I’ve been registered to you site for about a week and I have to say the knowledge and professionalism of your message board is really awesome. It’s a very good source of info for many motorists looking for that second opinion. My question for both of you is why is the public so skeptical of the fast lubes? I’ve been in the industry for five years where I’ve went from lube tech to store manager. The general public views us as con artists, scammers and so on. Is this perception based on past experiences, the quick profit we make, non ASE certified techs, or the combination of the above. I thought this would be a great topic to discuss and your feedback is greatly appreciated. Steve
i am not in the esteemed company of tom and ray. neither am i a professional mechanic like some of the other frequent responders. i am a backyard, DIY, self fix-it guy.
i guess an analogy from my industry is appropriate: i operate tugboats in the east and gulf coast petroleum trade. we have engineers on our vessels. typically these engineers are of two varieties.
one engineer is a mechanical wizard, able to operate, repair, and do AMAZING things to keep the plant running.
the other is an “oil change engineer”
as the description implies, the two (although paid the same, and have the same job title) are of TWO completely different capabilities. (although both types of individual are absolutely certain they are more competent than the other, the truth is in the end job result) i can trust one completely, but the other always leaves me with a little bit of dread, wondering when the next calamity is about to ensue.
i DO use jiffy lube occasionally, when i am too busy to do oil changes myself. BUT i only go there for oil and filter.
when i show up and get out of my car I plainly, and without any confusion state; “JUST LUBE AND FILTER.” I HATE the phrase, " Would you come out side to revue the service?" it gives be angst to have to REPEAT, “Just lube and filter!”
I have had the pleasure of: watching a tech fumble with my air filter housing, only to give up; hunt for about 10 minutes for an PCV valve (my van doesn’t have one); and tell me another time how bad my air filter is (that i just changed two days before!) (remember, I stated upon arrival, “OIL and Filter Only”) I categorically refuse to have anyone but my usual radiator shop repair, fix or even look at my radiator or AC, much less let a quick lube flush, drain or even open the radiator cap.
i have not gotten any of the dreaded, horror stories mentioned on this and other websites like; oil NOT put into engine; oil plug either not put in, or loose; loose filter; wrong oil put into engine; windshield washer,or brake, fluid put into transmission or visa/versa, etc etc etc. BUT if you look on various threads in this website you WILL find others who have had this unpleasurable experience. BUT, these are pretty valid reasons to have a nagging doubt in the back of MY mind dont YOU think? and as you note in your post, many others have these same doubts.
when i DO get the car(s) back out, and get the key the FIRST thing i do is to pop the hood, and check for a new oil filter, and make sure there is no dripping oil (both before and after starting the car.) if i feel the need to do that, then just how much faith do I have in Jiffy lube???
i DONT think anyone would begrudge any company, person or group from making a profit. i dont think this has to do with non ase certified mechanics either ( i am NOT ase certified!) it just has to do with NOT listening to customers, a record (past and current) of inept work, and the inability to judge if (or when) a good job WILL be done. (i would LOVE to NOT have to get down on my knees to double check the work!) BUT i really distrust any quick lube place. i cant really pinpoint an exact definite reason but i suppose it has to do with the “extra” junk which is pushed on me (and everyother) the unsuspecting customer. for example: air filters, wiper blades, PCV, EGR, light bulbs, oil fill, oil flush, radiator flush, transmission flush, ‘high’ mileage oil, or synthetic.
i know by now you are probably regretting asking for this response on this forum. i DO realize that there are some people out there who by some miracle manage to get their car back to quicklube places, in deplorable condition, who really need your help, and in all probability are killing their cars by neglect. in that case, quicklubes are better than nothing, but a professional maintenance by a competent mechanic is way more appropriate for a car in need.
so, that in a long nutshell is why i am VERY reluctant to use quicklube places.
My last experience at a quick lube was 15 years ago. They filled my tires up to over 55 psi, tires are 35 psi max. After driving off in the rain, I spun out a complete 360 at an intersection due to the over inflated tires. Fortunately, I didn’t hit anything. I now do all my own oil changes, maintenance and repairs that I can do in my driveway.
My personal opinion is that quick lube employees are inexperienced, underpaid and prone to mistakes. As far as scam artists go, I think the vast majority of auto mechanics in general are all scam artists to some degree. It’s hard to find an honest, competent one.
The bait and switch tactics used by most of these places is terrible. As an example, one near me is advertising a “Lube oil, filter” for $9.95. So I brought them my 1991 W-250 318 V8 Dodge P/U and left it all morning. When I picked it up, I noticed the truck had not been greased. It has about 15 grease fittings, including the 4 U-joints. When I pointed this out to the “service manager” I was told a “complete lubrication” on my vehicle would be $12.95 extra…I said "what does Lube, Oil, Filter mean?? He pointed out there was no comma between “Lube” and “Oil” in the published ad. Lube oil meant the bulk oil they used during the oil change. I smiled and walked away, NEVER to return for ANYTHING.
