You can’t talk about car maintenance without mentioning engine oil change. An oil change is one of the most common car maintenance activities every vehicle requires. It is an easy and essential maintenance duty every mechanic and DIYer should know. It keeps the engine running smoother and ensures there is no dirt or other contaminant in the engine.
Yes, it is simple, but it requires a process to follow like every other car maintenance ritual. Most people often ask questions regarding the process and duration of motor oil changes. Stick to the end of this post if you’re curious to know how long does an oil change take, how long does an oil change and tire rotation take, or what are the signs an oil change for your car is due.
I’ll explain all you need to know about oil changes. But first, let’s see how long it takes to change the oil and filter.
How Long Does an Oil Change Take?
The question, how long does oil and filter change take, has no specific answer. This is because several factors, like whether you are changing the oil at home or taking the vehicle to a mechanic garage, play a huge role. Even if you decide to drive to a mechanic shop, the shop you go to also determines how long it’ll take.
Changing the engine oil yourself will take 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the available tools, garage setup, and experience. But if you choose to take it to a mechanic shop, the duration to accomplish the oil change depends on that shop and the mechanic doing the job.
At this point, you’ll be wondering, on average, how long does an oil change take? Expect to change your motor oil within 20 to 45 minutes at mechanic shops.
If you’re a big fan of Mr. Lube and Jiffy Lube, you may ask how long an oil change takes at Mr. Lube or how long does an oil change take at Jiffy Lube. Mr. Lube and Jiffy Lube take 20 to 45 minutes to change the engine oil and filter.
If you want the oil change faster, consider visiting quick lube shops. They’ll change your engine and oil filter within 15 minutes. This, however, does not include your wait time. Depending on the customers waiting before you, you may spend an extra 5 to 15 minutes.
Another factor that determines the oil change duration is the type of car you own. Some vehicles have an oil drain plug and oil filter at the bottom of the engine crankcase, where you can easily access them. Others feature the oil filter where it is less accessible, making it difficult to replace.
When Do You Require Oil Change?
Oil changes vary depending on your vehicle type and age. Manufacturers and experts usually recommend changing engine oil and filters every 3,000 miles. However, things have changed, and manufacturers now use newer technologies in building cars. Also, oil producers have adopted newer additives and technologies for formulating lubricants.
Hence, modern engines now require an oil change after covering 5,000 to 7,500 miles, depending on the recommended mineral oil. However, if your car uses full synthetic oil, you can drive 10,000 to 15,000 miles before requiring an engine oil change. Here’s a comprehensive article on how long you can drive without requiring an oil change. Check it to learn more about when you need oil and filter changes.
What are the signs that you need an oil change?
You’ll notice different signs that show when it’s time to change your engine oil. However, you don’t have to wait until you read these signals. It is better to follow the recommended interval and stick to it. However, some issues may arise before the recommended interval, requiring you to change the engine oil earlier than the anticipated time.
I’ll outline these symptoms below. Check the motor oil condition, level, and recommended interval once you see any of these symptoms.
Dark or dirty motor oil
New motor oils have bright amber colors. If the oil gets dirty due to metal shavings from internal engine parts or gets old due to late oil changes, it’ll turn dark brown or almost black.
You should cultivate the habit of checking your engine oil regularly. First, remove the oil dipstick to check the condition and level of the oil in the engine. Then, clean the dipstick and reinsert it. After that, remove the dipstick to see the oil level in the crankcase.
This method will help you to get accurate readings and examine the condition of the oil. If the oil is dark brown or almost black, you have to change the engine oil and the oil filter.
Ticking or tapping noise
Have you ever wondered why manufacturers recommend changing engine oil every 5,000 miles or so? It is because motor oils lose their lubricating properties over time. Plus, oils also get thicker and dirtier after long use.
If the oil loses its lubricating properties, it’ll not lubricate internal engine parts properly. This will cause metal-to-metal contact. If you start hearing a ticking or tapping noise from the engine, refrain from driving the vehicle until you change the oil because the internal engine parts are prone to catastrophic damage. However, other factors can cause a tapping or ticking noise from the engine.
Burnt oil smell
A burnt oil smell indicates something is wrong with the oil. In most cases, it means oil is dripping on hot engine parts. The oil could be leaking from the engine or the power steering. So, you have to track where the oil is coming from and proffer solutions.
Of course, oil leakage means an oil shortage. Therefore, if the oil is dripping from the engine, check the level and top it before repairing the leaks.
Blue exhaust smoke
Let’s get this clear; grey or blue exhaust smoke doesn’t mean your engine oil needs replacement. Instead, it means there’s an oil leak somewhere in the engine. This, however, shows the engine is likely running low on oil. So, you need to check the oil level and top it as required. After that, drive to a mechanic shop to have them diagnose and repair the leaks.
