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What's with fraudulent quickie lube places?

I stopped by a local one named after valves, as they’d sent me a coupon. I immediately remembered why I’d not visited in a while–because they’d lied to me about VW’s coolant change schedule (there isn’t one). Today they insisted that VW requires synthetic oil in their engines, and I threw the book at 'em. The owner’s manual, that is, where it calls for conventional oil. Got out, shut my hood and as I was leaving, they asked me what was wrong. “Um, you guys are fraudulent?”

So what’s the deal here? It’s one thing for a kid to upsell you to fancy oil and air filters–because of opinion. But this place lies about VW’s scheduled maintenance guidelines, that’s lying, right?

Where to begin?

You should change the coolant every 30k no matter what the manual tells you–if you want your car to last as long as possible. If you are going to sell the car when it reaches 40k, then there is no reason to change the coolant.

“Scheduled Maintenance Guidelines” are written for both “standard” and “severe” driving. MOST peoples’ habits actually fall into the “severe” category. Many people believe that car companies (like VW and Honda in my experience) skimp on the maintenance schedules to give people (like you and me) a false sense that their cars are better built because they do not require maintenance. Not the case at all unless you like buying a new car every 3 years.

Many if not all new VW’s DO require synthetic oil. Maybe yours does not. Being wrong and lying are not the same thing.

That said, I would not take my cars to the “Valve” or “Jiffy” places. Monro has always done a good job with mufflers and oil changes for me, plus they honor their lifetime warranty on mufflers no questions asked (make sure you keep your original receipt). Anything more complex goes to an independent or the dealer. I do all my own fluid changes.

If yours has a turbo, it requires synthetic. I’d probably use it anyway if you have any warranty left, turbo or not.

That said, I’d avoid the quicky oil change places. The same kids that couldn’t get your order right at Burger King are working there.

I’d have to disagree with mleich here (and your quickie change place) on the coolant thing. There’s really no reason to replace the VW coolant at 20, 40 or even 50K if there are no leaks, and the color hasn’t changed (other makes may be different). It should be a nice pink. If you want to be prudent, and change it anyway, I’d do it somewhere at the 100K mark, but even then, if it’s still looking OK, it should be just fine. Just make sure the level is OK, but if you have to add it, then there’s a leak somewhere, which will require maintenance, and then you’ll be putting some new fluid in it at least, anyway. I think I’ve added about 1 cup to my '01 VW, and it’s still on the original fluid after over 120K miles. I live in South Texas, so it puts up with a lot of heat, too.

As for oil, he’s right. Many do require synthetic (according to the book). Can they run just fine on dino oil? Most can, sure. If your motor has a turbo, then synthetic is really the only way to go due to the heat produced in the turbo itself, which will boil when you shut the motor down, eventually blocking the oil-ways.

There has been debate after debate on here about the whole synthetic versus dino oil thing, and wildly differing opinions, none of which are wrong.

They can only do what you authorize. If you tell them just to change the oil, with what you want, and they don’t do it, then you can call them out. Their recommendations are just that…recommendations.

Now, having said all that, I wouldn’t use one of those places unless I absolutely had to. I’d rather pay a dealer, but preferably, I’d go with my trusted local mechanic for all those repairs. I do all mine myself, but if I couldn’t due to health, being on a trip, or whatever, I’d do what I just outlined. If I was forced to, I’d watch them closely, too.


I agree with both oblivion and mleich, and I agree partially with Chase.
While the guys at the quicky lube may theoretically been trying to oversell services, a prudent car owner will change his coolant every 3 years/30k miles. As to the oil, while yours may only call for “conventional”, rather than synthetic oil, it is also possible that the conventional oil at this place may not comply with the stringent oil specification for VWs. Due to the much longer oil change intervals in Europe, a more stringent specification is called for, and not all US-marketed oils comply with that spec. Perhaps their conventional oil is not the best choice for your VW.

All of that being said, the best reason to avoid quicky lube places is because of the much-higher-than-usual incidence of screw-ups at these places. Training tends to be very brief, supervision tends to be minimal, and the push to move cars out of the shop very rapidly constitute “the perfect storm” for mistakes.

