Jiffy Lube Gives me the Lube Job... not my car

Jul 31, 2000 (Updated Aug 6, 2000)

I am posting this under the sub-category for Vehicle Maintenance because there is no existing category for Jiffy Lube. And, Epinions is so back-logged with requests for new categories, that they aren't accepting new suggestions now.

Oil Changes - A Necessity

If you own any type of motor vehicle, you should be getting the oil changed at regular intervals. As your engine runs, it heats up and expands.

Moving engine parts need a lubricant to reduce the potential that the moving parts will scratch or crack, reduce friction and increase efficiency. A motor oil will break down from use and the heat of your engine. Thus it will lose it's ability to lubricate and must be changed.

Check your owners manual for the suggested intervals... usually 3,000-6,000 miles. My vehicle, a Saturn LS1, requires oil changes every 3,000 miles.

A Do-It-Yourself Guide

Changing your oil is a simple task for a do-it-yourselfer. You will first need to purchase oil (about $1.00 - $5.00 per quart) and an oil filter (about $5.00 - $10.00). Check your owners manual for the required amount of oil. The typical cost of a do-it-yourself oil change is $15.00.

Simply, place a bucket under the oil drainage hole, unplug the hole and unscrew the oil cap. As it is draining, you unscrew the oil filter. This looks like a large beer can and is usually on the side of the engine.

note: a friend suggested that it is a good idea to dip the end of your oil filter in the old oil. I assume that this creates a better seal. Once the oil is completely drained, you screw a new oil can on, replace the drainage plug, and fill your engine with the appropriate amount of oil. Once that's done, you screw the oil cap back on, and run your engine to circulate the fresh oil. Turn the car off and check the oil level with the dipstick to insure that it is at the appropriate level.

Used oil is damaging to the environment. Before you decide to change your own oil, find out if there's a place that will accept your used oil for recycling. Often times, service stations will do this for a $1.00 charge.

Don't Want To Do-It-Yourself?

In this day and age, most of us would prefer to pay somebody for this type of work. The advantages of paying somebody else is that they often check for other necessary maintenance, like tire-rotation, and brake and transmission fluid levels. Plus, you don't have to get your hands dirty.

You've probably heard about Jiffy Lube's Signature Service. I clipped the following, description of the Signature Service, right off their web-site:

*Change the vehicle's oil with up to 5 quarts of top quality motor oil*
*Replace the oil filter with a top quality filter
*Inspect the brake fluid level
*Inspect the air filtration system
*Inspect the wiper blades
*Vacuum the interior floors
*Clean the exterior windows

If needed, we also:
*Lubricate the chassis
*Check & fill transmission / transaxle fluid
*Check & fill differential fluid
*Check & fill power steering fluid
*Check & fill windshield wash fluid
*Check & fill battery water
*Inflate the tires to proper pressure

Sound good? Well, for $28.99, it's a little high. I could have gone to my local Saturn dealer, and gotten an oil change for $19.95. They don't have a fancy name like Signature Service but certainly they will check the other fluid levels and replace the oil and oil filter. The drawback of going to a car dealership is that they may require that you leave your car all day or overnight.

Jiffy Lube offers a drive-up service. You just pull up to their garage door, they will ask you what you'd like done, tell you to leave the keys in the car, and instruct you that you can wait in their lobby. Typically they will have coffee and magazines to keep you occupied and wired on caffeine.

Jiffy Lube has an assembly line setup. They usually try to get you in and out within 15-30 minutes. This is probably the main reason that I went to Jiffy Lube... the immediate service.

My First Jiffy Lube Experiences

I had just finished my last appointment of the day around 3:00pm. I noticed that my car had 3,215 miles on it and was due for an oil change. So, I pulled up to the local Jiffy Lube. They asked what I wanted done. I indicated that I would like the Signature Service. I inquired about the cost of getting a Synthetic Oil.

Synthetic Oil was invented by Mobil. Their signature brand is Mobil 1. This is the brand that Jiffy Lube offers. Synthetic oil has a much greater resistance to breakdown than a typical motor oil.

They explained that synthetic oil will cost an extra $30.00. I was in shock. But, I decided that I wanted the best oil possible in my new car. I told them to go ahead.

They pulled the car in and presumably did everything on the Signature Service checklist. After about 20 minutes, the receptionist called my name to let me know that my car was ready. "$61.66 please." I was once again in shock. I asked why it was so much? She explained that the Signature Service cost me $59.99, plus they charged me a special filter charge of $10.00, plus tax. That comes to $61.66.

I inquired about the special filter charge. They explained that my Saturn LS1 uses a special filter and that there is an extra charge for that. I decided there was no point in arguing and paid the bill.

I was pleasantly surprised that my windows were cleaned and the interior was vacuumed. I was also relieved that I wouldn't have to worry about it for another 3,000 miles.

My Second Experience

Last weekend, It was time for another oil change. It was at 7,396 miles, so I was 1,000 miles past due.

Perhaps I'm a glutton for punishment; I decided to try Jiffy Lube again. I pulled up to the garage door, and this time I just asked for the Signature Service with only the standard oil... depending on the location, Jiffy Lube uses Penzoil or Quaker State. I was told that it would be $28.99 and to leave the keys in the car.

Minutes later, they told me that they do not carry the correct filter. This surprised me because the Saturn LS1 has been on the market for nearly a year. They instructed me to go purchase a filter on my own and come back.

I went to the local Saturn dealer, and they charged me $4.99 for a filter. I was angered, because the last time I went to Jiffy Lube, they charged me a $10.00 fee in addition to the normal cost of the Signature Service... which is supposed to include the cost of the filter. That told me that I was screwed out of $10.00, by Jiffy Lube, the first time I went.

Anyway, I knew that my car needed the oil change, so I went back to Jiffy Lube. As I pulled up, the gentleman told me that I should also get my tires rotated. I asked how much that would cost. He told me that it would be $19.99. That brought my total to $49.61 including tax. I believe that a typical service station would've charged $10.00 for a tire rotation. But, I decided to go ahead and have them do it.

He also told me that they usually recommend that you change your air filter every 7,000-10,000 miles. Since they were already hitting me up for other extra costs, I told him I would wait until my next oil change to have the air-filter replaced.

This time the servicing only took 10 minutes. I was very surprised at the speed. And since I purchased my own oil filter (for $4.99) they gave me a $2.00 filter credit. That dropped my total to $47.61... big whoop!

As I drove off, I realized that they did not clean my windows and they did not do a thorough job of vacuuming the interior.


No sweat off my back. I doubt that I'll be making another visit to Jiffy Lube. From now on I will take my car to the local Saturn dealer and deal with the hassle of leaving my car for the day.

Jiffy Lube disappointed me in many ways. They overcharge for their service. I guess you pay for the convenience of on-the-spot service. The first Jiffy Lube unnecessarily charged me an extra $10.00 premium filter fee. The second Jiffy Lube made me go out and purchase my own filter. And, they did not seem to take much pride or care in fulfilling the Signature Service promise.

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