Do you want to walk out of a repair shop knowing you got a valuable deal on an oil change? These five easy steps can help you get your money's worth. As with anything associated with your vehicle, read your owner's manual to find the ideal recommendations.
- Type of oil: You'll have a much easier time at the mechanic when you know your vehicle thoroughly, especially the type of oil it needs. Not knowing whether your car takes 5W20 or 5W30, and allowing the shop to decide which to use, can lead to you paying more than you anticipated. Check your vehicle's owner manual to read what type of motor oil is recommended.
- The 3,000-mile myth: From the time you first drove a car, you were taught that an oil change happens every 3,000 miles or three months. But with the advancements of engines and driving habits, those parameters have changed. Some vehicles can go 6,000 miles between oil changes. Check your manual for your vechile's limits. Most newer models have a warning indicator to alert drivers to change the oil. A good rule of thumb: When that light or warning flashes, get your oil changed within two gas fill ups.
- Oil filter: When your vehicle receives a basic oil change, two things happen: The old oil is replaced and filled while a new oil filter is installed. You might think your favorite mechanic is a stickler for details, but no one's perfect. He might have overlooked changing the oil filter while handing you the keys to your car. Check your manual to locate the oil filter and, if possible, use a marker to draw an "X" on your old oil filter before you head to the shop. After the service, if you see the "X" on the filter, it's the old one, and your mechanic has some explaining to do.
- The other filters: You might have been there. You're sitting in the waiting area as a mechanic strolls in with your air filter to explain how it's dirty and needs replacing. Or you're overdue for a transmission flush. Or your brake pads are worn and your serpentine belt is about to snap. Before you panic and submit to any extra, unintended charges, remember those aforementioned parts have a shelf life and it's found in your owner's manual. Know the mile limit on every filter, fluid and part in your vehicle so you can tell the mechanic what needs to be replaced, instead of the other way around.
- Shop around: You've read your manual and know your vehicle inside and out. Now, it's time to browse through a directory of Atlanta-area mechanics for a reasonable price. Check for specials such as discounted prices or free inspections.
Using these tips will help you get the most out of a routine oil change. Finding a reliable mechanic to perform this job can lead to a great relationship that is helpful if you run into future car troubles.