Thrifty District: Getting An Oil Change

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘lorigoldberg’

One of the many merits of DC is that public transportation is expansive enough and the city walkable enough that having a car is generally an unnecessary luxury. In fact, if you don’t have a car, you should be thanking your lucky stars for a number of reasons, most of which have to do with the District DMV and the exorbitant cost of getting your plates switched over. Another delightful task comes up every 3000 miles, and if you live on Capitol Hill, getting your oil changed may cause you to want to tear your hair out. My first oil change adventure came when a visiting friend needed to get their juiced up before leaving town on a Sunday morning. The logical first place to turn was the only Midas I had ever seen in the city, on New York Ave between 6th and 7th NW. If you’re familiar with this segment of New York Ave. (same block as Marrakesh, the semi-hidden Moroccan restaurant), there’s not much in the way of parking, and the busy street makes it really awkward to drop in and try to negotiate. They were full-up with cars when we went there, it would have amounted to an hours-long wait. My housemate recently went there on her oil change adventure and they were out of oil, on a Monday morning. Seriously, how does that happen in a Midas? That’s like an IHOP running out of syrup.

Photo courtesy of

’1966 Ford Mustang’
courtesy of ‘aresauburnâ�¢’

Next we tried a teeny tiny auto garage on Maryland Ave. NE, only to find they have seemingly limited hours and were closed on Sundays. After consulting the Google, it appeared that the best bet for car servicing of any sort required us to go further towards the city limits. We drove east down Benning Road toward Langston Golf Course, but a Mobile Garage there was also too busy. On Bladensburg Rd., and Aamaco Transmissions was servicing its last cars of the day… at 1 p.m. Finally, on the way home, we passed a nameless garage attached to a BP gas station on Florida Ave. and 14th NE. They could do it immediately, which was essentially the only requirement. About 45 minutes to an hour and $35 later, mission accomplished.

Another small auto repair gem in the neighborhood is 10th Street Auto Repair, off of Maryland NE. While they too are closed on weekends, the people were friendly and helpful and the service was quick and easily done, if a little pricier ($40). “They’ll even drive you to Union Station if you need a ride while the car is in your shop,” said a Google reviewer, who apparently takes his car to 10th Street despite not living in the district. Down by Eastern Market, there’s another couple of small, promising-looking “Hill” Garages, “Capitol Hill Auto Services” and “Hill Auto.” The bottom line: if you have a car, getting an oil change is a sometimes painful, necessary evil that can potentially make you wish you lived in somewhere suburban and sprawling, with a dealership on every corner. You can find a decent place, just don’t do it on a Sunday, and in the end, a bike might be the thriftiest way to go.

Acacia has lived in DC since graduating from Vassar College with degrees in English and Italian. She cries daily at the thought of her imminent departure from this beloved city, as she will begin a Fulbright teaching grant in the Campania region, Italy come October. She’ll be blogging that experience too. Get at her: or follow her on twitter.

5 thoughts on “Thrifty District: Getting An Oil Change

  1. See, I asked my roommate about that, because that was my first thought. But I think cost-wise, its more trouble than its worth, since it costs about the same, and then what do you do with the old oil, and sometimes you can’t do it in the street… Although these are still obstacles which can be easily overcome, I suppose.

  2. Commenter following up to say, if you can’t change it yourself, (let’s say you drive a 2005 Volvo, just for example) take the plunge and drive over the big, scary Key Bridge, and out to Jiffy Lube on Wilson Blvd, in Claredon. $20-50, and done in usually under 20 min. Plus, they fill all your fluids and clean your car out.

    NEVER go on a Saturday morning though. Ever. Ever.

  3. Jiffy Lube & their ilk are as likely to kill your car as to help it (leaving plugs undone, overtightening & stripping them, overfilling etc.).

    Find a good independent shop & establish a relationship w/ them and they can do your oil change while you wait.

    You don’t have to change oil every 3,000 miles anymore esp. if you use a good synthetic.

    Every 6 mo. or 5,000 miles, whichever comes first, should be more than enough based on many used oil sample analyses I’ve seen from multiple vehicles.