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What’s Included in a Full-Service Oil Change?

BY: Nikki Ayers
A close up of a mechanic's hands pouring new motor oil into a car's engine during an oil change.

If you’re unfamiliar with auto repair jargon, you may find keeping up with your car’s recommended maintenance schedule difficult. For example, oil changes are one of the most common ways to maintain your vehicle—but did you know different makes and models require certain types of motor oil to keep your engine healthy (and not void your factory warranty)?

Luckily, getting a full-service oil change with a professional mechanic can help ensure your vehicle is being taken care of properly. In fact, a full-service oil change does much more for your vehicle than just swap out dirty oil. When getting your car’s oil changed by an ASE Certified automotive technician, you can be certain that they’ll perform various checks on other parts of your vehicle apart to ensure it’s in great shape while also looking for premature damage.

What Is Checked During an Oil Change?

A full-service oil change can include up to five (5) quarts of your oil of choice, installing a new oil filter, and additional steps to ensure your vehicle is in top shape. 

To better understand what involves a full-service oil change, most will include the following steps:

Step 1: Changing the Oil

Oil is essential for keeping moving parts in your engine lubricated, as well as cleaning it and keeping it cool. During an oil change, the mechanic first drains it to change your oil filter. Then, once a new filter is installed, they replace the oil in line with your manufacturer’s recommendations.

You’re typically offered around three types of engine oil varying in viscosity (thickness) to add to your vehicle. These can include:

  • Conventional Oil: Derived from crude oil pulled from the ground and then refined in a factory. 
  • Full-Synthetic Oil: Made entirely in a factory but is more refined and known to be better for your engine.
  • Synthetic Blend Oil: Includes synthetic and conventional oil to capture the benefits of both while reducing the drawbacks for each.
  • High-Mileage Oil: This is a more recent type of oil that improves overall performance in high-mileage vehicles. 

Always refer to your owner’s manual when deciding which to go for. You may be tempted to spend the extra dollars on a new oil with additives, but it will not improve performance unless the manufacturer requires it.

Step 2: Checking Your Air Filter

In addition to changing your oil, repair shops will also identify air filters that need replacing and give you a choice on whether or not you want a new one installed. But why is this important? Well, you may not know that driving with a dirty or damaged engine air filter impacts your engine’s performance, blocking the flow of clean air and preventing fuel from burning correctly. 

Over time, the air filter becomes less effective at filtering clean air into the engine, impacting your car’s overall performance. Plus, if the check engine light recently came on, but no significant issues are its cause, a clogged-up air filter may have triggered the signal. 

Having a professional inspect your air filters may seem pointless, but with engine replacements costing up to $4,000, having this included in a full-service oil change can help you feel confident while on the road. And if you’re on a tight budget, having the help of an extended warranty or vehicle service contract, like Advantage from Endurance, can give you even more peace of mind by covering you from expensive and unexpected repair bills. But, along with giving you breakdown protection, with Advantage, you’ll also get up to $3,500 in maintenance benefits, including $50 towards your next oil and filter change (up to three per year).

Step 3: Checking Your Coolant/Antifreeze Levels

As you drive, antifreeze is pumped around your vehicle to help it maintain the temperature, so it never gets too hot or cold to function. And because of this vital function, maintaining proper fluid levels is vital while also helping to prevent corrosion. That’s why during your full-service oil change, a certified mechanic usually checks how much antifreeze is currently in your system and tops it up if needed.

There may be different variations of coolants to choose from, but you should always refer to your owner’s manual to know which to go with. Most coolants these days have specific colors tied to a certain car make, like Toyota, which is typically red, and using the wrong kind can void your warranty.

Step 4: Checking Your Power Steering Fluid

ASE Certified technicians also check your power steering fluid to see if it needs a top off. Power steering fluid transfers power to the hydraulic systems your vehicle uses to make turning the steering wheel a cinch—without it, you’d need to hit the gym every day to be able to turn a corner. As with your antifreeze, technicians check your levels and top them up.

