Day504 Oil Change – A slice of life

Disclaimer: This post might might give you a foul mood. I was debating whether to post it or not, since it is off topic or one I don’t enjoy writing because I come across as fussy and complaining.

Several things happened that kind of put me off balance (this happened a few weeks ago). I am going tell one of them. I already forgot what other things were since I did not write them down. I do remember this. I hope I can keep my thoughts organized for me to retell.

I took my car in for an oil change. I just finished paying off my car loan this summer and was planning to do my own oil change from now on to save some money.

I have been using professional service center for oil changes. I know it costs a lot more but I would have a peace of mind that my car was taken care of and had best resell value for the bank if possible. I am joking right? No. I just love my car and the previous owner also treated it special.

It so happened I have been out every weekend (to run) and did not get a chance to do the oil change myself. I decided then just go to an oil change place I have been going all these years and have them do it for me. The mileage has passed 8000 miles and was reaching 9000 and I was afraid I would burn the engine if I didn’t replace the oil soon. The reminder sticker recommended every 5000 miles. I was panicking that I was ruining the car.

I received a big bill as usual because I always requested to have everything recommended done. The techician then brought over the dipstick to show me they did a good job except, she also commented the oil on the stick was somewhat of a dark color and not the light clear caramel color as it should be and recommended me to ask for an engine flush at the next oil change for $100. This was kind of a fairwell to me as if I would accept it.

However, I wanted to ask if they did really change my oil but held my tongue because I was worried that my car actually needed an engine flush and I wanted to have one done right away.

Looking back, this might be their way to hook me in spending more money or guilt tripping me that I did not bring it in at the 5000 mile mark. Why was I not told about the engine flush earlier when I came in and I wanted a flush to be done right now. I was willing to pay whatever price to have my car declared good. However, I felt my sale person wanted me out of the shop. It was a tense moment.

I never heard of an engine flush before (I had, but at that time I did not remember). The gears in my mind started to spin. I am npt an engineer but I have an inclination toward how things work. You can’t pull things on me. If I don’t I will study until I feel I think I am an expert. I’m one of the those armchair generals. If there is something wrong, I would get to the bottom of it. Google is my friend.

to me a flush is when you empty and refill it. Maybe doing two oil changes in a row, fill and drain and repeat. Simple physic would clean out anything. If you try to sell something to me, you have to talk physic and engine.

Trying to avoid getting to an argument, I decided to leave. I was concerned about the car and I was about to drive to a nearby auto part store to pick up some motor oil and redo the oil change myself because I got an impression they did not change my oil at all and I did not trust this person who might be pulling my legs with an engine flush thing.

I did not want the same crew to do a second oil change for me. They sensed I was a bit upset. Surely I was. I was triggered and about to lose it.

After some googling, I found out an engine flush is what oil change places try to upsell. For $100, they will pour some additives into the engine that cost about maybe $20-30 if I do it myself. It will clean out the gunks in the engine and then flush them out during the oil change.

No car manufactures would recommend this type of service. It also mentioned the same in my car manual of not to add any addictives to the engine. The reason being, it might get the dirty stuff to lodge deeper into the engine and damage it. Also the additives might eat away the engine rubber seals and gaskets and cause an engine leak, which is many times worse than the original problem. My car is out of warranty, but I would not risk it.

Many attested that doing this on an old engine would result in a leak soon. The bottom line is, I do not want it. The consensus is to only do it if I brought a secondhand car and was doubtful if the previous owner has been upkeeping it. My previous owner took care of the car well (I know the owner) and so have I been good to my car.

Then I was wondering back, did they really change my oil? Often times I went to this service station, they would do a bunch of free check ups, like lights, brake, fluids, tire pressure etc. This time I clearly saw the technician clicking on the computer screen as done without doing the actual checks. I did not say anything at the time, thinking they will get back to it later to do them.

I know because when they do the check, they would actually call out what is being done. Left signal light, right signal right, pressure good, brake good etc. They would ask you to step on the brake or turn on the light. It is interactive with the driver as well as with their other staff. I know it is part of the show to make you feel like being a race car driver at a pit stop. They do this each time except this time.

The one who was helping me, was talking to me all the time at the computer terminal. The other staff was servicing the car next to me. No other staff was nearby. There were no calling out from the pit crew beneath us, though she was talking to them on something unrelated the whole time. The below deck crew was doing something (rear diff for my car, will get to that later).

At first I was puzzling. Note, I came maybe an hour before closing, so they seemed to be slacking and wanted to close the shop soon. I didn’t want to attack their character, you know always give them the benefit of the doubt.

And I wanted two other services done beside the oil change. Maybe that was too much for them. This is also a lesson to self, do one thing and one thing only. This way I can be sure they have done it. If I asked too many things, I would get them confused or forget to do some of them but will charge me all the same.

I wanted the rear differential fluid replaced and the transfer case fluid replaced. The representative checked the computer log and told me they would do the rear differential but I don’t need to change the transfer case fluid. This irritated me, because I know what my car needs but who am I to argue with a mechanic.

This is also a lesson to their representative, to listen to their customer. Instead, the representative kind of treated me as if I did not know better and that their computer is correct. I bet next time I go there, the reminder for transfer fluid would come up. They did not ask me if I still wanted the transfer case fluid replace. I felt a bit miffed already.

This somehow brought to mind of a previous visit. I told them I don’t trust their computer recommendations because I found it to be wrong in a previous visit.

I started telling them how their computer recommended for me to replace the front differential fluid in my car one time when my car doesn’t have a front differential, but I didn’t know at the time and I went ahead and let them to replace it. They did amazingly!

