Amish Oil Changes: A Step Back in Time


You pull up to the little garage with the hand-painted sign, anxious to see what an old-fashioned Amish oil change is really like. Stepping out of your car, you breathe in the smell of motor oil and feel as if you’ve been transported back in time. Horses and buggies line the parking area while young boys in straw hats scurry about, fetching tools for their elders. You watch as an Amish man approaches you, wrench in hand, ready to dive under the hood of your vehicle. Though you came expecting a no-frills experience, you’re starting to realize there’s something charming about the simplicity of it all. You’re eager to learn more about this unique way of life during your visit to the shop today.

What Is an Amish Oil Change?

An Amish oil change is done by hand, without the use of any electric equipment. Instead of driving up to a garage with hydraulic lifts and computerized diagnostic tools, you’ll pull up to a small barn or shed. There, an Amish mechanic will manually drain your old oil, replace the filter, and refill your engine with fresh oil using hand tools like wrenches, funnels, and jacks.

Draining the Old Oil

To start, the mechanic will slide under your vehicle and locate the oil drain plug under the oil pan at the bottom of the engine. Using a wrench, he’ll loosen the plug to drain the old, used oil into a pan. Once drained, he’ll replace the plug and move on to the oil filter.

Replacing the Oil Filter

The oil filter cleans impurities from the oil as it circulates through your engine. To replace it, the mechanic will unscrew the old filter by hand and screw on a new one, also by hand. He’ll then refill your engine with the proper amount of fresh oil through the valve cover or filler cap under the hood.

Refilling with Fresh Oil

Finally, after double-checking that the drain plug and new filter are secure, the mechanic will pour in the recommended amount of fresh oil using a funnel. He’ll start the engine to circulate the new oil, recheck the levels with a dipstick, and you’ll be all set to go.

An Amish oil change is a step back in time, reflecting the Amish values of simplicity, sustainability, and community. By choosing an Amish oil change, you’re supporting their traditional way of life. And there’s something charming about the thought of your vehicle being lovingly cared for without the sounds of air tools or the glow of diagnostic scanners – just hands, simple tools, and mechanical know-how passed down through generations.

The Amish Approach to Car Maintenance

Doing It Themselves

For the Amish, car maintenance is more than just practical—it’s a reflection of their self-sufficient way of life. They prefer to handle oil changes and other routine maintenance themselves using manual methods. Rather than taking their vehicles to a shop, the Amish have developed their own unique system for keeping their cars and buggies running well without the use of advanced technology.

Manual Methods

Instead of hydraulic lifts, the Amish use wooden ramps and jacks to raise their vehicles for service. Under the hood, they eschew diagnostic computers in favor of their trained senses—relying on sight, sound, and smell to check on the vehicle’s performance and identify any issues. For oil changes, they drain the old oil manually through the drain plug, replace the filter, and refill the engine with new oil using refillable metal cans. The Amish have found that these traditional, hands-on techniques, passed down through the generations, align well with their principles of self-sufficiency, simplicity, and community.

A Community Affair

Vehicle maintenance is often a community event for the Amish. Neighbors will come together to help each other with oil changes, tune-ups, and other repairs. The men discuss and troubleshoot issues together, while women provide food and fellowship. For the Amish, this collaborative approach strengthens community bonds and embodies the principle of coming together to help one another in times of need. Their methodical, manual process of vehicle maintenance is a reflection of the Amish way of life—one centered around faith, family, and community.

What to Expect During an Amish Oil Change

When you pull into an Amish service station for an oil change, don’t expect a quick pit stop. The Amish take their time and do things manually without the help of power tools or advanced technology. Draining the Old Oil

First, your car will be raised using a hand crank lift or jack, not a hydraulic lift. The drain plug under the oil pan will be removed to drain the used oil. This can take 10-15 minutes as the oil drains slowly. While waiting, the mechanic will change your oil filter by hand, replacing it with a new one.

Adding Fresh Oil

Once the old oil has drained, the new oil filter is in place, and the drain plug has been replaced, the mechanic will pour in fresh motor oil through the filler cap in your engine. For most vehicles, 3 to 5 quarts of new oil are added. The exact amount depends on your vehicle’s specifications.

Final Checks and Payment

With the new oil added, the mechanic will start your engine to check that there are no leaks and that oil pressure is normal before lowering your car. You’ll pay in cash since most Amish businesses don’t accept credit cards. The total cost is usually very reasonable, between $25 to $50.

