The Best and Worst Places to Get an Oil Change

I’ve talked before about how not to get ripped off while getting an oil change, but haven’t yet said where the best place is to get an oil change.

This is what motor oil looks like. See? Not that scary.

This is what motor oil looks like. See? Not that scary.

Best place?

Your home. If you own a garage, carport, or driveway, then get your car’s manual out, get yourself on Youtube, and figure out how to do it yourself. It saves you money in the long-run, but the real reason I do it isn’t for the money. It’s for the quality of work. When it’s your car, you do a great job. You take your time and make sure it’s done right. There’s no other place that you can change your oil that will do it better than you.

Never done it before and scared that you’ll screw it up because it’s complicated and you’ve never opened a car hood before? It’s not complicated. It’s not hard. And with Youtube, you can watch someone do it before your very eyes and then go do it yourself. So buck up, dudes and dudettes, and do it yourself.

Second Best Place?

Not everyone has a garage, carport, or driveway, and so they don’t have a place to do it themselves. Then I suggest any national oil change chain (except Walmart – never go to Walmart for any automotive work). With a national chain, you have recourse if they do something wrong. You got leverage and that’s awesome. With a little local garage, the dude that did your oil change might actually be the owner, and so if you need to complain, you’ve really got no one to go to, because he’s the head honcho.

Seriously, how easy is it to pour in your own oil? So easy it should be illegal to charge people!

Seriously, how easy is it to pour in your own oil? So easy it should be illegal to charge people!

Whether or not their actual work is good, any oil change place might try to rip you off with services that you don’t need, so be sure to not get ripped off!

Worst Place?

Your neighbor’s garage. Maybe you’ve got a buddy or a neighbor that does car stuff or is generally handy, and they say, “Hey, come on by and I’ll change that oil for you.” Don’t do it. If he screws up, there’s 100% nothing that can be done. He might end up expecting a favor in return and now you’re on the hook when you really don’t want to be. Neighbor feuds are started over less than this.

Second Worst Place?

Walmart. Don’t get automotive work done at Walmart. Trust me, they do poor quality work and they cut corners.


Here are some links to articles on changing your own oil:

Art of Manliness tells you how to change your own oil. If you’re a chick, don’t let the website name deter you, chicks can do it too. And they’ll look hotter while they do.

Get Rich Slowly discusses changing your oil every 3,000 miles (SCAM!) and how to do it yourself.

Long Term Mindset lets you in on a little trick to lower your oil change cost if you do decide to go to a national chain.

Image Credits: Motor oil, motor oil refill

Can I Cut Down a Tree by Myself?

Cut TreeQuestion: I’ve got a couple dead trees in my backyard that need to be cut down before they fall down on their own. My wife had some friends over one day and they all ganged up on me saying that I need to “call in the professionals.” But I think that I can do it myself with a couple buddies. I’ve got a chainsaw, know to wear goggles, and understand that you’ve got to rope off the tree so that you pull it down in the direction that you want it to go. Can I do this without professionals?

Answer: Maybe, dude.

First, check out these tree removal regulations and make sure that what you plan to do is cool with the government.

Second, tell your wife’s expensive friends to can it — their opinion doesn’t matter and they don’t have to pay for the expensive thing they’re suggesting. The cost of hiring professionals to cut down a single tree can range from $100-2000 depending on how big it is, where it is, whether you want it hauled away, and whether you want the stump removed, too. That’s a lotta money. If you cut it down yourself, your cost is $0 and you’ve got firewood that you can use or sell. So you might actually make money from the whole thing.

How tall is the tree that you're thinking about cutting down?

How tall is the tree that you’re thinking about cutting down?

Things to consider on whether you can do it yourself is how big the trees are — the smaller they are, the easier they’ll be to chop down on your own (no duh).

Also, how dead are they? Are there some live branches left, or are the trees like 50-foot hollow stakes coming from the ground because they’ve got zero branches? Trees that are newly dead and still have branches are more likely to fall how you’d expect than long-dead trees. The top of a long-dead tree might crack off unexpectedly and in an unexpected direction as you’re in the process of chainsawing or as the tree is falling. That can be dangerous!

I see that you know to rope off a tree and pull it tight in the direction that you want it to fall. Be sure that your buddies holding the rope are far enough away that the tree doesn’t land on them. Trees are taller and heavier than you think!

Do you also know about cutting a wedge into the tree? Do you know what that means? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, call a professional. If you do, then my confidence in your ability is growing.

Here’s a pretty good tutorial on how to cut down a tree on your own.

Cut Down TreeYou could always test out your ability on a smaller tree and see how it goes. There’s no rule saying that if you chop down one, you’ve got to do them all.

You might consider calling professionals to get several estimates on cost. When they’re giving you the estimate, you can ask questions about the trees and see what the dudes say. You might be able to learn more about the process that they suggest doing for your particular situation, and then just do it yourself anyway.

If in the end, you decide to have professionals do it for you, be sure to pit them against each other to avoid getting ripped off and remember that the cheapest bid isn’t always the best.

Good luck!

Other ways to save money on home Improvements and Repairs:

The One Way to Make Sure You Have a Great Vacation

With a vacation coming up for my family and me, I remembered the one family rule that has made each of our vacations awesomer than the last.

I'm not saying you have to do this, but do you have to overthink everything you spend on?

I’m not saying you have to do this, but do you have to overthink everything you spend on?

Rule #1, the only rule: Don’t think about the cost of anything.

This will certainly rub the anti-debt, financial people out there the wrong way. But hold your hate mail for just a minute, dudes.

Of course no one should go away on vacation first class the whole way without thinking about it beforehand. You should plan your radical trip within your budget for the big stuff (hotel, car).

But for everything else, stop ruining your vacation because you over think it and drive everyone (including yourself) crazy. You only live once, so enjoy it. Don’t haggle with your wife over whether your family can afford single scoop ice cream cones versus triple scoops. Just let everyone get what they want — it’s vacation! The $20 more or less won’t break the budget, but worrying about it will break your mind.

Your girlfriend wants to rent one of those giant, dumb, beach umbrellas that costs $50 a day? Do it. Don’t pester her about why she forgot to bring one, how dumb those umbrellas are, or how spoiled she is. Just get it. Have a nice trip and enjoy the stupid, big umbrella.

Get what I’m saying, dudes? I’m not saying you go so far as to rent a limo for everywhere you go or get a top floor hotel suite that would impress Kanye West, but I am saying not to worry about the money so much.

Don’t think about the cost of anything.

Do you have questions about contractors, construction projects, renovations, basic home or car maintenance, or other blue collar stuff? Ask in the comments below and I may answer your question in my next article!

Photo credits: Burning money