All too often, we get very sad tales in this forum about quick lube joints that have ruined someone’s (pick one or more) engine/transmission/brake hydraulic system/cooling system/differential by using the wrong fluid, or not actually refilling after draining fluid, or not properly tightening the oil drain plug or the oil filter, or…

If you REALLY want to take good care of your car, you will avoid all quicky lube places and you will become much more familiar with what is needed in order to maintain the car properly. There are several maintenance procedures that should actually be done more frequently than car mfs specify nowadays, and if you hang around in this forum for awhile, you will learn about this need for more maintenance than is mentioned in the maintenance schedule.

You should not lump all fast lube places together as being totally fraudulent or incompetent and you should also apologize to the fast lube.

Factory recommendations are not always the correct ones and this applies to many car makes, not just VW.

Fast lube place's business models rely on making add on sales, cheap (incompetent generally because if they were good they would be working elsewhere).  At best that means you may have the work done by someone who likely will miss that small item that might be ready to brake down or forget to properly install the oil filter and cost you a new engine.  

Best bet unless you really know the shop is to find a local independent shop that might be recommended by family, neighbors or coworkers.

The MOST important thing about synthetic oil is that it has DOUBLE the profit margin of genuine oil…At the manufacturing level, I don’t think it costs any more to make than petroleum based oil, but the people who make it have discovered they can charge double for it without any consumer price resistance! It’s the perfect product!

Isn’t it petroleum based oil with other stuff put into it?

It’s the standard four banger, for what it’s worth. And it’s in their system as that. That’s why I was so bold as to cry BS on the synthetic. Mileage is 88K.

You have a 4 stroke engine?

A “four-banger” is a four cylinder engine, and yes, his engine is a four stroke engine.

So an eight-banger would be an eight cylinder engine, and a typical lawnmower would be a one-banger. Some older cars (some Jags, I think?) would be twelve-bangers.

Got it. Check.

What would a Wankel engine be?

Must be a regional thing. Where I come from, a two-banger is a two-stroke and a four-banger is a four-stroke.

Never heard the banger=stroke way of doing it, but I guess that works. I’d imagine it’s regional. It doesn’t work for me, specifically because of the Wankel engine theory.

Wankel is also a four stroke, but because there is no “back-and-forth” of the pistons, but a spinning of the internal rotor there’s no redline as applied to regular ICE motors. The redline is more of a physics things because it can spins as fast as the fuel will burn. It’s a really cool design, actually…I like it. Don’t have one, but I like it. :slight_smile:

So, the Wankel, for this forum, would have to be posted as that, or rotary, otherwise we’d all be thinking regular ICE, and giving all sorts of incorrect guesses. I haven’t seen it happen…in my short time here, I haven’t seen one post about a rotary engine. However, since most ask for make/model/engine at the outset, I think we’d know before the guesses got too wild.

Piter, You’ve Almost Got It. A Single Cyclinder Engine Is Not A One-Banger Engine, It’s Is A “Thumper” Engine.
A Two-Cylinder Is A Twin, A Three-Cylinder Is A Triple, A Four Cylinder Is A Quad Unless It’s Horizontally Opposed And Then It’s A Boxer . . . The List Goes On . . .

Oh, and a Wankel is a rotary engine . . . and a radial engine is a rotary engine too, but only if it’s got a fixed crankshaft and the cylinders revolve !

It’s as easy as that !


So you’re saying none of these engines are “bangers” of any kind? I’m going to let you and Whitey duke it out.

“Synthetic oil is a lubricant consisting of chemical compounds that are artificially made”

“You have a 4 stroke engine?”

Why would this be surprising?
2 stroke/2 cycle engines haven’t been used in US-marketed cars for many decades, with Saabs up through the early '70s, and DKWs up through the '60s being the only exceptions that I can think of.

Four stroke/four cycle is the norm for engine design nowadays, with the strokes/cycles being intake, compression, power, and exhaust. All current “cylinder type” gasoline engines in the US market are 4 stroke, as are Wankel rotary engines and almost all diesel engines.

So, in this case, the OP’s “4-banger” is a 4 cylinder engine that runs through 4 cycles in order to produce power. Others in the US with a “6-banger” or an “8-banger” also have a 4 cycle engine. Get it?

Two stroke engines are rarely found nowadays, except in small engine applications.

…and a “Bangor” is a sausage. A 4-bangor would be 4 sausages.

Or a city in Maine…