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Do Garages skip the oil filter nowadays?

What with those fancypants wind baffles that you have to take off of the car to change the oil filter nowadays, it seems obvious to me that a lot of garages would be just telling you that you got new oil and a new filter but you didn’t get no new oil filter. Who wants to do all that work?

When I went to a new garage (the old guy retired) and told him that I wanted to supply the oil filter, he kind of hitched a little.

Has anyone had any experiences related to this? I’m thinking of marking the old filter if I can reach it, before I go in…

The new garage is probably concerned that you’d blame them if the filter you supply somehow fails and damages the engine. Many shops won’t install customer-supplied parts for this reason.

You could bring a small oil-proof container and ask for your old filter back. If you don’t want to give the impression that you don’t trust them, just say that you’d like to cut it apart and see how dirty it is out of curiosity.


Right, you seem to be conflating two different things: parts supplied by a customer vs. whether or not you get the work you pay for. My experience is that shops don’t ever like to have customers bring in their own parts, partly for reasons cited by lion9car. On the other hand, if you think the shop isn’t actually replacing the filter that you’ve paid for, it’s time to switch shops. If you have doubts, you could always ask them to return the used filter to you.

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With the lower panels, they often need to be removed for both the oil drain and filter change so while they are off, might as well do both. A crooked shop will con you under-car covers or not. A bigger concern for me you be damage or loss to my cover or the fasteners that hold it in place.

There was a story floating around showing a car that had the under car panel sawed through to do the oil change…

Back in the day, I remember there being a local scandal where I lived about shops ripping people off by not performing the work people were paying for, so if this is a thing, it would be nothing new. A local TV news reporter marked his oil filter, took his car in for service, and noted afterward that the same oil filter was still on the car. This was in the late 1970s or early 1980s.

On my car, a 1998 Honda Civic, it would be easy for the shop to get away with not changing the oil filter because it is on the back of the engine where it can’t be seen without jacking up the car and getting underneath. However, on many cars, you can see the oil filter under the hood, making it easy to either mark your old filter before the service or note the difference in color of the filter you previously had mounted and the new one.

Our local tire store had a coupon deal (many moons ago); $15 oil, filter, lube, 30 point inspection. I was working crazy hours back then, so I took my 1965 Rambler to them. A couple days later when I had time, I looked over their work - the plugs had not been budged to grease it (it had no grease zerks), but there was no notation that part of the job hadn’t been done. I’ve done my own ever since then.

Did you ask them to remove the plugs and grease it? When I worked at a garage in the '70s, we’d only grease cars with zerk fittings. I never removed a plug, except to install a set of zerk fittings.

No, I didn’t realize it had plugs. I’d only had the car a short time, and just a 17 yr old then. I can understand there would have been an extra charge involved, but I was disappointed that they assured me everything had been done.

I agree, they should have told you. I would have offered to install a set of fittings. Win/win.

It happened to me many years ago. I had a knee operation and wasn’t able to do oil changes for a few months. The local dealer was running specials on oil changes. Dropped it off and picked it up after work. The following day when I opened the hood to add some windshield fluid I saw the bright orange Fram filter that I installed the last time I did an oil change. I wasn’t happy. Had a very heated discussion with the service manager. Never stepped foot in that dealership again.

"Do Garages skip the oil filter nowadays? "
Only dishonest ones. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

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They don’t like my NAPA Gold but they like the Ling Ting Tong that they normally use?

Al, You want to go to Napa and buy a filter, jack up the car to mark the filter because you suspect they might not change it, then drive to the shop to get an oil change.

Wouldn’t it be easier to just change it yourself?

Good point, oldtimer.

Al, those fancypants plastic panels are functional. They protect the engine against splashing, they help direct the airflow from the radiator for more effective cooling, and they affect aerodynamics. There are cases where loss of those splash shields has caused engine overheating.

