By on November 22, 2012

Motor Oil! Must Buy Motor Oil!


Forgive me for offering the two millionth article about Black Friday shopping. But this personal screed will not be about, “Buy! Buy! Buy!”

It will be all about, “Don’t! Nein! Nyet!”.

The current Black Friday ads for all things automotive are getting less deal oriented with the passing of each year.

That’s no surprise given that consumer behavior has turned considerably during the last five years. Yesterdays overlooked giveaways and cheap deals have given way to the coupon clipping shows and budget watching books of the modern day.

Unfortunately for all of you, this stretches all the way to the corporate boardrooms. Deals simply aren’t what they used to be.

Case in point, back in 2007 I could get 5 quarts fo Castrol GTX with a generic oil filter for $5 at Pep Boys during Black Friday. This wasn’t the only time for the cheap in-store deal either. I fondly recall spark plugs, windshield washer fluid, and even the occassional oil deal could essentially be free throughout the year if you took the time to mail in the rebates and keep track of them.

That was the big issue back in the day. Making sure you got the rebate.

The iron curtain that represented contacting a live human being at the company offering the rebate seemed to be an impenetrable fortress of, “Stay on the line.” Eventually, about three months later, you would either get a check in the mail, or a haunting reminder of the fallibility of corporations that were simply too big or ethically bankrupt to care about you.

These days it’s different.

Why? Because auto parts stores finally realized that if you didn’t get the deal that was advertised, you wouldn’t be coming back.

You want a rebate these days? Most of the time you can simply go to the web site of the parts store and fill out their rebate online. You get a confirmation or tracking number. A stamp is saved, and your rebate is essentially in their system forever.

It’s a win/win. But not for every product or every customer.

Some companies are more web savvy than others. If you are looking at any Black Friday deal at all tomorrow that requires a rebate, pause and ask yourself a critical question.

“Do they process rebates online?”

If so you’re fine. If not, then you’re rolling the dice.

I always keep a folder that tracks all things rebate oriented in my work life. But I also buy an awful lot of stuff. We’re talking nearly $20,000 worth of automotive parts a year.

When you maintain and sell hundreds of cars, the economics change.

The question you have to ask yourself, is whether you are willing to create a folder that will give you easy access to all the mail-in rebates come January. I guarantee that at least a few of the deals you find  tomorrow will require follow up emails and/or phone calls. I average about two a week during the year.

As for the Pep Boys special I mentioned earlier? If you want to roll the dice instead this is how you do it.

You get 5 quarts of oil for free (before tax) by going to Wal-Mart and picking up 5 quarts of G-Oil, and mailing in the rebate found here. Then just wait until a good oil filter deal comes along, by visiting, and combine that with online and manufacturer rebates.

For example, Advance Auto Parts frequently offers 2 Purolator oil filters for $10 at varying times. What I do for my personal vehicles is order four of those oil filters online and two air filters using code ES123 which gives you a $20 discount off of $50. Then access the manufacturer rebates you have through Purolator’s web site or go to

At the best case scenario, you have about 30,000 miles of scheduled maintenance that will cost you about $20. Four oil changes and two air filter changes for the DIY consumers will usually cost about $100 in oil and filters for the average car.

So you save quite a bit. But you will have to work for it, time it right, and follow-up on everything.

It’s a new economy folks… with the same old hoops.  My advice is to figure out whether your time is worth jumping through all of them. If not, then just buy the equivalent of the Pep Boys special. Or just avoid the whole hassle altogether.

Specials aren’t really that special anymore.


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13 Comments on “Hammer Time: Black Friday Deal? Or No Deal....”

  • avatar

    Best Buy has a 40″ LCD HDTV for $189.

    I want it to give as a gift.

    They open at 12:00 midnight.

    End of line…

  • avatar

    I have not changed my own oil in 20 years, nor have I waited in a black Friday line. Guess I value my time at more than $1.00/hour. Good article, however. Most black Friday “deals” are an illusion.

  • avatar

    I haven’t changed my own oil in over 9 years since my left eye gave out in fall, ’03. Due to circumstances, I can’t crawl under a vehicle and look up for any length of time anymore, so our friendly dealers or our mechanic does it.

    Tomorrow, I go to my Chevy dealer for my car’s first oil change. Other than that, I usually run around on so-called black Friday, but not at the local retail magnets, my oldest brother-in-law and I hang out and do our running and have lunch while the girls are out fighting the mall.

    When we get home, I’ll mulch the leaves in the yard and light up the fire pit the rest of the day.

