Most semi trucks need an oil change every 10,000-25,000 miles. Keeping up with that preventive maintenance is important.
That’s both to ensure the longevity of the engine and to prevent engine issues on the road. When you do, costs can be high, because the average semi truck holds 9+ gallons of engine oil.
In most cases, the average price of changing oil in a semi is $250-$300. That ranges from $150-$400 depending on where you go and the cost of filters. In addition, costs are normally higher if the oil is changed at your location or on the road instead of in a garage.
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How Much Does Semi Truck Oil Change Cost?*
The cost of changing engine oil in your semi truck will depend on the vehicle and the type of oil it uses.
For example, most long-haul trucks use synthetic oil. That normally costs $12-$45 per gallon.
If your semi needs 15 gallons, you could be looking at close to $200 in oil alone – before adding labor costs.
|Oil Type||Cost Per Gallon||Good For|
|15W40||$13-$65||Most Heavy-Duty Engines|
|5W40||$18-$65||Some Heavy-Duty Engines/Cold Resistant|
|10W40||$26-$55||Old engines, engines in rough conditions|
|Mineral Oil||$7-$35||Light Duty/Short Haul|
*Please note, these cost estimates are based on market rates in October 2022. Prices are subject to change, especially based on location.
Synthetic oils are the standard for long-haul vehicles. While they cost more, with rates averaging around $25 per gallon, they also last longer.
Here, a good synthetic oil will last 25,000-100,000 miles depending on your engine. Mineral oil will overheat and burn off at that same time.
For this reason, it’s important to only use synthetic oils in long-haul vehicles. If you don’t, you will have to top up and change oil more frequently.
Here, 15W40 is considered the gold standard for semis. Many trucks are also increasingly switching to 5W40, which is the standard in Europe.
5W40 engine oil is more cold-resistant than 15W40. However, it can also be more expensive. Still, you can expect to pay around $25 per gallon.
Higher viscosity oils like 10W 40 are ideal if you’re driving in rough conditions. For example, if you have a very old engine. Or, if you do stop-start traffic, drive in harsh weather, or spend a significant amount of time driving through hills and mountains.
In every case, it’s important to check your owner’s manual and what works for your engine.
Semi-synthetic oils are cheaper than full synthetic. However, these blends are not suitable for most long-haul purposes. Instead, they’re a good fit for short-haul and for light-duty trucks.
Semi-synthetics can cost much less. While you’re likely to pay around $15-$18 per gallon, you can pay as little as $9.
At the same time, semi-synthetic lubricants aren’t as durable as full synthetic lubricants. If you put them in a long-haul vehicle, you’ll have to change the oil much more frequently.
Eventually, that will greatly increase the total cost of maintenance.
Mineral oils are the most cost-effective lubricants for engines. However, they are not suitable for any long-haul or heavy-duty engine. Instead, you can use them for short-haul and light-duty semis.
Mineral oil normally costs around $11-$15 per gallon. However, you can get rates as low as half that.
In addition, you will have to change oil more frequently than with synthetic fluid. However, if you’re doing stop-and-start or other short-duty driving, it’s highly likely that you’d have to anyway.
It’s extremely important, though, that you check your vehicle’s manual to ensure the engine is compatible with mineral oil before using it.
6 Factors Affecting Semi Truck Oil Change Prices
In most cases, you can expect the ballpark cost of changing oil in your semi to be $260-$300.
However, multiple factors influence the cost.
1. Oil Type
The type of oil you choose is the largest part of the cost of changing oil in a tractor and trailer. Here, you’ll normally need 15+ gallons of oil.
Even the cheapest synthetic oil will cost close to $150 for that much oil. However, if you choose a higher-end synthetic oil, you can see costs skyrocket.
2. Cost of Labor
Your semi truck oil change labor cost will vary depending on location and type of shop. Most mechanics will add a labor fee into your oil change, especially if you’re only changing the oil.
However, most technicians will recommend that you get a full tuneup or checkup, including all fluids, tire pressure, and checking the brakes at the same time. This means you pay less for labor, because the technician can do everything at once.
In most cases, shops will charge a flat rate for an oil change. Therefore, you won’t see labor as part of the fee.
However, you’ll often pay $15-$200 an hour for labor. This means that if your mechanic is spending half an hour changing your oil, it’s likely that $25-$50 of the fee is for labor.
3. Cost of Filters
You’ll normally want to change the filters every time you change the oil. In most cases, that will mean spending $20-$60 on a new oil filter. In some cases, your technician may recommend that you keep your existing filter.
However, if you see a flat rate for an oil change, it almost never includes the cost of a new filter. For this reason, you should always specifically ask how much filters cost.
In addition, some semis have dual lube filters. For example, Mitsubishi and Case engines very often have them. In this case, you can expect the cost of replacement filters to hover around $50 for the set.
4. Oil Brand
Oil brands vary a great deal in cost. However, many brands tend to try to price around the same rate.
