2 Years Of No Oil Changes vs. 2 Years Of No Car Washing.

How not washing your car will depreciate your vehicle more than never changing the oil.

The Scenario

Let’s take two people with identical vehicle’s. For this example, let’s name them Jack and Jill. Both Jack and Jill are leasing their vehicle for two years, and both plan on returning it when the lease is up. They get a limit of 20,000 miles to drive.

Jack was told to change his oil every 3,000-5,000 miles and sticks to that routine regularly. He believes maintaining the engine is a key component of retaining resale value for his vehicle and keeps all of his receipts.

Jill on the other hand, likes to keep her car looking clean. She gets embarrassed if there’s bird poo droppings or other dirt building up on the outside and inside of her car. Although she keeps her car looking great, Jill never learned about maintaining the engine of her vehicle and does not bring her car to get oil changes.

6 Months Into The Lease


Jack brings his vehicle into the mechanic shop for his 5,000 mile oil change. It costs $35 and he’s out the door in less than an hour. Jack still hasn’t washed or maintained any other portion of his vehicle other than routine mechanical maintenance. After 6 months of driving in the summer, he’s accumulated some bugs and bird droppings on his paint. It’s not his car since it’s a lease, so he’s not worried about it getting dirty. He’ll just wash and vacuum the car before returning it.


Jill has been taking her car to the local hand wash every 3 months for a hand wash, wax, and interior vacuum. This cleans off the bugs, bird poo, and leaves behind a layer of protection until next time. The car looks just as good 6 months later when compared to the day she picked the car up. Jill still has not changed the oil, but the car still runs and drives fine.

1 Year Into The Lease


The winter has just ended and the warmer weather is starting to come around. Jack thinks it’s time to bring the car for another oil change, and it takes another hour and another $35. His vehicle is covered in salt from the harsh north east winters, and brake dust has completely embedded itself onto the wheels. The bird poo from 6 months ago is finally gone after brushing snow off the vehicle multiple times.


Jill purchased a spring special at the local hand wash which cleans the carpets from stains and washes the salt off the vehicle. Jill still has not changed the oil for her vehicle, but it stays looking clean and like-new even a year later.

2 Years Later, Time To Return The Vehicle


Jack has been routinely changing the oil in his vehicle for the past 2 years. It runs flawlessly and he’s confident he won’t receive any negative feedback from the dealership upon returning the car. He brings the car to get a car wash and vacuum to clean the vehicle up before returning it. Expecting it to only be a few dollars, the car wash employees explain that the vehicle will need significant detailing to remove the years of built up contamination.

The vehicle will need heavy cleaning on the wheels, and the wheels may even be etched due to the brake dust sitting on the surface for so long. The paint is stained from the bird poo that was never removed, and the paint feels rough because of the salt sitting on the car for over a year. The entire vehicle will need to be clay bared and polished to be presentable.

Problems don’t stop there. The interior has built up a layer of dust, dog hair, dead skin cells, spilled coffee, and soiled carpets. The interior has never been maintained and now needs an entire detail to bring it back to life. The whole process takes an entire day and will cost $500+. Scoffing at the price, Jack decides to go with the $30 car wash and bring the vehicle back still dirty. He’s charged with a fee for the condition of the vehicle since it has now depreciated in appearance.


Jill has been keeping her car clean for the past two years, so all it needs is a $35 oil change. The oil in her car is sludgy, dark, and burnt. After the oil change the car still runs fine and nobody could tell the oil was never changed. She takes her car to the dealership, they check the oil, and it looks good. The car is in immaculate condition and Jill receives praise for maintaining the vehicle so well.

You can skip changing the oil in your vehicle for multiple years. The car will still run, and after a $35 oil change nobody will be able to tell the engine was not cared for.

On the other hand, don’t wash or maintain your vehicle for 2 years and then try bringing your car for a $30 car wash. When it comes to selling or returning vehicles, appearance matters.

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