Of all the car maintenance the modern driver must know, perhaps the most routine of all is the changing of the engine oil and filter. You have to do it eventually; it’s the first of law of owning a car.
Maybe it’s not the first law, but getting a regular engine oil change and a new filter to boot will make you and the car feel like a million bucks.
Changing engine oil and the filter are a necessary task if you own a vehicle. How often you change the oil, what type of oil you add, the size of the filter, among many other factors determine how often the oil change will occur.
The price of the oil change can depend on many variables as well, such as the type of car, the mileage, and where you live.
Some people used to do all of their car oil changes at home. What a great feeling it was starting up the old car and taking it for a spin around the block and up the alley to get the oil flowing through it after a fresh oil change.
Nowadays, most people don’t do car work at home.
Sure, the hobbyists and the professionals alike may have the tools and the time. The majority of people, however, take their car to a garage to have the oil changed.
Is it Necessary to Change the Filter when Changing Engine Oil?
When people start thinking about changing their engine oil, they often wonder, should I change the filter, too? Yes!
Oil is critical in a car. Without it, the engine wouldn’t be lubricated. The oil filter has an important role in the process.
So, what does that oil filter do exactly? It has a very special job. It filters, as the name implies, the oil. All of the nasty impurities like dirt, metal shavings, and oxidized oil that build up in the machine are kept out of the system by the oil filter.
You definitely don’t want to have a dirty or bad oil filter because it can cause a lot of problems down the line.
Oil filters are very helpful in that they can make your car last a long time. Depending a reliable synthetic oil is also wise if you want to avoid clogs.
Swap your oil filter every time you replace your oil.
Generally, the engine oil and the filter can be replaced at about 5,000 to 6,000 miles. Some cars can go longer.
Look in your owner’s manual to learn what the manufacturer specifies. If you’re curious, ask a mechanic when your next oil change should be.
The car won’t usually stop working if the oil filter is clogged. What happens instead is that a bypass option rescues the engine.
The bypass doesn’t have a filter, though. That means dirty and contaminated oil are going to hit your engine and hard. Don’t be surprised if your engine is in bad shape after driving around with a clogged oil filter for months.
It goes without saying that routine maintenance is the key to having a car that doesn’t cause a lot of headaches. Drivers who stick to the routine schedules for their car care end up with a lot less problems. They get the oil changes. They get the tune ups. They change the oil filter, on time, every time.
Don’t let anybody tell you don’t need a new oil filter when changing the oil, be it a mechanic or your brother. You need to understand that a dirty filter makes clean oil dirty, not the other way around.
You wouldn’t use a dirty filter to drink clean water, would you? No, because what’s gunky in the filter is going to affect how the water tastes. The same situation is occurring with the oil. You can’t let the impurities hang out in the filter.
You need a clean filter every oil change.
Should You Buy a New Filter when Replacing Engine Oil?
Nowadays, the everyday drive doesn’t even know how to change the engine oil and the filter in their car.
Drivers are often clueless about taking care of their cars. The classes students used to take about maintaining their car aren’t commonly offered to the twenty-first century student.
However, thanks to the Internet, it’s fairly easy to at least familiarize ourselves with these processes so we don’t get taken for a ride when get visiting the mechanic.
If you have a car, you know that a regular oil change will be due sooner or later.
You can figure out the due date by looking at the car’s oil meter. Most newer cars can tell you how many miles until your next oil change. If not, you can check the engine oil the old-fashioned way, with a dipstick.
When you reach for the dipstick, refer to the owner’s manual for specific instructions as to where to find it and what oil may be needed.
With the dipstick, you can actually check two important conditions: oil level and oil quality.
Park your car in a flat and even spot. On a hill won’t give you an accurate reading. Turn the car off and give it a couple of minutes so everything settles. Insert the dipstick entirely and then pull it out for a reading.
See where the oil measures between the designated marks. Too much or too little is cause for concern.
You can also check the color and quality. If the oil seems to have little bits in it, or it’s very dark and dirty, it’s time to visit a mechanic. Clean and healthy oil is yellow, almost like the color of honey.
How Often should Changing the Engine’s Oil and Filter Occur?
Changing the car’s engine oil and the filter should be done often. It should be taken care of, on average, every 5,000 miles or three to six months, which occurs first.
