Do you REALLY need all that stuff EZ lube pushes on you?

I just got back from getting my oil change on my 2001 toyota corolla. I’ve barely driven it in the last years (5 of those months I was away and left my car to collect dust in the garage), so I simply forgot to get my oil change. I checked the B setting in the odometer and saw that is has been abot 8500 miles since my last oil change. YIKES!

I quickly go to EZ lube to get it change, expecting to get the full on barrage of needing a new air filter, and transmission fluids, and everything else they can think of throwing at me.

They said I needed the Fuel Injection service (I don’t even know what that is, but their records said I had one done in 07), and the oil needed be flushed before the changed it. I told them to flush the oil but no the fuel injectors.

I decided to be more cautious with EZ lube and their recommendation until I consulted with others.

Now that I’ve babbled enough.

Do you really need to replace your transmission fluid every 12000 miles, and radiator fluids every 30000? And what is the fuel injection service they tried to hit me with? And did my car really need to be flush my engine because my car was out of oil? That one added 70 bucks to the bill.

Thanks!! Sorry about the long message.

I want you to clear up. “And did my car really need to be flush my engine because my car was out of oil” sounds dangerous.

On the other issues all you need to do is what the manufacture recommends.

Thanks. Correction.
“And did they really need to flush out my car’s engine because it was out of oil?”

What you need to do to keep you car in good condition (with one possible exception) is listed in your owner’s manual. It is not available from the advice given at the dealer, independent garage and certainly not from a quick oil change place. The quick oil change places live or die by selling additional services at your expense.

That one exception is the automatic transmission fluid change (Don't confuse with with a flush).  It seems many manufacturers don't list that as a maintenance item, but it should be.  I would suggest every 30,000 to 80,000 miles.  Make sure the filter is cleaned when they do it (that is where flushes tend to fail) Far too many people only change transmission fluid until after it starts having problems, then when it fails they blame the fluid change for the problem.  

OK so why do the quick change places do that.  Easy, they don't change enough to even do a good oil change so they need to make a profit somewhere.  They hire only people who are willing to work for next to nothing and live on selling extra services and don't allow them enough time to do the oil change properly.  

 Stay away from those places to protect your car.

First of all, you should avoid “Quicky” oil change places like the plague. They are first class rip off joints, and often do more harm than good.

The owner’s manual that came with your car will tell you when to change oil, replace transmission fluid and coolant, replace spark plugs and air filter, rotate tires, etc, etc, etc.

An engine flush is NEVER needed. A fuel injection service is NEVER needed.

Stop wasting your money at these places. Find an independent mechanic to help you take care of your Corolla, and READ THE MANUAL.

The business model for those EZ Lube places to survive is to hire cheap unskilled labor and to “push” all those unneeded services on you. Getting whatever money they can from you while your car is there is very important.

The business model for your local independent mechanic to survive is almost surely one of demonstrating his honesty, skill, and care for your car. Building a customer base who will return in the future and will “tell their friends” is very important.

Whom would you rather take your car to?

Well, your first big mistake was to drive the car anywhere–even for service–if it was
"out of oil". Even a novice is capable of opening the hood and adding the necessary amount of oil prior to driving the car. If your car was really driven when it was “out of oil”, no flush or any other procedure done externally will save that engine.

That being said, your second big mistake was to take the car to a quick lube place. As you have surmised, they sell unnecessary services. And, as you are probably not aware, their employees tend to be poorly trained and have been known to cause severe damage to engines, transmissions, differentials, brake hydraulic systems, and cooling systems by using the wrong fluids, or by failing to refill those systems after draining them.

If you plan to keep this car, I would suggest that you have it examined by a qualified mechanic (that does not include Midas, Meineke, Monro, Sears, or any other chain operation), to see what damage has been done by running the engine without oil.

And then, no matter what the verdict about that oil-starved engine might be, try to remember that a car owner who wants to keep his/her car running as efficiently and as cheaply as possible will periodically check the oil, will not run the vehicle without sufficient oil, and will have it maintained according the procedures and the intervals specified in the Owner’s Manual, by a place other than a quick lube establishment.

Thank you everyone for your advice. I went through the owners manual and see that my Corolla needs the oil changed every 5000, and the transmission and radiator (coolant - the green stuff on the EZ lube poster… gah I feel like an idiot describing it like that, but I’m trying to learn) fluids every 30,000. More than double the amount of distance that EZ lube tries to push on you. I feel like an idiot, but at the same time I feel like I’m finally starting to take charge of my own car.
I do have an independent mechanic that I’ve taken my car to whenever I’ve had an issue with it. But for something as simple as an oil change? I never even considered that possibility. I guess I’ve gotten used to the quick in and out of the EZ lube, that taking a car into a garage for several hours seems almost counter intuitive… but based on your descriptions of the work force at these places, the extra time might be worth it.

Did you really drive your car when it was out of oil or is that a “typo”?

Yeah, I would also really like to know the answer to that question.

I did raise that point in my original response, but the OP seems to have evaded the issue. That is too bad because he/she might be driving the car to its last roundup–as the cowboys used to say.

Sorry about not responding sooner.
To answer your question about the oil, I went around 8250 miles without changing the oil. It was stupid on my part to go that long, but with everything going on, I simply forgot. It’s a lame excuse but that’s what happened. As for how I could have forgotten for 8000 miles, well, I proabably due in last summer, but then I was sent away to Canada for 5 months. Came back and started driving again. Yes I know it should have been the first thing I did returning from Canada, but I started a new job upon my return and like the idiot I am, simply forgot.

The reason I even remember was because my car started to sputter everytime I turned it on. But I didn’t think anything of it because my car would normally do that in the colder temperatures. And it was simply having trouble starting up. I’m going to get flamed for this, but YES the check engine is on and has been on for years. They said it was due to code P0171, but I was poor at the time and couldn’t get it fixed. But they said it was generally harmless and could continue driving. I went to get a smog check a couple years ago and the same code came up. I took it to my mechanic and he couldn’t find the problem, so he reset the computer and I went and passed my smog check. So wether the sputter is related to the PO171 O2 leak, I don’t know. But it comes and goes. I know I’m not sounding like the greatest caretaker of my car, and I will admit that I probably do not take as much care of my corolla as I should.

But back to the original question:
The guy at the ezlube was the one who told me I was out of oil when he pulled out the dip stick. I took his word for it. And probably gave my engine a bad run not changing the oil more often.

If my car was a kid, the state would take it away.

I’m not so sure that P0171 is completely harmless. It seems to be a code saying that the system is running too lean (too much air/not enough fuel). Could be lots of reasons including dirt that has somehow gotten past the air filter and has settled on the Mass Air Flow sensor as well as a number of more expensive problems. I’m not an engine guy, but I’d think that a lean fuel mixture might account for your starting difficulties.

Have you considered not having a car and using public transportation?



You cannot determine the car is out of oil by looking at the dip stick. Even if no oil registers on the dip stick there will still be 2 or so quarts in the pan. Unless there is an obvious leak which you did not mention and there there is not a sign of smoke.

Basically, when you drain the oil in a car, you are flushing it. When you allow the radiator fluid to drain you change most of the fluid also. The transmission is the only unit that does not expel a major portion of the fluid when it is drained. (That depends on the type of car also) But if you change a portion of that fluid periodically, you are doing what the maunfacturer recommends.

Well there was definitely no smoke coming out of my car. It sounds like I got hosed by the EZ lube. But it’s a fair punishment for not getting it changed sooner.