Everything You Need to Know About Your Engine’s Oil Change

One frequently asked question in the topic of car maintenance is; how long does an oil change take? This question has actually raised debate in the subject of oil changes and has brought out more comments than any topics across the board.

If you’re a car owner, you’ll bear with me that the issue of oil changes is one critical factor that must be considered at all times. Now, oil is a crucial part of your car’s engine. It’s what keeps the engine running optimally without clogging or overheating. Most people usually neglect or rather oversee the need to change their car’s engine oil. Some people are too busy for it and others wait until they see a warning light in their dashboard.

Now, if you’re reading this and you’re in a dilemma on how or when to change your car’s engine oil, worry not as this article will discuss everything you need to know about oil changes.

Why should you change your engine oil?

First and foremost, your car can’t function optimally without oil. Since oil is a lubricant, it’s responsible for the quiet, smooth, and efficient functioning of the engine and all its moving parts such as the piston, crankshaft, oil pump, timing chain, valve timing, and connecting rods.

Why should you change your engine oil

As a matter of fact, fresh oil increases your car’s engine efficiency by decreasing heat buildup. Also, fresh oil is free from dirt, dust, and other particulates making your car’s engine not only efficient in terms of performance but also fuel-efficient.

To demonstrate this fact, The Bureau of Labor Statistics found out that vehicles 5 to 15 years old used more fuel as compared to newer vehicles. It was also discovered that vehicles operating under extreme conditions such as regular stop and go commutes as well as those driven in extreme cold or hot regions often needed regular oil changes.

So, whether you’re a frequent or an occasional car owner, changing your engine’s oil is paramount as it helps to prevent significant engine damage alongside its moving parts from consequent heat build-up and decrease in lubrication.

How long does it take to get an oil change?

To give you a precise answer to this question, it’s best that you check your car’s manual or consult the manufacturer to determine how often you need to change the oil. Sometimes the car’s manufacturer may recommend an oil change every 3,000 miles. However, in most cases, an oil change is set at an extended interval of 5,000 to 15,000 miles which translates to around 5-6 months.

Although the modern engine comes with more fancy features and technologies, it’s a fact when I mention that new cars require less oil change as compared to old vehicles. But, newer vehicles also have moving parts (in fact more moving parts) which can wear out if they’re not lubricated right? So, what’s the secret then? The reason why some cars require long oil change intervals is simply due to the dramatic improvements made to the quality of oil.

Most people today prefer synthetic oils over regular oils due to some factors which we’ll discuss later on in this article. Although synthetic oils do last longer, there are other factors that will force you to change the oil more often than usual. Factors such as the type of car you’re driving (diesel engine over regular engine), mileage, repeated short trips, driving under severe conditions (dusty roads or low/high temperatures), extensive idling and towing are some of those factors that will force you to regularly change your engine oil.

Now, to prevent damaging your engine (which of course follows with high costs of repair), you need to keep track of your car’s engine oil at all times. Most car manufacturers indicate a maintenance schedule on the warranty or the owner’s manual guides. Some car makers post their maintenance schedules online while others design their cars with a monitoring system that displays a signal on the dashboard. So, the best time to have your oil changed is anywhere between 4 to 6 months or by mileage.

How long does it take to do an oil change?

If done professionally, a basic oil change can take anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes. The process is so simple that you won’t have to exit your vehicle. But, depending on where you take your car for an oil change, there are generally other factors that will creep in and influence the time taken to do the oil change.

So, in this section, we will highlight some of those factors that influence the time taken for an oil change as well as offer useful tips on how to make the process much faster.

DIY vs workshop?

This is the first factor that can greatly influence the time taken to do an oil change. In fact, most people are left in a dilemma wondering which is better between the two. Now, making an oil change yourself is, of course, faster as it depends on your own personal schedule. However, one factor that will influence the time taken to do the change is how experienced you are.

Depending on your experience level, changing your car’s engine oil will take about 1 hour as it’s basically a fairly straightforward process. It’s also cheaper as there’s no manpower involved. On the other hand, taking your car to a car care center will eat away much of your time as you’ll have to deal with other first priority customers.

Although more time will be spent here, your car will be checked for other minor repairs (such as the braking system) and you’ll generally get a discount on oil and filter replacement charges. One way of saving time is to schedule oil changes on weekday mornings where there’s less traffic in the garages.

Level of experience

The level of experience can generally make a huge difference in the time taken to perform an oil change. Someone who works in a garage daily will definitely take less time to do an oil change than someone who doesn’t. These people are also experts and they know a lot about your car’s model. Although you might be an expert yourself, you only do oil changes after 5-6 months or after 5,000 to 15,000 miles.