Step 5: Checking Your Brake Fluid

When you apply pressure to your brake pedal, you apply pressure to your brake fluid. Because fluids are incompressible, the pressure is then transferred to your brakes, bringing your vehicle to a halt.

If your brake fluid is low, you have to apply much more pressure than usual to slow down, which can be very dangerous. The mechanic will check your brakes’ sensitivity during your oil change and add more fluid if required to ensure you’re driving safely.

Step 6: Checking Your Chassis Lubrication

Some modern vehicles use ‘lifetime lubricated’ parts, but it’s worth checking that they’re all in good shape. 

Chassis lubrication involves looking at all the suspension bushings and joints, steering bars, sway joints, and U-joints. If needed, certain components will then be lubricated wherever required.

Step 7: Checking Your Wiper Blade Health

Harsh driving conditions are challenging to navigate through, especially with worn windshield wipers. The mechanic checks your wipers’ health to determine whether or not you need to replace them soon. 

When determining this, they look for any imperfections on the rubber which could damage your windshield over time. 

Step 8: Checking Washer Fluid Levels

Your windshield washer fluid is an equally important visibility aid throughout the year. When you’re driving down the highway and hit a swarm of bugs, you’ll need to get them cleaned off quickly, so you don’t hit anything else. I always advise my technicians to check whether your washer fluid is full and top off when necessary.

Step 9: Checking the Battery

If you’ve recently experienced a few times where your vehicle didn’t start on the first try, you may need to check the health of your battery. Luckily, technicians do this for you during an oil change. 

Depending on the findings they discover, you may be able to avoid dealing with a dead battery on the road by looking at the warning signs as early as possible.

Step 10: Checking Your Tire Pressure

An advantage of properly inflated tires is that pressure is distributed evenly across the rubber, so they wear down slower and need replacing less frequently. 

Another is that they have less drag, improving your vehicle’s overall fuel economy. The mechanic then checks your tires’ pressure and adds some air to bring them back up to your manufacturer’s recommended PSI.

Step 11: Checking for Other Faults

The last step is a quick courtesy check for any hidden faults or repairs-in-waiting, so they don’t take you by surprise further down the line. Some repair shops may also perform a tire rotation or vehicle inspection to ensure your vehicle is in top shape before driving off.

If your full-service oil change is carried out under your Advantage protection plan and the mechanic finds something else that needs fixing, they can get the additional work signed off with a quick phone call. Once we’re done, you can drive away with total peace of mind.

Save on Your Next Oil Change with Advantage

The best way to reduce the chances of a breakdown is by getting regular oil changes and other services recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer. But for those who aren’t comfortable with DIY maintenance, full-service oil changes done by a professional can help ensure your vehicle is being taken care of. And during the oil change, the technician will closely inspect other parts of your vehicle to help give you peace of mind when it comes to hitting the road.

Still, regardless of how well-maintained your vehicle may be, unexpected breakdowns can still happen. And if you have an older, used vehicle outside its factory warranty coverage, you’d be on the hook for paying any costly repair bills on your own. But, when you have an Endurance auto protection plan, you can be certain that you’ll be covered from unexpected breakdowns and repairs, like the coverage provided to your by your car’s manufacturer. Plus, when you have a plan like Advantage, you can combine your breakdown protection with up to $3,500 in yearly maintenance benefits, including up to three oil and filter changes, along with other services like alignment checks, PSI checks and more. All you have to do is visit any ASE Certified repair shop, present them with your Endurance membership card, and sit back while Endurance takes care of the rest.

To learn more about Advantage or any other Endurance protection plan, call our award-winning customer service team at (800) 253) 8203 or request a free, no-obligation quote. And don’t forget that you can find even more articles answering more of your biggest automotive FAQs and others on topics like extended warranty comparisons, vehicle buying guides, and more by visiting the Endurance blog.

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