SEATTLE - If you're shopping around for a good deal on getting your oil changed, you have plenty of options. One important point to make is that, generally speaking, going somewhere other than the dealership will not affect your vehicle's warranty. There are, sometimes, requirements from the vehicle manufacturer for frequency of service and specific parts. But who does the work generally won't affect the warranty.
As for what's cheap, the fact is that, with competition, there's not a lot of difference in price for a basic oil change. We arbitrarily chose two locations, a Lincoln Mercury dealership and a Jiffy Lube. The dealership was actually cheaper - by four cents. Jiffy Lube was $36.99 while Jack Carroll Lincoln Mercury was $36.95.
Both locations offer the typical multi-point inspections and fluid checks. There is one aspect to their service that both places will tell you is different. The training and focus of the technicians.
"You always have a factory-trained tech working on your car as opposed to somebody who's working on all sorts of different cars," says David Peace, service technician at Jack Carroll.
At Jiffy Lube, district manager Bob Cahill sees it from the other side of the coin. "We're versatile. We work on all different makes and models of vehicles. We have an intense training program we send all technicians to which is very professional, very precise."
As for add-ons, there are some price differences.
- At Jiffy Lube, "Wiper blades vary and we carry a full line, anywhere from 9.99 on up to 29.99," says Cahill.
- At Jack Carroll, the price for wiper blades is, according to Peace, "For a pair, 35 bucks."
- At Jiffy Lube, "Yeah, air filters start at 9.99 and they can go as high as 39.99, it depends on the make and model of the vehicle and the filter that's required for that," says Cahill.
- At Jack Carroll, Peace says air filters are "24.95, and we install it for free. It's the same with the wipers."
- Another similarity between the two is special offers. Both send out coupons and Jiffy Lube will even send their techs to the curb, to wave those money-off signs.
"When we have empty bays, we have our people go out on the curb and hold signs that say $10 off to try to get customers to come in when it's nice and slow and we can get them in and out fast," says Cahill.
And, that's probably the biggest difference: time. What is your time worth to you? Because, generally speaking, you need to make an appointment and leave your car at a dealership, while the quickies are - quicker!
"If you're not in a rush, go to a dealership," says Peace. "It's usually the same cost as a Jiffy Lube or a Grease Monkey."
We found a handful of online coupons for oil changes at some dealerships and some quickie spots. Browse some of them by clicking on on our home page.