How Long Does an Oil Change Take?

How long does an oil change take? Is the process of changing oil inside our vehicles a big deal?

These are some of the questions we ask when we’re about to change the oil stored inside our vehicles. It’s a critical vehicle maintenance routine and is essential in keeping our engines in excellent condition.

This process is easy to execute, given that you have the right tools and skills to perform this task. This may take more time, though, unless you let professional mechanics do the work.

Either way, you need to know and consider vital factors when choosing to change the oil. You should also understand why this maintenance routine is essential for your car or motorcycle.

What is an Oil Change?

How Long Does an Oil Change Take

As the name suggests, an oil change is the clearing of stored oil inside the vehicle engine. In turn, you’ll need to supply the machine with a newer and cleaner engine oil.

This process is different from the refill of engine oil when there are inadequate levels inside the engine. What we’re talking about here is the total removal of used oil inside the vehicle engine.

As much as the engine uses oil for lubrication, oil stored in the machine for some time gets dirty. Oil can collect debris from engine parts that rub against each other, especially when low oil levels and pressure.

Keeping used oil inside the engine can lead to the deteriorating performance of the machine. What’s worse is that it can bring a build-up of hardened, accumulated oil or sludges in parts of the engine.

Based on the definition, the task sounds easy. Yet, the entire process usually requires the use of tools and your time and energy.

Why is that? Well, let’s look at the process of oil changing below.

What Happens During An Oil Change?

Oil change seems like an easy procedure of simply removing the used oil and refilling new oil in the engine. However, the process goes beyond that.

Here are the crucial tasks that you or a professional automotive mechanic will do during oil replacements on your engine.

Inspecting the Oil in the Engine

Before starting any repair, inspections should be done first into the level and quality of oil in the engine. Knowing the current oil levels and quality provides a good preview of the engine’s condition.

Draining the Oil from the Engine

After determining the condition of your oil and, by extension, your engine, you’ll need to drain all stored oil inside your vehicle. You should ensure that old oil should be drained so that it would not mix with newly-filled oil.

For this procedure, you can position underneath the vehicle and remove the oil pan attached to the engine.

Replacing the Oil Filter

Old filters are usually soaked in oil and other impurities. With that condition, this part of the engine can’t do its function to filter out oil from debris and other particles.

This is why it’s essential to remove the old oil filter and attach a new, lubricated one to the engine. You’ll be using new oil for your machine, so you’ll need a new filter that would not affect the quality of the oil.

The succeeding procedure involves replacing the old oil filter with a new and lubricated one.

Oil Replacement

Here comes the procedure we commonly associate with when we do an oil change. However, there are things to factor in when changing oil.

For instance, what kind of oil is appropriate for your car, truck, or motorcycle? Engine oils vary according to material and viscosity, and these may or may not be compatible with your vehicle.

In addition, you should factor in the oil viscosity required for environmental and temperature conditions within your area. This matters as thin oils perform well in cold temperatures and thick engine oils in hotter conditions.

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what is viscosity

How Long Does It Take To Get An Oil Change?

Oil changes usually take from 15 to 45 minutes. Yet, a quick search shows that durations may vary depending on whether repairs are done by a mechanic or yourself.

For instance, some say it’s 15 to 25 minutes at best. Others say that it may take 30 to 45 minutes.

Nonetheless, we generally agree that oil change is a waiting game that requires patience. However, you can avoid going through long waiting hours in repair shops and quick lube stations.

Here’s a detailed explanation of the best time and day to visit a repair center to replace your engine oil.

Why Are Oil Changes Important?

Despite being an ordinary vehicle maintenance routine, regularly scheduled oil changes are highly essential for the vehicle. Besides, what’s not to like about feeling relieved after knowing that your vehicle engine uses newly-filled gas, right?

Listed below are some of why we need to change and replace your engine oil as needed.

Better Lubrication and Cooler Temperature for the Vehicle

Engine oil helps provide lubrication for engine parts that are in contact with each other when the vehicle is in use. It also helps in minimizing the temperature that tends to get hot due to friction.

However, old contaminated oil inside the engine can damage the oil pump. Having a faulty oil pump can lead to further issues on friction and overheating inside the vehicle.

