At Walmart, you can get your oil changed for a reasonable cost.
Everyone needs to get their oil changed at some point. It’s quite simply inevitable. Avoiding it leads to more significant damage and costs down the road.
In this article, we’ll look at how much it costs for an oil change at Walmart.
We’ll also consider the basic principles of motor oil. Finally, we’ll explore whether you can change your own oil, and how much that costs.
To skip the introduction and jump straight to looking at the cost of an oil change at Walmart specifically, click the second link in the list below.
That being said, let’s begin by looking into a general understanding of motor oil.
What Is Motor Oil?
Motor oil is the lubricant of the engine. It carries a crucial role, and without it, the car wouldn’t get a mile without breaking down – or, more accurately, just breaking. Possibly permanently.
Its job is to cling to the metal surfaces within the engine as a semi-thick fluid. We refer to the “thickness” or “thinness” of the oil as its viscosity. The more viscous oil is, the “thicker” you might consider it to be. Equally, thin oil doesn’t have a very high viscosity.
We will briefly look into the concept of viscosity in the next section of this article.
In modern engines and oils, the oil is also responsible for preventing rust buildup, cleaning out harmful sludge, and other similar jobs. In some ways, it’s the janitor of the engine.
As the motor oil coats the surfaces of the moving metal engine components, it provides a sort of barrier between them. Without the oil, the parts might begin to expand with the heat (as metal things do). Eventually, they would begin to scrape against each other and collide, causing (likely irreparable) damage to your engine.
If this happened, you would need to pay for a full engine rebuild or replacement.
And that’s something that’s not too kind on your bank account.
All of this is why motor oil is so essential and why you must look it after.
Take a look at the first few seconds from this YouTube clip. Yep. Change your oil regularly!
What Is Viscosity? – In Terms Of Motor Oil
If you clicked on the link in the above section, which takes you to Princeton’s website, you’d have seen the definition there. To quote that page:
Viscosity is a measure of a fluid’s resistance to flow. It describes the internal friction of a moving fluid.
You might think of viscosity as “how much a fluid slows itself down while flowing”.
(As an aside note, although, in everyday English, the word “fluid” brings up ideas of liquids only, in the scientific world, “fluid” can refer to either liquids or gases. Gases also have viscosity levels, but they’re usually small enough to be virtually negligible.)
Most people use words such as “heavy” or “thick” to describe “viscous” fluids. This isn’t quite technically correct, but it doesn’t matter. As long as you remember that these are all referring to the same thing, you’ll be fine.
As we apply this principle to motor oil, we can see that the “thicker” motor oils are more viscous.
What Do Motor Oil Grades Mean?
The grades on the side of oil containers refer to their relative viscosities. These numbers are based on tests and standards set by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).
When a company produces a new motor oil, it must go through four SAE-set tests. Two of these are done at “cold” temperatures, while the other two are done at engine operating temperatures. These tests give the oil its “grade” based on how long the oil took to flow through a particular SAE-developed tube-like device.
For example, you might see SAE 20 motor oil on the shelf. This represents an SAE-based relative viscosity of 20. SAE 20 would be more viscous (“thicker”) than SAE 15, for example. Click here to go to the Wikipedia page on Motor Oil – scroll down to the section on “single-grade”.
SAE 20 or SAE 15 motor oils are examples of “single-grade” or “monograde” oils. Most modern oils are multigrade.
For example, you might see a container of 5W30 (one of the most common oils). We’ll explain more about multigrade oils in the next section.
What Is Multigrade Oil?
Multigrade oil behaves differently at different temperatures. Specifically, it has different viscosities when cold (at 0 degrees Celcius – freezing) and at operational engine temperatures.
For example, 10W20 behaves like SAE 10 when cold and like SAE 20 at operating temperatures. To achieve this behavior, oil-producing companies use a wide range of additives to manipulate
See the graph to understand that a little more clearly.
You’ll notice the “W” in the multigrade oil’s description. This stands for “winter”. It’s technically attached to the first number, which is why you’ll often see “5W30” written as “5W-30”. When it’s written like that, it’s clear that the oil has an SAE viscosity rating of 5 in “winter” – in the cold – and 30 under standard engine running conditions.
Don’t listen to anyone telling you anything otherwise about that “W”. It doesn’t stand for “weight”.
Why Does Motor Oil Need Changing?
Now that, hopefully, you can see the importance of motor oil, let’s look at why it needs to be regularly changed.
Not that long ago, pretty much every auto manufacturer told customers that they had to change their oil every 3,000 miles. This number still gets quoted sometimes, but only really by people trying to sell oil to you. In modern cars using modern oils, you should be able to go much longer before an oil change. You can expect to comfortably go anywhere from 5,000 to 12,000 miles on one lot of oil, depending on your car.
Always read your owner’s manual and follow its advice. It will tell you when you should change your oil. If you drive a relatively modern car, the car itself will probably tell you when it’s time for an oil change. The light will flash on. It’s time.
Motor oil needs to be changed because it wears out over time. Although multigrade oils are almost universally better for cars than monogrades, they tend to wear out quicker.
