Oil Change -- Austin, TX

Does anyone have a recommendation for a good (and trustworthy) place to get an oil change in northwest Austin? I throw myself on the mercy of the Car Talk discussion members, confessing that I have been, coupons in hand, using various local locations of an unnamed, nationwide oil-change company whose name rhymes with Tiffy Boob.

However, having read recent (and not-so-recent) reviews of said and similar companies, I am loathe to return. Any oil-change-purveyor suggestions would be warmly welcomed. I am a newbie Car Talk discussion member, so be gentle in your replies. Thank you.

I suggest you begin a business relationship with an independent mechanic. Ask friends, relatives, coworkers, etc., for recommendations. Then let the mechanic maintain the car according to the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule. There’s more to auto maintenance than changing oil.

PLEASE, whatever you do, stay away from those “quick-change” oil shops.

Who usually repairs your vehicles? Does that shop offer oil changes? Don’t expect a 14.99 price, though. Done correctly, even the most basic models require 1//2 hour of time(X local flat rate).

Anyone can screw up an oil change, even dealers and trusted local mechanics. The problems with the quick lube places is that they won’t know what to do if they do make a mistake. If you know how to do your own oil changes, then going to one of these places, for whatever reason, is a little safer as you can double check all their work. Make sure the oil level is correct and the oil cap is put back on the engine. You probably won’t be able to check that the oil filter hasn’t been double gasketed, but that could happen anywhere, including DYI.

If you get an oil light after an oil change, anywhere, you need to shut down and investigate. Most people who have blown an engine after an oil change at one of these quick lube places are partly or mostly responsible for the problem themselves. They did not shut down and investigate. I also think that car manufacturers share some of the blame here too. I have seen oil warning lights that were obscured from view by the steering wheel, and the light should flash, not just be steady, and it should sound the warning chime as well, just like headlights and seatbelts do.

Generally, taking your car to a quick oil change place is just asking for trouble. They also try to upsell you on a bunch of stuff you probably don’t need. You’re much better off finding an independent neighborhood mechanic. Look for friendliness, general automotive knowledge of staff, legibility of invoices, cleanliness of shop, etc. Even look them up on BBB and the mechanics file search engine on this very website. Good luck.

The fast lube facilities are not all bad. The majority of what they do will cause no problem. The drawback is that the business model promotes speed and getting in a hurry can lead to mistakes, especially considering a lot of the employees are often younger guys who are not mechanics. Getting in a hurry can lead to a mistake by even a very experienced tech and not just on oil changes either.
The other drawback is that they often attempt to sell you goods and services which are not really needed, but in their defense the fast lube may not know what condition those items are in; E.G., a fuel filter. The fast lube has no idea what condition the filter is in and hopefully the customer would know if it has been changed in recent memory.
On average, the rush, rush, rush method at a fast lube can lead to more mistakes than you would find elsewhere.

An independent shop is a safer bet although maybe a bit pricier. You might also consider the new car dealer who handles your brand of vehicle. Often the dealers run “lube specials” if you want to call them that and they may be cheaper than the fast lube or independent garage.
Some of the dealers around here (Chevy. Buick, Toyota for example) will give you an oil change, fluid check, and vacuum the car for 25 bucks.
Hope that helps.

What kind of car do you drive? I have found some dealerships that do oil changes for a reasonable rate. However, the last time I took my Civic to a Honda dealer in Austin for an oil change, they overcharged me. Check out all of the dealerships in your area. You might find a good one.

I prefer to do my own oil changes. It is kind of a Zen thing. It brings me closer to my car. You could always consider doing your own oil changes. You will save a few bucks and you will get to know your car a little better.

Thank you, thank you, all, for your kind suggestions. I will commence asking friends/neighbors for recommendations for a nearby independent mechanic. I drive an '01 Honda Civic, btw, so repairs have been, thankfully, minimal to non-existent so far, except for factory-recommended maintenance, new tires, new battery, and the aforementioned oil changes.

I could go to the dealer for oil changes, but there’s a little voice inside my head saying, “No, never. Don’t go to a car dealer. It will cost you big dollars.” I recognize the voice, of course. It is that of my Great Depression-surviving father, who didn’t just pinch pennies but squeezed the living daylights out of them … lard-and-sugar-on-air-bread sandwiches; the freezing 12 mile walk – uphill both ways – to school with newspaper stuffed inside of holey, hand-me-down shoes to keep the snow out, etc., etc. These stories haunt me still.
But I digress. Again, thank you for you thoughts.