questions$$ for a high mileage/synthetic-blend oil change…

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I think I pay around $60 for ful synthetic. I usually look for a coupon and get $5-$10 off, so it helps a bit. I think it's worth the money, and if you have a good filter, you should be able to go 7k miles between changes.

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A synthetic blend oil change will usually cost 2-3x the price of a "regular" oil change. You can usually drive 2-3x as much between such oil changes, though, so you actually pay less since your opportunity cost is lower.

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$60 for a synthetic blend oil change is a rip off and your mechanic is lying to you. Yes barrels of crude oil have steadily risen in price the past few years. But we've seen very little increase on the small scale motor oil scene. A quart of name-brand synthetic blend oil from WalMart runs $2.XX. It can be bought it 5-quart jugs for like 12 bucks. I buy full synthetic for ~$22. 95% of oil filters are between $3-$8. All these costs are even less for your mechanic. I say it's time to take your car elsewhere, because they're taking you for a fish.

On a side note, change your own oil. It takes 15 minutes, it's cheaper and you know it's done right. Perfect way to afford full synthetic every oil change.

And contrary to what most people say/think, synthetic motor oils were not designed to extend the time between oil changes. They simply offer better thermal protection to vital engine components. Can you run them longer? Maybe. But why push the lifeblood of your car? Oil changes are cheap.

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I have used fully synthetic oil most of the time in all my vehicles, and exclusively in this one. It has 115 miles, and not having any engine problems, yet (but it is burning a bit of oil, now that you mention it). So keep that in mind when I say this:

The evidence to support the use of fully synthetic (or even synthetic blends) of oils is not very convincing. I've seem some engineering tests here and there, but there isn't the equivalent of a prospective clinical trial: say 1000 of the same cars with regular oil, 1000 with synthetic and see what happens over the next 10 years. It hasn't been done. The synthetics don't break down as fast, but they still get contaminated with combustion products (et, al) that aren't removed by the filter.

The auto makers seem somewhat ambivalent about the matter. Chevrolet was the first to break the ice and use a synthetic (Mobil 1) as a factory fill in the Corvette, that was like 20 years ago. (cont)

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@kmeltzer: $60 for full synthetic! Wow is that a great deal. Is that through one of these chains? Pennzoil,Jiffy Lube, Firestone auto care, Castrol Quick Lube? These are the 10 minute oil change places around my house. Also there are Sears Auto, NTB, Pep Boys, and several dealerships?

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Since then some others have hopped on for their high end. AMG uses Mobil 1, as does Porche for all their models. No mainstream manufacturer has gone to it for all their models (even high end ones like BMW, Lexus, or Mercedes).

I'll still use it in my vehicles, but I'm still waiting for the real evidence to support it.

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@firebirdude: I've known that my mechanic is on the expensive side but now I am starting to believe he is just gouging me. To his defense, the $60 included a tire rotation, as well as (what they describe as ) a complete diagnostic. I used a coupon for the wheel alignment. It was only $30. I think he raised the price on the oil change to recoup some of the $$ from the coupon.

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@wilfbrim: Ford put Motorcraft full synthetic in my 2012 Focus from the factory.

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I use synthetic but change my own oil, I think I pay an extra $1-2 per quart. So a case of 12 costs me around $45 on sale when I buy it. I get almost 3 oil changes out of it with my car that takes synthetic. So with a $5 oil filter that's only $20 for the oil & filter. So unless the guy who changed your oil is getting paid $160 an hour or two guys are getting paid $80 an hour then you might be getting ripped off a bit. Not to mention they probably get their oil at close to direct prices cutting the cost in half.

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@jimmyd103: It's a Jiffy Lube. I think it's $70, then with the coupon it comes down to $60 or so. I never pay full price for an oil change.

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@jimmyd103: I've been around cars my whole life. My father was a mechanic who came home and worked on more cars while I handed him tools, until I was old enough to help. A few years ago, I participated in this work contract program thing with Bridgestone/Firestone. They flew me all over the country meeting people and working in various positions, from mechanic to sales rep to district manager to area supervisor. Though prices varied a couple bucks depending on location, regular oil changes were $20.99, blend was $34.99 and full synthetic was $49.99. Tire rotations were free if you bought the tires from a Firestone or Tires Plus location. 10 bucks if not. EVERY mechanic offers the free "complete diagnostic". Which is code for using a checklist to look over your car in an effort to find problems and drum up more money. Honesty always has been a problem in this industry. So educate yourself and perform all the work you can yourself. And remember, the Johnson Rod never needs replacement.

