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What You "Auto" Know About Cheap Oil Change.

In the world of “you get what you pay for,” the cheapest price for an oil change is not always the best value. I would like to break down a $19.95 oil change advertisement that I recently heard on the radio.

It said: “Our premium oil change and complete inspection for only $19.95.”

This seems like a very good price… until you listen to the disclaimer.

The disclaimer states that the price is good for conventional grade oil only, and most cars from 2000 and newer require an oil better than the conventional grade.

They also said that the “complete inspection” included a visual brake inspection only, which means the wheels would not be removed to do a thorough brake inspection, either.

Another disclaimer states, “Valid for up to 5 quarts of 10/30 or 5/30 conventional oil. Extra fees for synthetic or semi-synthetic blend oil. Cartridge oil filters extra. Valid for most cars.” Okay, let’s break that down. Many cars these days have cartridge filters by default, so that’s an extra charge tacked on right there. When they say “most cars,” what does that mean? What are most cars? Which cars are excluded from the deal?

The average cost for an oil change on a 2000-2010 car should be in $39.00 range. Most shops add a hazardous waste fee and tax on top of this cost.

Cost for the correct engine oil averages $4.00 per quart. Multiply that by 5 quarts on an average car and that equals $20.00 in oil, all before adding an oil filter or paying a person to do the service.

As you can see, a qualified technician is well aware of these costs and can give you a real breakdown of where the money’s going. If you hear a “good deal” on the radio or see an ad online or in your paper, it’s important to read the fine print and see which caveats apply. You won’t be happy if you go in for the “deal” and find a bunch of extra charges tacked onto your bill anyway. It’s best to find a trusted shop that you know does quality work, even if it seems a little more expensive up front. In the end, the cost will likely be the same.