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My Iffy Lube experience

I do not normally use the services of those oil change chain stores, but I sort of had to this past Monday. I sold a car to a lady. It was due for an oil change. I told her I’d take care of it. I didn’t have a garage stall available as there were other cars being worked on at my place, AND it was snowing. The lady was due pick up the car within an hour, and I was out of time. What to do, what to do?? I figured Iffy Lube was the answer. It’s only three blocks away, the “tech” was standing outside with his $19.95 oil change sign. It was time to take advantage of their services. I figured I know enough about cars not to allow them to fleece me. Oh, but they’d try.

I drove the car to the front of their shop, and went in. The guy with the $19.95 sign followed me. I said I’d like an oil change, not deluxe, whatever that is, although it was offered. I wanted the $19.95 job. Fresh oil and a filter, that’s it. They drove the car inside.

There was another guy waiting in the lobby for an oil change on a Ford Freestar. The “tech” came in and told him he needed a transmission flush. He bought it, for $120. I happen to know that this particular Iffy Lube doesn’t have the machine needed to exchange the fluid. A former “tech” told me. All they do is suck as much fluid as they can through the fill tube, add enough fresh fluid to top it off, and call it done. A minute or two later they came in and showed him his cabin air filter. OK, it was a little gray. He asked how much for a new one. $69.95 was the answer, so he balked. The “tech” he could knock $10 off. The customer said he’d go $50, tops. That sounded good the the “tech”. The filters only cost about $11 at Autozone down the street. Pretty good profit for a job that takes a mintue.

My soon to be sold car was in the next bay. The 2nd “tech” came in with some fluid that he said came from my radiator. It was rather brown. Odd, I said, considering that the antifreeze was new when we installed the engine less than 5000 miles ago. No sale… It was still nice and green when I checked it a little later. (They didn’t try the transmisson flush game on me after that, because they knew that I’d know the fluid was also changed when the engine was installed.)

When my job was done and the car was sitting outside, the manager came up front for payment. $41.50 he said.


Oh that ends at 11:00 he said.

I was here at 11:00 and that’s what I agreed to when I came in.

OK, $19.95 it is.

So I paid and went outside. Just on a hunch I popped the hood and checked the oil. Sure enough it was 1/2 a quart low. I showed the dipstick to the “tech” through the garage door. He came outside.

What’s the problem?

Ummm it’s half a quart low.

Well it’s probably still got oil in the top of the engine.

Not 5w-30 after five minutes, it’s a half a quart low. He checkes it. Sure enough it’s half a quart low.

SO he went back inside and got a pint or so in a big container and poured it in with a big funnel. He checked it. It looked good to both of us. He said to start it up. I comply. It ran for 30 seconds before he said to shut it off. IMMEDIATELY after I shut it off, he pulled the dipstick, wiped it off and checked it again. It’s maybe a cup low. He’s all set to add another eight ounces, but I say no, wait for it to return to the bottom of the engine. (Like his earlier suggestion.) 30 seconds or so pass. He checked it again. It looked good. I got out of there before something else happened.

Will I go back? Maybe if I’m left with no choice, but I know to watch them like a hawk. I always have. I just feel sorry for all those guys like the Freestar owner who had no clue that he’d been had.

$50 for an air filter? That’s insane.

I’m glad you didn’t end up with a trashed engine.

Shady, shady, shady. Thanks for sharing.

$70 would have been even more insane. I think they knew they had a sucker on the line. I don’t know what went on before I got there, but the guy said that every time that shop door opened, it cost him more money.

I’d almost be willing to bet they didn’t give anywhere near 11 bucks for a cabin filter.
A number of these types of facilities use non-branded filters procured from an importer who mails flyers around ever so often.

There’s a good chance that if they sourced their filters like this that they never paid more than 3 bucks for it.

$50 for an air filter

That was the Cabin air filter…Which are far more expensive then a regular air-filter (and they should be far cheaper)

We got a flier from our Lexus dealer for a “Special” on the cabin air-filter…Normally $79…now only $59 (installed). If I went to the parts department at that dealer I could buy the filter for $40 (which is outrageous). Installing one takes about 30 seconds. I buy mine from a local auto-parts store (Sanel Brothers) for $24 (wix filter).

Some 30 years ago, one of my female colleagues took her car to a well-known automotive chain for a new muffler. She just happened to see one of the employees squirt some oil on the shock absorbers. While she was in the waiting area, the manager came in and told her that her shock absorbers were bad and should be replaced. “If they are bad”, she asked,
then why did your technician go to the trouble of oiling them?"

The chain fixed the muffler, which was still on warranty, with no charge and she wasn’t told about any more “problems” with her car.

Oh whoops, I misread it as the engine air filter the first time. The cabin filters for my car (yep, 2 of them) run about $70 total. Thanks for pointing that out.

I can recall my dad telling me about a time he took the family car to an Iffy lube, and upon departure they gave him an itemized list of “repairs” that the car needed. Fortunately my dad was smart enough to take the car and the list to our trusted mechanic.

The mechanic looked over the list, and simply told my dad to throw it away.

I had to use an Iffy Lube years ago when I got divorced and had to move to an apartment. My experience was very much like yours.

I feel sorry for the poor fella with the Ford Freestar. He got mugged and doesn’t even realize it.

And some return to the scene of the crime no matter what. My youngest son lives in Stillwater, OK and dropped his car off at a fast lube facility near Wal Mart for an oil change. (for anyone in that area that should pretty much define who done it)
In spite of my past warnings about certain practices they told him that his filters (fuel/air) needed to be replaced and he approved this; for a somewhat inflated price.

A few weeks later while visiting, and with red flags waving, I checked his vehicle and surprise; both the air and fuel filters were the factory originals and both were totally filthy. I replaced both and advised him to take the original filters back and fling them at the counter people along with the receipt along with a demand for money back. (which he did not do)

The guy who runs this facility is a friend of my son (although to be fair, he wasn’t the hands-on guy), so if a friend of management gets hosed then what can a complete stranger expect?
So what happens? He still hits this place up for his oil changes.

My son got mugged and is apparently willing to let it slide.

And it’s all legal. Go figure.

There certainly are problems with JL or whatever place you took it. I have the oil changed in all 4 of my cars a a local JL and they do a good job. They stopped asking about filters a long time ago because they know I change them myself. This particular one does a good job for me. Just like any other repair shop, you have to find a good one. There are a lot that aren’t.

I actually have a local chain muffler/brake type shop not too far from me that I will use on occasion. I started up with them when I needed some emergency brake service (long story) and they were prompt and accommodating.

The thing about the place is that the same guy has been running it for the 10 yrs since I first went there. AND the same guys have been working there that entire time. One or two have come and gone, but it is a generic national chain shop that “feels” and operates a lot more like a local independent.

That said, these characters are not great mechanics - they are ok with their specialties & other than that are more like shade tree guys. I don’t bring them anything complicated, but can confidently use them for basic things that I don’t have the tools or time for. So, as jt mentions - you can sometimes find a good one - but it ain’t easy!

No reading the entire post, I add, high prices on air filters can be experienced at parts stores also.

Um, charging someone to replace automotive parts, and then not doing it, is definitely not legal.