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August 6th, 2000

Why I hate quick lube places.

I like to change my car’s oil myself. For me, it’s just easier and cheaper, plus I get to know the car better. Yesterday I changed the oil in my new Stratus for the first time. This process involves: a) removing the old oil filter, b) installing a new oil filter, c) draining the old oil, and d) putting in new oil. I’ve done it dozens of times on my old car.

But, the last oil change my car saw was at a Pennzoil quick lube (the sticker was still in the windshield when I got it.) I crawled under the car and tried unscrewing the filter. No go. Tried a few more times – nothing, not even a budge. I then took a screwdriver to it and started chipping a hole into the filter. (This is a trick my dad taught me – you can get more leverage this way.) That didn’t work. I ended up getting a large hole in the filter, probably about the size of a dime or quarter, through which most of the oil drained. That was fine, but the filter was still on.

I took several tools to the filter, including a honking big adjustable wrench, pliers, a medium adjustable wrench, a small adjustable wrench, and a sure-grip jar opener. Nothing did it. This filter was installed by Hercules himself.

Eventually I got two more holes poked into the thing with the big wrench, jacked up the car for more clearance, and threw my entire weight into moving this thing. At one point I actually moved the car and not the filter. But, after two hours of battle, the filter finally moved. I got it going after another 10 minutes, and the thing was finally off.

Look at this thing.

I have never, ever had to do anything like that to a filter before. Filters do not need to be that tight. Tight, yes, but not welded to the surface. (It’s actually potentially problematic if the filter is too tight.) Moral: if you go to quick lube places, continue to go there, for they have the machinery to take these things off. Otherwise, don’t go near ’em. -pm

Posted in Consumer Commentary

wfike September 11, 2006, 11:27 pm

The first thing they tell you when you want to open a “quicklube” is that you have to get people to change their oil at 3000 miles to make any money. The second thing is that you have to generate at leat $50.00 dollars worth of work on the car to make money. Not doing these on a regular basis will mean that you are not making the money that the other quicklubes are making! There are humans woking at quicklubes so mistakes will be made! When humans are involved you will also have crooks! Anytime I decide to go to a quick lube I know what type of filter that I have already on so I can check on them. As far as that guy buying filters that were cheap at a parts house, he can order any quality of filter that he wants and you can’t tell the difference! That was probably a sign that he was behind in his payments to the wholesaler cause he can get them cheaper in bulk from his oil supplier delivered. As for the screwdriver through the filter, I have had to do that before on filters that I had put on. Sometimes it is just that they are hot and are stuck or they tighted up themselves due to vibration. Also happens when you wait to long between changes! Ain’t like I could get a pipe wrench on it! I change oil and filter at 5 to 6 thousand miles. Filters are to cheap to not change them while I am under there! Don’t forget to grease all of the fittings and also lube the door hinges. Pour the oil on the crossties in your flower beds to keep them from rotting. PS I decided not to open the quicklube as I did not feel good about what I had to do to “make money”.

Katie January 12, 2007, 1:20 pm

are you people worried about oil changes, or spelling and grammer??? Paul you constantly correct any one who mispells…may I ask what that has to do with the actual oil change? One more question, was the oil changed by an actual quick lube or the dealer just before you bought the car? The dealer may have left the sticker on, but changed the oil. Have a nice day!!!

Paul January 12, 2007, 2:37 pm

Paul you constantly correct any one who mispells…may I ask what that has to do with the actual oil change?

Nothing; it’s just fun.

DAvE February 10, 2007, 4:08 am

This is officially the biggest waste of brain power ever, however little brainpower has gone into this retarted rant it is still a BIG achievement!
Now how about we consider Legalizing Marijuana? mary jane? no ? yes? ok
rant on……………