They wear out faster because they contain polymeric particles that vary with temperature. You can think of them like a slinky. When it’s cold, they stay coiled up and packed together. As the temperature increases, they unravel and stretch out.
These are what give the oil its “multigrade” property. However, these particles are particularly prone to shearing – literally getting chopped up by the engine over time. Because of this, the multigrade property of your oil wears out fairly quickly.
It’s also vital for you to change your oil to avoid the buildup of what’s affectionately called “sludge“. Sludge forms at high temperatures and is either a solid or gel-like substance. It causes your engine to run inefficiently or, if it’s bad, can even cause it to seize.
You’ll find this happening because sludge doesn’t run through the engine in the way it should, so the parts don’t get lubricated, and the engine overall doesn’t get looked after.
You can avoid all these problems by changing your oil at the recommended times.
Does Walmart Do Oil Changes?
That brings us to look at Walmart and the oil changes and services provided by them.
Walmart does offer oil changes, along with other standard battery and tire services. Click the link above to see a full list of the services that the company provides.
There are over 2,500 Walmart Auto Care Centers across the US. You’ll find them next to the traditional store. Walmart designed the Auto Care Center aspect of the business to be somewhere you can leave your car while you shop. If everything goes well, it should be done by the time you leave with your groceries. Or whatever you’re getting.
Since most of the services offered at a Walmart Auto Care Center are “fast-fit”, it makes financial sense. These jobs usually won’t take the technicians very long. Because of this, it’s excellent value and very convenient.
How Much Does A Walmart Oil Change Cost?
At Walmart, you have four options to choose from. These are, essentially, budget options through to premium ones.
All of the listed prices below exclude taxes, so you’ll need to add them on to get the final figure.
Local stores are free to vary the pricing if they want to, but the nationally-set costs would be:
- “Pit Crew” oil change – $19.88.
- Standard oil change – $29.88.
- High Mileage oil change – $39.88.
- Power & Performance oil change – $49.88.
A “Pit Crew” oil change might be the most basic package, but you get quite a lot included. Expect to receive up to 5 quarts of conventional Quaker State oil (either 5W20, 5W30, or 10W30) along with a new oil filter. The mechanics will also check your battery’s performance and adjust your tire pressure levels if needed. For not much more than $20, that’s pretty great.
If you opt for a Standard oil change, you’ll get all the above plus “lube services” (see below).
Going for a High Mileage oil change is a good idea if your car is on or over 75,000 miles and you regularly drive long distances. This service is the same as the above Standard oil change, but the oil is either High Mileage or semi-synthetic.
Finally, let’s look at the Power & Performance package. This is, again, the same as the above but with fully-synthetic oil. The best you can get, basically.
On these packages, except “Pit Crew”, “lube services” are included. They involve the following.
- The technicians will check and top up if necessary…
- They’ll also check (but just check, without doing any maintenance here)…
- battery performance
- air filter
- wiper blades
- headlights, taillights, turn signals, and brake lights
- Finally, they’ll also do some basic cleaning, including…
- vacuuming your interior
- and washing the outside of your windshield.
How Does A Walmart Oil Change Cost Compare With Market Rates?
It’s pretty good, actually. But then, you might expect that, with the ever-present Walmart brand name.
According to Angie’s List, the average cost for a conventional oil change is $46 and ranges between $25 and $50. This would equate to Walmart’s basic “Pit Crew” oil change. At Walmart, however, you’re only paying $19.88 + taxes.
When you consider the other services also thrown in, that’s excellent value for money.
Angie’s List also reports that if fully-synthetic oil is what the shop uses, the price will be somewhere between $45 and $70. Again, at Walmart, it costs $49.88 + taxes for a fully-synthetic oil change – the Power & Performance package. It’s very much towards the lower end of the spectrum.
Overall, the cost of an oil change at Walmart is likely below the national average.
Remember that your local Walmart is free to charge whatever it likes, despite the nationally-set prices. Thus, you may end up paying a different amount to what’s advertised. So far as I can tell, though, most Walmart stores stick – at least reasonably closely – to those advertised costs.
Why Does A Walmart Oil Change Cost This Amount?
Walmart can offer these services at low prices because, as I mentioned earlier, they are what’s referred to as “fast-fit”. What’s on offer is very simple, and pretty much anyone can do them.
Here is where Walmart has a competitive advantage over local auto shops, at least in this field. The Auto Care Centers workers don’t have to be qualified mechanics – or even qualified fitters. You’ll find admissions of this all over the Internet.
Walmart promotes itself as having, quote,
certified technicians that are ready to help you with your auto maintenance needs.
I don’t mean to knock this, in any way – please don’t misunderstand me. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with Walmart training up its own staff to provide this service. In fact, it makes a lot of economic sense.
You don’t need a highly skilled specialist mechanic to do work like this. It’s not worth paying them. Someone with the experience and skills is more likely to work for an auto shop of some kind, where they can do more in-depth jobs (and get paid more). Thus, Walmart technicians usually don’t have nationally-recognized mechanics qualifications.
However, this is undoubtedly part of the reason why Walmart can offer oil change services for such an affordable cost.
