We love paying for oil changes — said no. one. ever. No worries! Fun Cheap or Free is here with our ultimate guide to getting a cheap oil change, and you will reap the savings rewards time and time again.
Some costs in the family budget are necessary and essential, but they still sting a little bit each time you pay them. Ouch! Oil changes are one of those costs. Every time you take your car in for an oil change, it seems like the price has climbed higher than ever before.
*Note: When you click the links in this post, we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.
Bottom line – you don't have to pay full price for an oil change. Because of the constantly increasing costs, you should ALWAYS look for a deal before heading out. We've learned a few tips along the way that have helped us save big bucks on a cheap oil change, so we're passing the savings on to you!
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Knowing the ins and outs of your car allows you to ignore the sneaky marketing tactics of some service centers. The most important tip we can offer you is to READ your car's manual. Yes, we know it's so basic and boring. That's why most of us don't do it! But, when you are armed with knowledge about your car, you can make smart decisions when you're spending those dolla dolla bills on maintenance.
Here are the highlights you should know relating to oil changes.
- Recommended Maintenance Schedule – Many mechanics and lube shops will recommend that you change the oil in your vehicle every 3,000 miles – but most newer cars can go much longer than that. Some will even go up to 7,500 miles between stops. That's a huge saving opportunity!
- What Do Your Dashboard Lights Mean? – Sometimes those little indicator warnings on the dashboard can be misleading. Make sure you know what each of them means and how critical they are to your car's wellbeing.
- What Type of Oil Does Your Car Need? – Does your car run best on conventional or synthetic oil? Synthetic is more expensive but it allows a car to run longer, so it may be worth the extra cost. Either way, it's important to know what type of oil will keep your car happy.
Spend just a little extra time getting to know your car, and you will save BIG. We're all about helping you keep the money in our pockets instead of in their register.
SAVVY TIPS FOR YOUR NEXT CHEAP OIL CHANGE
We really dislike — emphasis on the REALLY — driving up to get a basic lube job and being blindsided by extra add-ons that they absolutely insist that we need. Right? Rude! If you know your car and try out the following tips, you can confidently say “No, thanks” to that oily service salesman.
- Avoid Up-Sells – Unless you know that your car needs a new filter, a fluid flush, or other common up-sell services, just say no. The employees at the service station will always offer them—it's their job. Don't fall prey to their persuasive monologue detailing why you need all.the.things.
- Keep a Maintenance Log – Most car manuals come with a section where you can write down your maintenance services each time you take the car in. If you have one, then USE IT! You'll stay organized and have evidence that you don't need that expensive filter next time the service center offers it. BAM!
Yes, these are simple ideas, but they are ideas that you can take right to the bank. You'll keep costs low and learn more about your car all at the same time! Way to go, you savvy saver, you!
CAN YOU GET A DEAL AT THE DEALERSHIP?
Is it best to go to the dealership for services or your local lube shop? At full price, we've found maintenance services are WAY more expensive at the dealership than at your local service centers. But wait! There are a few instances where the dealership could be the cheaper option.
- Add-Ons to a New Car Purchase – Dealers love to throw in free oil changes and other services as a perk for a new car purchase. If they do, then take advantage of it! Better yet – haggle a bit with your car salesman next time you are buying and ask for free oil changes with the purchase of your car.
- Package Specials – We've seen auto dealers offer package specials – usually around the holidays – where they bundle services at a discount. You may see deals like ‘Three oil changes for $90″ which breaks down to $30 per service. That's a pretty sweet deal!
- Free Oil Changes with a Test Drive – This is a REALLY fun one. Dealers will run promos on a certain model of car – something that is brand new or that they are trying to move. They'll offer a gift card for services at their in-house service center when you come test drive their featured car. Not a bad trade, right?? Get behind that wheel and speed into some savings!
On an average day, head to your local lube shop for an oil change. You will usually spend less money (and time) keeping that fancy car of yours humming.
WHERE TO FIND GREAT, CHEAP OIL CHANGE DEALS
If you know anything about our site, you know we don't do coupon cutting for groceries — but there are certain times when we always use a coupon. Oil changes are one of them! Here are just a few of our favorite spots to find a deal for a cheap oil change.
- Groupon – We can always find a deal on Groupon for an oil change. If you're flexible on the location you can visit, simply enter your zip code to see what deals are available in YOUR area.
- Local Coupon Magazines and Circulars – You guys! We know that SO MANY people just throw out these advertisements that come in the mail. They are PURE GOLD for offering discounts at local shops for cheap oil changes, tire rotations, and more. Don't toss 'em!
- Walmart – If your engine light is on and you need an oil change like yesterday, then your local Walmart is the cheapest option for a full-price oil change. A basic oil change at Walmart with conventional oil is $20 and about $40-50 for synthetic.
- Costco Auto Program – Are you a Costco member? Then take advantage of their Auto Program! Costco teams up with local service centers to offer a 15% discount on all services, parts, and accessories. Just go to Costco's online Auto Program page, type in your zip code, and you'll find your local participating center.
Pro Tip: Don't forget that seniors who are 55+ as well as Active Military, Veterans, and First Responder families almost ALWAYS get an automatic discount on services. Simply ask your local service center at your next visit to find out what perks are available to you.
SHOULD YOU DIY YOUR OIL CHANGE?
Many people think that going the DIY route is the best way to get a cheap oil change. Changing the oil in your car yourself is a pretty simple process. TONS of people do it. But, if you're just looking for ways to save money, this may not always be the cheapest option.
You have to factor in other stuff like the equipment you'll need, the motor oil, and any other parts and accessories. We're getting tired just THINKING about all of that. You'll also have to learn the proper way to dispose of the used oil afterward.
If you know your way around a car and aren't intimidated the moment you raise the hood, then have at it! But, if you're an auto repair rookie, then it's probably best to refer to your local professional to keep you safely on the road.
If you DO decide to change your own oil, consider buying your motor oil on Amazon. They sell an in-house Amazon label brand that beats the price of even Walmart and Costco. Seriously – what can't you find on Amazon??
By always taking time to seek out a great deal, you can save a serious wad of cash the next time your car needs an oil change. Do the prep beforehand so you can get in, get it done, and hit the road!
Leave a comment and tell us your fave place to find deals on oil changes.
Before you hit the road, check out these posts for more great savings tips:
- See our favorite car hacks and essential items to take on the road.
- Save money by washing your car at home.
- Get ideas on the best foods for your next road trip.