The Ultimate Guide to an Oil and Filter Change

Ultimate guide to an oil and filter change in white superimposed over a car dashboard and oil change warning light

What does engine oil and an oil filter do?

Engine oil lubricates the moving parts of your car’s engine, helping them work efficiently during the combustion process. Quite simply, your car wouldn’t keep moving without engine oil. Metal parts would begin to rub together, causing irreversible engine damage.

Of course, oil needs to remain clean to work properly. But that’s not always possible.

That’s where the oil filter comes in. Engine oil passes through the filter and traps any bits of metal, dirt or dust particles within the oil become trapped within it. This keeps the oil particle-free and an efficient lubricant for as long as possible.

If you don’t change regularly, it can become blocked by all this debris. Any blockage will reduce the amount of oil that can pass through it, causing severe damage to your engine.


overheated car engine with lack of engine oil to lubricate moving parts
No one wants to deal with a smoking engine. Avoid severe damage by booking an oil change now!


Clearly, the oil and oil filter are designed to work together, so for the best results you should change both at the same time. That’s why an oil and filter change is so important.


What is an oil and filter change?

An oil and filter change is the most essential form of car maintenance, and should be carried out regularly. It consists of a full drain and refill of your engine oil and an oil filter change.

It’s also quick and affordable when compared to a full service!

During an oil and filter change, a mechanic follows five simple steps:

  1. Remove sump plug (the bit on the underside of your car that keeps the oil in your car) and drain oil
  2. Remove the oil filter
  3. Replace the sump plug
  4. Replace the oil filter
  5. Refill the oil to the correct level (following the manufacturer’s recommendations for quantity and type of oil)


As you can see, it’s a very simple process – but if you don’t know what you’re doing, its best to leave it to the professionals. That’s why you should book your next oil and filter change today – just enter your car reg and post code into BookMyGarage to instantly compare oil change prices from thousands of independent, fast fit and franchise garages.


engine oil change in process; person pouring clean engine oil through a funnel into their car oil reservoir
Oil top ups are a part of car maintenance that we can do ourselves – find out how later on!


Why is it important for my car?

Oil is critical to the performance of your car. If there isn’t enough oil in your car, or the oil is dirty, you run the risk of severe engine problems and seeing the dreaded engine management light.

And not the amber one either. Issues relating to engine oil usually mean that the bright red engine management light shows up. This means you need to stop immediately and can cause untold stress and expense to fix.

Don’t let it get to that point.


Confused by the engine management light? If you want to know what to look out for in an emergency, check out this guide!


As well as this, an oil and filter change extends the lifespan of your car. It’s a small expense in the short-term that helps you avoid much larger expenses in the long run.

Most importantly, oil goes bad. No matter how clean and well-maintained you think your car is, dirt and debris will always end up mixing with your oil. This affects the quality of your oil and, as we’ve mentioned, running on dirty oil damages the interior workings of your car. Stagnant oil also contributes to this, especially if you start running the engine on it.

For many of us, our cars haven’t run as much this past year and so the oil quality won’t be that good. If your engine isn’t run frequently, the dust and debris can settle in the oil. This makes it difficult for the oil filter to remove, reducing the quality of the oil.

Don’t risk engine damage by running your car on dirty, inefficient oil and a clogged oil filter. Book an oil and filter change through BookMyGarage today! With thousands of independent, franchise and fast fit garages across the UK offering this service, you’re never far away from an oil and filter change. Compare oil change prices from garages near you and book the best deal (sort by reviews, distance or price)!


Book your oil and filter change now!


How does an oil change differ from a full service?

An oil and filter change is by no means a replacement for a full service, but it is a cost-effective way to bridge the gap between services.

It can’t replace a car service because it doesn’t include any of the 40 safety checks mechanics include in a full service. Even an interim service includes a 25-point safety check, as well as an air filter replacement, to ensure your car in top condition.

But these checks do take time, making a full service much more expensive than an oil and filter change.

The average full service price is £182.40 (taken as an average price from 8,500 garages listed on BookMyGarage). Oil and filter change prices start from just £50. That’s a huge saving if money’s a little tight right now.


mechanic inspecting car engine with clipboard during an oil and filter change
Want the peace of mind that a full service brings without the cost? Book an oil and filter change instead!


If your car needs a little TLC, but you don’t want to fork out for a full service right now, book an oil and filter change today. If you want something a little more comprehensive, why not book a Vehicle Safety Check at the same time?

This 16-point safety check covers the essential areas of your car, including battery condition, brake fluid, a brake pad check and tyre tread depth inspection. Many garages offer this inspection free when you book extra work, such as an oil and filter change. That way, you get extra peace of mind for less.


Book your Oil and Filter Change with a Vehicle Safety Check today!


