Here’s the offer: Pay $799 and get 4 oil changes per year with synthetic oil for as long as you own the car.
Here’s the question: Is the offer worth it?
Here’s the answer: It totally depends.
Keep reading for the full details and a look into whether or not pre-paying for a lifetime of oil changes is a wise idea.
A friend recently purchased a 2013 Subaru Legacy. She has about 12,000 miles on the car after 6 months of ownership. She’s on her second oil change, which costs about $80 each time using synthetic. If she continues to average 24,000 miles a year, 4 oil changes per year seems appropriate.
At her latest oil change at the dealer, she was offered the lifetime oil-change program, which costs $799 and provides 4 oil changes per year for the lifetime of the car.
Now, $800 is a lot of money. At 80 bucks a pop, though, the simple math says the program pays for itself in 10 oil changes, or about 2 and a half years of regular maintenance. My initial advice is to say, yeah, go for it. Sometimes, though, life isn’t as easy as simple math.
Back in 2010, a Seattle-area Midas store got in some legal trouble for selling lifetime oil changes, then ceasing to honor them after a few years. In that case, the store changed ownership, and the new owners decided the lifetime program wasn’t worth it. Naturally, outrage ensued, and lawsuits followed.
Buying from a well-established dealer is less risky, but there’s still the possibility that the dealer will shut down, move or change owners and stop honoring any existing “lifetime” deals. There’s also the possibility that you will sell the car earlier than intended, meaning all that upfront money was wasted.
In the case of my friend, the Subaru dealer has been around for many decades, and she plans to keep her car for the next decade or so. Since all oil changes would essentially be free after about 30 months, the $799 deal might make sense.
Just beware: Buying anything on a “lifetime” basis doesn’t necessarily mean your lifetime. It means the lifetime of the product you bought or of the company that sold it.
And that’s always a gamble.
Would you consider the $799 deal for a lifetime of synthetic oil changes?