Does it Matter Where You Get Your Oil Change?
It used to be that you’d have auto service and repair done by the shop you bought the car from or your local mechanic. However, the more urban you get, you have many more auto repair shops to choose from. Increased competition does a couple of things that might surprise you. To stand out in a crowd of auto repair shops, all offering oil change and auto repair services, someone has to do something extraordinary to garner attention. Offering while-you-wait service, free loaner cars, or a great warranty are a few ways to stand out. After all, who wants to wait or worry about something going wrong with the repair?
Another way to stand out is to offer better pricing or better service. Unfortunately, these two usually don’t go hand-in-hand. Here, we’re looking at two axioms which may make you wonder why you’re price-shopping auto repair and maintenance, such as oil changes.
Oil Change: Good, Fast, or Cheap
In today’s fast-paced society, everyone wants to get products and services at an instant’s notice, pay the least, and get the best quality. The problem is that its impossible to get all three in one package. You must make the sacrifice, based on these three basic rules:
- Good service fast won’t be cheap.
- Fast service cheap won’t be good.
- Cheap service good won’t be fast.
This is important to understand the relationship between different kinds of services. For example, good service requires better materials and more-experienced technicians, both of which increase the price. Fast service might require setting aside a specific bay for your on-demand oil change, requiring mechanics to shuffle and hustle, another expense. Cheap service usually means cuts in one of these other two areas, maybe using less-experienced technicians, inexpensive and low-quality supplies, or putting your vehicle on the back burner for “when they get to it.”
You Get What You Pay For
Along the same lines, “you get what you pay for” makes total sense when talking about oil changes and other auto services. For simplicity, we’re going to talk about “the $20 oil change.” For example, you can buy a quart of conventional oil for maybe $5, or you can buy a quart of synthetic oil for more than double, but let’s call it $10. Even within these broad categories, there is a great variation in pricing, from as little as $2 to $20. Similarly, oil filter also comes in different grades, from cheap to premium and high-capacity. Of course, auto shops usually get bulk pricing, but it’s still not free.
When shopping around for an oil change, the price of supplies is directly related to the price you pay and the quality and reliability you can expect. If you’re getting $2 oil and a $3 oil filter, are you getting a quality oil change that will help your engine last longer? Chances are good that many engines are sent to early scrapyards for poor quality materials. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to buy the most expensive oil either, unless you’re driving a luxury car or performance car, in which case you might need the quality and protection of a higher grade of oil.
Another problem, aside from quality, is business practices. Every business is in business to make a profit. One way to increase profit is to reduce costs or increase prices – cheap supplies make cheap oil changes. Another way to increase profits is by selling additional services. At best, shops break even on cheap oil changes, which means they’ll be looking to upsell you other services. Think of it like a diner offering cheap unlimited coffee – they’re losing money on the coffee, but the great majority of people visiting are buying the food, which makes the diner profitable. Granted, you might need some services, but you can expect to be upsold and possibly pressured into purchasing something to help them make a profit. Fortunately, customers tend to weed out the dishonest and pushy shops, and you can learn a lot from online reviews if you’re looking for your next oil change.
The Best Oil Change You Can Buy
Getting a regular oil change is an absolute must, but you have choices. Choosing cheap doesn’t always get your car what’s best for it, and you could be setting yourself up for shorter engine life, excessive fuel consumption, and higher emissions. If you must choose cheap, then at least make sure they’re using quality supplies and experienced technicians. Still, expect to wait a little longer for the job to get done.
If you’re interested in going the DIY route, you could do your own oil change. This gives you full control over what supplies you use, but also requires investment in some basic tools and equipment, such as wrench, funnel, drain pan, jack, and jack stands, or ramps.