Quick Lube Hazards and the Benifits of a Full Service Oil Change
Today, many car owners have come to believe that changing the oil in their car is a service that anyone can perform. People are now more focused on getting the quickest and least expensive oil change available rather than a high quality oil change service. What most consumers don't realize is there are some key differences between just changing the oil and filter on a car, which is typically all a customer gets at most quick lubes stations, and a full service oil change performed by a maintenance shop. They don't understand that saving a few dollars today can mean spending hundreds of dollars down the line. The extra money spent to have your oil changed by skilled professionals at a maintenance shop is worth it to know that your car will be there when you need it.
How many people would choose their doctor solely because they claim to be quick and cheap? Cars are a vastly complicated system. They're like the human body but with a major difference... Cars can't talk! People can describe the symptoms of their illness to a doctor when they're sick but cars don't have that ability. So, it's important to perform routine full service maintenance to find problems early before something breaks and becomes a (very expensive) major repair. An oil change should not only be viewed as a time to replace the oil and filter, but also a time to put the car on a lift and look over all the major systems. Are the belts and hoses worn or cracked? Is there an issue with the suspension? Are there any oil or other fluid leaks? Are the brakes in decent condition? These questions are just a sample of the checks generally performed by shops that provide a full service oil change. While typically a full service shop does charge $5 to $10 more than a quick lube station, isn’t the extra money worth it to have peace of mind knowing all the extra aspects of your vehicle have been looked over by well trained professionals?
Another thing to consider is the issue of knowing who is working on your car. Ask yourself this question: would you let a doctor that you didn't select and you've never met before give you an exam or prescribe you treatment simply because they boast low prices and quick visit times? Most people would say no to this and it should not be any different when it comes to their car maintenance. Quick lubes have very high employee turnover so you never know who is working on your car, not to mention their capability and competence. They are often staffed by people who have no formal car mechanic training and are generally paid $8 to $10 an hour. Even if they did check over a car, they don't have the ability to diagnose potential issues and they don’t make repairs. They are simply trained to change oil and filters as fast as possible. At a full service auto shop, staffed by trained mechanics, you are likely to be working with the same employees over a long period of time. This allows the shop to build a relationship with you and lets them compile a repair history for your vehicle where specific issues can be monitored.
At a quick lube shop they have no desire to create an ongoing relationship with a customer or to take the time to explain a service to the customer. Their financial profit is primarily driven by the number of customers they can get through the door in a single day. Because of this system they care more for the quantity of customers they have than for their quality of customer service. Everything is done to spend the least amount of time and money working on any one car. Even the most crucial steps can get skipped over while they rush to get cars in and out as fast as possible.There have been numerous cases where adding the new oil was skipped and the vehicles have left without any oil. Sometimes the oil drain plug isn't tightened or gets overly tightened to the point that the threads are stripped out. Or an oil cap gets forgotten resulting in oil spraying all over under the hood. What is even worse, they are often not receptive to dealing with any problems that arise as a result of the work they've done. The amount of simple complaints and avoidable problems customers have with quick lube shops far outnumbers the complaints and dissatisfaction with full service repair shops.
Last of all is the issue of honesty and ethics. Quick lube shops have a set quota of how much they must sell each day. That's why they push wiper blades, air filters, and other services on customers in a high pressure way. Investigations into the practices of quick lube shops have found thousands of cases of dishonesty including work not performed, parts not installed that customers have paid for, and parts being sold that didn't need replacing.
Statistics show that regular consumers of quick lube shops spend hundreds and often thousands more on repairs over the life of a vehicle than those who have oil changes performed at full service repair shops like Sipe Bros-Marathon. Small problems get overlooked at quick lube stations and become large repairs later. Buying a car can be an investment upwards of $20,000 for many, and for most people it's the second most expensive purchase they will make next to buying a house. Is saving $5 to $10 every few months by getting your oil changed quickly by minimally skilled workers a wise way to maintain such a valuable investment? When you factor in the value of having a car that is always going to be reliable and safe there's really no comparison to a shop that cares more about its customers than making a quick buck off them.
Change the oil with proper grade of synthetic or semi-synthetic oil (based on the make of your car)
Replace the oil filter, and verify it is properly installed and sealed.
Clean the oil drain plug and check seal (we replace the seal if it’s worn) and double check to confirm plug is properly reinstalled and tightened.
Top off all fluids including windshield washer fluid, coolant, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, etc. Even more important is checking if leaks are the cause of why these fluids need to be topped off.
Check the belts and hoses
Visual brake inspection
Check the suspension including bushings, tie rods, control arms, ball joints, tie rods and stabilizer links
Check the exhaust system
Check the tire pressure and tread condition
Check the springs, shocks and struts
Perform an electronic test of starting battery
Check all bulbs
This is really a physical exam of a customer car each and every time it comes in for an oil change. Isn’t it worth the extra few dollars to have all these systems checked and have peace of mind that your vehicle is reliable and safe?