Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Scam-me Lube stories

It’s occurred to me that it might be a public service for the web lackies to create a heading of just skippy-lube stories.


Better have them call their lawyers first . . . no one wants to have a lawsuit from a national franchise against our Tom and Ray. Maybe a good way of avoiding liability would be identifying the offending lube joints by another name . . . like Fall-Mart, or Wiffy-Lube . . of Chester, Pennsylvania. Good idea though MB . . . I for one would rather crawl through glass before I’d use one. Rocketman

You make an excellent point, R-man.

I have had good luck using an independent quick lube shop attached to an very reputable auto body (same owner and name). It used to be a Jfy lube shop that went under.

I have only used a chain shop(tire and auto mechanics) once in my lifetime(F-stone) and yes my whole view of the entire franchise industry including franchise lube and tire shops is tainted.

The shop I used to go to years ago was part of the “Grease Monkey” chain that went bankrupt. They were always honest, but I stopped going there after three consecutive visits in which:
Visit1–they put the wrong grade oil in my car. I’d always checked it immediately after visiting just to make sure all was well, and I could see the difference–the shop manager asked around and discovered I was right.
Visit2–the oil filter was leaking
Visit3–I got a coolant flush and when I opened the hood after smelling coolant, discovered my entire engine was drenched with antifreeze—no leaks, they just made a big mess and didn’t clean it up.

I no longer visit such chains–if nothing else it’s worth a few more bucks and minutes of my time to not have them try to upsell me something every visit.

Please tell the rest of the readers how you can determine what type of oil is in the crankcase by looking at the dipstick.

I usually do my own maintence however when it comes time for tire rotation and it happens to be in the winter when it’s 20 degrees out. I’ll go a quick lube place for the tire rotation and oil change. I always supply my own oil filter though, as the oil filters most quick lube places use are cheap junk. The place I usually use is pretty good, I’ve never had any problems with them, it’s an independent quick lube place, not part of a chain. However one time I decided to use a “Iffyjay Ubelay” that happened to be close to my job at the time. Whenever I get my oil changed at these places I use a K&N oil filter since they have 1 inch nuts welded to the end of the oil filter’s canister, which makes it easy to remove at the next oil change even if the brutes at the oil change place overtighten them.

Anyway my problem was this. When they were performing the requested maintence “Oil change (synthetic) and a tire rotation”. A technician came in the waiting room with a paper air filter and said that it was dirty and should be replaced. The filter I was shown was indeed dirty, but the problem was that I use a K&N cold air intake on my car, and the air filter itself is located inside the passenger side fender. Knowing that is was indeed a scam. I played along and told him I would think about. I told him that to tell me when they were doing the tire rotation because I wanted to check the inside of the passenger side front tire to make sure there isn’t a small cut, because I was having to put air in it every few days (a bald faced lie on my part). The tech told me that they didn’t do tire repair but they would roll the tire outside the bay for me to inspect it briefly if I wanted to.

A few minutes later the tech came back in and told that the tire was off and I could look at it. I pretended to look it over and told him that I couldn’t see anything wrong with it, and I rolled it back into the service bay. I then asked to see the air filter again. The tech went away briefly and came back with the same filter he had shown me previously. I looked at it, and asked how much a new one would be, “$39.95, installed he said”. I then told him that there was something that I wanted to show him. I pulled back the splash shield in the passenger side wheel well and low and behold there was my K&N filter firmly mounted to the intake pipe. I looked over at the dirty paper filter he still had in his hands. The tech had a deer in the headlights look on his face, mumbled something about how that filter was probably from another car. I told him to finish doing the work that I requested, and that I wanted to speak to the manager on duty. I went back into the waiting room, the manager came up and asked if I was the person who requested to see him. I told him I was, we stepped outside the waiting room and I told him what had gone down. I also told him that I was in the car business a few years back am I know about how they have a target price per car that they aim for and such. I also mentioned that with a synthetic oil change and a tire rotation, my ticket was well over the $50-$60 per car they try to get anyway. The manager went to speak with the employee who tried to swindle me. He returned and said that the tech said it was a mix-up and the air filter he showed me was from another car. I told him that the tech presented me with the filter not once, but twice. The manager rolled his eyes and admitted that that particular employee isn’t the most trustworthy person around. He said that he write the tech up and offered me a free oil change for my next visit. I told him that I had no plans on coming back to his establishment and that what I wanted was either the oil change or tire rotation for free, which I thought was fair. He said that he would not charge for tire rotation. I agreed. I paid for the oil change and left, never to return.

