How to Start a Mobile Oil Change

Mobile oil change businesses provide quick oil changes and other basic automotive services at clients’ sites. Most businesses work out of a trailer that’s equipped with all required tools, parts and fluids.

The oil change services market is a $7 billion industry and continues to steadily (if slowly) grow. Mobile oil change businesses don’t need to capture much of the market to make a handsome profit. Moreover, by providing convenience that’s unparalleled in the industry the can get a solid foothold in the market.

Learn how to start your own Mobile Oil Change and whether it is the right fit for you.

Ready to form your LLC? Check out the Top LLC Formation Services.

Start a mobile oil change by following these 10 steps:

  1. Plan your Mobile Oil Change
  2. Form your Mobile Oil Change into a Legal Entity
  3. Register your Mobile Oil Change for Taxes
  4. Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
  5. Set up Accounting for your Mobile Oil Change
  6. Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Mobile Oil Change
  7. Get Mobile Oil Change Insurance
  8. Define your Mobile Oil Change Brand
  9. Create your Mobile Oil Change Website
  10. Set up your Business Phone System

We have put together this simple guide to starting your mobile oil change. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.

Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.

STEP 1: Plan your business

A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:

Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.

What will you name your business?

Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Mobile Oil Change Name Generator

If you operate a sole proprietorship, you might want to operate under a business name other than your own name. Visit our DBA guide to learn more.

When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:

  • Your state's business records
  • Federal and state trademark records
  • Social media platforms
  • Web domain availability.

It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.

Want some help naming your mobile oil change?

Business Name Generator

What are the costs involved in opening a mobile oil change?

The startup costs to open a mobile oil change business are fairly low because these businesses don’t have a brick-and-mortar location. It’s possible to open a business with between $2,000 and $10,000. This capital goes towards:

  • Oil and other fluids (e.g. windshield washer fluid, antifreeze, etc.)
  • Oil filters and other parts (e.g. lug nuts, air filters, etc.)
  • A vehicle (a van, or a truck and trailer)
  • An oil-dispensing system (hoses and pumps)

Business owners that are on a limited budget can reduce their vehicle expenses by purchasing a used van. They also can forgo the oil-dispensing system, instead manually opening bottles of oil and pouring them. Finally, business owners can limit their oil, fluid and filter expenses by purchasing the supplies they’ll need each morning before they begin driving to customers’ sites.

What are the ongoing expenses for a mobile oil change?

The ongoing expenses for a mobile oil change business aren’t outrageous, but they also can’t be ignored. Fuel, vehicle maintenance, oil and parts must all be paid for.

Who is the target market?

The target market for a mobile oil change business is both private and commercial automobile owners. Rental car companies and fleet owners are especially lucrative customers, for working on their cars reduces how much time is spent traveling between locations.

How does a mobile oil change make money?

A mobile oil change business makes money by charging customers for changing the oil in their vehicles. Most oil changes also include a few basic other services (e.g. topping off fluids, inspecting brakes, etc.).

How much can you charge customers?

Most oil changes cost between $20 and $55, depending on where they’re done. Mobile businesses can charge on the higher end of this range because of the convenience they provide. Business owners might, however, want to offer a slightly lower price (e.g. in the middle of the range) when multiple vehicles need oil changes.

It’s common for businesses in the industry to offer additional basic services that increase the total cost of an appointment. Some such services include brake repairs, fluid top-offs and air filter replacements.

How much profit can a mobile oil change make?

A fully booked oil change business can earn an annual profit of six figures. For example, assume a business does two oil changes per hour and charges $50 per oil change. Working 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year the business would bring in a revenue of $200,000. Not all of that is profit, but a lot of it is because there’s no building to maintain.

How can you make your business more profitable?

There are multiple ways a mobile oil change business may increase its profitability. Businesses can get into basic auto repairs, heavy equipment oil changes or farm equipment oil changes. It’s often cheaper for construction companies and farmers to pay a mobile service that will come to them than to drive large equipment to a garage.

Some businesses also earn a profit by receiving referral fees for recommending local auto repair shops to customers who need more significant work done on their vehicles.

Want a more guided approach? Access TRUiC's free Small Business Startup Guide - a step-by-step course for turning your business idea into reality. Get started today!

STEP 2: Form a legal entity

The most common business structure types are the sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation.

Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your mobile oil change is sued.