  • avatar

    Pep Boys, 5 quarts GTX and generic filter $8 after MIR 11/23-11/25.
    If you register at Bob Is The Oil Guy beware of colonel clown the moderator, aka ekpolk.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ll take more than a few grains of salt when half the Avatars on BTOG’s website are Amsoil logo.

      You guys that don’t spend some quality time on your back, under the car/hood will pay later. I check brakes, brake lines, fluid leaks, tires for uneven wear and nails sticking out of them…

  • avatar

    I just got a very nice postcard from Pennzoil denying my $10 rebate claim because I used a (O’Reilly provided) photocopied claim form. Never mind the original receipt and UPCs. Way to lose a customer for life, jackasses.

  • avatar

    I buy oil and filters when I need them, taking advantage of in-store specials (Advance Auto or Wal-Mart) when they’re available. It’s been about a year since I mailed in a rebate form.

    While I appreciate the savings Steven describes, there is a fixed cost of my time that doesn’t make the effort worth it for small amounts throughout the year.

  • avatar

    I buy my oil at Costco when it is on sale (usually runs just over $2/qt.) and I have about a 3-4 year supply currently (oil lasts a long time and with the current rate of inflation, it’s better than dollars in the bank). I buy filters online mostly. And I have personally seen too many vehicles that had their engines ruined by quicky-lube places to ever trust anybody else to change my oil – Here’s what I have seen:

    Drain oil, but don’t put any back in (you’d be surprised how far your engine will go w/o oil).

    Drain transmission fluid, add 5 quarts of oil to engine.

    Drain oil, add oil flush to engine instead of oil.

    Also common: stripped-out oil drain plug threads in the oil pan, with RTV on drain plug or one of those temporary rubber plugs installed instead of the drain plug (w/o telling customer, of course).

    And quicky-lube places use the cheapest generic-brand filters that they can find, in most cases.

    It amazes me how easily people are willing to trust their $75K car to some teenager making just over minimum wage. YMMV

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve had my oil changed at the local Valvoline Instant Oil Change for years. Maybe it’s me, but their service and honesty have been exemplary:

      Showed up one day and they didn’t have the special tool needed for the Mazda3 cartridge filter. Instead of trying to mickey mouse it on and off (which usually causes damage, leading to a leak and eventual engine failure), the asked me to come back another time.

      Didn’t have my cartridge filter in stock. Told me instead of just doing the oil change and not replacing the filter.

      There is no doubt in my mind that having them change the oil is a much better value than buying the oil and filter myself, spending the 1/2 hour to 45 minutes to get all the tools, jacks, and jack stands out, change the oil, then put everything away and clean up.

      I’ll do a lot of work myself in the driveway. Brake, struts and shocks, no problem. But lying on a cold or hot driveway just to save $15 – no thanks.

      • 0 avatar

        “I’ll do a lot of work myself in the driveway. Brake, struts and shocks, no problem. But lying on a cold or hot driveway just to save $15 – no thanks.”

        I certainly don’t go to a Jiffy Lube, but my regular mechanic charges me for $5 of labor for oil changes. The rest of my cost is oil + filter + waste disposal, which is what I’d have to deal with if I did it myself anyway. For $5, why would I change my own oil?

  • avatar

    I must have 4 or 5 free 5 quart jugs of Valvoline Nextgen in my garage. Was never able to get the G Oil rebate because they never seem to have the jugs in stock when I look.

  • avatar

    Forget the Best Buy line. I dropped by at 0800 this morning, to pick up the laptop that the Geek Squad was doing a bit of work on for me (they called Wednesday evening that it was done). The place was near dead. The knuckle-headed line-standers were already off on the next illusory sale, and the post-breakfast rational sales crowd hadn’t come in yet.

    Got my laptop in five minutes, and then noticed that the one item that interested me in the Black Friday flyer, a $40.00 HP printer, was in good inventory. Picked up one. In and out in less than ten minutes.

    Deals on televisions? I’ll look in February, once the Super Bowl is over.

  • avatar

    My Black Friday shopping:

    I went to a local Canadian Tire store and got last 5L jug of house brand (I read that it’s made for them by Shell) synthetic 10W-30 oil for $18.88. (Saved 52%). It is even cheaper than last year when I bought 3 jugs for $19.99 each.

    Also bought a movie ticket pack of 4 tickets for $36 at the CAA store. As a bonus there was some coupons and a card $5 off purchase of gas (2.5 cents off per litre).

    And a local supermarket had no tax day. So I bought 2×12-packs of Pepsi Throwback (aka Retro) for $2.99/ea. It’s made with real sugar, instead of HFCS. Tastes like Pepsi from childhood, without sticky aftertaste. We did not have Coke behind the Iron Curtain when I was growing up.

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