Poor gas mileage
Engines with oil that is overdue for change can cause poor gas mileage. Overdue motor oil will thicken and cause engine sludge on the internal engine parts. Thicker oil and sludge will not allow the reciprocating engine parts to move as needed, making the engine work harder to stay at its peak performance.
The extra work will lead to high gas consumption. It’ll be unfair if I do not point out that several factors can cause poor gas mileage.
Slight engine overheating
Engine oils should be changed regularly and maintain their standard gauge. If the engine oil has overstayed, it won’t lubricate the internal engine parts properly. The lack of proper lubrication will cause the engine to heat up more, eventually overheating. Changing the motor oil is all you need to fix this problem.
Illumination of warning lights
New modern cars feature several car sensors that work in harmony with the car computer to tell you what’s happening with the engine before things get worse. Once you notice any strange light on the dashboard, contact your owner’s manual to see the meaning.
Warning lights like check engine lights can appear on the dashboard for several reasons. It can also come on when the vehicle runs low on oil or needs replacement. Illumination of oil pressure light means there’s low engine oil, the oil is dirty, or the oil pump is weak.
If you own a newer model vehicle, the car computer will project a ‘change engine oil soon’ warning light to tell you when it’s time to change the engine oil.
And there are various signs to watch out for that’ll tell you when it’s time to change your engine oil. Do not rely on them. Always stick to the recommended interval while watching out for these signs.
How to Change Engine Oil
Changing engine oil at home is more convenient and affordable than having a service technician do the oil change. I’ll explain how to change your engine oil in a fun and simplified way.
If you don’t know the recommended oil or the oil change interval for your specific vehicle, visit your owner’s manual. You’ll find the necessary information there.
Items and Tools Needed
Step 1: Lift the car and remove the under guard.
Lift the vehicle high so you can easily slide under the car and have enough room to work. Whether you’re using hoists, jack stands, or ramps, do not compromise safety for anything.
Note: Do not slide under a vehicle that is relaxing on the only bottle or floor jacks.
Remove the under tray covering the oil filter and the crankcase with the vehicle lifted and secured with jack stands. Most under guard covers are held with plastic clips, bolts, or screws. Next, locate and unfasten all the clamps. Before moving to the next level, check if there are oil leaks under the vehicle. If you find any leaks, track the culprit and fix them.
Step 2: Remove the drain plug
Grab your oil catch can, oil reservoir, drain bucket, or any liquid-holding container and place it directly under the drain plug so you won’t mess up the garage. Next, lose the drain plug with a ratchet and sizeable socket and remove the plug by hand. Allow the oil to drain for five minutes or until it stops dropping.
Step 3: Remove the oil filter
Locate the oil filter and unscrew it with an oil filter wrench. Oil filter location varies from vehicle to vehicle. Some manufacturers equip the oil filter close to the crankcase. Some cars have the oil filter on top of the engine, while others have them on the side of the engine.
Using an oil filter wrench, turn the filter counter clockwise until the oil filter starts dripping oil. Then, remove it by hand. Do not forget to position the drain bucket where the oil will pour. Please ensure the old filter comes out with its seal. If not, the new one will not sit properly, which will cause severe oil leaks. Clean any oil-covered area before moving to the next step.
Step 4: Tighten the drain plug & the new oil filter
Insert the drain plug and tighten it by hand. After that, snug it with your ratchet and socket, but do not over-tighten it. Overtightening can damage the crankcase and the drain plug. Some manufacturers have a specified torque you should follow using a torque wrench. Check the owner’s manual for this information and torque the drain plug with a digital torque wrench.
Dab oil on your finger and rub it on the oil filter seal. This will help with proper sealing when tightening the filter. Screw in the filter and hand tighten it. Like the drain plug, do not over-tighten the oil filter.
Step 5: Fill the oil & check for leaks
Open the engine cover and insert your funnel. Pour in the recommended amount of oil and run the engine for a minute or two. After that, check the engine for leaks and ensure everything is as expected.
Reinstall the under tray and lower the vehicle. While the car is sitting on leveled ground, check the oil dipstick to see if the oil is at the right level. Check out this article that explains how to read dipstick if you don’t know how to read it.
Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs
Q: Can an oil change take 15 minutes?
If you’re still asking how long does an oil change take at Valvoline, Toyota, or jiffy lube, you can have your oil change within 15 to 30 minutes. However, if you want to change the motor oil yourself, budget to spend 30 minutes to 1 hour. If you have been replacing the oil for a while, you can achieve it within 15 minutes. In any case, this largely depends on your vehicle type and your DIYer experience.
