Do Car Dealerships Change Oil Before Selling?

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Getting a new car can be an exciting experience. Knowing what to expect when getting a vehicle from your dealership is important. You may be wondering if they changed the oil before selling you the car. We have thoroughly researched this topic and have found some answers for you.

Though dealerships are not required by law to change the oil before selling to a customer, it is commonly understood that a dealership with legitimate business practices will change the oil and perform basic maintenance checks before a sale. If maintenance history is not posted on or in the car, it is recommended to ask where it is recorded. Before purchase, confirm what kind of maintenance the vehicle has received.

Where can you find the maintenance record? How to tell if the oil was changed? We’ll break down the answers to these questions and more. Keep reading as we discuss how dealers clean their cars before a sale and some tips on how you can keep your vehicle feeling like new!

Pouring oil to car engine in car dealership service center, Do Car Dealerships Change Oil Before Selling?

How Can You Tell If The Dealership Changed The Oil?

Though most established, respectable dealerships will change the oil before selling a car, it’s always recommended to know exactly when the last oil change was.

This information can be on a maintenance facts sheet attached to a window or inside the car. It may also be found in the maintenance booklet kept in the glove compartment.

To tell if the oil has been recently changed, you can visually check it yourself. If you pull out the oil dipstick and the oil is clear and hard to see, then the oil is fresh!

Refueling and pouring oil quality into the engine motor car Transmission and Maintenance Gear

Oil that has been circulating in an engine for over 3000 miles will be brown and dirty. The oil should also be at the full line.

In newer vehicles, the dashboard infotainment system may also be able to tell you when to change the oil.

Though these can be very useful sources of information, for best practice, place more weight on a visual inspection and maintenance history to decide on the timing for the first few oil changes.

Once you become familiar with how your vehicle uses oil, you may be able to rely more on the vehicle system’s recommendations.

This video shows how to check the oil on your vehicle to verify that it’s full and clean.

When You Buy A New Car When Do You Change The Oil?

When you buy a brand new car that has not had a previous owner, changing the oil before the odometer hits 1500 miles is recommended.

Changing the oil will clear the scraps of metal that have worn off into the engine during the first uses of the car as the mating surfaces become fixed.

The term “mating surfaces” refers to where the aligning edges and holes in the engine and surrounding systems make contact with one another.

In the past, when you bought a new car, professionals recommended going through a series of processes in the car to break it in.

The idea was that the different parts would wear down to function and fit together as “taught” by the break-in process.

In the last few years, manufacturing and the quality of lubricants used have jumped forward enough that this is no longer necessary.

Since new parts will still cause debris to break down into the oil and engine as they “learn” their place, we recommend this first oil change to happen sooner rather than later to avoid future engine troubles.

When Should You Change The Oil On A Used Car

Young Hispanic mechanic draining engine oil from a car for an oil change at an auto shop

Conventional wisdom is that you should change the oil in an older or used car within three months or 3,000 miles of the last oil change, whichever comes first. Newer cars or infrequently used vehicles can have up to 5,000 miles between oil changes.

Change synthetic oils less frequently. Most professionals advise changing this oil type starting at 7,500 miles up to 15,000 miles. To find out if you should use synthetic oil in your car, read our article here.

Always consult your owner’s manual for your vehicle to see care instructions about the type of oil and viscosity. Reference it as well for recommendations on how often you should have an oil change.

For more on top oil brands to use in your vehicle, read our article here.

Do Dealerships Charge More For Oil Changes?

Smaller or local dealers that are merely retailers and not authorized franchises may have their own service centers or shops.

In some cases, an oil change at one of these may cost the same or less than an oil change elsewhere. For a smaller dealership, offering their future services at a discount may be part of a way to add value to your purchase.

Though it may not be true for all dealerships, most will charge more for oil changes. This is especially true when the dealership in question is a name brand or franchise dealership. These are also known as authorized retailers.

This type of dealership will have the brand of vehicle in its name, like “Smith’s Buick” or “Smitty’s Honda of Littleville.” You could expect to pay anywhere from 1.5 to 3 times as much as the local average for an oil change at one of these dealers.

Why Do Dealerships Charge More For Oil Changes

Authorized retailers can charge more for oil changes due to the trust that their name engenders.

Since they can trade on the reputation of the brand they represent, the client is more than willing to pay a little, or in some cases, a lot more for the expected quality of service.

Oil changes are also not their primary business. Competitive pricing may not be as much of a concern for these bigger dealers as it would for a smaller dealership or a place that specifically does oil changes.

Finally, since they are reselling services based on the vehicle manufacturer’s name, they will have to leverage the cost of certifications and inspections. This cost of being an authorized dealer gets past on to the customer.

Do Dealerships Clean Cars Before Selling?

In addition to changing the oil before selling the car, many dealerships will also offer to throw in a detailing service or carwash. These services are optional, and we recommend reading online reviews from past customers to make sure you have the best experience.

If you purchase a fresh from the factory vehicle, some mechanics recommend against accepting a dealership carwash or detail.

There are concerns with accidental damage from the water pressure on the new paint. To find out what’s included in a detailing, read our article here.

How Do Dealerships Keep Cars Clean?

A line up of different colored Buick encores parked outside the GMC dealership

Dealerships will employ their own car care crew. They can also contract out to a company to take care of their fleet.

The company or crew’s duties will inspect, pressure wash, and provide interior services after a customer’s test drive. Most retailers have a system in place to clean their vehicles at least once to twice a week.

What Do Car Dealers Use To Make Cars Smell Like New?

Car dealers pay special attention to the in-cabin filter maintenance while making sure the engine is visually clean. This ensures that dirty engine fumes, leaked antifreeze, or other liquids don’t diminish the new car smell.

Most professional detailers and those familiar with the dealer industry say that the main secret to that new car smell is Ozium. Originally used to sanitize, dealers now use this product to refresh any vehicle.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

Leather conditioners and fresh, clean carpets also contribute to that new car feeling.

See this leather cleaner kit on Amazon.

Click here to see this carpet and upholstery cleaner for vehicles on Amazon.

What Do Dealers Use To Shine Their Cars?

Visit any forum, and it becomes evident that every dealer has a secret to keep their cars looking shiny and new.

Some former workers report that a simple shampoo followed by gentle buffing with a mild abrasive will do the trick. Others say they worked at dealers that employ contractors to apply a protective spray.

Some dealerships are large enough to have their own drive-through machines. These use a type of spray wax or another substance that dries hard to the touch.
 

If you’d like to try adding shine to your own vehicle, many professionals recommend a product like this one. The carnauba wax ingredient protects from UV rays and is water repellant.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

Regular Care To Keep Your Vehicle At Its Best

Now that you know that the dealer most likely changed the oil before selling the car, it’s always a good idea to confirm! Once you know when the last oil change was, schedule regular maintenance to keep your ride at peak performance for years to come!

You may also be interested in the following:

Does Car Engine Oil Expire?

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