That shouldn’t stop you from going there at all. A Walmart technician can do as good of a job as anyone. And, at these prices, it’s probably worth it.
Where Can I Find A Walmart Auto Care Center?
You’ll probably find one near to your house, knowing Walmart. The Auto Care Centers are often attached to, or near, the existing Walmart store.
It’s worth looking up reviews on your local Walmart Center. They are all independently managed. Some have great reputations; others really don’t. Some are extremely strict with how the work must be done by the technicians (as they should be) – whereas, apparently, some aren’t.
Ask around and make sure that you’re leaving your car in capable hands.
It’s not just Walmart that is affected by a reputation of negligence, but, sadly, much of the automotive industry. It’s full of outstanding, hard-working individuals – but also those who aren’t and who bring the entire industry into disrepute.
I’d suggest doing your homework, anyway, just to make sure.
What Happens When I Go To A Walmart Auto Care Center?
It’s a pretty smooth and straightforward process, to be fair.
Drive up to the entrance and find the service writer. They will write up your information and that of your car, including what you want to be done. Tell them which of the available packages you’re after. They’ll tell you how long it should take for them to finish the work.
After that, hand over your keys and head on into the store. Do some shopping if you need to or hang around with a coffee.
When the technicians have finished the work, they will page you while you’re still in the store. Once you get this, go to the desk and pay. You might receive your keys back here or when you get back to the car, along with a list of work done and an invoice or receipt.
You can now leave, but if you’re unsure about anything, then I’d recommend hanging around in the parking lot for a little while with the engine running. If there are any problems, it’s best to catch them now. You’ll notice if things are wrong.
Look or listen for:
- unusual noises (grinding, excessively loud sounds),
- leaks underneath the car,
- leaks in the engine bay,
- the temperature gauge rising,
- a persistent burning smell,
- dashboard warning lights,
It might be worth taking whatever steps necessary to insure yourself against any future damage to the car. Check what warranties are available before you go in and do everything you can to protect yourself from future damage.
Again, that’s not necessarily a comment aimed at Walmart. You should do this whenever you get any work done on your car by anyone.
Can I Change My Own Motor Oil?
You can absolutely change your own oil. As long as you have a few necessary tools and a safe, flat surface to work on, you can change your own oil instead of going to a shop.
- sockets and ratchets (probably 3/8″) or a wrench,
- an oil pan,
- a torque wrench (probably 3/8″),
- new oil (and a new oil filter),
- parts cleaner (also known as brake cleaner),
- and PPE – especially gloves and coveralls, and possibly goggles, for when you’re underneath the car.
The process of changing your oil is pretty simple. It’s worth changing your filter simultaneously, as to change the oil filter, you need to drain the oil anyway.
Instead of covering the entire process again, please follow the link to this article: 0W20 vs. 5W20 – The Best Oil For Your Car. Click the internal link to jump to the bottom, where a full oil change checklist is detailed.
Use this information as a rough guide and only carry the work out if you’re confident in what you’re doing.
How Much Does It Cost To Change My Own Motor Oil?
To come to an approximate figure for this, we’ll use Walmart again. Click here to go to the Walmart website and compare the prices of motor oils for purchase from the stores.
Going through these products, you can see that you would expect to pay between $19 and $27 for 5 quarts of fully-synthetic motor oil. From good brands such as Castrol, as well. Using those figures, let’s take an average of $23 for 5 quarts of fully-synthetic motor oil.
You should then allow about $10 to purchase an industry-standard oil filter (also available from Walmart – click here to have a look). You will need to find the oil filter specifically made for your car. Put in your vehicle information at the top of Walmart’s website, and it should churn the correct results out for you.
So, in total, expect a cost of $23 for the oil + $10 for the filter. A total cost of about $33 + taxes.
Think about this in comparison with the $49.88 charge for a fully-synthetic oil change. You might save $15 or $20 by doing it yourself. However, the Walmart service also includes all your other fluids being topped up and a quick clean.
Overall, I would say that it depends on how much you trust your local Walmart (and how much you trust yourself on cars, too). Also, financially, there’s not much to split a DIY job and getting Walmart to do it, so it comes down to whether or not you have the time.
The Cost Of A Walmart Oil Change, Overall
So, we’ve come to the end of this article.
Having looked at everything, I would recommend doing your research on your local Walmart. It’s probably best to ask your friends, family, and neighbors about their experiences. The Internet is full of lies and one-off dissatisfied customers, and so may not paint a completely accurate picture.
You might decide to do your own oil change. This might cost slightly less than an equivalent Walmart oil change but will take you longer. You also won’t get any of the extra benefits that the store offers, such as a quick clean and all your fluids being topped up.
What you want to do is down to you, ultimately.
My main piece of advice would be to always go for the Power & Performance package for $49.88. If that’s just a bit too much, then maybe the High Mileage one at $39.88. They cost more, yes, but at only $20 or $30 extra, you’ll be getting so much more protection for your engine.
Fully-synthetic motor oil is, unquestionably, so much more advanced than conventional oil. You’ll thank yourself in the long run. Although conventional oil might be to industry standards, it’s the bare minimum.
To look after your car, you want to be doing more than that.