Am I getting screwed over?

I got my oil changed for the first time since we purchased our used Odyssey in December. Everything seemed fine. No leaking or anything. The service light came on like 1,500 miles early and so I took my car to a new place for an oil change. (We got a flier for BOGO free and the place had amazing reviews) so about an hour of waiting and the guy comes in and tells me that who ever did my last oil change stripped the drain plug and it’s going to run me a few hundred dollars.

My husband has always done the major work on our cars but he is always at work so I usually take it to get the oil change. We were going to just have them top it off and have my husband look at it later but he doesn’t have anytime in the next few days to have him replace it. He was not happy and neither am I. They told us that the people who did the last oil change used an impact wrench to attach it back and that they can’t get it back in. I’ve read up about cheap oversized plugs as a fix (at least until my husband can check it out). I just feel like maybe they messed up the plug and are now charging us hundreds for what my husband could fix for less than $50. Am I getting screwed?

1 Like

There are degrees of “fixed”. What they are proposing is to put it back into condition like when it was new. Nothing wrong with that and what many people might opt to do. From a business perspective, it is the least liability for them so that is what they will recommend. If you’re averse to spending this much, why not just tell them and ask if there is a less expensive alternative like an oversized plug they could install instead. See what they say. From your perspective, it’s not much of a financial risk. You won’t be out a lot of money if you decide later to have the more comprehensive fix done…


Thanks for your input! I’m having them go ahead and fix it. They told me that I should take my bill over to the place ai got the first oil change so I might just do that. Hopefully they can take care of some of it. I was just worried that the place I’m at now were actually the ones that damaged it.

What year is the car? Did you buy it used?

On a general note, I’d be curious to know if folks have thoughts on how situations like this could be best handled from a customer standpoint. Kylie, I think you’re right to go back to the first shop, but this will almost certainly turn into a “he said, she said” situation…as in, I’m sure the first shop will tell you that everything was fine when they did the oil change, and that the second shop is just trying to shift the blame for their mistake.

I’m just not sure, short of crawling underneath your car after each oil change, of avoiding these situations. I guess using the same trustworthy place for oil changes every single time is one answer…

It’s a 2011 and yep we did. Our car caught on fire on my husband’s birthday (after an oil change) right before Christmas. It was bought used and we didn’t have full coverage so we had to go out and finance our first car ever.

Why do you ask?

Yeah I feel it will end in a “Nope we didn’t do that.” To be fair, they have actually always done a great job. The one time I took our old car somewhere else for an oil change, the car caught fire with me, my niece, my 6 year old and my 10 month old inside. Luckily we all got out okay and I don’t think it was from the oil change.

But the place that the new one is putting the blame on has always done the job with no issues. The one I’m at now isn’t even an oil change establishment. It’s an auto repair shop and that’s why I’m a little shaded by them. My husband knows all about cars and mechanics. He said he is just going to do all the oil changes from now on!

While it’s possible, I’d say the probability is very low. Reason being, they are loosening the plug. The only way to damage it at that point is to have an impact gun set to tighten and blasting the plug. No one should ever use an impact gun on an oil plug BTW. An air ratchet? It could still be damaged but far less likely. They tend to torque off angle pretty quick if applied to an already tight fastener and set to tighten.

To be fair, the prior shop could also be the victim of repeated over tightening events throughout the car’s service history. No one event caused a failure but fatigued the threads each time until the last time they gave away.

You could try and ask them to help out but don’t be surprised if they refuse…especially since someone else touched it after them…

Ehhhh…for all we know, this new shop tried to do the tightening with an impact wrench, stripped out the bolt, and now are playing dumb about it. No way to know…

To the OP’s last comment, I’d actually trust a regular mechanic more than a dedicated oil change place to do the job right…if you’ve always taken the car to a “Jiffy Lube”-type of place, then yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were at fault. These kinds of places, generally speaking, are very efficient at doing oil changes (since that’s really the only thing they do), but they also tend to prioritize quantity over quality and have less qualified technicians in their employ.