charles April 10, 2007, 6:01 am

i manage a quik lube, must say that this disagreement could continue forever but see if i can solve most of this mess. half of the countries fast lubes are gonna give you bad service this is because they had to cut there budget because nobody in this country is very worried about vehicle maintenance. so we lose business then we have to do something first comes firing the experience to lower over head. replace them with less knowledgable employees. then cut the training cause you dont have enough employees to work on cars and train at the same time. lots of shops are only there to help. the ones that are, are usually broke because its hard to be nice and make money in this business. some shops though are picking up new methods, including being more knowledgable, following manufacturer specs for services, etc. but after all this if consumers still do not purchase these services then same issue. you can tell just by being greeted at one of these places if you are gonna be taken care of. if all you hear is “hi just an oil change for you today” then you should just leave.”hi my name is jon i’ll be the technician inspecting your vehicle today.” these people will be gathering information to sell you what you need, nothing more. uniforms are neat, shirts tucked in. if you can’t tell by these things what kind of service you are gonna get then its nobody’s fault but your own. stupid people every where not just in this industry. so get use to it. P.s. there are tightening instructions printed on the side of all oil filters. 3/4 to 1 1/2 turns. 1 1/2 turns will be to tight to get off by hand. but is still within specs. heat expands the filter in turn it gets tighter. these are the reasons we have specialized tools.

George April 11, 2007, 9:28 pm

I just had an oil change done at one of these “fast lube” places and I think they intentionally sabotaged my car simply because the idiot who was trying to sell me new wiper blades, engine “de-gummer,” new transmission fluid, and various other things got visibly annoyed when I declined all the add-ons. The next day, I discovered an oil puddle in my garage. I opened the hood and found that the PCV valve was still unplugged (from when the guy was trying to sell me a new one). I also looked closely at my receipt and noticed that the guy had typed “Car leaking oil on arrival” — this is total b.s. and I wish I had caught this when I paid, because no mention of it was made while I was there, and I knew there had been no oil leak because there wasn’t a drop of oil on the garage floor until the day after the oil change.

I brought the car back to the shop and they told me that the unplugged PCV valve wasn’t the problem, but that the oil seemed to be coming from the filter because I had a worn out “filter gasket.” They put a new gasket on and topped off the oil and sent me on my way, assuring me that the problem was now solved. (Of course, this raises the question…why did they write “car leaking oil upon arrival” but then after I return, they fix this issue which should have been done at the time of the oil change? Because the car wasn’t leaking oil when I got there!!!)

To really make it special, the car has continued to leak oil. I’ve had to contact the franchise regional management and may have to go to a mechanic to find out what they did to my car.

Isn’t it an interesting coincidence…not a drop of oil on my garage floor until the day after an oil change from these crooks??

George April 12, 2007, 2:55 am

Well what do ya know… As a follow up to the above, a certified mechanic was nice enough to put my car up on a lift and show me the problem. We watched the oil collect on the drain plug and drip. So the fast lube people lied multiple times…they lied about the problem being an “oil filter gasket,” they lied when they said that they fixed it and the problem was solved, and they lied when they said it was leaking when I brought the car in. Wow…lesson learned. The mechanic said it best: “They probably stripped your oil plug or your drain pan threads and they didn’t want to tell you.”

I’m getting the corporate management involved and going to see if I can get these folks to fix this.

David April 14, 2007, 12:00 am

Wow, what a thread. I own a “Quick Lube place” and agree with some of the other comments on this thread about mistakes that happen at quick lubes. We are human and are trying to run a business. Mistakes will happen, just like anywhere else. I strive on customer satisfaction. If i find a problem, I alert the customer, even allowing them into my pit area. If we can fix it, we do. I do not upsell anything that is not needed, or scamming people. My customers depend on me to alert them if something is wrong, or needs changing. If the car has 100000 miles on it and the transmission fluid is black as oil and smells like a burn hot dog, than I recommend a transmission flush. If the power steering pump is whinning loud when the car comes in I recommend a power steering flush. If the tires are bare on the inside I recommend a rotation. RECOMMEND!!! I show the customer the fluid, tires, etc… and advise a solution. I am not twisting their arm, just advising, letting them know something is not right. That is my job and I have never been accused of selling or performing a service that is not needed. I admit, other quick lubes probably try to upsell services that are not needed, just like any other business. Ever gone to Foot Locker and bought a pair of Nike’s and the saleman tried to sell you some leather conditioner or water-proof spray. It’s a recommendation. If you dont want it, don’t buy it. But dont go and complain to Foot Locker when a week later you walk through a water puddle and stain your leather when you didn’t buy the water proof spray. My advice to people who don’t service their own car is to find a place that feels comfortable to you. Stay in the bay area when the service is being performed. Ask questions about what is going on. If they try to sell you something, ask to see why and have them explain the problem and solution. It’s not rocket science. If you are unsure about a service, there are thousands of sites on the internet where information is abundant about regular service.,,,, etc… I have three full time employee’s who are paid very well and have been with me for 9, 6, and 4 years. If you decide to visit a quick lube and the staff is always changing, heads up. If you ask about a certain service and the staff seems unaware or confused, heads up. Use your commen sense. One last thing for all the upsells, if you continually use one quick lube than you wont need all the upsells all the time. If the car has 100000 miles and has never had anything but the oil changed, then most, if not all dealerships, mechanics, and quick lubes will advise you that you need the works. If you take your car to them from new, than follow the regular maintenence schedule in your owners manual and they should never try to sell you something you dont need.

