Inflation and Oil Changes

By Eric Peters, Automotive Columnist

They tell us inflation — the benign-sounding word used to euphemize the deliberate devaluation of our money by simply creating new money (pieces of paper) out of thin air and flooding the economy with it — is “only” running about 2 percent of so annually.

If so, why has the cost of a quart of oil gone up by, oh several hundred percent?

I’ve done a lot of oil changes over the years. A quart of high-quality non-synthetic oil cost less than $2 a quart when I was in college in the ’80s. That same quart of oil today costs three times as much.

On sale.

I picked up four quarts yesterday. $27.16 before taxes. $6.75 per quart. The usual price is higher.

Synthetics — the run of the mills such as Mobil 1 — cost closer to $9 a quart. If your car craves the top-of-the-line stuff, like Amsoil, the hit per quart is going to be over $11 a quart (see here if you dinna believe me).

And of course, you’ll need a filter to go with the oil. The decent ones cost about $10 per.

So, assuming the typical car engine’s five quart capacity, an oil change today will cost you anywhere from $35 or so on the low end (decent quality, non-synthetic oil bought on sale; middling quality filter) to $70-plus if you use the good stuff.

This also assumes you do it yourself, of course.

But is the cost real?

That is, are we talking about an actual increase in the intrinsic value of the items in question? Or are we talking about a decrease in the purchasing power of our money — aka inflation? Luckily, the same monopoly at gunpoint that manufactures money out of thin air — the legalized mafia called “government” — also provides an excellent way for us to gauge its slow-drip attenuation of the value of this manufactured money: The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index/Inflation Calculator (see here).

That $6.75 per quart I just paid? Filtered through the government’s own calculator — which probably fudges in its favor egregiously — that sum is equivalent to $3.37 in 1988 Fed Funny Money. But — as I or anyone else who was doing oil changes back in ’88 will gladly tell you — a quart of oil back then cost about $1.50. The current real price — what it costs us to buy with our constantly worth-less dollars — is therefore about double what it was when I was in college.

But the oil itself doesn’t cost more. The price is simply higher — reflecting the diminished value of the paper “notes” we’re compelled to use as a medium of exchange.

This epic fraud is all the more brilliant for being oleaginous. People don’t realize they’ve been fleeced. After all, they have the same (numerically) dollars in their wallet or their savings account. These dollars just seem to purchase less and less each year. People sigh. They accept this as a normal, natural part of life. But it is neither normal nor natural.

There’d be outrage — and in short order, a violent defensive response — if people came home and noticed things missing from their homes. Not the occasional robbery — but regular, almost daily pilferage. If it became literally impossible for them to hold onto their stuff because someone kept breaking into their homes and helping himself to their stuff. In such a case, of course, people have recourse. They can deadbolt their doors, install security measures — even hire armed guards. It is possible to defend against ordinary theft.

It is not possible to defend against the hidden thievery of inflation. No one comes into your home. Your bank account is not obviously debited by some unknown malefactor. You still appear to have the same number of dollars. It just takes more of them to buy “x” than it did previously. This is not perceived as theft — and so people are blase about it.

Ingenious. Fleece the sheep without them even being aware they’ve been fleeced.

And: It’s both theft and a tax — because the theft is done officially, under the color of law. You cannot escape it — or defend yourself against its depredations. You must simply accept that whatever value you have accumulated in the form of these “notes” issued by the government’s monopoly bank are going to decline in value over time.

Use ’em — or lose ’em.

They don’t want you saving, certainly. Accumulating wealth.

They use inflation to “stimulate” consumption rather than conservation. It makes sense. Why not spend it now, since it will be worth less (buy less) later?

This is why most of us spend our lives trying to avoid drowning — so to speak — rather than ever reaching the safety of shore (financial security).

We run faster on the Gerbil Wheel — work harder in order to accumulate more paper money, in order to maintain the former level of purchasing power, constantly ebbing away. This amounts to the same thing as attempting to bail out a sinking ship by grabbing a bigger bucket.

But the water keeps on rushing in.

Or you can accept material diminishment. The gradual — eventually obvious — reduction in what your money buys. Cadbury Creme Eggs that are one-third as large as they used to be — but the price is still the same. Twelve ounce pounds. It now seems normal to spend $50 to gas up an economy car — and $6.75 for a quart of oil.

It’s not Weimarian — yet. The question is — when will it be Weimarian?

It sure feels as though it’ll be sooner rather than later.

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3 Responses to “Inflation and Oil Changes”

  1. Al says:

    You need to shop more. I buy oem filter for my Honda and they come in at just under $6 each which includes the drain plug gasket. I buy Walmart branded full synthetic oil for well under $20 for 5 quarts. So my synthetic oil change comes in at less than $25.

  2. seenmuch says:

    All of the cars today have advantage to using top of the line simi- and full synthetics. Most engines today can safely go 3 years of 18,000 miles(3 years or 30,000 kms by design of the oil and the engine oil systems) on a oil change if, when the proper oil is used. Making the current cost of a litre of oil not much a big deal if these service guidelines are followed….

    There really aren't any autos out there that should still be using regular old oil in them. And with the cost today finally starting to reach the point where all must start to consider doing designed into all current offerings long term oil change intervals….

    They have for years had sensors that can tell a owner when it is time to change the oil with little regard to miles on the clock. In European offerings where long oil change intervals have been the rule for decades because of the complex diesel and gasoline offerings these sensors are standard equipment. On these autos you don't watch the clock(odometer) but what they do is watch for a warning light on the dash.

    With the complexity of all of today's offerings and just the simple savings in resources all autos should today be required to come equipped with a sensor to tell when a oil change is required. And these sensors should be headed and that stupid every 3k oil change non-sense should go into the trash bin of history where it belongs……

    That change the oil every 3k miles was nothing more than a slogan thought up by advertising agencies that never meant anything in the real world…High costs today for qts/litres of oil are the best reason I could think of to put this non-sense to bed….

    It is about time for people to stop repeating this non-sense!

    Now would be the best time for auto makers and service centers to start to actually tell the truth that oil changes only need to be done when, only when the oil is used up at the end of service life. Sensors and oil test kits are the best way to know when a oil change is required. In the best of service conditions, highway miles with few cold start ups oil change intervals can be pushed as far as 30,000 miles and higher or every 5 years.

  3. Hossam says:

    That's the thiinkng of a creative mind