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How Long Does an Oil Change Take?

Oil drains from a car during an oil change.

Vehicle maintenance is something that should never be put off. If your maintenance reminder light is on or you’ve hit the the recommended mileage then an oil change is in your future. But how long does an oil change take? Is it something you can knock out on your lunch break, or do you need to set aside a whole day to get the job done? The answer depends on a few factors, including your vehicle, your skills (if you’re doing it yourself), and where you’re taking your vehicle if you want someone else to do the job.

How Long Does It Take To Do An Oil Change?
Oil dipstick

For most vehicles an oil change can be completed in about 15 to 45 minutes. The biggest variable tends to be where you choose to have the work done. You could take it to an express service that specializes in quick oil changes, go to the local NAPA AutoCare that performs maintenance and repairs on your vehicle, take it to the dealership or do it yourself. The option you choose can affect how long the job takes.

Express Service

If you’re in a hurry and don’t want to bother with scheduling an oil change, then an express oil change service is a great option. You can just drive up when it’s convenient for you and get the job done in around 15 minutes. You often won’t even have to get out of the car.

While this type of service can be convenient, be aware that there may be a long wait time before it’s your turn if you show up at a peak hour. But if the choice is between putting off your oil change yet again or swinging by the local express oil change place always pick getting your maintenance done on time.

Your Local Mechanic

The NAPA AutoCare who does regular maintenance and repairs on your vehicle can also take care of an oil change. They can get the job done quickly as well, but you’ll likely have to make an appointment. Depending on how busy their schedule is, you may need to leave your car for a few hours or maybe a whole day.

The benefit of choosing your favorite local NAPA AutoCare is they get to know you and your vehicle. Stopping in for routine maintenance also gives the NAPA AutoCare experts a chance to check your vehicle for any potential issues before they cause a headache.

The Dealership

You will probably need to schedule an appointment to get your oil changed at the dealership. Service schedules can fill up quickly, so it may take a few days to get an appointment. You might also have to leave your car there for the day, in which case it may be worth asking for a loaner car. Just remember that thanks to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act you are not required to have your maintenance performed at dealership to maintain your warranty.

Do It Yourself

This is a job you can do yourself if you have the time and knowledge. It is also a great project for a beginner DIYer to get familiar with their vehicle. Make sure you have all the right supplies handy, including an oil filter, and leave yourself plenty of time. If it’s your first time, then plan on blocking out a whole morning or afternoon so you don’t feel pressured. Don’t forget to budget time for collecting and recycling the used motor oil. You may also need to reset your oil change reminder.

What Can Make the Job Take Longer

Although the process is generally the same for most vehicles, the layout of the engine compartment can vary. If the components are in tight, hard-to-navigate spaces or behind protective paneling, expect the job to take a little longer. There may also be an protective undertray that must be removed to access the oil drain plug or the oil filter. Ideally an oil change should allow time for the oil the drain as long as possible to maximize the amount of dirty oil removed from the engine, so sometimes it is best to take a leisurely approach.

How To Speed Up An Oil Change

If you choose to outsource your oil change the best thing you can do it make an appointment well ahead of time. Call your chosen shop and find out when the best time is to bring in your vehicle for the best chance of not getting caught in a rush. When it is time for your appointment arrive a few minutes early to make sure there is time to hand over keys and handle any paperwork.

If you are doing your own oil change do a little research on what you will need to do the job. Go ahead and pull together the tools you will need to remove the oil drain plug and the oil filter. If your vehicle has an oil filter cartridge you may need a larger than normal wrench to remove the oil filter cartridge top. Get the oil and filter ahead of time so you aren’t scrambling to find them. Also take time to prep your workspace by clearing it out and sweeping it off. Dig out your floor jack and jack stands so they are ready when you are. Make sure your oil drain pan is empty and not still full from your last oil change.

Check out all the oil filters available on NAPA Online, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information about oil change products and answering how long does it take to get an oil change, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA Auto Parts store.

Photo courtesy Flickr.


Nicole Wakelin View All

Nicole Wakelin covers the automotive industry as a freelance journalist for a variety of outlets. Her work includes news pieces, podcasts, radio, written reviews, and video reviews. She can be found in The Boston Globe, CarGurus, BestRide, US News and World Report, and AAA along with lifestyle blogs like Be Car Chic, The Other PTA, and She Buys Cars. She is active on social media with a large following on both Twitter and Instagram and currently serves as Vice President of the New England Motor Press Association.

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