Cars can be complex machines, but even if you can't tell a transmission from a tailpipe, you should be more than capable of changing your own oil.
It's a great thing to learn to do, as it's a relatively easy and economical way to get your hands dirty and learn more about your vehicle. Changing oil is the most simple regular maintenance to perform, and once you've done it for the first time you may never want to pay a shop to do it again.
If you've never changed your own oil, now is as good a time as any to start. Here are five reasons we think you should do it yourself:
1. Instructions are available online
No matter what make or model car you own, you can almost certainly find instructions online for replacing the motor oil. A quick online search will turn up multiple videos and tutorials, such as the one seen above. These resources will help you determine the technical difficulty of changing the oil in your particular vehicle, and will also tell you the tools you will need.
2. Oil, filters and tools are easy to find
Once you've determined the tools that you will need and checked your owner's manual for the correct oil and filter specifications, you can likely buy what you need in your neighborhood. Local auto parts stores carry a huge selection of oil and filters. Quality tools can also be purchased at your local hardware store.
3. Quality control
Many mechanics don't inform customers about the specifications or the manufacturer of the oil that they use. Most shops will use the oil that is correct for your vehicle, but some mechanics will use poor quality oil to cut down on costs. Changing your own oil ensures that your car is getting the quality lubrication specified by the vehicle manufacturer.
4. Time savings
Changing your own oil actually saves time when you compare it to driving to a shop, waiting an hour, and driving back to your home or work. You can buy the oil and filter on your way home from work or errands and change the oil in the evening. This way you don't have to spend time sitting in a mechanic shop or hitching a ride to the shop and back.
5. Personal satisfaction
Completing an oil change provides satisfaction on a personal level. Maintaining a machine that you use on a daily basis creates a tremendous feeling of accomplishment. It also enhances your understanding of your vehicle and appreciation for its technical complexity. Performing a couple of oil changes can give you the confidence to perform other routine repairs, such as brake pad replacement.
You'll be a grease monkey before you know it.
Stan Markuze is the founder of PartMyRide, an online marketplace for original used auto parts.