Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Just a rant

Was going through a move and job change and a 1500 mile per week commute, so just because I was very busy had to take both the cars to the mechanic for oil change. 1st one is still under the 100KM warranty, so took it to the dealer and the 2nd one went to the local mechanic-not a quick lube place.

Now back to a more normal schedule and changed the oils myself over the past two weekend. On both cars the drain plug and the oil filter were tightened so hard that I had to use all the tricks I knew to take them off. The drain plugs required a torsion bar. One oil filter is crushed but finally came out. Not to mention all the scratches I have. What is wrong with these people. Why don’t they come up with a standard way of doing this. As a back yard mechanic I have never had anything come loose-knock on wood, also never struggled to take anything off that I tightened myself. I wonder what happens to regular peoples’ cars when they go to these places every 3-5 KM. No wonder the manufacturers keep extending the intervals, just to keep the car away from these type of assault.

Feel better now!

Why don’t they come up with a standard way of doing this.

There is a standard/correct way. It involves using a torque wrench. Very few people do it that way. I admit I do my by feel, but I know I am close and I have never had a problem yet (over 40 years of car ownership)

There is a tendency to over-tighten to avoid having it come loose. Of course that does not consider the possible damage of over doing it.

I guess you need to do it yourself or go to Jiffy Lube. :wink:

I guess these businesses would rather you be angry about over-tightening than have to pay for a new engine because a drain plug fell out or an oil filter fell off.

jtsanders is the first person I’ve ever seen recommend Iffy Lube on this website.

JEM, I know that there are torque specifications for it. I have never used it and like you never had a problem. My point is, I don’t do this for living and have been able to figure it out, why wouldn’t the shops figure it out. Maybe they need to have a special torque wrench that is only used for oil change and has only one or two settings that will match all cars.

While waiting in shop, the other guy was coughing up $600 to have the oil pan on his luxury car changed. I asked him why, he said the drain plug threads were gone. He told me that he gets his oil changed only at this shop, so go figure. I told him that the shop should have taken responsibility and also that the pan didn’t need to come out. The reason I mention this is for Whitey’s comment on not having to pay for an engine. They just have to get it right.
Uncle turbo, I DO feel better!!

You said you took your cars to “the mechanic”. You need to take them to “your mechanic”. Find someone who’s competent locally by asking around. I personally don’t take my cars to chain shops that probably pay low and depend on volume to make a buck. I can’t do a good job changing my oil in 10 minutes. How can I expect someone else to?

You missed the smiley face at the end of his post. ;o)

When I first bought my 95 Caravan, back on '01 or so, the drain plug threads were pretty well abused but still good enough.

It was around the time I bought this van that I started to exclusively change my own oil. I went a few years with no one but me touching the drain plug.

I once had a shop (one that I trusted at the time) doing some other work, it was due for an oil change, so I just tossed that in as well.

Wouldn’t you know that the next time I changed my oil I found the drain plug cross-threaded.

Over the last 5 yrs or so I have started doing as much of my own work as possible (one of the reasons I hang around here) b/c I have found it impossible to find a shop that can truly be trusted. People just don’t give a damn - or at least I can say that there is no one who will care about how things get done to my cars as much as I do.

I have even spent some time considering a lift in my garage. I have been through quite a few shops that are supposed to have good reputation, and have never found one I am satisfied with. I am fed up.

I agree that doing it the right way is best, but you got the same results at your independent mechanic and a dealership. Why do you think that is?

The last time I used a drain plug to change the oil (I have installed valves instead), it was on one of my motorcycles. I used two torque wrenches to make sure the drain plug was as tight as it should be. One torque wrench was the type that clicks. The other has a gauge. I didn’t give it all of my strength, but even with as much as I was comfortable giving it, I didn’t torque the plug as tight as the torque specification. Evidently, there is a wide range in torque specifications for drain plugs, and that might make it difficult unless the mechanic looks up the torque specs for each vehicle.

After hearing from many of you how independent mechanics are usually better than dealerships, it is a relief to find one that is just as human as the rest of us.

Regarding the oil filter, on my car, I hand tighten the filter with a gloved hand. Even that ends up being hard to get off sometimes. On the motorcycles, I torque the oil filters with a wrench, but for some reason, the filter is a lot harder to get off the air cooled engine than the liquid cooled engine. On the air cooled engine, I had to hammer a large spike through the filter and hit the spike with a hammer.

Perhaps it wasn’t the torque on one or both of your oil filters. Maybe they didn’t coat the gasket with oil. Maybe the guy who installed it has good hand strength. Maybe it was a fluke.

Yes, it is pretty easy to over-torque a drain plug and strip the threads, but with an oil filter with a rubber gasket, I would rather have it too tight than too loose.

I hear you and I am at the same point. Since I have moved to CA I have tried many mechanics and probably out of my luck they all are pretty close to each other. The overhead of running a business in here is high and I guess that plays in it. SO even when I go to “my” mechanic, so other kid is doing the work. I have had a wheel stud broken off during a tire change. I have watched them go at the transmission pan with the air gun without hand tightening the nuts first. I have expanded my tools and try to do as much as possible myself. So far, probably sadly, the most honest shop has been Pepboys that has checked out couple of noises at no charge and also did not come up with unusual repair lists.

I Hear You, Too. I Do Almost Everything Myself, Too. Being A Certified Mechanic Doesn’t Seem To Certify Much Of Anything. When I Got Certifications It Didn’t Change The Way I Work.

I use a combination wrench on the drainplug(I just choke it up till my fingers are almost touching the box end or use a very short wrench,then I just hand tighten the filter,usually not that much trouble to get the extra turn or so after the gasket contacts. A book I read one time said"do not engage in a contest of wills with the drain plug",I guess some of these techs are paranoid-Kevin

I have ranted for many years about the same problem except insert “lug nuts” for “oil drain plug”. I sincerely believe that overtightened lug nuts causes many of the waped rotor problems I see discussed on this site.

I have been able to stay away from the oil drain plug and filter problem by doing my own oil changes. I rotate my own tires, but can’t avoid hamfisted mechanics entirely when I purchase new tires or at state inspection (when they pull the wheels to check brakes).

Here here. I now just re-torque my lugs anytime anyone else has pulled the wheels - unless I happened to be there to watch them go back on.