Good story about the air cleaner. It verifies the old adage: Don’t get mad, get even!

I would continue with comments about the financial and performance negatives of K & N filters but you did good! I’ll stop now.

In my particular car the K&N was good for a 4 RWHP improvement over the paper filter when I had it in for dyno tuning after installing my Kenne Bell blower. The pulls were done back to back within 10 minutes of each other, the ambient and engine temperature was largely the same. I will say that on most normally aspirated engines, the gains are usually minimal at best.

are you sure they even rotated the tires? :stuck_out_tongue:

My wife has used them routinely over the years and I have occassionally , I imagine there are a percentage of issues, but I have never personally had a negative experience, Yes I will defend the quicky lube places based on my experience.

My guess is this is the experience of 90%+ of consumers.

I would agree that the vast majority of fast lube users will have no problems.
To add to that though, how many of those users suffer delayed problems due to services that were improperly performed or not done at all.?

Adding even more to that, how many mechanically illiterate users suffer a problem that is dismissed by the fast lube as not having anything to do with what they did and in which the car owner believes this?

A couple of years ago my daughter in law from out of state was visiting and I spent a little time going over her Lincoln LS which had been serviced by a fast lube.
At 80k miles it still had the original Ford factory numbered air and fuel filters in it although she had been charged several times for their replacement.

Both filters were filthy and I told her to possibly expect a fuel pump problem down the road. Fast forward 6 months and on her next visit the Lincoln fuel pump died in western KS. This led to the car being towed to the nearest small town Ford dealer and of course; the fuel pump had dropped dead.
Add to that expense the cost of a hotel room where she had to spend the night since no one locally there had a pump in stock.

She’s still hot over this and rightfully so.

oldschool, did you read that posters’ nickname?

I have mentioned this incident a couple of times recently. First, let me say that I don’t do oil changes for others. It’s a disposal issue.

One of my customers took his Taurus to a local franchise shop called Mine Icky, or My Nicky, something like that, for an oil change special. These specials are used to lure unsuspecting folks into the shop so that they can try to sell other services. My customer is not the smartest young man on the block. He has a speech impediment and just doesn’t look too sharp. Very nice kid though… Anyway, first off, they told him that he needed front brakes although he had them replaced about six months ago. They said he needed a new oil pan gasket. Granted it had some dust clinging to some OLD seepage. It never drips in his assigned parking spot at work or home. If they replaced it, it might not have sealed as well. They estimated the “work” to cost $900. He brought the car to me for my best free advice. I popped the hood to find that the oil filter was dirty on the outside. The oil was quite dirty. They had NOT changed either one, but they sure charged him for it. He went back to complain. He got the oil change, and supposedly the “tech” got chewed out. I doubt it, but he should have gotten fired.

I once went to a Texaco Quick lube business and asked for an explanation of why an oil change, which requires 3.8 quarts of 5W-30 oil and a $4 oil filter, costs $19.95, while they charged $39.95 to drain and refill 1.9 quarts of 10W-30 oil from a manual transmission without a filter. As expected, the answer was unsatisfactory. Where else can you pay twice as much for a lesser amount of work and merchandise?

That hasn’t appeared to be a problem in the past. Tom and Ray aren’t liable for what we say. After all, we are just exercising our freedom of speech.

Oil changes are a loss leader for any garage whether quickly lube, independent or dealer at $20 even $30. They typically can lead to more work hence the higher cost of other items. I imagine most quick lubes put a bit more markup on extra services to make up for the people who simply change oil.

At a National Dealer of Tires and Batteries in Stow, Ohio I had this happen:

I buy tires from said company because of a deal between the company I worked for and them. I went in to buy the tires. They came in about 15 minutes after it went onto the lift and told me that I needed a transmission fluid flush and the ball joints were bad.

Now the upper ball joints were bad, about a week before when I had them replaced at my very reliable local mechanic, but the tires were worn on the outside edge more than the inside, hence me replacing the tires. They were obviously brand new and I told him such. He then went on about the transmission fluid flush. I jokingly asked him if they would replace the filter and drop the pan too (I have a manual tranny). He said he would get back to me after checking prices.

He came back saying this: the ball joints had been replaced, but they were defective and he would replace them again for me and not charge me for parts, only the labor. He also gave the price for the tranny filter and change, which he said can be done without dropping the pan.

I asked him to put the new tires on and to please return my truck to me.

I figured it was a “loss leader” situation but I still don’t like it. It is bad marketing to be so transparent with your “loss leader” pricing scheme. Loss leaders are only really effective when the consumer isn’t aware of the manipulation.