“‘Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’, into the future,” I serenaded hubby Patrick with the Steve Miller song as I hustled through chores last Saturday.
“Oil keeps on burnin’, burnin’, burnin’, out of my Chevy,” he replied. “Another week passed, still no oil change, and no time to do it.”
“Candice down the street has a mobile oil-change guy come out to her house,” I said.
“I’m sure she does,” Patrick chuckled. (Bleach-blonde 50-something Candice is sort of the neighborhood merry widow.)
I made a couple of calls.
“We’ll travel just about anywhere in the city, if the job is right,” explained Joe Seals, owner of SoCal Oil Star (619-717-2913; oilstaronline.com). “We’ll go to homes in the downtown San Diego area, 92101 zip code, and we’ll travel 20 to 25 miles from downtown, which covers the vast majority of the county. Beyond that 20- to 25-mile radius, we need to do three cars per visit to make it cost-effective. If there’s a company with a fleet of vehicles, then we’ll travel up to San Marcos or Oceanside, depending on how many vehicles. And we work on any type of vehicle — RVs, trucks, diesels.”
Turnaround time on oil changes depends on demand, but it’s within a week.
“We change the oil and top off fluids on the vehicle: the windshield-wiper fluid, the radiator fluid, the brake fluid, any fluids that can easily be accessed to fill up. We also fill up the tires if they need to be. And check the windshield wipers and let people know if they need to change them. Headlight restoration — it’s about a ten-point inspection, checking little things here and there.”
SoCal Oil doesn’t use conventional motor oil. “We stick with semi-synthetic and full synthetic. It’s better for the vehicle. It covers the parts and it sticks to the parts better inside the engine — helping them last longer, less friction. With semi-synthetic oil, we recommend changing the oil every 4000 miles or four months. With full synthetic oil, it’s 5000 miles or five months. We usually use Kendall. We get it from National Petroleum here in San Diego.
“A semi-synthetic oil change runs $33.95, and that covers up to five quarts and includes the filter. For the full synthetic, that’s $55.95 for up to five quarts and a filter. There’s a $2.50 waste charge and a tax fee.”
Seals says the oil change is a clean operation — no drips or stains left. “We have a system where we hook a hose up to the bottom of the drain pan, and it sucks the oil out. So rather than taking the plug off and having oil shoot out, our drain plug replaces the manufacturer’s drain plug and it allows us to hook a hose up to it and suck the oil out. It’s a quicker job, a cleaner job, and there are no spills. Depending on the vehicle, the oil change can take from 20 to 30 minutes.”
“We work mostly in the North County coastal area, but it depends on the job,” said Jay, owner of Coast Mobile Oil Service (760-652-9373; coastmobileoilservice.com). “If it’s a fleet of cabs, we will go farther. We work on cars to motor homes, but I don’t work on semi tractors.”
Coast Mobile’s turnaround time depends on the schedule. “If I have the opening, sometimes I can do it that day, but usually it’s the next day. For five quarts of regular oil and an oil filter, it costs $35. For a synthetic oil change, you pay per quart, so it’s $9.91 per quart.” With the oil change comes a fluids check.
Coast Mobile will also repair flat tires, if a tire can be patched. “If they get a nail or a screw in the tire, we can patch it. We also do mobile brakes. The cost for brakes is labor plus parts. Parts vary, but labor for replacing a brake pad is $75 — rear drum brakes, then it’s $95 labor.”
Where the oil change can be performed “depends on the regulations in the area,” Jay explained. “Some clients will let me know that I can’t do it there, so we’ll agree on a place. But most of the fleet businesses or the office buildings have a place where cars can be washed or serviced. But I am spill-proof; there’s nothing to be dripped on the concrete.”