Few people got out of there for $9.95. On the wall were posted numerous “recommended” upgrades and up-sells to “premium” products and services that the smooth talking service writer would try and sell to gullible car owners. When these up-sells are botched by the part-time, low-wage employees, owners of expensive, difficult to service cars are not likely to return for a repeat experience…
YOU might run a decent business that avoids gulling ignorant car owners with products and services they do not need or worse, incorrectly performing these services and damaging customers automobiles then denying you did anything wrong. But you work in an industry rife with these problems so being successful will be an uphill battle for you. But if you provide honest value to your customers, your business will grow by word of mouth. Finding and retaining decent employees will be your biggest problem…
There are more incompetent than dishonest fast lube places, in my experience. My first bad experience was with a Shell station, where the kids (and most of the employees are quite young) yanked off my air cleaner to try to sell me a new filter I had not asked for, and broke the warmup air duct to the exhaust manifold. I made them pay for a new one and never visited the place again, which now is just a Shell station with a grocery store. I still go to the fast lubes, since I found one where the manager makes sure everyone is well trained and curteous. They also carry 3 brands of synthetic lube oil in different grades, including 0W30, so I have a good choice. The price is reasonable. They offer to do a “maintenance imspection” of all fluids, and air filter, and will give me good feedback if my air filter needs changing, since the car spends many weekends on mountain roads in the summer. It seems there are good and bad.
Thanks for the replies and the feedback. I guess I’m one of the rare fast lube employees who take some integrity into the office everyday. If something looks like it hasn’t been done but the customer isn’t sure, then I tell them to check their records and invite them back to have the service done if it was’nt performed. Of course as employees we’re trained to get every dollar out of every car but I do not take that approach. An example would be the october storm we had last october and the shop I was working at got hit the hardest. I simply told customers that if your car is due for something but I completly understand if you can’t do it today due to what we all just dealt with. I got so many postive feedbacks for doing this so that’s why I say I bring integrity to the office everyday. Dealing with a high turnover rate and young kids seems to be one our greatest challenges but then again, you have to have some kind of excitment at the workplace. Thanks for the replies, Steve
I don’t recommend fast lube facilities at all but I also don’t think they’re the devil reincarnated.
One problem area is that their business model is based on speed, and speed causes mistakes. If one opened a brake shop with nothing but the finest techs on staff and worked on the same principles then there would be a high number of mistakes there also.
Couple this with younger, inexperienced guys and the risk increases but this would be true of any field.
What happens if a doctor is under the gun to perform a 3 hour surgery in 2? Someone could very well die.
For what it’s worth I don’t consider the fast lubes a bunch of con artists and scammers. The vast majority are reputable and it’s like anything else to do with the automotive world; a few bad apples spoil the entire barrel.
There are several facilities near me and I’ve even frequented them a few times when I just flat did not feel like changing my own oil. They have done a good job with no problems and never tried for one minute to sell me something I don’t need. (And no, they don’t know I’m a tech either.)
While the automotive world is often ripped for being dishonest, I will maintain the percentage of crooked shops is exactly proportional to the percentage of the general public that is crooked.
When servicing cars day in and day out someone is going to attempt to pull something all of the time and it may be nothing more than authorizing a repair and then screaming about the total when done even though this total was authorized in advance. You would be surprised at how many times this will happen and often an inverterbrate service mananger may cut the bill in a pacification attempt.
We gave a guy an estimate for 300 dollars once and he threatened us with court because the bill, after tax, was 300.14.
Froot Loop. The service manager gave this moron a 100 bucks off his bill so I would say the whining was pretty effective.
The customer carping is by design, it’s not an accident.
The national chain fast lube places are the pits. As OK said their business model basically says to do as many oil changes per…the faster the better. I know of ONE (and only one) fast lube place that I’d EVER do business with. It’s not a chain…just one shop…reasonably priced (maybe $3 higher then jiffy lube)…but they do the job right. The YOUNGEST guy working there is in his 30’s. The owner is a ASE certified mechanic. They do oil changes alignments and AC’s. Very specialized. When I lived near them and didn’t own a garage…I’d take it there for all my winter oil changes. Better them then me the second week of January when it’s -3 and I’d be getting my jack and stands out and finding a non-ice place in driveway to put do it from.
Personnel at the quick lube chains often know virtually nothing about lubricants, and even less about cars beyond what their “trainer” also not a technician, tells them. Yet the chains have them performing things like tranny flushes and other services typically not required and cerainly not to be done by novices. The wroong fluid can quickly destroy a transmission.
If a shop were to restrict its services to oil changes and properly train its guys, then I’d support them, but they don’t. And lots of innocent people suffer.
I found myself unable to do my own oil changes for a short time, tried a quick place, and clearly and directly told the shop manager exactly what I wanted done and what I did NOT want done. Then I stood and watched while they started chacking all my other fluids too. I stopped the tech in his tracks and made the shop manager have the tech do only what I wanted and nothing else. He was angry, he wanted his guy to “find” all sorts of other stuff.
I slso stopped at one once for a state inspection. I then watched them inspect the car in front of mine. They checked for oil leaks, checked the condition of the fan belt, even checked the trunk light. They’re not even supposed to be checking that stuff. They rejected it because they found “evidence of an oil leak”. I pulled my car out of line and left.
Sorry, but I too am against quicky lube places.
No disrespect intended, but I hope that if you continue in the field you take steps to begin to get the proper training and education to truely understand cars and lubricants. Your local community college should have a program.