Interesting reading, I think

In this forum we frequently discuss the following topics:

The importance of changing motor oil on schedule.

The importance of observing dashboard warning lights.

Knowing what a “Low Oil Pressure” warning light means.

Car owners who blame others for their own failure to maintain a car.

Below is a reminiscence that was posted on the People of Wal-Mart website. It encompasses all of these topics. Enjoy!

‘I?ve had the displeasure of working as a mechanic for the Wal-Mart Tire and Lube Express (TLE) attached to our local Wal-Mart for about a year now. Yesterday, this 40-something year old lady came in driving a 2009 Nissan Altima, beautiful car, very nice, 32k miles, pretty much brand new.

Trouble is, I heard the engine knocking the second it pulled up, and I was in the bathroom in the lobby. She gets out and gives me a huge ditzy grin and says ?I think I may need an oil change.?

It takes me a second to process that statement as I sit in awe listening to the poor motor knock, tick, scrape, rattle, and make every noise a motor shouldn?t make. I checked her oil level, and the dipstick was bone dry, save for a few jet black, crumbled bits of burned up, dirty, ancient oil, and more metal flakes than an Ozzy concert.

I looked in the cab and clear as day, the NO OIL PRESSURE light was on, the grim little red oil can that serves as a suicide note for an engine. I asked her how long it had been since she had had an oil change, still trying to process how such a new and supposedly reliable car was so desperately trying to commit hara-kiri.

To my shock and awe, the lady says ?Oh, I?ve never had the oil changed. I bought the car new a few months ago and the change oil light didn?t come on until just now.? I stared at her and asked her if she meant the little red oil can of death. She giggled and replied ?Yeah that?s it, isn?t it amazing that they can tell you when to change your oil now??

When I informed her that that light means no oil pressure, she just shrugged it off, saying that it was no big deal. Right on cue, there is a snap and a pop and the motor dies in a horrible, metal rending screech.

Long story short, me and the customer went back & forth, her screaming at me for accusing her of being incompetent, me trying to explain in layman?s terms why her car is dead and how it?s all her fault while wearing my best customer service smile, and it finally ended with her calling me a rotten bastard for making her feel stupid and that I should rot in hell.

My reply? ?Look, lady, this ISN?T rocket science. Your engine NEEDS oil or this is exactly what happens. It?s YOUR responsibility to maintain your vehicle, and to know and understand what each light means, and if you?re too much of a pretentious c*nt to figure that out, you REALLY have no business on the road, much less buying a brand new car.?

I got only a verbal warning. My manager was too busy laughing to fill out any written warning forms.’

VDC Driver, May I Add To Your List Of Frequent Topics ? How About The Ones That Lead To Advising One To Open The Glove Compartment, Take Out The Owner’s Manual, And Become An Informed Owner ?

I’ll bet that a lot of these automotive tragedies would be avoided if owners would spend a couple evenings reading their OMs instead of watching Desperate Housewives or that Weigh The Fat People show, whatever it’s called.

I’d also bet that there are features on cars that are never discovered or used that owners would find useful.


But…but… that would require effort…and reading…reading hurts.
What’s pretty cool is that I’ve read several pages of my new car’s owner’s manual and I haven’t even gotten the vehicle yet. I found I could download a PDF version of it and have been reading a bit of it here and there, trying to get the most important parts down first. It shows how to replace the bulbs and the precautions one should take when doing so, though I don’t see anything on the replacement of the lights in the mirrors. It also says that one shouldn’t attempt to replace the HID bulbs oneself and to go to the dealership to have it done.


You are correct, of course.
In addition to the frequent topic that you added, I should have listed the importance of periodic checking of the dipstick.

Quite a while back, our friend ok4450 offered his opinion that the majority of automotive problems that befall car owners are the result of lax maintenance–and I agree wholeheartedly with his statement.

For most of us, a car is the second biggest expenditure that we will ever make. Heck, for some people it is THE biggest expenditure of their lives! Yet, as we see daily, a huge percentage of the public appears to take a distinctly laissez-faire attitude toward the big investment that their car represents.

For the life of me, I will never be able to figure out this lack of attention to details and the seeming lack of ability to lean over, open the glove compartment, take out that book, and actually read it.

As I used to explain to parents of failing students, their child spent virtually all of his/her time on things that did not matter in the overall scheme of things, and virtually no time on things that do matter. Instead of studying and doing homework, they spent their time on (pick one or more): Playing Nintendo, smoking dope, hanging out on street corners, watching the boob tube, etc.

I guess that these failing adolescents grow up to be maintenance-averse adults who spend their time fixated on “celebrity scandals” or watching Weigh the Fat People.

About a week or so ago while at WM I swung by the auto dept. to have a couple of extra keys made and got in on the start of a conversation in which someone had apparently trashed their engine due to lack of oil. The owner had left the car at WM for an oil change and when WM discovered the car was knocking and the oil light was on (full of clean oil go figure) they refused to touch it.
The owner was insisting that WM “change the oil to see if it helps”. You can see where this one was going; the guy was looking for an excuse to hold WM responsible for this.