There are some cars that can go up to a year without an oil change, but these are high performance vehicles with top-of-the-line oil.
If you’re driving a lot, then you need oil changes more often.
What about a stored car? Sometimes people are going to store their cars and wonder if they should get an oil change or change the filter.
Oil sitting in a car can be pushed to about six months. After that, it will need to be changed. Just to be safe, change the filter, too.
Today, you can ask the mechanic for a sticker for your windshield. It will tell you the date or mileage that requires an oil change. You should do whichever comes first. If they won’t offer a sticker, set a calendar reminder or put a note to yourself in the glove box.
If you can’t get to an oil change on exactly that date, you’re probably okay for a little bit longer, but not much.
Remember, companies that do oil changes make money on every oil change. If they had it their way, you’d be in there every 90 days like clockwork.
In summary, the mileage and the time are variable depending on several factors. Then again, you can play it on the safe side and stick to the plan.
What is the Cost for Changing Engine Oil and Filter?
The cost of changing the engine oil and the filter varies on a few different factors.
The first factor is if you will do the oil change yourself. If you have the experience, knowhow, and the tools, there’s no reason why you can’t do the oil change yourself – except maybe frigid Chicago temperatures in the winter months!
Doing the work on your own, as well as buying the parts yourself, gives you full control over the oil change and costs less. However, finding time to change the engine oil and the filter can be difficult when you’re really busy as most of us are.
You will most likely pay $20 to $70 for an oil change. That’s a broad range!
Not all garages are created equal. For twenty dollars, you may get a quick oil change while you sit on a folding chair under a buzzing fluorescent light next to the timeclock like something out of a movie.
For thirty or forty bucks, you can head to the big chain oil change places where the service is likely to be fast and efficient, but not all branches are created equal. Some people who do oil changes know very little about cars and learn just how to do the oil change. Read reviews online before heading in.
For the high-end oil change customer, you’re heading into a dealership that treats you like royalty. They have donuts in the waiting room and give a full report on the car inspection. Not only is the oil and filter changed, but the mechanic will offer you tune ups and add-ons galore.
The type of motor oil will also impact the cost. You can get conventional oil – the cheapest and older style. You can also look into full synthetic – it’s cleaner, purified, and distilled. The engine loves it.
It costs more, though. If you move heavy loads or have a turbocharged engine under the hood, synthetic is highly recommended.
You can cut costs, on the other hand, with synthetic blend. This synthetic blend allows you to save a few bucks with oil that is cleaner than normal but less clean and pure than full synthetics.
There are also specialty oils, for racecars and high mileage vehicles (over 75,000).
When in doubt, check the owner’s manual. The book will tell you exactly what types of oil are the right match for the vehicle.
You can invest in synthetic oil to save big bucks down the line. Synthetic oil helps you avoid breakdowns and problems in the future. As an added bonus, you’ll squeeze in more miles in between oil changes.
If you have a big engine, the oil change will cost more. People often pay more to change the engine oil and the filter on a truck than they do a small economy car.
People love to do small projects themselves; that being said, automobile work is no joke.
If you don’t know your way around the car, you could cause a lot of damage. Changing the oil in a contemporary car isn’t for the faint of heart.
Changing the Engine Oil and Filter is Always Worth It
Don’t skimp on the cost when it comes calling a mechanic to change your engine oil and the filter. It eats at your weekend spending money, but it’s worth it.
Your car is a major investment. If you don’t take care of it, you’re going to lose money. How long do you plan on keeping your car? Two years? Five? Ten?
If you want it to be around and kicking for a long time, then the regular oil changes are simply a must.
Maybe you’re at a point where you take your car to get the oil changed, and the mechanic comes out with a sad look on his face.
You’re finding out that the car needs a lot more done than replacing the engine oil and filter. Brakes, transmission, tires, the head gasket…. it’s going to cost a fortune.
If this happens to you, maybe you’d be better off calling a tow truck to haul the car down to the junkyard. Good news: the junkyard usually pays cash for old cars!
The Ultimate Conclusion on Changing Oil and Filters
The conclusion about engine oil and filter changes is that they must be done on a regular schedule. Listen to your mechanic, and obey the car’s owner’s manual.
If you can afford synthetic oil, consider it. It will save you a lot of problems down the road. You’ll be cruising with confidence before you know it.