Q: Why does an oil change take so long?
Typically, oil changes do not take long. However, parameters like wait time, gravity, and oil filter location can affect the duration of the oil change. For instance, the engine oil relies on gravity to drain, so the mechanic spends enough time waiting for the oil to drain.
And, if the oil filter location is less accessible, it’ll take longer for the technician to lose and reinstall it. Lastly, oil changes take so long at mechanic shops due to the customers waiting before you.
Q: How long should I wait to drive after changing oil?
This depends on the type of vehicle you drive. But generally, you start the engine and let it run for a minute or more after an oil change. After that, let the engine sit for a minute before checking the oil. If the oil is at the correct gauge, you can drive the vehicle without waiting any longer.
Q: Can oil be changed in 10 minutes?
Technically, some technicians can change your engine oil and oil filter within 10 minutes, depending on the type of vehicle. However, this is only possible when doing a basic oil change that does not include tire rotation, wiper blade change, fluid inspection, or brake work. It also excludes the wait time. Therefore, it’s better to estimate 15 to 30 minutes to change the oil and filter because of the wait time.
Q: Can you go 2 years without an oil change?
Most car manufacturers recommend changing engine oil twice a year, whether the vehicle is parked or not. As is mentioned already, most oil manufacturers recommend driving 5,000 to 7,500 miles before changing the engine oil. Other recommends 10,000 to 15,000 miles before changing their full synthetic oil.
I, however, recommend you change your synthetic oil at least once a year and follow the recommended 5,000 to 7,500 for mineral oils. Of course, you can go two years without changing the motor oil, but it’ll cause engine sludge, inevitably degrading the engine performance.
Q: What’s the farthest you can go without an oil change?
The farthest you can go without changing engine oil is 5,000 to 7,500 miles with mineral oils and 10,000 to 15,000 miles with full synthetic oils. It is better to change the engine oil before the recommended intervals than driving above them. Meanwhile, changing your engine oil too early will not improve gas mileage or engine performance.
Q: Is it normal for an oil change to take 2 hours?
Typically, an oil and filter change should take 20 to 45 minutes at a repair shop and 30 minutes to 1 hour if you change the oil at home.
Meanwhile, a full-service oil change can take 1 to 2 hours at an auto repair center. The full-service oil change includes services like:
- Virtually inspecting vehicles for damage
- Checking car battery
- Tire rotation
- Checking wiper blades
- Lubricating chassis as necessary
- Checking tire pressure
- Checking the brake fluid levels
- Inspecting for leaks
- Inspecting the suspension and steering system
- Topping off fluids (like washer fluid, brake fluid, engine coolant, differential fluids, and transmission fluids)
- Inspecting the undercarriage, skid plates, hoses, and belts
- Check and change brake discs and drums as needed.
Q: Do you stay in the car during an oil change?
You can stay inside the vehicle while the technician changes the engine oil and the oil filter, especially if it doesn’t involve lifting the car. However, some technicians will not let you sit inside the vehicle while working on it. Instead, they’ll ask you to sit in their waiting room.
Q: How long can a car run without oil?
Running without oil will cause catastrophic damage to the internal engine parts, leaving expensive repair bills on the table. The engine will start creating a catastrophe within a minute. The damage will become apparent and may lead to an engine knock in less than 10 minutes if there’s no oil at all. Please, disregard any information that says otherwise.
Q: Is it better to do an oil change, hot or cold?
It is better to drain engine oil when the vehicle is hot than cold because gravity does a lot of work in draining the old oil. The motor oil becomes thinner when hot, making it easier to rush faster when draining. Meanwhile, the engine should not be too hot to avoid burning off your hand.
Instead, it should be warm. If the vehicle has been on the road for a long, let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes to cool down before draining the oil. But if you want to service a parked vehicle, start and allow it to idle for 3 to 5 minutes to warm up the engine oil so it can rust faster.
Q: Is it OK to change oil once a year?
As reiterated above, most manufacturers recommend changing motor oil at least twice a year with mineral oil. But it’s okay to change the engine oil at least once a year if it runs with full synthetic oil. Meanwhile, the vehicle should not run more than 10,000 to 15,000 miles, depending on what the oil producer recommends.
Several factors, like your vehicle type, who’s doing the oil change, and the wait time, determine the duration of the oil change. By now, you should have found the detailed answer to how long an oil change takes. Then again, as a further reminder, let’s summarize the answers.
Oil change duration depends on several factors that are changing the oil. If you take the vehicle to a local mechanic’s garage, they’ll change the oil within 20 to 45 minutes. And it’ll take between 30 minutes to 1 hour if you want to change the oil at home.