While the Amish oil change process is very hands-on and time-consuming, you can feel good knowing your vehicle was serviced with care and respect. The Amish commitment to simplicity and quality ensures your oil change was done properly to keep your vehicle running well for many miles. The unhurried pace is a reminder of quieter times when people weren’t in such a rush. If you need an oil change but want to slow down and escape the frenzy of the modern world for a while, an Amish oil change could be just what you need.

The Benefits of an Old-Fashioned Oil Change

Getting an oil change the old-fashioned way at an Amish mechanic’s shop has some surprising benefits over a quick-lube chain. For starters, the Amish are meticulous and take pride in quality work. They’ll thoroughly inspect your engine and vehicle during the oil change, catching any potential issues early on.

High-Quality Conventional Oil

The Amish use high-quality conventional motor oil and change it religiously every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. While synthetic oils can go longer between changes, conventional oil is more affordable and works great if changed regularly. The frequent changes also give the engine parts a chance to properly mate together, which can lead to better performance and engine life over the long run.

Personalized, Attentive Service

At an Amish shop, you’ll receive personalized service from a skilled mechanic. They’ll walk you through exactly what they’re doing under the hood and take the time to answer any questions you have about your vehicle. The unrushed, focused nature of their work means no detail is overlooked. You can rest assured your oil change was done thoroughly and properly.

Supporting a Traditional Way of Life

By supporting Amish businesses, you’re helping to preserve their traditional way of life. The Amish value simplicity, community, and rejection of modern conveniences like electricity. Your patronage of their services allows the Amish to continue living self-sufficiently, as they have for centuries. There’s something charming about stepping back in time and having your vehicle serviced in a low-tech, high-touch manner.

An old-fashioned Amish oil change may take a bit longer, but the benefits to both you and your vehicle are well worth it. You’ll leave with peace of mind that the job was done right, your engine is purring happily, and you’ve supported an important cultural tradition. For the mechanically inclined, an Amish oil change is a glimpse into a simpler way of life that embraces quality, community, and craftsmanship.

Amish Oil Change FAQs: Your Top Questions Answered

Why do Amish prefer traditional oil changes?

For the Amish, an oil change is more than just vehicle maintenance. It’s a social event and community tradition. Rather than take their buggies to a modern garage, Amish families and neighbors come together to help drain used oil and replace filters. It’s a chance to bond over shared values of simplicity, sustainability, and self-sufficiency.

How does a traditional Amish oil change work?

An Amish oil change follows a simple process using basic tools and materials. The buggy is parked over a large pan to collect the drained oil. The oil plug is removed from the engine block, allowing used oil to flow into the pan. Once drained, a new oil filter is installed and the plug replaced. Fresh oil is then poured in through the filler hole. This “shade tree” method, done outside under trees, embraces Amish principles of avoiding excess technology and wastefulness.

Do Amish people change their own oil for environmental reasons?

Amish oil changes are environmentally friendly since used oil is recycled and never discarded. The collected oil is purified and reused for lubricating equipment or burned in small engines. This sustainable practice, along with the Amish value of custodianship over God’s creation, aligns well with today’s green movement. For Amish and non-Amish alike, an oil change the traditional way honors our mutual responsibility as stewards of the Earth.

Is an Amish oil change safe for modern vehicles?

While Amish oil changes embrace simplicity, most modern vehicle owners should have oil and filter changes done by a certified mechanic with proper equipment and training. Complex engines and emissions systems require multi-weight oils and high-tech filters for peak performance and safety. However, we can still draw inspiration from the Amish approach by reducing waste, reusing when possible, and bringing community together over shared purpose. An “Amish oil change” of the spirit, if not the body!


So there you have it! An Amish oil change may seem like a step back in time, but for many, it’s a nostalgic and welcoming experience. Sure, it’s not as fast or efficient as a quick-lube shop, but that’s kind of the point. Slow down, chat with your mechanic, and enjoy the simpler pleasures in life. And who knows – you may just make a new friend in the process. The Amish lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but even the most connected among us can benefit from pressing pause on our hectic lives. So next time your car is due for an oil change, consider taking a scenic drive to Amish country. You just might find that a little bit of yesteryear is exactly what your soul needs.

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