Many people now days have considered changing their own oils and becoming a DIY mechanic by attempting to service their cars. Is it worth it?
To keep this simple, if you have the knowledge, the contacts, the tools, the know-how, a hoist and willing to get dirty then yes you might save a little bit of money. If you add your labour into the equation then you probably just break even. The specialist are specialists for a reason and do this every day so what would take me 2 hours would only take them an hour. Specialists are very thorough and do many checks that I’m not even aware of. Even if I aced the service myself by doing everything right, I would have to take my BMW to a workshop anyway to delete the fault codes and reset the service lights.
Being in the automotive trade I have heard some horrific and funny DIY stories from my customers. Just last week, I heard a customer tried to save money by servicing his Corolla himself. So he went off to the auto parts store, bought oil and a filter. Borrowed a friends jack and tools, jacked the car up and unknowingly saw what he thought was the engine oil sump plug but in fact was the transmission pan. He drained the transmission fully then replaced the oil filter and put 5 litres of new oil into the engine. He thought wow that was easy and I saved about $50. Put the car down and probably didn’t do all the safety and wear checks as a specialist would have done. He obviously didn’t check the fluids as he would have noticed the engine had double the safe amount of oil and the transmission was empty. Started the car and went around the block. The car was driving horrible, smashing gears and blowing clouds of smoke. Automatically he thought those bastards at the auto part store have given me the wrong oil. Long story short, car got towed into a workshop now with a blown transmission and he is up for thousands. Not really a good savings now is it?
Doing your own oil services isn’t hard but if you are going to attempt it yourself please make sure you do your homework and know what you’re doing. Simple things like knowing how to properly check your brakes is very important as you are endangering people’s lives if not checked correctly. Making sure you have the correct specification oil recommended by the cars owner’s manual. We hear horror stories (Especially in the diesel world) of catastrophic problems that have come down to incorrect oil in the cars. When choosing the correct oil, choose a reputable brand and make sure it is correct oil specification for your car. Most oil companies will have a lube guide, use this as it may save you in the future. Gone of that days of ‘any oil will do’, there’re literally hundreds of different grades of oils to suit all the different engines from different manufacturers. Recommendations to Approvals play a big part in the life of an engine and unfortunately no one stop shop oils. Oil that goes into your car wont necessary go into your friend’s car, may even be the same car, the same year but has a different engine. Will you get caught out?