Are Cheap Oil Changes Really Cheap?

If your car is running well, does it really make sense to go to a full service garage? If you are not having any other problems, the main thing in a periodic service is an oil change. You can go to a quick lube outlet and get the oil changed or topped up at a fraction of the cost. It looks quick, convenient and inexpensive, but looks can be deceptive. A cheap oil change is not the smart choice because it usually proves expensive in the long run.

The Anatomy Of A Cheap Oil Change

While some garages are economical and others are relatively expensive, there is a limit to price reduction without compromising quality. If someone is offering you service at a big discount, there will be a catch. Here are two common strategies that make the cheap oil change possible.

1. The quality compromise

These outlets employ poorly-trained staff, do a rushed job, use the cheapest oil and cheap oil filters. The oil used may not be of the right specification and may not adequately protect your engine. Cheap aftermarket parts used are of low quality and are sometimes incompatible with your vehicle.

A good oil filter should be able to hold oil because it is this oil that goes into the engine first when you start the car. Cheap oil filters may not have enough filtering material and will not be able to hold enough oil to ensure adequate supply. There is a serious risk of engine damage.

Although these outlets cater to many types of vehicles, they may not stock spares for all of them. Sometimes, if the right spares are not available, incompatible spares are installed. The oil filter you get may not have the right type of oil seal, which will cause other problems.

To keep costs low, quick lube outlets hire the cheapest technicians. They will not have the right training for all types of vehicles, especially the newer engines. The quality of service is always in doubt.

A cheap oil change outlet cannot spend too much time on any one vehicle. Hurrying through an oil service to accommodate more customers often results in a shoddy job. Problems such as loose drain plugs, stripped oil pans and oil leaks are common after cheap oil changes. In the long run, they may result in engine damage, costly repairs, performance problems and safety issues.

2. The loss leader

A cheap oil change can be used to lure in more customers. This is sometimes used by new garages to boost their business. It is also used by poor-quality garages to get enough customers.

They take a loss on the oil change, but make money on upsells. Some of these repairs or investigations may be unnecessary. You will end up paying almost the same amount that you would at a good garage. Cheap garages may also make up the loss with poor quality spares or consumables.

An Oil Change Is Not Enough

A vehicle has a number of complex systems. There are a number of checks and adjustments required after every service interval. This is specified by the manufacturer in their service schedule, which is available in your vehicle manual. Oil change is just one of the things in the list.

During periodic service, things like battery, tyres, brakes, air conditioning, steering, suspension, transmission and exhaust are inspected. Several parts may need lubrication, cleaning or replacement. Data from the car’s computers has to be checked for errors and the software may also need an update. A road test is also necessary to ensure that everything is working well. All these things are included in a periodic service at a good garage. Skipping them and settling for just an oil change is not a good idea.

Apart from the risk of an expensive breakdown, a cheap service may get you into other difficulties. If your vehicle is in warranty, you risk losing the benefit if you don’t get your car serviced at a good garage.

Use a good garage for your annual service. We have a network of quality garages in the Manchester area. Contact us if you are looking for a professional car service or repair. We will have the right network garage contact you. You will get excellent and convenient service at economical rates. Simply enter your registration and postcode and we’ll give you a quote immediately.

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