It had a note in their system to call the manufacturer for the right oil type. However, they could not find the answer of what oil to put in, whether it was VTM-4 or VTM-5. The mechanic from below believed it should be VTM-4, but the counter staff was not sure. Later on they decided to go with VTM-4.

Just because their computer said I needed a front differential they would give me one even if they couldn’t locate it in my car or the oil type for it. Looking back, it was so crazy. Just because the computer says it is there, they really thought it was there.

At the time, I told them I trust them whatever they put in is right because they are supposed to be the professionals.

Later, I googled on my own which oil should be used for my front differential. People in an online forum were saying my car model though has a front differential but it is part of (or inside) the transmission and does not need a separate fluid change!! If a change is needed, they would need to disassamble it and should use the same type as my transmission fluid not any VTM stuff.

I was about to explode when I read that. So then what oil did they replaced it with for my baby? If they poured rear differential fluid into my transmission (or any where near the front differential, I would cry. I would need to do a transmission flush and the whole nine yards or else my transmission would be damaged and need an expensive replacement job. I couldn’t believe they pull a wool over my eyes. That time I just brought the car for a lot of money.

In the end their corporate reached out to me after I express my big concern on an “anonymous user/performance survey” they sent me a few days later to see if I was happy with their service and they got to hear an earful that I was not happy. The corporate got the store manager to call me immediately on my phone. It was nice to know the survey was not as “annonymous” as I thought.

I was surprised how fast they acted. They said they got it on video of the whole transaction and assured me they did not pour VTM fluid into my transmission. If I wanted to come into the store to see the video myself, I could. The video showed they replaced the rear differential fluid and not the front differential fluid, which was a relief to me though billing me for the front differential fluid service.

I caught them redhanded. Note, they didn’t apologize for their blatant mix up or how they would correct this. This was not an unintentional mixed up! They confirmed they did not pour VTM fluid or any other fluid into my transmission. They offered me a free oil change on my next visit. Note, I did not ask them to refund me the difference in price between the front and rear differential. They probably would say they both costed the same amount.

At the time I was more than mad. They lied to me about the service they did and did not do the service they were supposed to do or billed me for. It was a multitude mixups on their part — and outright fraud because it was not jist one staff in on it but whole crew. It was blatantly lying to customers (not tiny white lies). They could have gotten out when they couldn’t figure out which fluid to use and any one of their staff could have said my car doesn’t have that part. It was unbelievable.

I was ranting at the store again this time about their computer being wrong. I tried to not blame the staff. I know they tried to do their best and I came in and found fault with their system. The point I tried to make is I don’t trust their conputer system (or their sale associates). They should listen to their customers for once.

Real engineer is knowing the real parts on the actual car and not some phoney computer. Seriously, their staff needed training too both on the mechanic aspect as well as customer relationship.

Of course, they gave me a free oil change amd all were forgiven and they fixed their computer so it no longer prompted their service staff to offer me to do fluid replacement for the particular part my car doesn’t have.

While telling this story to lady, I was not sure of they actually get to my oil change. The sale person was inexperience. To the person I was just an angry boomer. She was a female (though I never doubt a female couldn’t do car work — my mom knows how to do an oil change). However, in telling this story, I got on their bad side.

The technician made a great deal this time of calling in to my car manufacture to be certain what type of differential fluid to replace with. I think she totally missed my point. In her mind, I was the customer who gave a bad review on a previous visit of blaming them of using the wrong fluid. So this time, the attention was totally on the rear differential fluid. The oil change and the transfer case I asked for was completely forgotten.

They were trying to appease me and patronizing me except they missed a bigger picture — that is, they need to take care of my car.

As I was wondering whether I should do my own oil change just to feel at ease with myself in case they did not replace my oil, I google searched what color the oil my dipstick should be after an oil change. I went and did a pull on the dipstick check myself the next day and found the color looked perfect to me. The color of the oil in my car looked fresh. What was all this talk about having an engine flush! I felt being lied to a second time whether intentionally or not, I don’t know. Or truly it was the technician first day on the job and never looked at a dipstick before. Why even commented that the oil looking a bit dark is puzzling!

Additional info I later found, that I have been using full synthetic oil for the past five years on this car, which could last for 15,000 miles between each oil change. I did not know this at the time and thought it was way over due for an oil change and was played into their fear. However, I usually take it in at halfway by around 8000 miles. Of course, the service station recommended at an even shorter interval of 5000 miles or less. I normally wait until my car prompt me (my car has a timer for oil change). People’s car only have dark color oil if they drove it for too long way past due without having an oil change, but I have been taking mine in regularly for oil changes always on schedule. There is no need for an engine flush.

I was relieved that even if they did not do an oil change, my previous oil can still last for another 7000 miles.

Second, full synthetic oil has additives that are almost the same as those an engine flush stuff. Exactly why are they recommending me to do an engine flush when I am already using full synthetic oil? Unless they did not put full synthetic oil in there? They should know this at least and not try to sell me engine flush.

If they speak engineering stuff with me, I would accept it. Exactly, because of the drama, I plan to do my own oil change next time.

Should you take a car to those lube places? If you can’t do your own fluid replacement, then definitely. However, if you know how to service your own car, then it depends if you can trust your mechanic. In my situation, though I go to the same shop, but different persons service my car each time and I never get to meet the pit crew (those below the deck who actually do the work). It was so happened this time I was there, the shop manager was not on duty (because it was Sunday). Many of the usual things they do were skipped and the quality of my visit was not good.

PS. Sorry if this comes across rant-ty. Sometimes, things just get me frustrated and I need to let off some steam.

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