Changing Your Own Oil: Why You May Want to Think Twice About It

  • Oct 17,2016
Lights on a car dashboard at night that says "Engine oil change soon". The words are in blue. The symbols for what gear the automobile is in is also lit. The letter D is orange, showing that the vehicle is in drive. Lights on a car dashboard at night that says "Engine oil change soon". The words are in blue. The symbols for what gear the automobile is in is also lit. The letter D is orange, showing that the vehicle is in drive.

When that little sticker in the top left corner of your windshield warns you an oil change is imminent, you have three choices: change the oil yourself, find a mechanic to do it for you, or peel the sticker off and forget about it. (Oil is vitally important to your engine's well-being, so please don't pick choice #3!) If you believe you’re embarking upon a magnificent rite of passage by changing your own oil, think again. Read on to see why oil changes are so essential to the health of your car and why, in the long run, doing them yourself may not be the best thing for your sweet, sweet ride.

We take oil changes really seriously. Here's why:

Oil changes keep your car running newer, stronger and longer.

Motor oil provides three key services for your engine. First, it lubricates the engine to keep everything running smoothly. Second, it absorbs much of the heat the engine naturally produces and keeps the whole thing from overheating. Finally, it prevents harmful substances from accumulating and sludging up your engine, as we note in Motor Oil and Your Car.

Beyond preventing engine damage, frequent oil changes offer additional benefits like improved fuel economy and convenient opportunities to perform quick engine check-ups. An oil change is a low-cost way to keep your car’s engine running better, longer. In the words of, regular oil changes are like "really cheap insurance for your engine." Like, really cheap.

Should I change my own oil? Two reasons to think twice:

Oil changes include more than just the oil.

There are two primary reasons you should trust an expert to change your oil: convenience and risk.

Changing your own oil is not as convenient as you may think.

Having your oil professionally changed offers multiple practical benefits. If you were to change your own oil for the first time, you would have to research the steps and materials required, purchase said materials (a special wrench, an oil pan, the correct oil, etc.), change the oil, clean it up, then bring your discarded oil and filter to the proper facility to be safely discarded. On top of that, you would most likely spend more time and money on all of the materials than you would at an auto repair shop. Is all that time and hassle worth it, even if you manage to save $5?

Pro-Tip: Should you choose to change your car's oil on your own, make sure you dispose of your used oil and oil filter properly. You can bring both by your nearest Firestone Complete Auto Care location or find a hazardous waste recycling facility near you on

It's risky business, and not the Tom Cruise kind of risky business.

Having your oil professionally changed reduces the chances that something could go wrong with the oil change but also with your vehicle down the road. Mechanics are specifically trained to get it right the first time. Their expertise means that they're very unlikely to make amateur mistakes such as using the wrong oil, overlooking a leak, or cross threading the filter. Think of it like this: when April 15 rolls around, you turn to an accountant who will find you additional deductions while saving you significant time and effort. Likewise, when your change oil light comes on, you should head to the mechanic. In both cases, professional experience pays off.

So how often do I need to change it? Not as often as you think.

Oil changes can be part of your regular car care routine.

Standard advice states that your oil should be changed every 3000 miles or three months, however you probably need one much less frequently due to the many high-performance motor oils available today. After an oil change, the technician will be able to give you a fairly accurate estimate of when your oil will need to be changed again based on your engine's condition and the type of oil used. However, you might need to bring your car in earlier than this is if it's operating in extreme conditions (think Sahara desert, slopes of Alaska, or the great dirt roads of Texas) or your dashboard’s “change oil” light appears unexpectedly.

We know that for some people it doesn't matter who works on their car. But for others, it couldn't matter more. Visit your nearest Firestone Complete Auto Care oil change location today and experience a whole new level of customer service and car care. After one of our full-service oil changes, you can drive confidently knowing that your car has been cared for, completely.

Pssst! We care about your car, but also your wallet. Save money on your next oil change with one of our oil change coupons!

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