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Bargain Oil Changes

    Are bargain oil changes really a bargain? There's at least one person who says no.
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I have personal experience with just such a place. We had one of those fast oil change places open up down the street from us and just for giggles, I took my 1987 Nissan Van in for their "Grand Opening Special."

I stood outside and watched them do the service and they seemed quick and professional enough. Then the Manager came over to me and said that my air and fuel filter were very dirty and needed replacing. I said "Okay, Fine. Show me." They told me that the fuel filter was under the van and I was not allowed to go into the pit to show me. I said that wouldn't be necessary because the fuel filter wasn't under the van.

All of a sudden he got quite nervous because he knew I caught him and in reality he had no idea where the fuel filter was. He also had no idea where the air filter was either. When I put him on the spot by saying "Show me" he found a reason to go back inside and leave me standing there with no further mention of either. When my van was done, the Assistant Manager did up the bill, and when I asked him about the air and fuel filter, he said they were okay and didn't need replacing.

How was I so sure they didn't check them? On a Nissan Van, the fuel filter is located not under the van or in the engine compartment, but under the passenger seat. There is a metal panel that has to be removed to gain access to it and I saw that no one had opened it to look. The same goes for the air filter. If I had not been watching, I might have been cheated.

I'm not saying all fast oil changes suffer from lack of good help or are dishonest, but there are more that are then there should be. That's why I think you're better off taking your car to a mechanic for service.

There are some good reasons to take your car to your trusted mechanic for an oil change. First is that they are more than qualified to do a proper oil and filter change. An oil and filter change is only part of the maintenance. A mechanic will look at your car for any potential problems and will let you know about them. Mechanics do this to make money you say? Yes, they do. But if you have bad brakes and pull into a fast oil change, they won't tell you. They don't even look. Why should they? It takes time and they don't sell brakes. They get you out and the next one in.

Another reason to go to your mechanic is it will probably be cheaper. Most shops will do an oil change for about $20.00, less than a fast oil change place. I charge $19.95 for an oil change and the one trip I made to a fast oil change place cost me almost $30.00. The one thing a fast oil change place has over a shop is that they are faster. But even that is changing. Most dealerships now have an Express Lube where they get you in and out quickly and you have a qualified person doing the service. A lot of private repair shops are doing this too. Even if they don't, most places will do an oil change as you wait.

There's an intangible here as well also. Loyalty. A shop respects a loyal customer as much as a customer respects a loyal mechanic. A bond develops between customer and mechanic that really makes a difference. You don't have "some guy" working on your car. You have a friend working on your car. A friend you know and trust. Working on cars can be frustrating, difficult and physically demanding. But the relationships I have with my customers make it all worthwhile. I wouldn't trade my job for any other job in the world.

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Additional Information provided courtesy of
ALLDATAdiy.com and Warranty Direct
© 2000-2007 Vincent T. Ciulla

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