Paul Davis June 17, 2007, 11:24 am

Went to visit my brother in NC. Truck engine was a bit noisy so I went to the local lube shop and had the oil changed as it was at 3000 miles.

Over the next few weeks the engine slowly began pinging more and more loudly. My wife drives that vehicle to work and I seldom ride in it, so I was shocked yesterday when I heard how noisy it was.

I went to change the oil at once, and lo and behold, the oil filter was a valvoline #31. That filter is for late 80’s AMC vehicles, and isn’t at all the correct filter for a chevy V8 1500 truck from the late 90’s. I’m not sure if the oil pressure was too low or the flow was too low or what

I put on the right filter, added a quart of Lucas to the oil, and the motor went dead silent. Excuse me, but I’m more than a little ticked.

Danny June 24, 2007, 11:30 pm

Hi Paul,
I cannot beleive that dumbass called you dumbass. I have for many years worked self-employeed as a heavy marine mechanic. I have rebilt Detroit deisel engines as large as 16V-71 and 8-92 cubic inches in the bottoms of some of the largest fishing boats and yaghts(including Barbara Mandrell’s “Barbara’s Baby”.)Yes, that is sixteen pistons at 92 cubic inches each. Due to salt water corrosion, I too have used a screw driver to remove oil filters where a filter wrench has crushed the can( a trick my father taught me.) This includes all types of filter wreches made. The screw driver was a last resort but has always come through. Your filter was not my first, nor will it be my last to see, that had a screw driver hole torn through it.Keep up the good work, you were smart enough to find a solution to your problem. Most non-mechanical types would have given up long before you did.I would work by your side any day.

Debbie September 14, 2007, 4:23 pm

I say stick to blooging about something you know or educate yourself on oil change procedures!

p.s. you said NOTHING about using a FILTER WRENCH, in fact everything but.

Paul September 14, 2007, 7:19 pm

Dear Debbie,

I say learn how to spell and consider shutting the heck up since I know what I’m doing with this stuff.

Maybe you should do that in the other order, though. Just a thought.

– Paul

ps: I didn’t say FILTER WRENCH because I FORGOT so YEAH whoop ti DO.

Brent December 24, 2007, 4:54 pm

At the bottom, or base of an oil filter there is what is called the base plate. If you put your band wrench on this area instead of the middle of the filter you would not crush it and can put a lot of force on a band wrench. Also not all band wrenches are created equal, cheap band wrench and you will have problems.

I got a call once from a guy that can’t get the oil filter off. He has been “working” at this filter for hours. I drive to his house, walk up, slap my band wrench on it at the base, take the filter off, and hand him the old filter. I was there for about a minute. His filter looked worse than the one in the picture.

What I don’t understand is, you are trying to get this filter off and can’t, so you decide it is a good idea to poke a hole in the filter. Now, if you don’t get the filter off your vehicle has to be towed. Sounds like a good decisions to me. Wait, it is the Quick lube’s fault that you don’t know where to put a band wrecnh on an oil filter!!!!

Paul December 24, 2007, 10:57 pm


Do shut up.

Happy holidays!

Katharine Swan February 8, 2008, 9:46 pm

I ran across your blog while researching material I was writing for a client. I have to agree with you completely about not liking quick lube places, and I actually find it rather disturbing that some people get so heated about defending them. This isn’t like a debate about abortion or anything, so what gives?

Anyway, I am a do-it-yourselfer and have a decent amount of behind-the-scenes experience with the auto industry. I’m not judging quick lube places off of one experience, but from what I’ve seen and heard during the period of time I worked for the industry. Here’s what I know — everyone can take it or leave it as they wish.

