Do Dealerships Change Motor Oil Before Selling Used Cars

One of the most common questions used car buyers have is, “Do car dealerships change oil before selling?” It’s a valid question, and the answer is yes, the majority of reputable car dealerships change the oil before selling. Read on to learn more. 

Is It Common for a Car Dealership to Do Maintenance on Used Cars Before Selling? 

Before we answer, “Do used car dealers change oil on cars,” it’s important to understand whether car dealerships do any maintenance at all on used cars before selling them. 

The answer is that most dealerships do at least some maintenance before selling a car. If you’re buying from an individual seller, you can’t assume they did maintenance unless they show you maintenance receipts. 

However, the same isn’t true for dealerships. Dealerships want their customers to be satisfied, and they have a reputation to worry about. Therefore, most will do a basic checkup, change the oil, and even replace tires, the spark plug, or other components when necessary. They don’t want you to come back in a month and leave a bad review because they sold you a faulty car.

Keep in mind that it costs time and money for dealerships to do in-depth maintenance. There is usually a limit to the maintenance a used car dealership will perform on a used car. There are no laws about this, so not all dealerships are the same. 

Do Dealerships Change Oil Before Selling? 

Most do. They know it looks horrible when they sell a car that needs an oil change. The reality is that an oil change doesn’t cost them a lot of money, so most dealerships won’t cut corners on this and will do at least a basic safety check, oil change, and tuneup before selling a car. 

If you’re buying from an unreputable dealership that has no reviews and no reputation to care about, it might not change the oil. However, it’s not a good idea to buy a used car from such dealerships anyways, even if it’s cheaper. 

If a dealership can’t do the bare minimum and change the oil, who knows what else it skimped on? It might sell you a faulty car that might not only break down in the middle of a trip but even lead to an accident. 

mechanic doing an oil change old oil filter

Should You Change the Oil on a Used Car After Buying From a Dealer? 

It’s not usually necessary, but it might be a good idea to change the motor oil, just in case. However, you can typically find out when they last changed the oil by looking at the service maintenance fact sheet or schedule that comes with the used car. 

If you can’t find any information about when the dealership last changed the oil, you can use the dipstick to check the oil yourself. The dipstick will indicate whether your oil levels are low and whether you need to refill it. 

You should also check the color of the oil. If it seems dark, dirty, and grimy, it’s time to get new oil. Other signs that you need an oil change include engine noises and dirty exhaust smoke, but you probably shouldn’t be getting a used car with strange engine noises in the first place. 

Depending on your car model, it may also have an indicator that tells you when it’s time to change the oil. 

If you do need to change the oil, consider going back to the dealership and asking it to take care of it for you. After all, most people expect dealerships to change the oil before selling a car, at the minimum. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you still have questions about whether you should change the oil when buying a used car? Here are answers to some of the most common questions we see.

Do used car dealers change oil on cars?

Most of them do. While there is no legal requirement for them to do so, reputable dealerships know that it’s better to change the oil before selling instead of pinching pennies and cutting corners. 

Does CarMax change oil before selling?

Yes. While CarMax might not change all fluids, like the brake fluids, before selling its cars, it does provide an oil change as part of the maintenance service it offers to buyers. 

Does Carvana change oil before selling used cars? 

Yes. As part of the Carvana Certified Program to assure the quality and safety of all its cars, Carvana provides a free oil change. It doesn’t change all fluids by default, but it does check all fluids to make sure everything is in order, and it provides a 150-point inspection to ensure safety. 

mechanic doing an oil change used oil disposal

Does AutoNation do oil changes on used cars?

You can get an Autonation Protection Plan for your used car that includes oil changes. Whether vehicles you buy will come with the oil already changed is not entirely clear, and it may depend on your dealership, which may negotiate free oil changes. 

However, AutoNation cars, even ones sold “as-is,” go through at least a 50-point inspection to ensure safety. AutoNation Certified and CPO/Manufacturer Certified cars go through a much more intense check-up and come with warranties. All vehicles come with a 5-day/250-mile money-back guarantee. 

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