1996 Lexus ES 300 Long Term Road Test

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1996 Lexus ES 300: Oil Change and Tire Rotation

July 11, 2012

 Lexus oil change 002.jpg

The oil on our long-term 1996 Lexus ES 300 hadn't been changed since Phil returned from his cross country trip.  Since we didn't have a great experience with our last mechanic, I wasn't planning on returning. I needed to find a new place. A colleague recommended an independent shop nearby, but it quoted me $165 for an oil change and a tire rotation. For reference, this was about $15 more than what we had paid at the local Lexus dealer. (Santa Monica is infamous for its high prices.) My colleague's shop might be great, but that price wasn't in the spirit of our debt-free car project.

I widened a Yelp search to take in more than just pricey Santa Monica and found a place in Culver City with more than 200 five-star reviews. I called to make an appointment, but the shop was booked until the following Monday. The car wasn't past due on the service, so we figured it would be OK to wait a week to have the service done.

I dropped off the Lexus bright and early Monday morning. Two hours later, I received a call that the car was done. The total cost was $47.95 – about $100 less than the Lexus dealership’s price.

There was one slight detail I noticed. The invoice from the shop said that it used 10W30 oil. The ES 300 owner's manual lists 5W30 as the "preferred" oil, but also shows 10W30 as an acceptable substitute. Would there be a performance decrease?

Not according to our resident oil guru, Jay Kavanagh. 5W30 is thinner oil and performs better for cold starts in colder climates, but here in California during summer, both oils should perform about the same.

All in all, I'd say it was worth the wait to save a hundred-plus bucks. I think I'll be going back to this shop in the future.

Days out of service: 0

Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Editor @ 146,247 miles

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