As regards providing your own filter, many shops won’t want to do this. If there’s a problem with the filter they end up with the risk of having an unhappy customer demanding unjustly that they redo the oil change free of charge. Let them get the parts and they’ll guarantee the entire job. If the filter is defective, they’ll redo everything and backcharge their supplier for the costs. They may or may not add a bit of profit to the filter, but that’s only fair. Getting parts costs money.

If you don’t trust the shop, see if there’s a way you can see the filter from under the hood. I do not recommend going under the car to mark it, because unless you have proper equipment and knowledge you may be risking your life. People die when their improperly supported vehicles fall on them. It’s hard to breath with 3,000 pounds of iron on your chest. Besides, you just might break the plastic retainers that hold the splash shield on and then you’ll be back under the car after you buy new retainers. Mechanics are used to removing these shields and can tell how the car’s retainers are removed just by looking at them.

As regards the possibility of dishonesty… it happens, and a dishonest shop is going find a way to screw you no matter whet you do. But of you CAN mark the filter from above, and you’re not sure the shop is honest, by all means do so. If you can see it but not reach it, you could even take a photograph ahead of time. No two filters will seat with the label exactly the same, so if the filter after the work looks exactly the same as the filter after the work, chances are that it wasn’t changed. But I urge you to check everything and contest anything suspicious BEFORE you pay the bill and drive away. Once you pay the bill and drive off, all best are off. Checking work done before paying the bill is a good habit to form anyway.

If you think the shop is charging you to replace the oil filter, but actually they aren’t, that’s an easy enough thing to check. Pull out a screwdriver from your toolbox and scratch a mark on the oil filter. If the mark is still there after the job is claimed to be done, you have the answer.

I have used this method, not for oil filters, but to tell if the fuel pump relay on my prior car, a VW Rabbit, had been replaced or not. This method proved to me that someone at that particular shop either wasn’t telling the truth, or wasn’t keeping track of what they were doing. Didn’t use that shop again.

Back in 1960, my uncle bought a beautiful new Chrysler New Yorker convertible (white, with red leather interior!), and while I don’t recall the exact details, he had some sort of annoying problem with the car that caused him to bring it back to the dealership several times–and each time the problem was still there, even though they claimed to have fixed or adjusted…something.

After the first couple of visits, he realized that when he picked up the car in the afternoon, it was always parked in the exact same place (on the street) where he had left it in the AM. So, on his next visit to the dealership, he placed a rock on top of one of the tires. Yup! You guessed it. When he returned later in the day to pick up his supposedly-fixed car, the rock was still sitting there on top of the tire.

He found a different Chrysler dealer in another town that was honest, and that resolved the problem on the first visit. As to the original do-nothing dealership, his description of their method of operation was, “They provide curb service. They leave your car parked at the curb, rather than actually fixing it!”


I read some time ago about quick-lube places that cut a hole in the splash guard with a reciprocating saw instead of properly detaching for an oil+filter change.

We not long ago had an OP post photos of the big square hole in his splash shield that a Skippy Lube had cut… assuming he’d never notice. I believe the car was a Volvo if I remember correctly.
The things that unscrupulous people do never ceases to astound me.

I know shops don’t let you go in their work areas, but on most of the ones I have used, you can walk out in the parking lot and see them work on your car in the bay.

Once I was in an apt complex with no way of doing my own oil change, so was using this place to change to oil on my Mitsubishi. The car had a transmission drain plug that was very similar to the engine plug. I was doing the same “watching” from the parking lot and see the kiddo putting his wrench on the transmission drain. Walk slowly up to him and explained nicely that he doesn’t have any business around that plug.

Now, what comes out of the barrel is a whole different story. That is why I do my own oil changes.

Friend of mine owned the same year (98) Pathfinder I did and used one of those quick line places when her husband was on a 2monrh long business trip.

The quick lube place did remove the splash guard to access the filter. However they never put it back. Her husband noticed it the next oil change he did. Of course the shop didn’t still have it