Revised and updated May 14, 2020.
Before there was a fast-lube industry, most gas stations had a garage attached to them for car maintenance and repairs, hence the reason they were often called “service stations.” But those days are long gone for the most part. Nowadays customers can get their vehicle’s oil changed quickly, often in less than 30 minutes.
Quick-lube chains have done very well for themselves, and the oil change market in the US is now worth more than $8 billion. This list of the top 5 automotive oil change franchises gives aspiring business owners several solid options, each one of which offers the chance to buy into a proven concept. They all offer “drive-thru” oil changes that don’t require making an appointment in advance.
There are more than 33,000 businesses that perform automotive oil changes, which means there are many more independent shops than franchised locations. Interestingly, 48% of the businesses combine car washing and oil change services. Another 22% are full-service auto repair shops that include oil changes on the menu.
But perhaps most fascinating is that only around 29% of car owners take their vehicle to someplace other than the dealership where they bought the car for oil changes. Then again, given that there are 273.6 million cars on the roads of America, that means there are more than 79 million potential customers for quick-lube shops.
The biggest challenge this industry faces right now is how more and more cars are being built so much better that the old rule of thumb of getting the oil changed is becoming a thing of the past. The interval is now more like 5,000 miles for many cars, and even longer for some. This means less frequent visits to these lube shops.
The lube chains have added a lot of extra service options to their agenda to make up for this, including fluid drain and flushes, wiper blades, tail lights, turn signals, tire rotations, differentials, and more. Here are the 5 best automotive oil change franchises of 2020:
1. Jiffy Lube International
Jiffy Lube International is the main player in the franchise segment of the quick-lube chain industry. Today, the company operates as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell within the parent company Pennzoil.
As with most quick-lube chains, the range of services offered has expanded over the years and now includes all kinds of operations in the categories of battery, brakes, engine, exterior and glass, filters, fluids, inspections, suspension, and tires.
Founded by Jim Hindman in 1979 and franchising since that same year, the number of locations has held fairly steady during the past 10 years and currently stands at 2,094 (up by 16 from the previous year’s total), none of which are company-owned and 167 of which are located outside the US.
2. Valvoline Instant Oil Change
Valvoline Instant Oil Change isn’t as old as the company that started it. Valvoline itself dates all the way back to 1866 as a maker of engine oil (for steam engines in the beginning), additives, and lubricants.
In addition to fast, affordable oil changes, a variety of other services are offered, including transmission fluid, radiator coolant, headlight/tail light replacement, air filter replacement, fuel system cleaning, serpentine belt replacement, battery replacement, air conditioning replacement, tire rotation, displacement fluid replacement, and windshield wipers.
For most services, including oil changes, customers remain in their car during their visit, which has become a key feature during the COVID-19 pandemic. Valvoline sponsors NASCAR racecars, as well as a couple of its own car races.
Founded in 1986 and franchising since 1988, the number of locations has continued marching upwards in recent years from 868 in 2012 to the current total of 1,252 (up by 98 from the previous year’s total), of which 502 are company-owned and all are located in the US.
3. Take 5 Oil Change
Take 5 Oil Change took a cue from Valvoline and offers what it calls “contact-free” service because customers can stay in their car during an oil change – an added benefit during a global pandemic when you don’t want to leave your vehicle or touch anything or spend time in any kind of waiting room.
Take 5 is similar to the other companies on this list in terms of being founded in the 1970s-1980s, but is the new kid on the block when it comes to franchising, which it didn’t roll out until 2016.
When changing the oil, they also do a quick check of other under-hood fluids and replenish as needed, but they don’t offer the dizzying array of other services being offered by their competitors. It will be interesting to see how much the company can grow in a competitive market with its pared-down concept and business model.
Founded in 1984 but franchising only since 2016, the number of locations has expanded rapidly from just 77 in 2016 to the current total of 344, of which 329 are company-owned. Its franchise program just started in 2016, and so far there are 15 franchised locations.
4. Grease Monkey
Grease Monkey is the only company on this list where each location tends to also have a carwash (Monkey Shine). Its previous motto of Less Hassle, More Hustle has been replaced with Get in. Get out. Get going.
Besides oil changes, the extensive list of other car-care services includes air conditioning, air filters, alignments, battery, brakes, check engine light, diagnostic services, diesel exhaust fluid, differential service, fuel and emission system cleaning, fuel filter replacement, headlights, lighting, power steering, radiator services, serpentine belt, state inspection, tire rotation, tire services, transfer case service, transmission/transaxle services, washer fluid check and fill, wheel balancing, wiper blade replacement, and windshield repair.
Founded in 1978 and franchising since 1979, the number of locations has risen modestly in recent years from 244 in 2009 to the current total of 335 (a decline of 8 from the previous year’s total), 94 of which are company-owned and 65 of which are located outside the US.
5. SpeeDee Oil Change and Auto Service Center
SpeeDee Oil Change and Auto Service Center offers customers its signature 17-point oil change, but includes an extensive menu of other car-care options, including tune-up services, a/c services, brake services, radiators and fluids, tire services, alignments, fluid exchange, manufacturer’s maintenance, state inspection, smog check, brake tags, maintenance and repairs, filters, lighting, check engine light, and wiper blades.
For nearly a decade, SpeeDee operated as a subsidiary of Midas, but in 2017 it became a subsidiary of Grease Monkey International.
Founded in Metairie, Louisiana in 1980 and franchising since 1982, the number of locations has held steady in recent years but recently jumped from 88 to the current total of 108, of which nine are company-owned and 32 are located outside the US.
An Important Note About Our Methodology
The franchises on this list were ranked according to the number of units in the franchise system. If you are a prospective franchisee searching for franchise opportunities that meet or exceed certain performance benchmarks for sales, profits, and return on investment, please check out this list of America’s Most Lucrative Franchises.