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@firebirdude: When you say synthetic is not intended to extend the time between oil changes, are you sure? I understood that regular oil has a viscosity breakdown quicker due to acids that are created when you run your engine. That breakdown takes longer for synthetic oil.

Normally, very good synthetic motor oil features a oil change interval of 7,500 miles for semi-synthetic blend and 20 – 25K miles for complete synthetic motor oil.

I just bought a new car and they recommend synthetic 0W20. The manual states to change the oil every 10,000 miles.

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@jimmyd103: Not full synthetic, synthetic blend.

My $0.02
If you change your oil every 3k miles, stop it. Read the manual and change the oil per the recommendations (usually 5-7k, unless you live in the desert). Synth and synth-blend do take longer to break down (as mentioned by others above), and can theoretically go 10k or so, but you're better off changing oil more regularly with dino-oil, for reasons already mentioned above.

Any reputable shop will let you bring your own oil and oil filter and should discount accordingly (this is what I do to maintain component quality), if they don't, find one that will.

If you have a turbocharger in your car, run full synthetic because it can better handle the higher temps from the intercooler.

--char limit--

j5 j5
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@firebirdude:
I have never ever been able to change my own oil in 15 minutes. Once you add in time for jack-up, jackstands (ramps suck and I've never been able to use them effectively on anything but my truck), cleanup after the oil squirt missed the pan and got all over the garage floor, cleaning up the kids who thought oil makes great finger-paint, jack down, taking used oil and filters to the recycler, etc. it's at minimum a 45 minute process, and for that, I'd gladly pay an oil jockey $20. So weigh the value of your time into the equation.

j5 j5
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@j5: I would do it myself but the tire rotation component is what pushes me over the edge. That is what would take me +45 minutes with a jack and jack stands.

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@j5: Depends on the vehicle. Past three vehicles I've owned, I didn't need a jack at all and the oil filter was accessible from the top. If you can't get to your filter from the top or your vehicle is lowered, obviously a jack will be necessary and it will take a few more minutes. Consider it a wash versus traveling to and from the JiffyLube and standing around reading old Highlights magazines.

And as I said, anytime you have someone else work on your car, you run the risk of them scamming you or damaging your car because they simply don't care (stripping the drain plug, jacking up the car incorrectly, etc). Do your own work and be sure it's done correctly....and from the comfort of your own home.

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@proxgotsthafia: I've never heard you can drive that much longer on synthetic. The ONLY oils I've ever heard that about were specially formulated long-lasting synthetics; I only know of two brands (one small company, and Mobil 1 Extended Performance Fully Synthetic, which is not their ordinary synthetic oil). Even in those cases, you need to buy high-quality oil filters, which may not last as long as the oil itself (but are easier to change).

The last time I paid for an oil change, the synthetic oil change was $50 - but that was a few years ago, so $60 isn't out of line, AFAICT. They massively overcharge for the oil, because it only costs them an extra $5 or so, but they charge the customer almost twice as much - for no added labor at all!

Finally, from everything I've read, synthetic oil really is better than "generic" oil. It breaks down more slowly, and is more resistant to heat damage. So, if you have a high-mileage car, it is the way to go. Sadly.

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@firebirdude: You forgot: "or because they left the drain plug loose, so that by the time you get back you have no oil left." Happened at a Jiffy Lube to an ex-boss of mine; they then tried to talk her into DRIVING BACK TO THEIR STORE so they could fix it. WITH NO OIL IN THE PAN.

Even if you are as clutzy as they were, if you did that you would at least see the puddle of oil under your car by the time you went to drive it next, so you wouldn't risk seizing your engine up just driving home.

