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Should You Get Your Oil Change at a Dealership?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro October 2016

If you've bought a new or used car and it's time to get your oil changed, you're probably wondering whether you have to have a dealership perform the service. After all, a dealership might charge more for an oil change than an independent shop -- and it might be less convenient. So do you have to visit a dealer to get your oil changed? Here's our take.

Why Not a Dealer?

There are two main reasons why drivers might try to avoid getting an oil change at a dealership. The primary one is cost: Many drivers believe dealerships will charge more for an oil change, even though it's a relatively simple service that can be performed by just about any mechanic. As a result, many drivers would rather avoid spending more money at a dealership for such an easy service.

The other main reason a driver might try to avoid getting an oil change at a dealership is convenience. While there are dozens of independent "quick oil change" shops all around most cities, the dealer might not be so easy to access -- and a dealer may not have an appointment readily available, while a quick oil change shop can often work on a car immediately.

Benefits of a Dealer

Of course, there are also benefits to visiting a dealership for an oil change. The biggest is the fact that a dealership for your vehicle's brand likely knows your car better than anyone, which means they're unlikely to make any mistakes. For example: I once visited a quick oil change shop with a vehicle that had two oil drain plugs. The shop didn't know about both drain plugs and only opened one -- then filled the car with new oil. The result was a massive oil overfill -- a mistake the dealership almost certainly wouldn't have made.

Another benefit: If your car is under warranty, you might want to visit a dealership because you're worried that changing your oil elsewhere will void your warranty. Although this is a commonly held belief, it's not true: By law, an automaker can't void your warranty for going somewhere besides a dealership for service. Just be sure to keep your oil change receipts in case you have to prove the oil was in fact changed.

Our Take

There are benefits and drawbacks for going to a dealer for an oil change. Interestingly, one of the primary benefits most people consider -- that dealerships charge more for oil changes -- isn't always true. Since an oil change is such a simple job, most dealerships run fairly competitive rates with most independent shops.

Generally speaking, though, it shouldn't matter much where you get your oil changed. As long as you keep your receipts and perform oil changes at recommended intervals, you won't void your warranty if you go to an independent shop -- and you might save some time and a little money. Meanwhile, if you prefer to visit a dealer, you might trade a little extra cost and convenience for the additional peace of mind that a trusted dealership -- and a mechanic trained for your car -- is working on your vehicle.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Should You Get Your Oil Change at a Dealership? - Autotrader