1) I have known several guys who worked in these places. One of them didn’t know the first thing about cars, and the others actually had to *draw him a diagram* indicating which direction to turn the oil drain plug to loosen or tighten it. Knowing that quick lube places will give guys like this a job, is this really the kind of place you want doing your oil changes?

2) Same guy as above got fired for forgetting to put oil in a car’s engine. He was working above the pit that day, so lubing the car and refilling the oil were literally the only things he had to do. Some poor kid ended up with a fried engine in his brand-new car.

3) I worked in an auto parts store for quite a while, and I can’t tell you how many times people came in with quick lube horror stories. The most common was that the quick lube place had stripped out the oil drain plug and didn’t tell the customer. Sometimes they “fixed” the problem with one of those little wax gaskets, and other times they didn’t do anything and the customer found out because they suddenly developed a new leak. Either way, it was usually too late to get the quick lube to pay for the damages by the time the customer found out. These folks were always coming in to get new oil drain plugs, gaskets, and taps to fix the damage to the threads in the oil pan.

Personally, I’d rather spend the minimal amount of time it takes to change my own oil and *know* it’s done right.

john March 8, 2008, 7:42 pm

You guys blame quicklube for mess-ups… its the people who drive the car that is actually messed up..

1) people come in to get their oil change… they don’t follow up on recommended services…and then whine like a kid when poop starts flying through the roof

2) they don’t want to pay for a crush-washer for drain plugs… causing leaks…

3) and the oil filter thing… you guys are a bunch of pansies if you cant take it off your self.. there is a tool to take off a filter on every certain car

4) you try changing the oil yourself..don’t have a clue what your doing… the oil gets drained out.. your scared as crap to get oil on yourself or on your fance driveway …so you hurry up and stick the plug in and you strip the drain plug
THEN HERE COMES THE BIGGIE… you take it to a quicklube to get an oil change ..and 5 minutes later all of a sudden you know exactly where it leaking oil from.. then you blame it on the techs that messed your car up…and how upset and dissatisfied you are…so you can get your free fooking oil change…

Paul March 8, 2008, 9:22 pm

I like how people don’t even bother reading the Pings anymore, and just comment. Ignorance on parade.

Ryan, we should try just posting random comments on your Pingless Ping.

Aaron April 14, 2008, 10:52 pm

I am the Manager of Jiffy lube in Ohio you must try it. I am giving away free oil changes to ANYONE until the end of the year. The only catch is you have to call me personally to set up a time so I can meet and talk with your experiences. I am looking forward to making some long term customers. Please call me at 1-937-397-7503. My Name is Aaron Boren and just tell me your name and vehicle. Limited Time ONLY Thank you.

that guy May 5, 2008, 5:07 am

i work at a quick lube (shell rapid lube) and i will say that the employees there will do what is right… but i just wanna say never work at a quick lube!!! NEVER! it sucks and i think of suicide everyday. but i am sry to hear bout that shity deal with the filter. i work with a guy that woulda taken that bitch off for no charge as long as you just came back to get your oil changed there. not saying you actually would but it’d be the right thing to do.

Jamaal May 24, 2008, 8:25 pm

Same situation, honda CRV and oil filter was put on by the strongest bionic hand/machine in the world. Broke my adapter on it that I use with my torque wrench. Will take it to dealer where last got oil change and demand they do it all plus for free!

Van September 30, 2008, 1:44 pm

I took the time to read some of the comments on this ping and I must say it is chalk full of everything, from good to bad to crazy.
What you all fail to see is that an oil change needs to be done every 3,000 miles or 3 months. Not 4,000 miles or 6,000 miles or 10,000 miles and on and on. 3,000 miles is the amount of time it takes the additives in the oil to break down due to heat and pressure. Broken down additives are like glue they stick your valves open and closed and gum up the crank bearings and the most noticable thing for the weekend tech. is it seals your filter to the engine block. Weather you like Quick lubes or not is not relivent your car won’t care either way. Only you can decide when your oil will be changed.
Oh ya, engine oil monitors in cars are just a calculator. It is a scam to bring down the maintainance cost on a new vehicle. By the time you will see any adverse effects from the 7,500 mile oil change or more your car will be out of warranty.