Replacing old oil with a new one regularly can help in avoiding these issues. Still, the oil you’re using must be compatible with the vehicle and the environment in your area.

Protects against Engine Sludge

Engine Sludge

Contaminated soil that is kept inside the engine is prone to sludges over time. It can seriously affect nearby engine parts, such as the filter and oil pump, if not addressed immediately.

In addition, when you refill oil on a sludged engine, it will not provide lubrication. This can also affect the performance of your vehicle on the road.

However, this is avoidable if you regularly change your engine oil. Another important preventive measure is to check the oil pump or other parts of the engine for possible damage.

Greater Vehicle Performance

Old oil stored in the engine can affect the performance and life span of the vehicle. Especially when you’re driving across state lines for a couple of hours, rough driving conditions are a headache.

Yet, if you regularly change the engine’s oil and subject it to clean up, the efficiency of your vehicle will be guaranteed.

High Repair Costs

The expenses for changing oil are significantly cheaper than paying for repairs and replacements for damaged engine parts. Unlike the former, the latter’s price can depend on the severity of damage within your engine.

We don’t want to spend vast amounts of money on repairs on avoidable damages in the first place. This is why you need to subject your vehicle to regular maintenance checks, including oil replacements, from time to time.

How Much Does An Oil Change Cost?

Oil replacement service costs depend on the car’s model, type, oil requirement, and repair service. For you to estimate your possible expenses just for an oil replacement, here are some services that are usually covered:

How Much Does An Oil Change Cost

Oil Filter Replacement

Depending on the vehicle you’re using, repair centers usually charge customers about $5 to $100.

Oil Replacement

Costs for this service will depend on the type of oil you need for your vehicle. Synthetic and high-mileage oils are usually more expensive than conventional and semi-synthetic oils.

Payment for Old Oil and Filter Disposal

Believe it or not, disposing of old oil and filters require a fee that varies according to State and location.

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Labor Costs

Payments for labor also depend on the imposed fees by repair centers. This is not a fixed rate, so you need to check the costs per preferred repair center before pushing through the replacement.

Added Fees

Often, service centers recommend repairs for other parts of the vehicle. In the context of oil replacements, mechanics may see damages in engine parts that may either be repaired or replaced.

When Should You Change Your Oil?

There’s no defined metric as to when oil replacements should be made for your car. Yet, this will depend on the oil your vehicle is using and the vehicle model and life span.

For instance, you should replace conventional oil every 5,000 miles and synthetic oil at 10,000 to even 15,000 miles.

Older car models are recommended to replace the oil every 3,000 miles, while new models can run on old oil at 5,000 to 7,500 miles.

To know the appropriate duration of oil inside your engine, you can refer to the vehicle manufacturer’s manual. You can also consult the matter to your local repair center or mechanic.

Signs Your Car’s Oil Needs Changing

Here are some warning signs that should determine whether your vehicle needs an oil change:

Signs Your Car's Oil Needs Changing

Oil Change Indicator Lights Up

On your dashboard, there’s an indicator that shows if you need an oil change. If it lits up, then it is time to subject your engine to an oil replacement.

Knocking Noises on the Engine

Inadequate oil levels can lead to a lack of lubrication in the engine and risk the engine parts due to friction.

Bad Oil Quality

As a result, oil inside the engine will have a dark appearance and thicker viscosity, eventually leading to oil sludge.

Bad Oil Smell

The oil that doesn’t lubricate well results in overheating. Along with its dark appearance, you can also detect a bad oil odor.

Smoke on the Exhaust Pipe

Aside from the bad oil quality, you’ll also detect a bluer than usual smoke coming from the vehicle’s exhaust system.

Reaching the Limits of the Engine Oil

We cannot measure whether you need to change our oil depending on the number of miles the vehicle traveled. However, you can refer to a vehicle manual, a mechanic, or a sticker providing the date of your next scheduled oil replacement.

How Long Do Oil Replacements Take By Yourself?

While do-it-yourself oil changes are possible, it usually takes more time than the usual repairs on service centers. Given that you have the right tools and adequate skills for the task, the process can take an average of 30 minutes to one hour at most.

