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What goes into the cost of an oil change? And how can we save a few bucks on our next trip?

Good Question: What goes into the cost of an oil change?
Good Question: What goes into the cost of an oil change? 03:01

MINNEAPOLIS — A common way to maintain your car's health is giving customers sticker shock.

Some drivers are spending upwards of $100 for an oil change, without any add-on repairs.

Yelp got more than 30,000 quotes on oil changes. The average price was $66 in the United States, with the range being $39 to $119.

WCCO spoke with Rob Stadtler, general manager at Steve's Tire and Auto in Minneapolis.

"It is a lot of money spent, but it is a low-cost expense in the grand scheme of things when it comes to taking care of your vehicle," Stadtler said.

Stadtler says the going rate for an oil change at his shop varies from about $47 to about $82 

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The cheapest change in the U.S. involves conventional oil, ranging between $30-$75. Next up is synthetic blend oil, between $40-100. For full synthetic, it's between $65-$100.

"The simple truth is there's a lot of factors that go into making up that price," Stadtler said.

They include the current price of oil and the amount needed, the type of vehicle, labor, and the complexity of the job — especially since newer cars have more parts to navigate.  


"In decades past, you probably realistically could do an oil change in about five to seven minutes," Stadtler said. "Nowadays, it can take upwards of 30 to 40 minutes."

Many of those factors have risen in recent years, like wages for staff and oil prices.

"If we look at just pre-pandemic pricing, I'm looking at a 55-gallon drum of oil, it's gone up $250," he said.

Is there good value in getting a synthetic oil change? WCCO asked Brian Moody, the executive editor for Kelley Blue Book.

"Synthetic oil does have a longer life," Moody said. "I would say you could probably go by the owner's manual for sure, but something like 7,500 miles would be more in line with a synthetic oil change."

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That's well past the old saying of three months or 3,000 miles, meaning fewer trips to get the oil changed.

"And synthetic motor oil performs better in those very cold climates," Moody said.

Still, dropping nearly $100 can be a tough expense. To save money, Moody suggests calling shops ahead of time to find out prices, and checking their websites for coupons.

When buying a new car, try to work out a deal for free maintenance. Lastly, you could do it yourself to cut out labor costs. That might feel daunting, but Stadtler has an easier task for drivers: do it every few times they get gas.

"I would say most average consumers, the biggest thing is looking at the level and topping off to the full mark," he said.

Both Stadtler and Moody also suggest people follow their vehicle's owner's manual for all repairs, especially while it's still under warranty.

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