Changing your motorhome’s engine oil is one of the most important tasks for keeping your RV running properly. If you have just purchased your RV, you may be wondering about the RV oil change average cost.
There are many factors that go into the RV oil change average cost. Things like the type of oil, the condition of your filters, the age of your RV, and even your location, play into the average cost of an oil change.
To help you understand the RV oil change average cost, we have put together some helpful information about oil changes. Follow along with us as we look closer at the RV oil change service.
How Important Is an RV Oil Change?
You have spent a good amount of money on your RV, so it is important that you maintain it properly. The most important part of your motorhome is the engine. Without a functioning engine, your RV becomes a stationary tiny home.
Engine oil works to keep the moving parts of your engine running smoothly. Normal driving of your RV will cause the oil to become dirty and will provide less efficient lubrication for the engine.
If you do not have your RV’s engine oil replaced regularly, the oil can become thick and sticky. Additionally, your engine burns a little bit of oil while it is running.
Not performing engine service for your RV by replacing the oil based on the auto manufacturer’s recommended schedule can have dire consequences. The motorhome’s oil could become too thick or low to lubricate the engine.
Eventually, both scenarios could cause your engine to seize or burn up.
While the RV oil change average cost may not be cheap, it is certainly more affordable than having your RV engine overhauled or replaced.
What Is the Average Cost to Have Your RV’s Engine Serviced?
The RV oil change average cost is pretty broad and really depends on many factors. The greatest factor in determining the average cost of an oil change is the size of your RV and the type of engine equipped.
An RV oil change average cost can also be different depending on whether you have a mechanic provide the service for you or if you change your RV engine oil yourself.
In general, to have a qualified mechanic do the work for you, an RV oil change average cost is between $100 and $700. This cost may vary depending on where you are, the type of oil you select, and any other maintenance services provided.
If you are going to change your own oil, the RV oil change average cost goes down quite a bit. For your oil and filter, you can expect to spend between $50 and $300.
Editor’s Note: There is a reason the RV oil change average cost is so broad if you decide to perform the service yourself. A 2023 Ford Transit Camper Van with the 3.5 Flex Fuel Engine holds 6 quarts of oil, and the oil filter can be less than $10. If you have a 2023 Class A diesel motorhome with a Cummins ISL9 engine, this monster takes quite a bit more. The oil filter can be over $70 and requires 7.3 gallons (yes, we said gallons, not quarts) of oil.
When you use a mechanic, this cost depends on the type and quantity of the oil you purchase, their service charge, and additional required parts and services.
How Often Should You Change Your RV’s Oil?
The frequency of oil changes for your RV depends on how frequently you are traveling and the type of roads that you travel.
A good rule of thumb is that no matter how little you drive your RV, you should change your engine oil at least twice per year. If you are traveling a lot in your motorhome, you should consider changing the oil more often.
Your RV owner’s manual will have recommended maintenance schedules that you should follow. These are generally based on the number of miles you drive or the length of time, whichever comes first.
If you are traveling on dusty roads, or up mountains, you should increase your oil change frequency. Dusty roads and the extra effort it takes to climb hills make your oil age faster.
To keep your engine working as best as possible, you will want to change your oil more often if you travel in these sorts of road conditions.
3 Places Where Can You Get Your RV Oil Changed
There are a number of places where you can get your RV oil changed. Which one you select depends on where you are when you need to have your motorhome serviced.
1. RV Dealership Service Center
This is the most obvious place to have your RV’s oil changed. Most RV dealerships have repair garages connected on-site. Their mechanics are familiar with the maintenance needs of the motorhome brands that they sell.
You can return to the dealership where you purchased your RV. Dealerships often have a higher RV oil change average cost. If you are looking to save money, you may want to select a different option.
2. Walmart Service Center
The auto service center at Walmart may seem like a surprising choice. However, many of their Supercenters have automotive repair facilities that can accommodate larger vehicles like RVs.
The advantage to using Walmart is that they are just about everywhere, and their computer systems are connected. If you need to get your oil changed on the road, any Walmart service center can access your RV’s repair information. Walmart also seems to have one of the lowest RV oil change average costs.
And, while you wait, you can pick up any needed supplies or groceries.
It is also a good idea to call ahead first. Not all Walmart Service Centers will perform RV oil change services or will not work on the bigger motorhome classes.
3. Local RV Service Technician
If you don’t want to hassle with the service facilities at your RV dealership, look for local RV tech that specializes in RV maintenance and repair. Often these mechanics will have a lower service price than RV Dealerships.
The best way to find a local RV service tech is to use the Technician Locator through the RVTAA Website.