Form Your LLC

Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC

Have a Professional Service Form your LLC for You

Two such reliable services:

You can form an LLC yourself and pay only the minimal state LLC costs or hire one of the Best LLC Services for a small, additional fee.

Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.

STEP 3: Register for taxes

You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.

In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!

You can acquire your EIN through the IRS website. If you would like to learn more about EINs, read our article, What is an EIN?

There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.

STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card

Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.

When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.

Open a business bank account

Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:

  • Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • Makes accounting and tax filing easier.

Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.

Get a business credit card

Getting a business credit card helps you:

  • Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
  • Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.

Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from BILL and build your business credit quickly.

STEP 5: Set up business accounting

Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.

Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.

STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses

Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.

State & Local Business Licensing Requirements

Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate an oil change business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.

Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.

Liability Waivers

To avoid liability and potential lawsuits, oil change businesses should have their clients sign waivers.

STEP 7: Get business insurance

Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.

There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.

Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.

FInd out what types of insurance your Mobile Oil Change needs and how much it will cost you by reading our guide Business Insurance for Mobile Oil Change.

STEP 8: Define your brand

Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.

If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.

Recommended: Get a logo using Truic's free logo Generator no email or sign up required, or use a Premium Logo Maker.

If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.

How to promote & market a mobile oil change

The two most effective ways to market a mobile oil change business are by including a sign on the business’ vehicle and cold calling. Just one successful call to a corporation that has many vehicles or employees (who have their own vehicles) can a sizable amount of repeat business.

How to keep customers coming back

Mobile oil change businesses set themselves apart from quick lube places by offering unsurpassed convenience. To keep customers coming back for oil changes, the level of service and the convenience provided must not be compromised.

STEP 9: Create your business website

After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.

While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.

Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:

  • All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
  • Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
  • Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.

Recommended: Get started today using our recommended website builder or check out our review of the Best Website Builders.

Other popular website builders are: WordPress, WIX, Weebly, Squarespace, and Shopify.

STEP 10: Set up your business phone system

Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.

There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2023 to find the best phone service for your small business.

Recommended Business Phone Service: is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.

Is this Business Right For You?

Anyone who is passionate about cars and enjoys working with their hands may enjoy spending their days working on customers’ cars. It also helps to have people skills, for business owners regularly talk with customers about the condition of their vehicles.

This is a business that people can start part-time, while working another job. Appointments can be scheduled during evenings and weekends, or whenever not working at the other occupation.

Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?

Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!

Entrepreneurship Quiz

What happens during a typical day at a mobile oil change?

A typical day at a mobile oil change business consists of:

  • Scheduling appointments
  • Driving to customers’ locations
  • Changing the oil on customers’ vehicles
  • Performing other automotive services

When not engaged in these activities, business owners place orders and restock supplies.

What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful mobile oil change?

Mobile oil change business owners must possess a knowledge of how cars work. They at least need to know how to change the oil in different vehicles, and having a more robust automotive knowledge is beneficial.

Business owners who don’t have experience working on cars may want to enroll in an automotive course at their local community college or vocational school. Online courses, such as those offered by Ashworth College and Bergwall, can also be helpful.

Alternatively, business owners can work in the industry prior to opening their own business. Many mechanics have primarily on-the-job training, although these mechanics normally don’t have any certifications to demonstrate their expertise.

However a business owner gains the required knowledge, it’s a good idea to keep books on hand for reference. Two popular titles are Auto Repair and Maintenance, and Auto Repair for Dummies.

What is the growth potential for a mobile oil change?

A mobile oil change business can remain a small operation with just one or two people. Or, it can grow to become a large company that offers services in multiple geographic areas.

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Take the Next Step

Find a business mentor

One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.

Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.

Learn from other business owners

Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.

Resources to Help Women in Business

There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:

  • Funding
  • Events
  • Guides
  • Support

If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.

What are some insider tips for jump starting a mobile oil change?

Customers who use a mobile oil change business do so for the convenience. They don’t want to be kept waiting for appointments, so it’s important to show up on time.

Business owners should avoid over-booking themselves. While it’s tempting to fill a day full of appointments, this can make owners run behind schedule and aggravate customers. For a new business, upset customers can devastate growth.

How and when to build a team

While it’s possible to run a mobile oil change business with just one person, hiring an employee from the outset can help the business grow. An employee can schedule appointments while the owner focuses on servicing cars. When not scheduling appointments, the employee can help with oil changes to speed them up.

Useful Links

Industry Opportunities

Further Reading

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