I need an oil change. It’s been a couple months, and about, oh 5,000 miles or so since my last oil change. Don’t worry, my car’s owner’s manual calls for oil changes every 5,000 miles, so it’s no big deal. But I’m going on a trip this weekend, so it’s time to get the oil changed.
Never pay full price for an oil change. You can always find a coupon for an oil change. A couple years ago, I started going to Firestone for oil changes because they were so cheap. Our local grocery store prints coupons on the back of receipts and a couple years ago we could get oil changes at Firestone for $10.99 + $5 for a tire rotation. That’s about as good as you will find anywhere and I got into the habit of going there for oil changes and other car maintenance – new tires, tire alignment, etc.
All good things come to an end. Unfortunately, Firestone stopped offering such a good deal, so I went with the offer of the day – a Valvoline franchise near my home was $5 cheaper than Firestone, so I decided to try them out. I went there for my last oil change and all was fine until yesterday, when I went back to Firestone for an oil change (Firestone started offering coupons again; not as good as before, but good enough).
Bad news. I sat in the waiting room for 30 minutes talking to a young military member when the mechanic said he wanted to show me something. Don’t you just hate hearing those words at a service shop?
My car is 3.5 years old, so my mind is running through the worst – bad breaks, an oil leak, cracked hose, bad suspension, you name it. The cost of my fictional damage report quickly ran into the hundreds of dollars when the mechanic pointed up at my oil filter.
“See that?” he asked. I nodded.
“The people who changed your oil last time tightened your oil filter too tight. We can’t take it off because it might crack.”
Normally a cracked oil filter wouldn’t be a big deal, since you are changing it. However, the oil filter canister on my car is attached to the car and only the inner part of the filter is changed. If you crack the oil filter canister, it needs to be replaced. Of course, they didn’t have the canister in stock.
My options. The mechanic said I could take it back to the last place I had my oil changed and have them change my oil. If they cracked the canister, they would have to replace it. I could also leave the filter in place and drain the old oil and add new. Skipping a filter change once and awhile probably wouldn’t cause much harm, but it was a short term solution. My last option was to have them order the part in the morning and drop my car off again to get the oil changed.
I settled on option 3. The part only costs around $15, so it wasn’t worth my time to go back to Valvoline and convince them they were responsible for the oil filter canister, then have them change the oil in my car. I’m done with Valvoline and sticking with the company I am familiar with. I just hope they continue to offer good coupons!
What would you have done? Paid the $15 for the part, or gone back to Valvoline and try to deal with the hassle of convincing them they are responsible?