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What Does an Oil Change Cost?

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An oil change is a required maintenance for your car on a regular basis. You can prevent major damage to your vehicle’s engine by changing the oil on a regular basis.

The price of an oil change can vary widely by the shop. At Walmart, the range can be $19.88 to $49.88. At Jiffy Lube, the prices range from $45 to $100. In general, conventional oil is the cheapest option, and synthetic oil is the most expensive. Before you choose either synthetic or conventional, consult your owner’s manual because some new cars require synthetic oil.

If you’re putting off an oil change, here’s why getting one is an important part in maintaining your car, other small maintenance expenses you may incur, and how to afford all these costs.

What happens if you don’t get an oil change?

The oil in your engine is used to lubricate moving parts and absorb the heat of your engine.

Will Craig, the CEO and managing director of LeaseFetcher, explains, “Over time, the oil in your engine can start to break down, making it ineffective. This means that you’ll have to change it to keep it working well.”

Depending on the vehicle and your driving demands, you typically need to change your oil between every 3,000 to 7,500 miles, with some experts even recommending 15,000, if using high quality synthetic oil. As your car ages, you should expect to change the oil on a more frequent basis. Based on how many miles you drive in a given month, the number of oil changes you need on an annual basis can add up quickly.

If you do not change your oil, then your vehicle will suffer drastic consequences. At first, the engine will run too hot and cause a sharp decrease in efficiency. Over time, the components of your engine will begin to warp and wear out without lubrication. If you stretch the time between your oil changes, you may reduce the life of your engine as time goes on.

If you neglect your oil change maintenance routine for too long, then the entire engine will stop working. At this point, you will either have to replace the engine or buy a new car. New engines can cost thousands of dollars, so that is one repair that you will want to avoid.

Maintaining your car: 9 common costs

Although oil changes are extremely important for car maintenance, they are not the only regular maintenance you should perform on your vehicle. By scheduling regular maintenance, you can help to keep your car running smoothly for years.

You should be prepared to pay for several repairs on an annual basis for your car. Each of these maintenance costs adds to the true cost of maintaining your car. AAA estimates that the average annual cost for new car ownership is $8,849. When you factor in fuel, insurance, license and registration fees and taxes into the total, it is not surprising that it can add up quickly.

The costs below are helpful to keep in mind as you plan your yearly car maintenance budget. However, your vehicle maintenance costs will vary widely based on a variety of factors like your car model, geographic location and the individual mechanic.

Maintenance Typical cost
Oil change $20-$100
Tire rotation $24-$120
New tires $50-$350/tire
Brake pad replacement $100-$250
Wiper blade replacement $23-$38
Cabin air filter replacement $25-$100
Engine air filter replacement $20-$50
Transmission fluid flush $75-$150
Timing belt $500-$950


Of course, other large repairs can pop up anytime. Car engines can be somewhat unpredictable to the untrained eye. However, if you make sure to keep up with your regular maintenance, then you are less likely to have a surprising repair bill.

Covering your car costs: 5 tips

According to a AAA survey, 1 in 3 American drivers could not pay for an unexpected repair without going into debt. Keeping up with your car maintenance on top of your other expenses can be difficult.

If you are struggling to cover the costs of your car, then consider these options.

  • Learn the basics. If you are handy with cars, then you can save hundreds of dollars on regular car maintenance by performing the maintenance yourself. Many of the parts are affordable but the added labor can bite into your budget. When times are tough, then you may consider learning how to perform basic car maintenance yourself.
  • Find the right mechanic for you. As your car ages out of the warranty, you will need to find a reliable and affordable mechanic to take care of your car. If you do not want to do any repairs yourself, then it is critical to find a mechanic that you trust. Otherwise, you may end up paying for unnecessary expensive repairs.
  • Build an emergency fund. With an emergency fund on hand, you will be more prepared for whatever life throws your way. When an unexpected car repair pops up, then dip into these emergency savings to take care of it.
  • Pick up a side hustle. Take advantage of your current skills or learn something new to start earning extra money. You can use the money to fund car repairs. A few ideas include babysitting and starting a blog.
  • Sell your things. If you have things lying around the house, then consider selling them for cash. Not only will you be able to use that money to fund a car repair, but also declutter your home at the same time.

Car emergency? Ways to fund an unexpected cost

If you are faced with a sudden car repair that is not in your budget – don’t panic. Even if you do not have the money on hand, you still have options.

Instead of taking drastic measures, like selling your car, consider taking out a personal loan to fund the emergency. Personal loans can be used for a variety of reasons, including emergencies. This can be a good option if you have a good credit score because you might even qualify for low-interest rates.

Another option is to tap into your existing credit cards. However, proceed with extreme caution. Do not let yourself become trapped in credit card debt with high interest rates. An alternative to your open lines of credit may be signing up for a credit card with a promotional 0% or low interest rate. This type of card can help you avoid interest costs on your charges if you pay off your balance before the promotional period ends.

Always do some research or get a second opinion before accepting the initial quote of an expensive repair. If possible, build an emergency fund to take care of these unexpected car repairs. Otherwise, you may consider personal loans or low-interest credit cards as options as options for your car emergency.


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