Can an RV Engine Service Come to You?
One of the most convenient ways to have your motorhome’s engine oil changed is to use a mobile RV technician. These helpful businesses come to your location and will change your engine oil and perform maintenance on your RV’s engine and related systems. As we stated above, you can find them on the Technician Locator through the RVTAA.
Mobile technicians are an ideal option if you have your RV set up for a long stay at an RV park or boondocking in some cases. They will come to you, without having to pack up your RV. Mobile RV mechanics are also nice if you need an oil change, but cannot get an appointment with a dealership or repair garage.
In regard to the RV oil change average cost, mobile technicians seem to have a middle-of-the-road price. Each tech has its own pricing, but they often are not as pricey as an RV dealership. Because they do not have a brick-and-mortar building to maintain, they can keep costs lower than other options.
How Much Does It Cost for Mobile RV Oil Change?
An RV tech that performs mobile oil changes lands right in the middle of the RV oil change average cost. Depending on your motorhome’s engine specs (camper van, gasser, or diesel pusher), and the type of oil used, a mobile RV oil change will cost somewhere between $150 and $400. Remember, this price can vary depending on where you are and the current price for materials.
Can You Change Your RV Oil on Your Own?
Many RV owners decide to skip the service center altogether and just do their own oil changes. If you are looking for a way to stay at the lower end of the RV oil change average cost, the DIY option will do the trick.
Changing your own oil is a fairly simple task if you are comfortable working on your motorhome. If you are ready to take on this challenge but have not tried changing the oil in your RV previously, there are plenty of How-To articles and videos on the internet.
Editor’s Note On Changing The Oil In A Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Chassis: If you have a Mercedes Sprinter, or the Early Dodge version, changing the oil may be a service center-only issue. Mercedes originally had the oil pan plug in a hard-to-reach spot which requires a special tool that only Mercedes shops have. Recently, they updated the engine, placing the oil pan plug under the vehicle. Please do not try to reach for it yourself because you can hurt yourself and/or damage the components trying to “Macgyver” it.
If you don’t want to rely on the internet to learn how to change the oil in your RV, there are places where you can take motorhome repair classes. Some community colleges offer these kinds of classes.
Another option is to take courses provided by the National RV Training Academy. The NRVTA offers an Educated RV Owner class where you can study from home or in your RV, which will help you learn how to maintain your own motorhome properly.
Do keep in mind that if you are not comfortable with this kind of task, you should leave the work to the experts. Improperly maintaining your RV, or not doing an oil change correctly could lead to catastrophic damage to your RV engine. Before you do any engine maintenance on your own, make sure you do your research and read your RV owner’s manual.
Is It Cheaper to Change Your Own RV Oil?
One of the reasons that many RV owners learn to do basic maintenance, like oil changes, is the cost. When you take your RV to a repair garage, whether it is at the dealership, the local Walmart, or a mobile service, you pay for materials and labor.
If you look at the cost breakdown of this service, you’ll see that more of your money goes to labor than supplies. To skip the added labor costs, and save some money, learning to change your own oil could save you quite a bit of money.
If you are considering doing the work yourself, the RV oil change average cost for the DIY version is between $50 and $150.
4 Things to Know About Changing Your Own Motorhome Oil
There are a few things to keep in mind if you are considering changing your motorhome oil on your own. Below we have listed four critical considerations that come with changing your own oil.
1. How Much Oil Does Your Motorhome Take?
The amount of oil that your motorhome will need depends on the size of the engine. If you have a smaller motorhome that uses a larger truck engine, you may only need 6 to 10 quarts of oil.
For larger RV engines, you may need 30 quarts or more of oil. Before you shop, reference your owner’s manual for the recommended quantity of oil for your RV engine.
2. Do You Have the Right Kind of Oil?
As with the quantity of oil, you will need to make sure that you get the right kind of oil for your RV’s engine. Most newer RVs will need synthetic oil, while some older engines do fine on regular oil.
Synthetic oils are more expensive, but they are also engineered to perform better for longer. While they may cost you more upfront, they tend to be better for your engine in the long run.
Both gas and diesel motorhome engines use the same types of oil as gas or diesel passenger vehicle engines. The type of oil you select depends on the size of the engine and the anticipated low temperature where you will be using your motorhome.
Most RVs do great with 15W-30 oil, which is good for moderate temperatures. For winter camping, you will want to consider a 5W-30 or even a 0W-30 weight oil to protect your engine.
If you are unsure which type of oil is recommended for your RV, reference your owner’s manual before you shop.
3. Do You Have All the Supplies?
Changing your own oil does require some specific supplies. Having these on hand before you start changing your oil will make the task go smoother.