Dealership vs quick lube shop

This is one area that requires serious and sober thinking before landing on a decision. Oil change is usually a low priority issue as it doesn’t call for any major repairs. On one side, quick lube shops are arguably the best as most “express shops” have a separate area specifically set aside for oil changes.

To make the process speedy, most lube shops use machines to suck the old oil before pouring in the new oil. From a cost and time perspective, this is the best option. But, considering how speedy the process is, your car is left at very high risk.

First, they don’t unscrew the oil pan plug and secondly, the old oil is not given sufficient time to entirely drain out. The results: too much old oil is left running in your car’s engine. Secondly, since the oil pan plug was never removed, dirt, debris and other impurities are left in the system and can clog the engine due to too much build-up.

So, following these reasons, the best place to service your car is in a dealership. Some take 30-45 minutes to do an oil change while others take a day or a few weeks to do the same depending on the appointment, the type of car you drive or where you live.

Although they take long, the best thing about dealerships is that they take full responsibility for your car in case of any damage to your car caused by human error. Some of these errors include; incorrect tightening of the oil pan plug, something falling accidentally on the engine, use of low-grade oil or lose oil filter. Since cheap is expensive, imagine any of these happening while doing the oil change by yourself? It will obviously be expensive to repair your car right?

Car size

Draining oil from your car always take the longest time in the entire oil change process. It, therefore, makes sense that the larger the vehicle, the longer it will take to have the oil changed. If your car is a sedan with a small engine capacity, it will definitely take a short time as compared to if it was a USV with a big engine capacity.

Previous oil changes

How long your car takes between oil changes can make a huge impact on the time it takes to do an oil change. Oil wears out and the more it gets used up, the thicker it becomes. Old oil has lots of dirt and particulates picked up from the engine parts so the less effective it is in lubricating moving parts. Such oil is quite dangerous as it can cause wear on moving components of the engine. In addition to that, this type of oil takes a lot of time to drain as it’s already too thick to drain freely.

How does the oil change process look like?

Doing an oil change by yourself usually takes between 30 to 60 minutes depending on your personal skills and the type of tools available. If you’re a beginner and you’re wondering how the process goes, then here’s a quick breakdown of the entire process.

  • The first step is to locate and unscrew the oil drain plug. This process takes a few seconds though it may take longer depending on the tools available and the location of the plug (is it in a hard-to-reach area?).
  • Once the drain plug is unscrewed, the next step is to drain the old used oil from the engine into a disposal system. In most cases, this is the longest part of the whole process though as we mentioned earlier, time taken greatly depends on several factors such as the capacity of the engine and the age of the oil.
  • The next step is to replace the filter. This process usually takes 2-5 minutes as it involves removing the old filter cartridge and the seals and replacing them with new ones. The time taken here also varies on various factors such as the age of your car, the available tools, and the position of the oil filter.
  • Next, replace the old oil with a new one as recommended by your car’s manufacturer. This is the simplest process and it takes about 5 minutes to accomplish.
  • Next, reinstall the oil drain plug bolt with a new washer to tighten it. This usually takes about 2 minutes.
  • Finally, reset your car’s change oil service light by holding down some buttons on your car’s dashboard. This will automatically reset your car’s system to ensure that it notifies you when the next oil change will be needed.

Regular vs synthetic oils: which is the best?

The debate on which oil is better between regular and synthetic oils has taken center stage in recent times. While some folks agree that synthetic oil is the best, others oppose this fact stating that regular oil is much better due to its low price range.

However, from a professional’s point of view, synthetic oil is far much better due to so many reasons. First, synthetic oils have a higher temperature threshold. When regular oils are heated, they lose viscosity and become less effective in lubricating your car’s engine. However, for the case of synthetic oils, they remain stable even in extremely high temperatures leading to improved engine performance.

Another benefit of synthetic oil is improved lubrication. With low resistance, the engine performs better resulting in increased horsepower. With a high horsepower, your car will be more fuel efficient leading to prolonged engine life.


So, there you have it all. If you’re wondering how to get your car engine’s oil changed, I believe you’ve seen how simple the process is. In most cases, it takes about 15 to 45 minutes depending on the ease or complexity of the process.

If you have enough time, you can simply do it by yourself as it gives you the chance to familiarize yourself with your car. If you’re always on the go, you can consider scheduling the service at your local car care center during off-pick hours such as weekdays early in the morning. So, having mentioned that, the next time you hear the question: how long does an oil change take, I believe you’ll have an absolute answer to give.

1 thought on “Everything You Need to Know About Your Engine’s Oil Change”

  1. It’s fantastic to learn that a basic oil change can take up to 15 to 45 minutes. My brother is needing to get his oil changed on his new car. I’ll let him know that he should expect an oil change to take about half an hour.


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