How much does an oil change cost?

The average oil change cost in the UK is £100. However, according to Checkatrade, oil change prices can be as high as £200! Comparing garages on BookMyGarage, prices start from £50, which is significantly less than what you would pay elsewhere! But why is the average cost so high?

Well, most of what you’re paying for is labour, as normal. As well as this, your car’s engine has a direct impact on your oil change cost. The bigger the engine, the more oil it needs (and the longer it takes to drain the oil from the car). All this means that cars with a larger engine usually cost more, but that’s true across all car servicing.

The oil itself can make an oil change so expensive.


Engine oil prices

We compared the costs of 4 common oil types on Eurocarparts, and calculated an average. This reflects the price for a 1 litre bottle of engine oil from Mobil, Castrol, Shell and Triple QX, the four biggest brands.



Specialist oils, such as fully-synthetic oils, are more expensive – but are also better for your car in the long run.

Fully-synthetic oils offer superior performance because they have less impurities than regular oil. They also offer more protection as they are more consistent, more durable and flow better at both hot and cold temperatures. This makes it easier for your engine to run smoothly, whatever the weather.

Fully-synthetic oils also last longer and improve your car’s power output and fuel efficiency. So, it might be slightly more expensive to add specialist oils to your booking, but the return is worth it.


How often to change oil?

We recommend a car oil change every 5,000 miles. While this is a good yardstick, there are several other factors which affect the lifespan of your engine oil.

  • How you drive. Aggressive acceleration can put extra pressure on the engine and the oil and oil filter.
  • Your typical speed. High-speed driving can wear engine parts and use oil faster. This also worsens issues with dirty oil.
  • The type of oil used. Synthetic oils last longer than traditional engine oils.
  • How often you drive. Oil becomes less effective with age, especially if the vehicle isn’t driven. While the vehicle is stationary, the engine isn’t warm enough so excess moisture forms inside it. This means the oil will deteriorate faster.


With no set timeframe, the best thing you can do is regularly check your oil level and quality to keep track of when you need to book an oil and filter change. Here’s how.


How do I know when I need an oil and filter change?

It’s easy to check your oil quality. Your oil reservoir is located at the front of your engine bay, marked by a dipstick that looks like this.


engine oil dip stick isolated on white background
This is what you want to use to examine the oil level in your car


And you can check your engine oil in just three simple steps:

  1. Pull the dipstick out all the way.
  2. Clean it fully with a clean cloth. Make sure no cloth fibres end up on the dipstick before you put it back in.
  3. Reinsert the dipstick all the way. Pull it back out again and check the oil level.




If the level is between the minimum and maximum lines on the dipstick, the quantity is fine. You should book an oil and filter change if you notice any of the following things:

  • The oil looks dirty or contaminated. High-quality oil should look smooth and glossy. If it sludgy or contains particles, you need an oil change immediately.
  • You notice that it’s been a while since you last changed your oil. If you can’t remember when it was, it’s probably a good sign that you need to book an oil change as soon as possible.
  • Your oil is thick or opaque. Good quality oil should be somewhat transparent.
  • Some cars have oil change warning lights which tell you it’s time to change the oil.


Close up view of oil change warning light
If you see this oil warning light, you need to pull over and book an oil and filter change immediately!


Once you’ve booked an oil and filter change, make a note of the date and the mileage. That way, you can keep track of when the next one might be due.


If your oil and filter change is due, book online with BookMyGarage today. Enter your reg and postcode to instantly compare oil change prices from thousands of fast fit, independent and franchise garages across the UK. With prices starting from just £50, and many offering free Vehicle Safety Checks at the same time, it’s more affordable than ever to keep your car in top condition. Book your appointment today.


Compare and save on an oil and filter change in your area now!



An oil and filter change is one of the most essential parts of car maintenance. Here are the three main reasons to book yours today.

  1. Contaminated oil, a lack of oil or a clogged oil filter can cause severe problems in the engine
  2. It’s a small expense in the short term which saves plenty of money in the long run, especially as it’s significantly cheaper than a full service.
  3. Many garages on the BookMyGarage network offer free Vehicle Safety Checks alongside an oil and filter change. This 16-point safety check gives you the same peace of mind a full service would for a much more affordable deal!
Mandy Weston

Mandy Weston

Mandy is an ex-mechanic, with 22 years’ experience in the motor industry. As an in-house motoring expert, Mandy is the go-to woman for any relevant questions that our customers have; both garages and drivers. From specific problems with your car to general maintenance, Mandy is a reliable source of information and advice. Her passion for motoring is a huge factor to her success and the huge wealth of knowledge that she has. She now uses her remarkable grasp of the industry to write regular content for our readers to help drivers understand their car better, avoid being ripped off by garages and save money on their motoring requirements.