miles before changing your oil. It’s best to consult a professional opinion at your local AutoZone or repair shop before driving this distance without an oil change, and whatever your driving conditions may be, an important rule of thumb is to strictly adhere to the drain interval requirements set in your owner’s manual.

What Happens if I Don’t Change My Oil?

Changing your oil frequently helps extend the lifetime of your engine and other components. Like most people, you’ve probably run your vehicle for several hundred miles past the recommended point. What happens if you don’t change your oil exactly on schedule? While occasionally pushing past the recommended interval may not be noticeable, over time it can have adverse effects.

Old oil becomes opaque and dark black, and causes sludge to build up in your engine. Over time, it can create friction points, clog components, and cause engine seizure. While this is an extreme situation, it’s important to keep your oil new, clean, and ready to properly lubricate all the moving components in your engine.

What Type of Oil Do I Need?

Now that you know how often to change oil, it’s time to pick out the best oil for your vehicle. Your owner’s manual will specify the exact weight of oil for your vehicle. The weight of oil, such as 5W-20 or 10W-30, describes the viscosity at the ideal operating temperatures of your oil. For more information about oil weight, synthetic vs. conventional, and all the best brands and additives for your vehicle, stop by AutoZone.

Advice, how-to guides, and car care information featured on AutoZone.com and AutoZone Advice & How-To’s are presented as helpful resources for general maintenance and automotive repairs from a general perspective only and should be used at your own risk. Information is accurate and true to the best of AutoZone’s knowledge, however, there may be omissions, errors or mistakes.

Be sure to consult your owner’s manual, a repair guide, an AutoZoner at a store near you, or a licensed, professional mechanic for vehicle-specific repair information. Refer to the service manual for specific diagnostic, repair and tool information for your particular vehicle. Always chock your wheels prior to lifting a vehicle. Always disconnect the negative battery cable before servicing an electrical application on the vehicle to protect its electrical circuits in the event that a wire is accidentally pierced or grounded. Use caution when working with automotive batteries. Sulfuric acid is caustic and can burn clothing and skin or cause blindness. Always wear gloves and safety glasses and other personal protection equipment, and work in a well-ventilated area. Should electrolyte get on your body or clothing, neutralize it immediately with a solution of baking soda and water. Do not wear ties or loose clothing when working on your vehicle.

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