Most people take their car to their local mechanic for an oil change every 6-12 months and should do so at least every 5000-7500 miles according to the AAA.
If your car is in need of an oil change and you’re planning on taking it in then you might be wondering what the customary practice is for tipping your mechanic.
In this article, we take a look at what the general etiquette is for tipping for an oil change, how much you might tip, what a mechanic’s average salary is, the average cost of an oil change, and when you should and definitely shouldn’t tip.
Keep reading to find out more…
Do You Tip a Mechanic for an Oil Change? The Short Answer
It isn’t customary to tip for an oil change and the mechanic won’t be expecting you to offer one. Mechanics generally earn a fairly respectable wage, albeit slightly under the US average according to our research. Accordingly, it will be very much up to when deciding whether to offer one.
How Much Do Mechanics Earn?
According to Salary.com, the median salary for a mechanic in the US is $41,521 with that rising to $53,650 at the top end of the scale.
While this is lower than the average yearly income in the US, which according to PolicyAdvice is $51,480, it’s not massively lower, and more experienced mechanics will likely earn closer to that average figure in any event.
As such, on the basis of a mechanic’s average salary, it’s hard to justify a tip as being necessary.
Mechanics certainly don’t expect a tip and it’s definitely not customary to offer one as we discovered when exploring whether mechanics at Jiffy Lube expect tips and whether to tip body shop technicians.
The mechanics’ trade is not classed as a below-scale industry where workers are expected to supplement their income with tips so failing to offer one is unlikely to raise any eyebrows.
How Much is An Oil Change and How Much Should You Tip (if you want to)?
According to the KelleyBlueBook (a trusted resource on automobiles), expect to pay between $35 to $75 depending on your area. If your car needs synthetic oil then this can increase to up to $125.
The general etiquette in the US is to offer a tip at 10-20% of the sale value of the goods or services so if you were to offer a tip for an oil change then somewhere in the region of $5 – $15 is probably about right.
However, bear in mind that an oil change is a fairly straightforward job for an experienced mechanic and there are certainly other more complex mechanical jobs (such as engine repair/replacement) that warrant a tip above a simple oil change.
Do You Tip Valvoline or Take 5 for an Oil Change?
Valvoline and Take 5 are two of the largest oil change mechanics out there and you may be wondering if their technicians expect a tip for an oil change.
According to our research, it’s no more customary to tip mechanics at these two companies than it is anywhere else in the country.
We’ve previously looked at a similar question when asking whether to tip Jiffy Lube and found it isn’t customary to do so there either.
What to Offer in Lieu of a Monetary Tip?
If you’re adamant that you need to provide your mechanic with a tip, then there are, of course, non-monetary options that you can offer.
Here are a few examples:
- A gift such as beers, vouchers, or tickets for a game;
- A thank you card;
- A positive review on Google or elsewhere;
- A testimony.
If you insist on giving a cash tip, then we would recommend tipping using notes rather than by debit/credit card as then you can be more assured that the mechanic will actually get the tip rather than the company.
When and When Not to Tip for an Oil Change?
While it’s not customary to offer a tip for an oil change, there will probably be some occasions where you think one is definitely justified.
There will also be occasions when you’ll want to hold back a tip.
Here are a few examples of when you might want to dip into your pocket:
- If the mechanic has done an efficient and satisfactory job;
- If the mechanic has been polite, courteous, and professional;
- If the mechanic has gone beyond the call of duty. For example, if they’ve booked you in despite being at capacity or have worked overtime to get your car done;
- During public holidays such as Christmas;
- If you have been offered a good price that exceeded your expectations or beaten the competition.
There will also be times when you’ll want to pass on giving a tip:
- If the mechanic has been rude or unprofessional;
- If the workmanship is poor, has taken too long, is costly, or didn’t meet your expectations;
- If the company bars tips. Some companies debar their employees as a matter of policy;
- If the company is taking the tips and not the employee.
The mechanics’ industry is not one where tipping is expected or necessary but you still may feel it is good conscience to offer one, especially if the service has been exceptional or if it’s around the holidays
There are no hard and fast rules about tipping mechanics and you’re unlikely to be looked upon in disgust if you don’t dip your hand into your pocket.
Mechanics in general earn a reasonable salary and certainly do not need to subsidize their income through tips.
Moreover, an oil change is a relatively straightforward gig. Ask any mechanic and they’ll tell you that there are a hundred worse jobs to encounter when fixing a car.
If you do decide to tip then we’d recommend sticking to the 10-20% figure which should set you back around $5 to $15 as a rough guide.
Of course, do not feel bad about not leaving a tip if the service you’ve received has been poor. We’ve met some pretty grumpy and unprofessional mechanics in our time who definitely didn’t warrant a tip. Not to mention those occasions where we’ve blatantly been ripped off.
If you are to tip, then be sure to pay in cash if possible but don’t forget that other non-monetary displays of gratitude are likely to be just as well received.