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What is the Difference Between Quick, Traditional, and DIY Oil Changes? 

Oil changes according to your maintenance schedule keep your engine free from excessive wear and tear and ensure it lasts as long as possible. You have choices when it comes to getting an oil change done, whether you do it yourself in the garage or on the driveway, you take it to a trusted mechanic for a comprehensive service, or you stop for a quick oil change at the corner garage.

Not all oil changes are equal, though. While it’s not always the case, there can be major differences in the quality of oil and filter change you receive between these styles. You can expect to pay as little as $20 for the parts with a DIY job or more than $100 for an oil change at a dealership or full-service garage. But what differs between them?

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Difference between a quick and standard oil change 

Often, a quick oil change and a standard or traditional oil change may be provided in the same shop, or even by the same people. However, you’ll often find quick lube shops as standalone stores that only perform basic fluid maintenance. Traditional oil changes are what you’ll experience at a dealership’s service center or at a garage that can do everything for you like brakes, tires, tune-ups, and leak repairs. 

When you go for a quick oil change, the process normally looks like this:  

  • Wait in a queue for your turn in the bay since they don’t normally take appointments 
  • Drive your own car in and stay in the vehicle during the 20 to 30-minute service 
  • Choose the tier of oil and filter you’d like 
  • A lube tech drains the engine oil, swaps the oil filter, and adds engine oil 
  • Your tires, washer fluid, and other fluids may or may not be checked, depending on the shop 
  • You pay in your car and you’re on your way 

With a standard oil change, the steps are a little more comprehensive:  

  • You can often make an appointment or stop in without one 
  • You’ll check your car in and sit in a waiting room for 30 minutes to an hour 
  • A certified technician changes the oil and filter on a hoist 
  • A multi-point inspection is performed and you’re given a report on your car’s condition 
  • Fluids are topped up and tire pressures are adjusted 
  • In some cases, your car is given an express wash 
  • You pay a cashier and collect your keys 

The DIY oil change 

How to change your oil

Comparatively, a DIY oil change can encompass a huge range. It’s up to you whether you get it done as quickly as possible or spend time going deeper into the service.  

When you change the oil yourself, you purchase the oil and filter you want. In your own time, you can complete the service. It’s your choice to simply drain the oil, change the filter, and add new oil or to include more options. If you have the time and desire, you could also check tire pressures, check the other fluids, inspect the belts and wiper blades, look for leaks, inspect the steering and suspension for looseness, and more.  

Pros and cons between oil change styles 

Is one oil change a better option than another? Explore the pros and cons of each type.  

Pros of a quick oil change 

A quick oil change has its benefits such as:  

  • It’s fast, often taking only 20 minutes or so from start to finish 
  • It’s convenient with no appointment necessary 
  • There are locations almost anywhere you are 
  • It can be an inexpensive option for a full-serve oil change 
  • You can stay in your car the whole time 

Cons of a quick oil change 

It’s not a perfect solution, though:  

  • The tech performing the oil change is often low-skilled and might not have any formal training 
  • It’s hard to be sure of the oil and filter grade used on your car 
  • Under- and over-tightened drain plugs occur more frequently 
  • A vehicle inspection often isn’t done 
  • The oil change reminder doesn’t get reset 

Pros of a standard oil change 

With a standard oil change, the comprehensive service comes with benefits like:  

  • High-quality fluids and filters are typically used 
  • A qualified technician works on your car 
  • The waiting area is more comfortable than staying in your car 
  • A thorough multi-point inspection is performed 
  • You have peace of mind from a better experience 

Cons of a standard oil change 

There’s a downside to a traditional oil change, though:  

  • It takes longer than a quick oil change 
  • You may need to make an appointment 
  • Shops are less readily available  
  • It can cost more than a quick oil change 
  • They may try to upsell you on additional services 

Pros of a DIY oil change  

Doing your oil change yourself puts the power in your hands:  

  • You have first-hand control of how well your oil change was performed 
  • Since there’s no labor charge, it can cost less 
  • You can choose the oil and filter grade you want 
  • You can take as much or as little time as you want to get it done 
  • It helps build your confidence and skill working on your car 

Cons of a DIY oil change 

Cons of changing your oil yourself can include:  

  • The possibility you do something wrong unknowingly 
  • You don’t have additional parts on hand if required 
  • It can take longer than a quick lube 
  • You need the equipment and tools at home to work on your car 

What type of oil change works best for you? 

Doing your own oil changes is a great way of building up your skills. But if you don’t have the time or the tools to get the job done, taking it to a shop can fit your needs. A quick oil change can be fine, but at least once per year, your car should have a comprehensive inspection completed and any additional services done, whether you do it yourself or get a traditional oil change performed. 

Need engine oil and a filter for your DIY oil change? AutoZone has What It Takes To Do The Job Right. Shop online or ask an associate for assistance. If the job is too big for you, seek out one of our Preferred Shops to help you do the job.

FAQ/People Also Ask 

Is it better to get an oil change or do it yourself? 

You can choose to do an oil change yourself or have a shop do it for you, and what’s more important is adhering to your maintenance schedule.

Should I DIY oil change?  

Changing your own oil is a great way to know your vehicle better and build skills, although it’s not mandatory.

How much is a oil change vs DIY?  

An average oil change is between $50 and $60 at a garage, while a DIY oil change can cost between $20 and $40 depending on the fluid and filter you need.

How long does a DIY oil change take? 

Expect to spend 30 minutes to an hour for a DIY oil change.

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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