If you have decided to take the matter into your own hands, you still need to follow specific procedures. Here are steps in changing your engine’s oil, the DIY way.

Step 1

Before you start, ensure that you’re wearing safety gear to prevent any untoward accidents while doing an oil replacement.

Step 2

Slowly drive the vehicle forwards until the front wheel reaches the inclination of the ramp. Ensure that the ramp is positioned at the wheel’s center, the chocks are placed, and the vehicle is on an emergency brake.

Step 3

Place the oil pan and rags under the engine where the oil sump is located. Carefully remove the drain plug with a ratchet wrench in a counterclockwise position.

After removing the drain plug, leave the opening exposed to drain the old oil from the engine.

Step 4

After ensuring that old oil has been completely removed from the engine, reinstall the drain plug clockwise.

Step 5

Place the same oil pan and rags directly under the oil filter. Carefully remove it in a clockwise position and completely detach it once old oil has been extracted.

Step 6

Assuming that you have purchased a new oil filter, install it into the engine. Check first whether it is a cartridge or spin-on design as each installation is different.

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Step 7

Open the vehicle’s hood and detach the oil cap. Place a funnel onto the engine entry and pour newly-purchased oil into it.

Close the entry with the oil cap after pouring adequate amounts of oil for the vehicle.

Step 8

Carefully remove the chocks and the emergency brake. Slowly drive back down the ramp.

Step 9

Switch the engine on and keep it idle. Inspect possible oil leaks on the drain plug and oil filter.

If there’s leaked oil on these areas, switch the engine off. Further, analyze whether it needs to be repaired further by a mechanic.

Step 10

With the engine shut off, examine the oil levels of the vehicle with a dipstick.

Step 11

After further inspections, clean up the workspace and properly dispose or recycle oil. You can also jot down the mileage of the vehicle’s oil, as it will be helpful in future oil replacements.


What Happens If I Don’t Change My Oil?

If oil inside the engine hasn’t been changed, it will compromise its quality and performance. Stored oil might be contaminated at this point and can affect the lubrication of the engine over time.

In addition, the engine can experience oil sludges from accumulated and contaminated oil. What’s worse is that it can lead to engine failure, repair, and replacements that may cost vast amounts of money.

How Often Should I Change My Oil?

There’s no actual duration in determining the longevity of oil inside your engine over time. Oil replacements will depend on the type of oil you’re using and the type and model of the vehicle you’re driving.

Vehicles that are run through conventional oil, for example, can run up to 5,000 miles. Meanwhile, those with synthetic oil can operate for 10,000 to even 15,000 miles.

In terms of vehicle models, older ones can use old oil for up to 3,000 miles. Contemporary models, on the other hand, can use oil for up to 5,000 to 7,500 miles.

Moreover, the mileage of your vehicle can also depend on the quality of your driving. Stop-and-go traffic flow, short travels, and driving on rugged roads and heavy loads affect the vehicle’s mileage.

If you’re curious about your vehicle and oil’s mileage, consult a mechanic or refer to the vehicle manufacturer guide.

What Are The Different Oil Types For Oil Changes?

Depending on the vehicle compatibility, you can use any of the following engine oils for your car or truck:

Conventional Oil

This cheap but reliable engine oil is suitable for old automobiles. Compared to other types of engine oil, this can’t withstand high-power engines for a long time and requires more oil changes.

Semi-Synthetic Oil

A cheap mix of conventional and synthetic engine oils

Synthetic Oil

This type of oil is strong enough to hold itself in higher temperature engines in high-powered vehicles.

High-Mileage Oil

As the name suggests, this kind of oil has a mileage of about 75,000 miles.

Final Thoughts

How long does an oil change take? Is it worth it to do one for your vehicle?

As much as possible, we argue that vehicle owners should have their engine oil replaced whenever appropriate. Not only does it ensure a properly functioning vehicle, but it shields you from possible high repair costs.

Lastly, oil change provides relief to you. Having a vehicle with an excellent operating engine and functioning engine oil is, in a way, peace of mind for vehicle owners like you.

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