How Long Does An Oil Change Take?

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If you own a vehicle, you may have heard that changing the oil regularly is the best way to look after your car. Of course, other maintenance processes are necessary, but frequent oil changes are very important.

Motor oil can start to break down over time, leading to carbon, moisture, tiny metal fragments, and acid build-up within your car.

However, as we all have busy lives, taking the time out to perform an oil change isn’t always easy to find. This raises the question, just how long do oil changes take?

We’ll cover the answer in this article, including the factors that affect the duration of an oil change, and how often you should be changing your oil for optimum vehicle performance.

Keep reading to find out how long oil changes take!

How Long Do Oil Changes Take?

In most cases, oil changes for vehicles with clearly reachable oil pans drain, and filters should be finished in around 45 minutes, assuming this process is performed by a professional.

If the vehicle’s oil filter and the drain plug aren’t easily accessible, an oil change can take longer. Performing an oil change anywhere other than a professional oil change service can take a few hours.

Factors Affecting Oil Change Time

The time it takes to perform an oil change depends on several factors, which we’ll cover in more detail below.

The Service

Specific oil change workshops are designed to solely handle oil changes. These services can carry out an oil change quickly and efficiently, serving many customers in a single day.

Some of these shops may perform other tasks, like checking tire pressure, lights, and filters. They may also give you advice and simple guidance, depending on the one you choose.

Waiting Time

Other dealerships and repair services differ from oil change workshops, as carrying out an oil change can take longer.

Waiting time is a factor. If you notice many people up ahead of you, this is a good sign that you’ll be spending a few hours at the workshop.

Vehicle’s Form

Drain plugs and oil pans tend to be easily accessible on most cars, but the oil filter is a different story.

These may have obstructions like cooling lines or frames which prevent the technician from carrying out their job easily. An oil change can take even more time if the filter needs a wrench to remove it from the vehicle.

Some cars are more likely to have this design flaw than others, especially expensive sports vehicles and sports utility cars.


The engine’s size will affect how long an oil change is.

For instance, a four-cylinder engine usually contains five quarts of oil. Larger engines, like ones for diesel vehicles and pick-up trucks, will hold more oil.

These will naturally take more time to empty and refill with oil. It will usually cost more to change the oil in larger engines too.

What Does An Oil Change Involve?

Thanks to computers, cars, and other vehicles have changed a lot over the past few decades, but oil changes are an example of a task that hasn’t changed over time.

Most oil changes involve the following steps.

First, the drain plug is removed from the oil pan, allowing the older oil to pour out.

How Long Does An Oil Change Take

This is best done when the oil is warm, as any contaminants will flow through the liquid instead of being left inside the pain.

Pouring all of the oil out can take up to ten minutes.

Next, the oil filter is removed so the oil around it climbs the socket drain.

New oil is poured into the new filter, allowing it to be equipped with oil once the vehicle starts up again.

The oil pan’s drain plug is put back, and if necessary, a crush washer is.
A thin coating of new oil is applied to a rubber gasket on the filter.

The new filter is spun onto its socket. It is then tightened as much as possible, then the other way by a half-turn. A filter that is too tight can warp the rubber gasket, leading to oil leaking from the pan.

Now, any leftover oil is poured into the oil filler cap on the engine’s surface. Some of this oil will have already been poured into the filter.

The engine is then started up, then placed on idle. After examining for any leaks, the oil change is complete.

Why Are Oil Changes Necessary?

If oil isn’t changed, sludge and dirt can start to accumulate inside the liquid. The oil won’t be able to lubricate or cool down moving components.

If the oil still isn’t changed, carbon and gunk can grow around valves, pistons, and turning components, shortening the engine’s lifespan.

Some types of engines are known for their smaller inside channels, but these can easily clog with dirt and gunk, leading to oil starvation.

If there is no oil between the engine’s parts, they will come into contact with each other at high speeds. This can damage your engine beyond repair, so don’t forget to change your oil!

How Often Should Oil Be Changed?

In the past, drivers were advised to change their oil after every 3,000 miles, but this was never necessary. Motor oils were produced with modifiers and additives that increase their lifespan to 7,000 miles.

Synthetic oils were then created, increasing their lifespan again. These are designed for longer periods without the car breaking down. Some even suggest changing synthetic oil after every 10,000 miles.

These guidelines will vary with each manufacturer, so it’s best to consult your owner’s manual for this information.

Don’t follow guidelines that aren’t from your manufacturer, especially if your car is still under warranty.

Other cars are designated as ‘severe usage’ vehicles, so they will need oil changes more frequently.

Severe usage entails:

  • Regular trips under 10 miles where the engine can’t warm up fully
  • Idling too often
  • Consistent start-and-stop traffic, like in a city, or Uber drivers
  • Towing or carrying heavy loads

If you believe that your driving counts as severe usage, contact a mechanic for advice. They will be able to better assess how often your oil needs to be changed.

Changing your motor oil too often isn’t a huge issue for your car, but you will spend more money and allow your engine to experience a dry start too often.


Oil changes are important to keep your engine in prime condition. The time for oil changes varies with each car, but in most cases, oil changes are done within 45 minutes.

However, several factors can affect this time.

Vehicles with obstructed oil filters and drain plugs will take longer to change their oil.

Choosing to go to a specific oil change workshop can shorten this time, but going for a regular mechanic or dealership can extend this time. Larger engines that hold more oil will take more time to empty and refill.

Oil changes may take time, which can make it tempting to skip, but avoiding oil changes can damage your engine permanently.

You can find how often you should change your oil in your owner’s manual, but if your car and driving qualify as ‘severe usage’, you will need to change your oil more often, so contact a mechanic for personalized advice.

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