For example, Shell, Chevron, and Mobil synthetic oils will cost roughly the same. Lucas and Mystic tend to be a bit cheaper. In some cases, brands are cheaper for a reason.
In other cases, you might be able to save on one brand over another because your shop has a deal with that brand.
Therefore, it’s always a good idea to ask what your mechanic recommends and why.
5. Amount of Oil
Most 18-wheelers hold at least 9 gallons of oil. However, in practice, semis hold 28-72 quarts of oil. That works out to roughly 7-15 gallons of lubricant.
This means that your engine will significantly impact the cost of an oil change – unless you’re getting a flat-rate change.
For that reason, if you’re getting a flat rate change but you know you have a smaller capacity engine, it may be a good idea to check how much oil you’re paying for.
Many semi truck oil changes include an “on location” fee.
This means that the technician will drive to you, change the oil at your location, and then dispose of the oil for you. In this case, many fleets will attempt to have the full fleet changed on the same day.
However, it also works out for roadside oil changes. Or, if you need preventive maintenance in a new area, the local shop will likely come to you.
And, if you’ve parked for the winter – your technician will likely change the oil where your truck is standing. This ensures that you put minimal stress on the engine.
However, you may save money by taking the truck to the shop. In this case, it’s important to check what’s included and if it is cheaper to drive your truck to the location.
Lube Shops vs. Dealerships: Pros and Cons
In most cases, it’s a good idea to go to a dealership for an oil change. However, this isn’t always feasible or practical.
For example, if you have to change oil and you’re on the other side of the country, waiting to get back to the dealership could be a terrible idea.
Dealerships are a good idea because the dealer has technicians who are specifically trained for their vehicles. That means the technician will always know what oil grade and viscosity to use.
They will also always know which filters to use, and will have those in stock. In addition, they’ll be able to offer advice based on your engine and the condition of the old oil.
However, dealerships cost more. In addition, they may do so without offering anything over what any good lube shop would offer.
Lubricant shops can also offer very good quality and information. In addition, they’re usually easier to access and may come to you to offer service. And, most will be anywhere from 15-40% cheaper than a dealership.
Therefore, it can be a better idea to go to a lube shop instead of a dealership. However, if you do, it’s extremely important to check reviews, to ensure your shop is experienced, and to ensure they offer quality service.
In addition, you can always check your lube shop on the American Petroleum Institute website to see if they are API certified.
Saving Money By Changing Oil Yourself (DIY)
For many vehicle repairs, you can save a considerable amount of money by choosing to do the work yourself. However, that’s rarely the case with a semi-oil change.
In fact, it may cost you more to do the work yourself – simply because you’ll have to dispose of up to 18 gallons of used lubricant.
Here, the largest factor of cost in changing semi truck oil is the cost of the fluid. If you’re spending $150-$300+ on oil, the $25-$50 cost of labor is probably negligible.
In addition, if you change the oil yourself, you’ll have to consider labor, storing the fluid, and disposing of it safely and in a way that complies with local state laws.
On average, it will also take you 30-60 minutes to properly change the oil on your 18-wheeler. You’ll have to drain oil into buckets, which means you have to buy them.
Then, you’ll have to take oil to an approved drop-off point. That may require paying a mechanic to take the oil.
Finally, semis quite often require larger-than-standard tools. For example, you might need a pressurized oil evacuator to fully drain oil. These normally cost $200+.
It’s also often a good idea to drain oil into a fluid receiver rather than switching between buckets. These can cost several hundred each.
Finally, you’ll have to ensure you have the sockets and wrenches to open the oil drain. These vary from 7mm to 25mm+ and might require a specialty low-profile socket. If you don’t have the right tools, you’ll have to buy them.
All of that will add to the costs. And, it won’t likely pay off unless you’re changing oil on multiple trucks, several times a year.
Semi Truck Oil Change Frequency
Long-haul vehicles are designed to go as long as possible without an engine oil change.
For example, many Freightliners quote a 100,000-mile semi truck oil change interval. But, if you have an older truck, you may have to change the oil every 25,000 miles.
In addition, if you’re driving in rough conditions or frequently stopping and starting the engine, especially for short haul, you may want to change the engine oil as frequently as every 10,000 miles.
Finally, most vehicle manuals will recommend that you change the oil at the end of every season.
For many semis that equates to about every 25,000 miles. That’s especially true if you’re doing a long haul.
It’s even more applicable if you have a down season and leave the truck parked for part of the year. For this reason, it’s not always necessary to change oil seasonally.
In every case, it’s a good idea to check your owner’s manual to see what the recommendation is for your engine and vehicle. Almost all have a list of compatible oils.
Most semis require an oil change every 25,000-100,000 miles depending on the make and model. In almost every case, you’ll need synthetic oil. That means the average oil change will cost between $250-$300. On the other hand, if you have a light-duty truck, you can probably go for semi-synthetic oil and save quite a bit on the total cost.
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