Staying On Top of Oil Change Shops

Having your oil changed is a basic and necessary part of car maintenance. However, it is possible to come out on the short end of the stick when paying an oil change shop to complete this maintenance. A little time and planning will help to ensure that you get what you’re paying for and that your car gets what it needs. While not all oil change shops are out to make a fast buck, it is a prudent thing to educate yourself on what should be expected when taking your car in for an oil change.

Find Out What is Included

Oil change shops generally have different levels of service. However, if a customer doesn’t specify which items they want included in their service then the shop may default to the highest priced package available. This would mean more money out of your pocket for things that may not really matter to the performance of your vehicle. Things like window washer fluid you can easily add yourself and a jug of washer fluid will cost less at your discount store than a few pints will from the oil change shop.

Get What you Pay For

If you want your car to have a specific type of oil put in it, then make sure that is the type that is used. This can truly only be accomplished by watching the oil being poured into your vehicle. Unfortunately, many oil change shops have policies against anyone other than personnel being on the shop floor due to insurance issues. However, many shops do have a window that looks out onto the shop floor where patrons can watch their car being worked on. You can also request that your car be serviced in the bay closest to the window. Even if you don’t see the oil actually being poured into your vehicle, it is less likely for a switch to occur if they know you are watching.

No Filter, No Good

Changing your oil without changing the oil filter is like filtering your drinking water through sand, it defeats the purpose. However, oil change shops that are looking to pad their bottom line and cut corners will try to pass off your vehicle with the same oil filter. Since used oil filters are extremely messy, you don’t really want to take it home with you, but you can ask to see it when you pick up your car. Just be sure to know what type of oil filter your car uses so you will be able to tell if this is your filter or not. Also, take note if the oil on the filter is still fresh and liquid or if it is becoming sticky. If the oil appears sticky then this filter has probably been sitting around for a while.

Don’t Always Assume More is Better

Even reputable oil change shops will try to sell you additional services or features. This has nothing to do with trying to run a scam, but everything to do with making more money. While an added service may be okay for your vehicle, take time to consider if it is something you really need. Some oil change shops have started to offer to vacuum out the interior for you. While this is nice, it is also something you can do yourself. Therefore, if your bottom line is an issue, find out how much the added services cost before agreeing to them.

Ask Around

If you are new to an area, one of the fastest ways to find out the reputation of an oil change shop is to ask around. If a shop has a bad reputation in an area, you are likely to hear about that one before you hear about the good shop. In addition, people love to voice their opinions and if you ask more than one person about the local oil change shops, you’re likely to get a good idea of where and where not to go. Therefore, go ahead and ask your coworker where they take their car for servicing.

Oil change shops are businesses of convenience for those who don’t want to do the work themselves. However, like any service business, there are those shops that have figured out how to pad their bottom line by being less than honest with their customers. However, by taking a little time to arm yourself with some basic knowledge of your car, and what it really needs, you can save yourself time and money at the oil change shop. If you do find that you have been taken by an oil change shop, don’t be afraid to call them on it. Most shops would rather make you happy than have you tell your friends about the poor service.