I. Drain Pan
You will need a drain pan to collect the old oil from your engine. Make sure that you select a drain pan slightly larger than the number of quarts your engine holds.
To make things easier, you can get one that doubles as an oil container. This way, the used oil drains into the container without making a mess, and you can take it to the closest oil recycling center (many auto stores have this service).
II. Oil Filter
You must replace your oil filter when you change your RV’s oil. The filter collects dirt and junk from the oil, so a new one makes this process more efficient.
III. Oil Filter Wrench
An oil filter wrench will help you unscrew the oil filter from the engine. This is particularly helpful because the oil filter becomes tightly screwed in place.
IV. Adjustable Wrench
An adjustable wrench can help you loosen and tighten the nut for the oil pan.
A funnel will be helpful for refilling the oil pan without spilling it all over the place.
VI. Disposable Nitrile Gloves
Using nitrile gloves not only keeps your hands clean but also helps you keep your grip. Remember, you’re dealing with a lubricant that makes things slick. Keep the box of gloves with you since it is more than likely you will need to take them off more than once.
Find out which Disposable Nitrile Gloves we use and get the best deal at our RVBlogger Amazon Shop!
VII. Shop Towels
You can buy rolls of paper shop towels or a stack of cloth shop towels. These are handy for cleaning your tools and anything else that may end up covered in oil.
VIII. Oil Absorbent Ground Covering
Oil is bad for the environment, and spills do happen. If you spill, you never want to leave oil on the ground. Cover the oil with an absorbent pad or granulated material (plain kitty litter is a great, inexpensive option) to soak up spilled oil.
These materials will be collected and returned to your local automotive supply store, with your used oil for proper disposal.
4. Are You Allowed to Change Your Oil Where You Are Parked?
Not all RV parks will let you do engine maintenance in your parking spot. If you need to change your oil, make sure that you are in a location that will allow it. Parking lots are great for changing your RV oil.
They are generally large with minimal obstructions, and usually flat. It is important to have your RV as level as possible when you change your oil.
Having your stabilizer jacks deployed is okay, but remember, they’re not designed to hold the motorhome’s weight. Use jack pads under your motorhome tires if you need it more level.
3 Signs It Is Time to Change Your Motorhome Engine Oil
If you aren’t sure if it is time for an oil change, your RV’s engine might be giving you signs that it is time. Here are a few ways you can tell if your motorhome is ready for an oil change.
1. Low Oil Level
It is a good habit to check the oil level of your RV when you stop for fuel. This will let you know if your oil is getting low, or if it is getting dirty.
Your engine has an oil dipstick that is used for checking the level of the engine oil. Most dipsticks have a mark that tells you if your RV’s oil is at the correct level. Also, check your oil level before hitting the road.
If your oil light comes on when you are driving, this indicates a loss of oil pressure, and can also be an indicator that you need oil. However, if this happens, you should stop driving as soon as possible and find a repair garage or mobile RV tech. This light could also indicate something more significant than just low engine oil.
2. Smokey or Stinky Exhaust
Your engine will burn a small amount of oil when it operates. Clean or fresh oil will burn with no odor or smoke. When your engine oil gets dirty it will burn with an odor and create smoky exhaust. If you are noticing an odor or smoke from your RV’s exhaust, this is a good time to replace your engine oil.
3. Noisy or Clunking Engine
Engine oil is designed to lubricate the moving parts of your engine. When engine oil gets dirty or is old, your engine will not run as smoothly. This may cause your RV to have a noisy or clunky engine. Both of these noises are good indicators that you are probably past due for an oil change.
Engine noise is also the first warning that your engine could be experiencing damage from poor lubrication. To avoid more significant engine issues, don’t delay changing your RV’s oil if the engine starts to run louder than normal.
Should You DIY An Oil Change or Take It In?
The decision to use an RV service center, or RV technician, or take the DIY route for an oil change is really a personal decision. For many people, the choice really depends on the RV oil change average cost. Using an RV tech or service center has an average cost for an oil change between $100 and $700. While the DIY option can cost as little as $50.
If you feel comfortable doing the work yourself, a DIY oil change can save you a good amount of money. However, if done incorrectly, it can result in significant damage to your RV. If you are not comfortable with the risk associated with DIY RV maintenance, do your research and find a qualified motorhome technician or RV service center with a price you can handle.
About the Author:
Jason Gass is a full-time freelance writer and part-time RVer whose goal is to share great stories around a campfire with good friends.
When he’s not working, he spends most of his time camping, searching for the best breweries, and road-tripping in his teardrop trailer with his wife, daughter, and two dogs.