hans March 26, 2009, 6:53 pm

am am an ase certified master technician and things people r saying in here are absurd. First off, not putting an air filter in will not, i repeat will not destroy an engine unless you go off roading or drive 5000-10000 miles with out it. NEVER, i repeat NEVER use a screwdriver to loosen an oil filter!!!! and last but not least a fiter will not “weld” to an engine block rubber does not weld. the lowest drain plug torque reccomended on any vehicle is 20 ft lb. not 11 as someone said. 11 and you have a blown engine due to plug falling out

Naniniiine Caddy Eldorado April 4, 2009, 7:17 pm

i agree with hans…it’s so funny how everybody went into their own personal stories and i mean STORIES instead of stoning this idiot for trying to remove an oil filter with a screwdriver….bwaaaahahahahaaaaaaaaaa!

Paul April 5, 2009, 3:42 am

So, anonymous internet troll, you’re actually advocating that I be stoned – STONED – for trying to remove a too-tight oil filter?

Ross May 1, 2009, 11:37 pm

I’ve been a licensed tech for close to thirty years and the truth is, it all comes right down to the guy doing the oil change, whether it’s at a Jiffy Lube or at a dealership. The low guys on the pole typically do the oil changes. Some care, some don’t. As far as the mangled filter goes, I have had a few over the years that looked like that when I got them off and I am an EXPERIENCED tech. NEVER use a filter wrench to install an oil filter!!! When they are seized tight, there is no magic tool! When the filter wrench mangles the tight filter, a screw driver driven through the filter may help to unscew it. General motors back in the early eighties used to install the filters dry and then paint the motors, filter and all. I remember at the GM dealership where I started, the techs using an air chisel to turn/remove the filter base off the engine block(They were that tight). They had already ripped off the tin housing.

Maria Lofgren August 22, 2009, 4:53 pm

My husband and I own a Quick Lube, My husband is a Director at a local dealership and I run our Quick lube.

In our waiting room we have a huge window that customers can veiw their vehicle while the oil change is being done. The techs we have are cert. and every oil change receives a free 25 pt. inspection, vacuum, and windshield cleaned. At the end, we walk customer to their vehicle and have the hood opened, and, then we pull the oil dipstick to show customer oil level and how clean the oil is. They love it. In life there is no business that can’t be slammed. It’s how you run your business!

Jon October 7, 2009, 11:44 pm

In response to Paul Davis on 6/17…

“Over the next few weeks the engine slowly began pinging more and more loudly. My wife drives that vehicle to work and I seldom ride in it, so I was shocked yesterday when I heard how noisy it was.
I went to change the oil at once, and lo and behold, the oil filter was a valvoline #31. That filter is for late 80’s AMC vehicles, and isn’t at all the correct filter for a chevy V8 1500 truck from the late 90’s. I’m not sure if the oil pressure was too low or the flow was too low or what I put on the right filter, added a quart of Lucas to the oil, and the motor went dead silent. Excuse me, but I’m more than a little ticked.”

I am a Service Center Manager for a quick lube that carries Valvoline products. The Valvoline “VO31” filter that you mentioned is one of the most common apps still used on new vehicles. I am assuming that the “correct filter” that you mentioned was a VO58. According to Valvoline’s own filter hotline (a service provided to all shops carrying their products) The VO31 and VO58 are inter-changeable. The only difference you should experience in using the 31 in place of the 58 is a very subtle drop in oil pressure, hardly enough to cause a knock. More than likely it was the Lucas treatment that quieted your engine, not the new filter.

jasoninhell November 6, 2009, 1:24 am

“From: hans
Date: 03.26.2009 14:53

am am an ase certified master technician and things people r saying in here are absurd. First off, not putting an air filter in will not, i repeat will not destroy an engine unless you go off roading or drive 5000-10000 miles with out it. NEVER, i repeat NEVER use a screwdriver to loosen an oil filter!!!! and last but not least a fiter will not “weld” to an engine block rubber does not weld. the lowest drain plug torque reccomended on any vehicle is 20 ft lb. not 11 as someone said. 11 and you have a blown engine due to plug falling out ”

I work for a wallyworld TLE and as of tourqe some fords, tq specs are 10 go figure. and true sh*t happens mistakes are made its not the quick lubes its who is doing the work mainly they don’t give a crap because of the low pay, and i have done alot of oilchanges in my life and i have used a screwdriver a few times just got to make sure you punch threw both sides b4 turning it lol

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