How Long Does an Oil Change Take?

April 11th, 2021 by

You can’t talk about automotive maintenance without mentioning oil changes. But maybe you keep putting it off because you think it just takes too long. Luckily, it’s not that painstaking of a process. Here’s our ultimate guide for the wait time for an oil change.

How Long Does an Oil Change Actually Take?

how long does an oil change take

Image via Flickr by Robert Couser-Baker 

Your oil change service appointment will usually take between 30 and 45 minutes.

When you bring your vehicle in for an oil change, a longer wait time accounts for the expected customer backlog from clients who scheduled in advance. Here’s what happens when our technicians change your oil:

  • Lifting the car: The technician starts off by hoisting the vehicle high enough to allow room underneath. If the vehicle contains a protective undertray, it is removed to expose the drain plug and filter. A mix of screws and bolts is unfastened to remove the undertray.
  • Draining the oil: Before draining the oil, the mechanic will place an oil receptacle, such as a drain pan or oil reservoir, under the vehicle. Any sizable container is used to catch the oil as it drains. Typically, a vehicle contains at least a gallon of oil. The oil is drained by removing the drain plug using a wrench.
  • Replacing the old filter: The filter is a softball-sized component attached to the engine with screws. The old filter is first loosened enough that oil starts pouring from the top. The technician waits until the flow subsides before loosening it further. After all the oil has drained, the oil gasket is removed.
  • Replacing the drain plug: The drain plug is replaced and tightened until it’s snug. Overtightening it can damage the drain plug and drain pan.
  • Filling the engine with oil: Once the drain plug and filter are in place, the undertray is reinstalled. The vehicle is lowered, the hood opened, and the engine is filled with fresh oil using a funnel. A trained technician will know the appropriate oil volume.
  • Checking for leakage and levels: After the oil has settled in the pan, a dipstick is used to check the oil level. Finally, the technician starts the vehicle and leaves it idle. Later, the engine is checked for any leaks.

How Often Should I Get My Oil Changed?

For a long time, the rule of thumb was to go three months or 3000 miles between oil changes. That idea is outdated and would be too frequent for most of today’s vehicles. If you drive your car for short trips at lower speeds or in a dusty environment, you will need to have your oil changed more frequently. Cars that drive shorter distances form condensation faster, which results in engine breakdown. Other factors that affect the oil change intervals include:

  • Engine type: Some engines consume more oil than others. Every car manufacturer specifies the recommended oil change interval, which is expressed in mileage or time period.
  • Mileage: Engines tend to consume more oil during the early stages. This is why most technicians calculate consumption after the first service. After some time, when the engine has reached 50% to 70% of its life span, it reverts to consuming more oil.
  • Driving conditions: The driving conditions such as dusty areas, high altitudes, start and stop intervals, and distances driven determine the necessary interval between oil changes. Different driving conditions notwithstanding, consider strictly adhering to the manufacturer’s recommended schedule.

What Type of Oil Is Put in My Engine?

Viscosity is the index that defines the ability of the oil to resist flow when hot or cold. Normal operating engine temperature can reach up to 220 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature and viscosity are used as criteria when identifying the type of oil. It is indicated as follows on the container: 00w00.

The number on the left is the low-temperature viscosity. The lower the number the more the oil can withstand lower temperatures. The number on the right indicates the temperature. The higher the number, the more efficient the oil is at higher temperatures.

Mineral Oils

Obtained from refining petroleum, mineral oils are used on older engine models and engines without turbochargers. These oils are thicker than synthetic and semi-synthetic oils and are suitable for use in temperate areas.

Synthetic Blend Oils

Synthetic blend oils are a combination of mineral oils and chemically modified oils. Blending mineral oils and synthetic oils offers a better quality to price ratio. These oils do not affect the oil change intervals. However, they offer improved protection and performance.

Synthetic Oils

Synthetic oils are chemically modified to improve their performance. They contain fewer impurities and are better than mineral oils. They are used in motorsport and modern vehicles. Synthetic oils optimize engine performance and can go for longer without an oil change for both gasoline and diesel engines.

What Happens If I Don’t Change My Oil?

Skipping that oil change could lead to a repair bill or even a new engine. Some of the things that happen when you don’t change your oil include:

Poor Engine Lubrication and Protection

Oil protects and lubricates moving parts in your engine. After some time, the oil’s effectiveness and consistency change due to extreme use. The lubrication capacity of the oil diminishes and leaves the engine’s moving components vulnerable to wearing out more quickly.

Accumulation of Dirt

Over time, the engine picks up dirt and other filth. The oil’s thickness and texture are affected by the debris and form sludge. Sludge increases corrosion and thus accelerates the breakdown of the engine.


As the engine components rub on each other, extreme temperatures are generated. Oil helps reduce the rubbing and acts as a coolant. Overheating is a result of excess friction and is a recipe for engine seizure.

Now that you have an idea of how long it will take to change oil and how often you should go between changes, it’s time to schedule your next appointment. Sweeney Cars is your one-stop shop for OEM parts, tires, as well as sales and financing for both new and used vehicles. We also have an outstanding reputation for our state-of-the-art service facilities. Call us or visit either of our two locations.

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