How much does an oil change cost?

Factors that affect your oil change cost include the amount of oil, type of oil, and time between changes. The average oil change cost with conventional oil is $46.

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Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Mar 29, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Oil changes can help your car engine last for many years
  • Oil change prices vary according to how much oil is used
  • Changing your oil yourself can save you the most money
  • The average conventional oil change costs $46

An oil change is fairly basic regardless of the car you drive. You can even change the oil yourself if you don’t mind getting a little dirty.

However, if you would rather have someone else change your oil, there are a few basic things you should know first.

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What are oil change prices by vehicle make and model?


If you’re not familiar with the process of changing your car’s engine oil, you may think that prices can differ drastically among different makes and models.

However, unless your vehicle has some sort of special filter or the need for specialized synthetic oil or synthetic blend oil, the process is similar in almost all vehicle types.

The price difference occurs because of the amount of oil your vehicle requires.

For example, a four-cylinder economy car is going to have a lower oil capacity than an eight-cylinder SUV.

Below is a partial list of some of today’s most popular vehicles (2011 model year) and their engine oil capacities.

  • Kia Soul – 4 cylinder/1.6 L: 3.5 quarts
  • Chevrolet Volt – 4 cylinder/1.4 L: 3.7 quarts
  • Chevy Silverado 3500 Pickup – 8 cylinder/6.0 L: 6.1 quarts
  • Dodge Grand Caravan – 6 cylinder/3.6 L: 6 quarts
  • Dodge Durango – 8 cylinder/5.7 L: 7 quarts
  • Ford Fusion – 4 cylinder/2.5 L: 5.3 quarts
  • Ford F1 50 Pickup – 6 cylinder/3.5 L: 6.1 quarts
  • Hyundai Elantra – 4 cylinder/2.0 L: 4.3 quarts
  • Honda Odyssey – 6 cylinder/3.5 L: 4.6 quarts
  • Toyota Camry – 4 cylinder/2.5 L: 4.7 quarts

Clearly, you can see how the oil capacities vary from one car to the next.

Going according to oil capacity, using the exact same oil for all vehicles, the KIA Soul would be the cheapest on the list while the Dodge Durango would be most expensive with an oil capacity of seven quarts.

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What are the different oils and different costs for an oil change service?


Labor is obviously free if you decide to change the oil yourself. However, you can compare prices in the cost of the oil itself as well as the oil and air filters if you plan to change them as well.

Using nationally known auto parts store and service center Pep Boys, here is a shortlist of oil change prices in order of least to most expensive:

  • In-house brand (Proline) – $4.19/qt.
  • Peak, Shell, and Mobile brands – $4.49/qt.
  • Quaker State – $4.99/qt.
  • Pennzoil, Castro, Valvoline brands – $5.49/qt.

These prices reflect standard oil at typical weights of 30, 40, and 50. From there, prices go up for more expensive oils including high-performance and synthetic blends.

What is the difference between conventional motor oil and synthetic motor oil?

If you were following the advice of the manufacturer for a 2011 Kia Soul, 3.5 quarts of high-grade synthetic oil could cost you between 45 and 60 dollars. If you were to use standard oil from Pep Boys, your oil costs would be closer to 15 dollars.

So the question is, is synthetic oil really worth the extra cost? According to Motor Trend Magazine, probably not. They did a test to compare engine wear based on the assumption that the average driver does not subject his vehicle to the harsh conditions synthetic oil is made for.

Running an engine for a simulated 3,000 miles under normal conditions revealed no significant difference in engine wear between both natural and synthetic oils.

Since most of us change our oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles without driving in extreme conditions, it hardly seems worth it to pay five times more for synthetic oil.

According to Discovery Communications’ HowStuffWorks, the choice between standard or synthetic oil comes down to a couple of factors including:

  • environmental consciousness
  • the time between oil changes
  • whether you really believe synthetic oil will be better for your engine

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How can you extend your oil change interval?

If the potential cost of changing your oil seems a bit frightening to you, there may be some good news. Check the owner’s manual that came with your vehicle to find manufacturer recommendations for oil change frequencies. It’ll be under routine maintenance plan and depends on your type of engine.

According to Edmunds, the average American is unnecessarily wasting a lot of money on oil changes.

Their claim is that today’s modern cars have an average oil change cycle of 7,800 miles rather than the 3,000 miles of days gone by.

Edmunds even suggests some of today’s high-performance cars can go as much as 20,000 miles without an oil change. Regardless, an oil change can extend your engine life, along with other practices like tire rotation, frequent tire pressure checks, and checking your fluids, including oil level.

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Should you use a lube shop?


Before you stop at your local Midas or PepBoys, ask yourself whether it’s worth the cost.

According to a 2012 National Oil and Lube News survey, the average price for a standard oil change at a nationwide lube chain was just over $35. That same oil change was about $33 at a full-service repair shop and almost $44 at the local dealership.

Dollar for dollar the price between the lube chain and full-service repair shop is comparable.

Your full-service repair shop is usually staffed with seasoned mechanics with plenty of years experience. While it’s true they may pass off oil changes to green lube techs, at least the techs are under the supervision of experienced mechanics.

On the other hand, almost all of the workers at your local lube shop are nothing more than lube techs. They follow a script and a work flow chart put together by their employers; they may or may not have any real experience working with your engine.

What does this all mean?

To start with, if you are comfortable doing it yourself, you can change your oil for just the cost of the oil and the filter. Filters typically run less than 10 dollars.

So using the 2011 Kia Soul as an example, the cheapest oil will run about $15 for 3.5 quarts, and the oil filter is about 10 dollars. For 25 dollars and 20 minutes of your time. you can do the job at home.

A second option is to take that same vehicle to a quick lube shop and you’ll pay about 35 dollars for the same service. One advantage is that they’ll also probably check your tire pressure, wiper blades, air filter, and PCV valve.

Some will even rotate your tires at no additional cost.

Lastly, you can take your car to the dealership and pay almost twice the cost as you would by doing it yourself. We can’t say what types of services they offer as part of the oil change because each dealer is different.

You’d have to ask your service manager what’s included in the price.

Since finding cheap car insurance is a bit more complicated than changing your oil, make it simpler by putting your ZIP code into our FREE quote tool!

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