Oil Change: At Dealership or the Workshop?

Oil change is a must. There is no way you can escape from it. Well, there are Electric Vehicles (EVs), but there is still a regular maintenance period. So, going back to oil change, I've known people who say: "what do you mean with oil change?". They have been running on the same oil for over two years luckily enough to hear about it first from me than from a tow truck. Yes, you have to do it, no matter what. Now, if your question is "where?" we will talk about it today:

Oil Change Price & Time

Price is for sure a winner on the workshops and even more if you do it yourself. While you can go to a Walmart or Canadian Tire and get the filters and the oil that's specified on your car User Manual, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who doesn't really love mechanics. You need to go somewhere and get a mechanic to do it for you.

Dealerships have a specialized service section where you can get it done, but the price is usually on the range of 50 - 300CAD, depending on the manufacturer. Also, getting an appointment may take some time. On average, I always have a span of about 7 to 10 days from the call to the appointment date.

On the other hand, workshops or even going to a Mr. Lube, where an oil change could cost less than 60CAD, is way faster and cheaper. Additionally, there are many "no appointment needed" facilities you can find all across Canada that is just arriving, waiting a while on the line and getting it all done in less than 15 minutes.

Price & Time Winner: Workshops

Warranty & Inspection

On the unlikely event that your engine blows up, manufacturers will ask for your oil change history. Not keeping it under the manufacturer requirements (oil type, filter, time span, and Kms), automatically results in a warranty void, even if the event that triggered the engine failure was completely non-related. 

Still, the vehicle history (which I talk about later) will register these, in case that were made at a dealership or at a workshop that reports to CarFax Canada.

Another critical point is the inspection. Just ask yourself: How many times a year do you bring your vehicle to get inspected? Probably none if your car is relatively new. Well, the fact that you need to do an oil change may be an excellent opportunity to get it done, even if it is something that's not so important to you.

The inspection covers so many aspects of your vehicle that get registered later on a document with all the details of the dealership and mechanics who ran it. It is a piece of evidence and verified proof of your vehicle status at a specific moment: a snapshot of the situation of your car that can be used as legal evidence if ever needed.

Oil Change: At Dealership or the Workshop - Inspection

When it comes to inspections, it is always better to do it at a specialized dealership that checks on hundreds of similar vehicles every year.

Also, remember to keep all documents in the record of your car on a file at home, or just take a legible photo you can safely store in the Cloud of these before trashing them out.

Warranty & Inspection Winner: The Dealership Service

Vehicle Recalls

Last time I went to do an Oil Change on my Atlas, I was not aware that there were three minor recalls on the vehicle. Right after picking up the car, I got a list of all things that were made by the dealership. I was like: "I came for an oil change, and now I'm getting all these services?". Well, the thing is that recalls are paid from the manufacturer pocket, not mine. Even if you are aware of these or not, it is their legal responsibility to check on that. All 3 were verified by the dealership service and the car got the stickers. I didn't have to pay for those.

Now, by doing the oil change on the workshop, would have made a big difference here. No need to mention why.

Recalls Winner: The Dealership Service

Software Upgrades

Everything has an integrated computer today, so the second thing that is worth to mention is that your car's needs to be updated once a while too. High-end brands like Mercedes, Audi or BMW include an LTE connection with cellular towers, but most cars don't (YET). 

Dealerships require to do specific checks, mostly for verifying recalls, that include having the latest updated version of the onboard computer. Even if you are not on top of that, they will need to do it on one of your regular service visits.

Software Upgrade Winner: The Dealership Service

Vehicle History Impact

Each time you do an oil change on a dealership, these all report to the vehicle CarFax Canada history. When you do it at home, chances are you don't do it (I'm being ironic). Workshops are usually required to do it, although many of them do not. This is why it is essential to keep all receipts, no matter where you do it.

Now, consider the impact it has on your vehicle history when it comes to selling your car. While doing it regularly on workshops is cheaper, eventually, it can be a hard negotiation point when you want to sell the car. If you are planning to sell your vehicle, or feel there are chances you will have to do it in the future, consider this aspect too.

Lease Takeover Perspective

When you have a leased vehicle, you may now worry too much if maintenance is done, either at a dealership or a workshop. But if you ever decide to transfer your lease, it will be an excellent perk to have all maintenance, inspections and recalls on your side. It will generate a good trust feeling in the transaction and help you get it done.

Would you prefer to take over a lease that has "We will provide all receipts of maintenance jobs done, inspections, recalls and the complete Vehicle History" or one that says "the vehicle is in mint condition"?

Either Way, Keep these Details in Mind

Obviously, workshops niche is convenience and budget, while the dealerships are more in the "complete service" side of the business. Both have advantages and disadvantages, so I won't try to push you towards a specific one.

Either option is good, while you do it on time and under the manufacturer requirements.

Drive safe Canada!

About the author

Jorge Diaz is a passionate car lover, winter driver & Software Engineer. For the last 10 years, he has built Online Solutions used by more than 5,000 companies across the globe. He founded LeaseCosts in 2016 with the purpose of simplifying and helping Canadians to better understand the complex market of car leasing in Canada. You can connect with him at Leantrepreneurship.com.

Jorge is also the author of Car Leasing Done Right: A Canadian Guide for Understanding & Optimizing Vehicle Leasing Costs, released on Nov. 5th, 2021. It is available at Amazon.ca