What Is a Full-Service Oil Change?
Regular oil changes are a foundational part of routine maintenance. Your vehicle’s oil protects the parts of your engine from wear and tear by minimizing friction as you drive. Over time, the oil collects debris and becomes too dirty to effectively lubricate the engine parts. Without clean oil, heat builds up and engine parts begin to wear too quickly, eventually resulting in total engine failure. You can, however, keep your engine healthy by knowing how often you should change your oil.
Many repair shops have designed their oil change services to be as convenient as possible — simply drop your car off and pick it up a few hours later — so there’s no reason to put off this important service.
Not all oil changes are created equal though. Some auto repair shops do the bare minimum, simply replacing the oil and filters as needed. Others advertise “full-service” oil changes with a range of options that vary from shop to shop. As a consumer, you need to understand the options available so you can get the best value for your money.
What to Look for in a Full-Service Oil Change
Many places advertise complimentary services with an oil change as a way to attract customers. Once you’re familiar with the options available, you can use that information to choose the right place for your oil change.
One of the biggest factors involved in choosing a shop for your oil change is price. Research several shops in your area to find the most competitive price that also includes the most services. You don’t want to be stuck paying more money for fewer services.
You also want to find a shop that employs expert technicians. When you bring your car in, staff members should be friendly and approachable. They should ask you which oil type and weight you prefer and if you have any other concerns. They should also schedule you for your next oil change service before you leave to make things as convenient as possible for you.
Many shops also offer complimentary inspections and other maintenance as part of their oil change package. Some services to look for include:
- Inspection of safety items: The technicians will take the time to inspect your vehicle’s lights and other safety equipment to make sure everything is working properly.
- Top-off of all fluids: The oil isn’t the only fluid that keeps your vehicle running properly. Look for a shop that will also measure and replace the transmission fluid, coolant and brake fluid.
- Tire air-pressure check: Under- or over-inflated tires can be susceptible to bubbling, balding and punctures. Gas mileage will also suffer from poorly inflated tires.
- Engine light check: Your car’s engine light is the first sign that something in your vehicle needs servicing. The technician will read the “trouble code” and use that information to identify and inspect the parts that may need fixing.
- Tire rotation: Getting your car’s tires rotated every 3,000 to 5,000 miles will extend their lives and keep them from wearing unevenly.
- Brake check: While your oil is draining, the technicians will examine your brake system for any wear or damage that makes driving unsafe.
- Battery check: No one wants to get stuck with a dead battery. Look for a shop that will test the battery and cables in case it’s time for a replacement.
- Windshield wiper replacement: Your car’s windshield wipers keep your windshield clear and streak-free during inclement weather. The technician will replace them, often once a year, to minimize the chance of reduced visibility.
- Charging system check: The charging system is what keeps a charge in your battery and the lights and radio working, even when the vehicle is off. The technician will look for any degrading in the wires or other components.
- Air filter check: Your car’s air filter keeps dust, allergens and other debris from circulating in the air you’re breathing as you drive. The technician will check for a dirty filter and recommend a replacement if necessary.
When choosing the right auto repair shop, it’s important to keep the range of services in mind. Don’t pay separately to have your tires rotated, for example, when another shop includes that service for free with your oil change. It’s worth doing your research to find the shop that best fits your needs.
The Importance of Routine Maintenance
Having your oil regularly changed is only one part of keeping your car running properly. The complex systems that make up your vehicle all work together to create a seamless driving experience; when one is damaged or unable to function, it can result in a cascade of issues. Routine maintenance not only allows a professional to keep your vehicle’s parts in working order, it also helps them identify parts that need repair or replacement early — before a minor problem turns into a costly repair.
The majority of car problems develop over time. If you only take your vehicle in when something has stopped working, you risk spending a lot more time and money on the problem than you would have if the repairs had been done earlier. Save yourself the headache and stress of unexpected car repairs by regularly visiting a local auto repair shop you trust.