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If you do start changing the oil yourself, you may want to consider K&N for the oil filter. Yes, it's not their core product (they normally do airbox filters), but they do have a good design and, more importantly, a feature that makes the operation a lot simpler. They include a big hex bolt head on the end of the filter so you can just wrench it off easily with a 1" socket. With how crowded the space around the filter is on most cars these days, that's a fantastic innovation. It can save a lot of time and effort.

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During the winter, yes, I pay for full synthetic oil changes, but only because I don't have a garage where I can do my own. During the rest of the year, I buy a filter and the oil and do my own. I live about a mile from a garbage transfer station that takes used motor oils from residential sources ( no businesses ) so I don't pay anything to get rid of the old.

I should note: I have 2 cars. one that gets full synthetic and one that will only use conventional ( it burns oil by design and synthetic oils are terrible for the engine ).

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@joemarfice, @firebirdude:
I guess I've been lucky to have found a decent shop, then.
At the shop I frequent, I bring oil, filter, and crush washers, the guys do a good job and they let me watch and we joke and chat. Cost is reasonable, So I'm OK with it. I'd do my own otherwise.

j5 j5
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@firebirdude: I'm with you. The rate limiting step NOW is actually disposal of the waste oil, and that varies widely from location to location. When I lived in the FL panhandle I was not too far from the county landfill and recycling station. They let you drop off recycling for free, and they took everything. Batteries of all kinds (lead-acid, NiCd, NMH, alkaline, name it), cooking oil, engine oil, electronics, old paint, whatever. I'd change the oil, then grab the cans and bottles to be recycled, throw them in the truck, grab the dog and go to the recycling center.

I have a truck with lots of clearance, so I can either use ramps or now just slide under and do what needs to be done. When I moved to South Florida, it was a different story. I had to take it to a AutoZone, and about 1 time in 3 their waste oil container was filled and I had to come back. If I weren't living in an apartment now I'd probably be back to doing it myself.

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I use about $60 worth of synthetic and change it every 10k miles. i've been told my specific brand can last 15k miles, but i just feel guilty when i do that. i prefer to change too often, than not often enough.

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@j5: The RX8 too. I've got one. Not as fast as the RX7, but I think handles a bit better. Fun little car none the less.

@wilfbrim: Most any auto parts store will accept used oil. I just pour it back in the jug the new oil came in and stick it in the corner of the garage. When I get a collection over there, I make a run to the parts store. Maybe once a year.

And most recycling centers will pay you for dead car batteries, just FYI.

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Hey @j5: Quick question: You say that oil changes don't actually need to happen for about 5-7K. My manual says so as well, but I always find it harder to step on the gas and that the engine is less responsive whenever I go past 3500 miles between oil changes. Am I doing something wrong?

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I use a synthetic, Royal Purple, because it is made locally and is extended up to 15k miles. However, having been an ASE Master Technician (5 years), I can tell you most people do not change the oil when they should. No matter what your manuel says there are conditions to the length and mileage one should go. At one time every car was at 3000 miles or three months. Now most are about 6000-7500k or 6 months with conventional oil. However, what is not written in your manuel, but every manufacturer and tech knows, is that is in moderate (70°F +/- 2°) climates with normal drive around 10 miles a day. I do not know any people who live in 70° temps year round that work, grocery shop, and live all within a 5 mile radius. The higher/lower the temp or more miles driven mean more frequent oil changes. Con't...

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I change it myself and use Full Synthetic. I have a full size truck that takes 6 quarts. I caught the Mobil 1 extended life oil on sale with a filter for $25 for 5 quarts and a filter, so it costs me about $30 to change the oil.

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Con't...
This is where full synthetics help. They are less subject to temp than conventional oils so we are talking maybe adding/subtracting 10-15°. These are still very moderate temps. As for longevity, full synthetic oil simply lasts longer at higher temps without breaking down as much. This is great for those of us who live in the South or a desert. It does help in small ways for colder climates, but not as much as for heat. What it all boils down to is: How do you drive? How much do you want to spend at a time? How often do you want to change your oil or pay to have it changed?

I change my own oil (about 15 minutes start to finish in a 4 cyl. gas engine; 20 in a 6-8 cyl.), but have several garges that will allow me to bring in the supplies and charge me a labor fee of $15-17. The oil (Royal Purple) alone is approx. $8-10 a quart. This price depends on crude and racing season, even though it is completely man made in Texas.