A regular mechanic, on the other hand, may be more expensive for oil changes, but they’re investing in you as a long-term client, so you’re probably going to get a better deal when it comes to actual repairs…maybe not always on price, but because they will give you a more honest assessment of things that could be postponed “a bit longer”…since, you know they’re seeing the car every 5-10k for oil changes.

1 Like

I had an oil situation at a Ford dealer. I was having the oil changed and was told that the last shop that changed the oil put the drain plug in so tight that the technician couldn’t get it out. I had the service writer take me back to the repair area. I got the invoice out of the glove compartment and showed the service writer that his shop had done the last oil change. I then told them that they had to fix the problem. I called my wife to come get me and told them that I would be out at noon to get my car and it had better be ready. It was taken care of.
I have never stripped out a drain plug and I did my own oil changes for years.

1 Like

Being a 2011, here is no telling when the damage tothe threads occurred, It might have been ok enough for a while and reached its point of no return. Car caught fire is a new facet. OMG

I took my car in to my trusted transmission shop for a fluid change. They were done quicker than I thought and about half the price that I thought. When I got home though I noticed the invoice said “oil change”. Back the next week for tranny fluid change which they did and ate the oil change. At any rate being a little OCD on oil changes and usually always doing them myself, I went to change the oil again. Man that plug was on there so tight I had to put an extension on my ratchet to get it loose. It’s a relatively new plug too. I know I’m not as strong as I used to be especially laying on the garage floor, but that was way tighter than I ever would have done it for fear of stripping the threads.

Good ideas above. It will be nearly impossible to determine who and when the drain plug got over-tightened. Just b/c it is now overtightened doesn’t imply the shop who did it prior caused the problem. I doubt you’ll get much relief there, but no harm asking.

Going forward suggest to work towards a day sometime in the future when you/hubby do your own oil & filter changes. It is usually pretty easy job, takes 45 minutes or so is all. It does require a one time expense for the proper equipment to do it safely though, $100-$150. It would be a fools-errand to do this job in anything other than a safe way. Even if all the other work is done by a shop, this is a good thing for diyer’s to do themselves. Not only do you know the job is done correctly, the drain plug is tightened the proper amount, but also it gives you a chance while the oil is drained to lube the hinges, door latch, check the wiper blades, and take a look-see under the car for any problems brewing. That sort of inspection can save you boatloads of money by avoiding future emergency repairs. Changing your own oil and filter is probably the single best thing you can do for your car’s longevity and reliability. Shops can’t provide that level of service, something you have to do yourself if you want its advantages.

YOUR problem was going to a discount oil change place. it takes me back many years when i had a new MG midget. i actually took it into the dealer for the required oil change and had the oil light come on. i found out they had put the oil pan drain plug in badly and all the oil drained out.

luckily i didn’t drive it as soon as i saw the light and no damage was done. this was a british leyland authorized dealer and their service dept didn’t give a sh*t about their work.

most of the workers at quick service and discount oil change places are offered 1 week of training to work on your car. while i’ve had many good experiences at the quick lubes and such, i go only to the ones i’m familiar with. i would never take any car into a place just for advertised discounts, or to a brand chain quick lube that i did not yelp check or know the history of.

not at all trying to belittle you…it’s something anyone would expect to be trustworthy, but it’s one of the things you cannot trust and must research yourself.

And they don’t hire kids with out any experience for minimum wage…

and washer , no ??

a former coworker’s girlfriend did just that . . .

She went to a certain cheapo lube place . . . but only when they had their advertised special

I believe it was also considerably out of her way, so she spent a lot of time driving to and from this “establishment”

And she would plan her whole weekend around it :laughing:

So basically, that whole saturday was shot, as far as my coworker and his girlfriend were concerned. The time, effort and fuel to get to/from this oil change place was worth more than the oil change :crazy_face: