Changing the oil and filter while under warranty...

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Aug 01, 1990

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a car under warranty. Can I change my own oil and filter without jeopardizing the warranty?

RAY: That's a good question, Earl. Although my knucklehead brother and I disagree as to whether you SHOULD do it, the answer is yes, you CAN do it. The warranty requires that certain maintenance be done, and that the proper parts be used. But it does NOT specify that the work must be done by the dealer. So go ahead, Earl, change it.

TOM: Don't listen to him, Earl. As most of you readers know by now, my brother has inhaled a little too much carbon monoxide over the years. While you CAN change your own oil and filter under warranty, I think it's a silly risk to take. There are two reasons. First, if you do screw it up (and forget to tighten the drainplug, for example), the cost of a new engine comes out of your pocket. Second, if anything goes wrong with your engine down the road, it's much harder for you to prove that you did the required maintenance. On the other hand, if you pay a mechanic $25 to do it, you'll not only have written proof that the work was done, but you can hold him responsible if anything goes wrong.

RAY: Once again, my dear brother has missed the whole point of the question. Earl's primary motivation is not to save $25. He's trying to get out of the house on Saturday morning! It's either change the oil or get nagged again about cleaning the gutters, right Earl? Well, changing the oil is not exactly rocket science. If you're careful, and you know how to do it, you shouldn't have any problem. Just save the receipts for the oil and filters you buy. That should serve as proof should it ever become necessary. Then take the $25 you save and hire my brother to clean the gutters. He needs the extra money so he can get his oil changed.

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