Inappropriate Driving by Dealership

I suspect that the morons who work the service department at the dealership I bought my car from are mistreating it when I take it in for an oil change. I foolishly bought the maintenance package and am regretting it. I have the feeling my car is being mistreated because I have an average MPG counter which I pay very close attention to and when I’ve taken it in the counter drops at least two-tenths of a gallon in the 5 or 6 miles they put on it. While I realize that the MPG is not accurate, such a large drop makes me curious, especially since it stays the same during the 5000 miles I put on it between oil changes. Also, why would they need to put 5 or 6 miles on the car when all they are doing is changing the oil? Is there any way I can demand a refund of the money I paid for this maintenance package?

Have you considered sharing your concerns and suspicions with the service manager and/or general manager?

You are a little harsh. Don’t worry about the mileage drop as the computer is not accurate enough to reflect any driving over 5 - 6 miles. So driving style I would not worry about.

You may inquire as to why 5-6 miles are put on without your attitude coming out in the post here with Service Manager.

The only way they can tell if everything is OK is to drive the car. Maintenance is more than just oil changes.

ANYONE who drives your car, other than you, will get different mileage. It doesn’t mean they are “mistreating” the car, it just means their driving style differs from yours.

Surely there is something more important over which you can obsess.

They don’t have time to play those games. The reason for the drop is most likely they idled the car to get it up to temperature once or twice as part of the service.

I do agree with you about dealer service. They don’t do a bad job, but they are almost always more expensive than having it done by your local independent. The one thing far worse than the dealer are the quick oil change places.

Me thinks you hit the nail right on the head. Although when I worked at a Nissan dealership, during slow weeks I would often volunteer to transfer vehicles from our dealership to other dealerships, The usual run was from Richmond,VA to Johnson City, TN. Usually a 5 hour trip or so. The problem was that my a**clown of a GM would decide not to send me out there until well into the afternoon. So I had to really go to the whip on the car I was transporting in order to get it to the other dealership before they closed for the night. Speeds of over 90 MPH were the norm. The longest of these trips was when I transported a new Titan to Nashville to the home of someone who had bought it over the internet. Turns out he was Al Gore’s next door neighbor.

Scott, This Is Just One Of The Reasons That I Perform My Own Routine Maintenance.

There are several other reasons, not limited to saving money, avoiding scheduling problems and poor results and car abuse, etcetera.

Do you have the knowledge, ability, time, basic tools, and wherewithal to do some of this work yourself or desire to learn to do it yourself? Classes are usually available for those lacking experience.

I’m not being snide, but seriously, you can do some of the routine maintenance yourself and avoid these frustrations. I derive a lot of pleasure from doing things for myself (not just cars) rather than being dependent. It’s either that or anguish over having somebody else do things their way.

If a service did maintenance on my car and did a 5 or 6 mile road test, I would be grateful that someone was taking the time to make certain that my car drives as it should. I know in my case that no technician would joy ride in my car, because it is no joy to ride in the car I own. Technicians are usually paid by the job and don’t have the time to spend out joy riding.

As for the mpg counter, mine can vary 2 miles per gallon on a 100 mile round trip from the 50 miles to the destination to the return trip if it is a windy day. The first vehicle I had with a mpg counter was a 1990 Ford Aerostar. My son was a teenage driver at the time and he took pride in seeing if he could better pop’s gas mileage. I always blamed his higher mileage on mpg counter error.

Your post started with the potential to make some good points then you lost it when you refered to a .2 loss in mpg.

The person doing you oil change most likely does not have the skills to interpet how your car was running based upon a test drive. Most of the time oil changes get put on the lower level beginning employees. You will not get the driveability or heavy line expert taking your car for a joy ride and that is just what is happening. These highly trained people don’t have the time and don’t want to just drive your car around. The oil change crew does.

Their are some exceptions. When new high performance models come in either through new cars or customer cars become available EVERYBODY trys to get their hands on them,and they do get flogged hard. One old boss (a FORD man) worked at GM in the 60’s solely because he liked to drive their performance models better than FORD’s,he was a great mechanic.

As a mechanic how else am I going to get the chance to drive a BMW M-car hard? Either a new car I just did a PDI on or a customers car I just worked on. It has happened that techs get caught racing customer cars (police follow them back to the dealership,this is embarassing) Check your rear quarter panels for rubber from the tires,it got there from burnouts and the guy was to dumb to remember to clean it off.

Techs like to take customer cars to go get their lunch. I planned my lunch time around when I would finish a car and took the car “on a test drive” to get my lunch. It was good as long as you didn’t see me in the bank or fast food drive-thru and I didn’t spill my 440z big gulp on your carpet,sorry.

I assumed that more was done for the OP than an oil change. I’ve never had an oil change done at a dealer’s service department where they did anything more than drive the car from the lot to the rack, change the oil, and then drive it back to the lot. On the other hand, when a brake job or major repair such as a transmission job or new clutch has been done, then I would expect a test drive.

You can still work on my car. You are at risk, however, if you take my car to run your errands. The spring poking through the seat will get you!

Next time, follow them in your other car or your loaner car and see what happens.

I see no reason in the world for someone at the dealership to put 5 miles on a car after a simple oil change. Change the oil, let it run for a bit to verify there are no leaks, etc. and then out to the lot it goes.

This would be especially true if a flat rate tech was doing the job instead of a low wage lube guy.
Oil changes pay very little and they’re a losing proposition for the mechanic wage-wise. He is sure not going to be doing test drives on an oil change because those test drives means he is wasting time instead of going on to a paying job. Test drives are free.

So where does the 5-6 miles comes from; the odometer or a computerized message display with a “Range” function?
The MPG function is easily affected by driving the car around the lot during service.

You’d have to see it being done to prove any wrong doing. Here at my ford dealer there have been several incidences where the tech has been severely reprimanded or even fired on the spot. It usualy has to do with high-performance cars and the lowly oil tech doesn’t have the respect of other’s property ingrained within his soul yet. So we have to hammer it in with a sledge sometimes. The commonly mis-driven vehicles; Mustang GTs & shelbys, the GT40 ( 3 in town ), and a local customer has a Shelby Cobra classic. One oil tech was fired on the spot after peeling out halfway down the length of the shop… and the customer was in the waiting room !
What kind of vehicle is yours and why would anyone feel inclined to go for a drive ?

I could sure see where young guys (and even some older ones!) would be tempted when put behind the wheel of cars like that.

The policy of reprimand or firing them is the correct one and that one about peeling a Cobra inside the shop is amazing. I can only imagine laying down that kind of horsepower on a slick shop floor.

How did you know it was Al Gore’s neighbor? Did Al have a giant flashing neon sign that said “I’m Al Gore and I’m saving the planet by conserving energy”

The guy I delivered the truck, pointed to the house(s) next to his and said that’s Al Gore lives. Couldn’t see much of the houses since they were behind a wall, but judging by the size and number of roofs I saw, the houses looked huge. Just to get into the subdivision in the first place was an ordeal. I had to convince two guards that I was just delivering a new truck.

The fuel economy is going to drop from idling the engine and checking for leaks which can take a few minutes. A car that isn’t moving gets zero fuel economy.