There have been a few that have disputed my claim that most engine/transmission problems are owner-inflicted but I stand behind that statement 100%. Teardowns always reveal the root cause and many teardowns were done on my own time for free just because a “I had to know” urge. I’ve even cut fuel pumps and fuel filters open of all things.

This reminds me of a 70s era Volvo that I used to service for a guy here. He bought this car with 140k miles on it from his brother in law and the car was clean in and out and ran great. The only issue was a slightly rough idle.
A compression test (6 cylinder) showed that 2 cylinders were down slightly and this was due to mechanical valve lifters that had never been inspected or adjusted. The damage was done and the current owner could not believe this was the cause.
He just kept repeating over and over, “but it’s a Volvo. It’s a Volvo. Volvos don’t have engine problems at 140k miles”. They can if neglected.

Good post VDCdriver.

Your comment about tearing into failed devices shows the kind of tech you are. “Inquiring minds need to know” don’t they.

Well the old lady is learning and expensive lesson in vehicle ownership. Let the car die and maybe she will learn to take care of her next car properly.

Lack of maintiance is just the beginning, but the follow up is continuing to drive when the effects of that lack of maintiance shows itself.

Great post, VDC. I’ll add a few examples of my own and the risk of being truthful with car owners.

A friend of my wife inherited a car from her sister who passed away a few years back. The car was clean, as it had been only lady driven on the West coast, and had no rust. After a few months it started smoking and after asking a few questions, it appeared the valve guide seal were gone or piston rings stuck.

As this was clearly an internal engine problem, the ony good shop to deal with this was my mechanic who rebuilds engines, builds dragsters and is a GM approved installer of heavy duty trailering equipment, including superchargers for trucks and Suburbans.

He properly fixed the engine, but she complained about the cost. The alternative would have been to scrap the car, an early 80s Ford. Fast forward a few months and the transmission starts to act up. At this point I had stopped giving advice since this couple seems to believe cars without rust need no maintenance. They scrapped the car when the transmission failed.

It turned out her sister, an HR consultant, highly familiar with humans and psychology, and pre-occupied with her illness, did virtually no maintenance all these years, hoping the car would ask for help if it needed it.

So, a no-rust clean, one owner, lady driven car can be a disaster!

In an other example, when my wife attended a “Car Care for Women” course at the YWCA there was a well heeled lady who had a top of the line Oldsmobile, when asked by the instructor why she took the course, answered:

“The other day my son wanted to borrow the Olds for a date, and came back in the house saying the red oil light was on. I told him ‘Don’t worry, its been on for several weeks’. At that time my husband made me take the course”.

An old mechanic once told me that the hardest part to fix on any vehicle is the nut behind the wheel. Rocketman

and sadly, no matter how hard the manufacturers try, they can’t fix stupid

I’ll bet that a lot of these automotive tragedies would be avoided if owners would spend a couple evenings reading their OMs instead of watching Desperate Housewives or that Weigh The Fat People show, whatever it’s called.

I think one reason some people don’t read the owner’s manual is because present owner’s manuals have a lot of pages. I just bought a 2011 Toyota Sienna and the owner’s manual is over 700 pages long. In fact, it is so long that Toyota throws in a shorter manual that gives that basics with references to the long manual. I’m certain that the owner’s manual for the 1948 Dodge that I once owned was no more than 50 pages.

This go back to my feeling that some mechanics/owners get so disillusioned that they give up and flip to the other side, the side that belives it is their duty to relieve all such idiots of as much of their money as possible.

True that Triedaq. The PDF manual I have claims 510 pages for the CX-7. Though the PDF does make it a bit easier to sort through some of the mess and get to the necessary bits.

" . . . they refused to touch it." Smart Move On The Part Of The WM Crew.

Although It Probably Wouldn’t Help In All Cases, Maybe There Needs To Be “Owner Must Read” And “Owner Useful Information” Sections In These Thick Manuals.

The Must Read pages could be few and trimmed in red or better yet in a separate booklet, maybe in a clear plastic bag hanging out of the glove compartment door.

It could be that some folks can’t sort out the really important facts from the good to know stuff and would welcome some help.


Maybe “Low Oil Pressure” And “Low Oil Level” Lights Need To Generate A Very Annoying Sound That Could Not Be Tolerated For Very Long.

Maybe the annoying sound could be the recorded voice of somebody ripping into the driver for being such an idiot for ignoring an “idiot light”, playing over and over and getting louder and louder.

Although our family GM cars have, in addition to “low oil pressure” indicators, sensors in the oil pans and “low oil level” indicators that we have never used, it’s good to know they’re there.


Maybe Professor Frink from Simpsons could do the voice. "Hey nice car person with the thing! the oil thingamabob with the dohickey is low. Stop the car for cryin out glavin!"

Or “Hey ABBOT! Turn your car off ABBOT!”

VDCdriver, what is a “c*nt”?