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Many of the newer models use oil pressure controlled solenoids and phasers to adjust valve timing. The passages are very small and running clearances on bearings are tight as well. This is one of the big reasons manufacturers use a semi or full synthetic right off the line. Add a quality oil filter with regular changes and it's much cheaper and hassle free than a new engine.

edit to add; if you bring your own parts to my shop, you're going to pay more in labor. I can't bring the fixings to Pizza Hut and have them cook it up for me.

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@kerowyn: Thats' hard to say without knowing more circumstances on your driving conditions. My Miata had an audible oil change indicator (valve lifter tick :)), so I always knew when it was time.
@xdavex: That's fair enough. My shop can't/won't get the parts to meet my specs, so I opt to bring my own since they do good work otherwise. (I'm not talking major mechanicals here) Many oil shops will allow you to bring your own (especially filters) and if you don't bring your own crush washers, you won't get any on the drain plug at all.

j5 j5
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check with the place that changes your oil and see if you can bring your own oil. They will charge you for labor and disposal only. I did this for a long time because I used amsoil and the firestone near my house didn't have a full synthetic line at the time. Also running full synthetic, I would only do one oil change a year but change the filter at 6 months and top of the oil. My 2000 Dodge Ram van has never had a motor issue.

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@xdavex: I agree with the charging more for just labor. I only take my car to the Jiffy Lube if I don't have time. (Very rare.) They do not carry the oil I use, nor the oil filter, for my SUV so I supply my own. I think in the last 5 years, I have done this 2 times. The rest I have done on my own.

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Well I successfully changed the break pads and slides on my NIssan based on the insight of the deals.woot community. It was super easy as most everyone had said. I experienced zero surprises. It took me a little longer because my break pads hadn't been changed in a few years.
I supposed next time around I will opt to change the oil myself. I'll need to pick up some of the necessary tools, drain pan, filter wrench, oil, oil filter. Anything else? Should I pick up a crush washer for the oil plug? I highly doubt mine has survived through the 'Jiffy Lube' changes over the years.
Thanks to all for the input!

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@jimmyd103: Awesome!

Opt for the shallowest drain pan you can find. This may be the difference between having to use a jack or not (it was in one of my previous cars). A funnel wouldn't be a bad idea. And check out the size of your filter and how much clearance for tool movement you have. Sometimes the engine bay is so tight, you can only use the "cap style" filter wrenches with a socket wrench and extender. Or if the area is super wide open, you may not need a filter wrench at all (as with my current vehicle).

Most any manufacturer will recommend a crush washer, but I've never had a problem without them. Never even had a drain plug get loose on me. But if by chance it did, oil doesn't usually start dripping out until the last couple threads of the bolt. A properly installed plug backing out THAT far would be a little ridiculous. But certainly couldn't hurt. They're cheap.

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@xdavex: I lost my phasers in a firefight and am now left only with photon torpedoes until I can get to space dock for repairs. :)
@jimmyd103: Not all cars have crush washers on the oil drain plug. If yours does (check online or with the dealer) then use one, otherwise no worries.
The 3k oil change is a myth that needs to die. Here's California's take, but the biggest impact to dispel the myth was the Taxi Cab study Consumer reports performed way back when. Also, European specs have oil change intervals much higher than in the US.

final note: I've done and do the majority of mechanical and electrical work on my German and Japanese cars just short of a full engine tear-down (haven't needed to yet), but I still pay $20 to have someone else change my oil as it really isn't worth it to me anymore.

edit: changed the link to the FAQ.

j5 j5
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I use Mobil1 synthetic oil and get the 5qt from walmart for about $23 cause its cheaper than buying 4 qts even though I only use 4qts.
I then get a good filter from Mobil 1 and it cost about $13 from a car parts store. Total cost is about 36+ tax = like $40... Mechanics tend to charge up to $10 in fees for random crap. But I could see a mechanic charging from $10-20 for his time to do the oirl change.

ps. using good synthetic oil with a crappy filter shortens the time between changes. Use a good filter to make the time between changes from 5-7k.

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I just use dino-oil and have my wife's BIL do it. He owns a service station.