The Oil Change - Get What You Pay For
There's nothing quite like a regular oil change to make sure that your car continues running long into the future. But, consumer advocates have uncovered cases of mechanics charging customers for services they didn't provide. You need to make sure that you're getting what you paid for.
For the average driver, the difference is never noticed. Since most people take their cars in for a lube job more often than is really necessary anyway, they may not even experience any ill effects from a faux-service every other time they visit. But, there's certainly no reason to pay for services you aren't getting. There are a few ways to ensure that you're getting what you pay for every time.
Find a Trusted Mechanic
This is the first, and most important, step to making sure that you're really getting an oil change when you pay for one. Don't bring your car to any shop you haven't researched ahead of time. How do you do this research? There are a number of ways. Getting recommendations from the people you know is probably the best way. You can look online for reviews. Check the Better Business Bureau for outstanding complaints. Check to see if any shops in your area have been given awards from local publications. When you're in trusted, honest hands, you don't have to worry about checking to make sure that you haven't been scammed.
Mark the Filter
If you suspect you could be paying for oil change services you aren't getting, you can always mark your oil filter. Changing out this filter should be part and parcel with the procedure, so if you find that it wasn't changed out, there is a problem. All you have to do is sign your initials using a permanent marker and check it when you get home from the shop. If your initials are still there, you have powerful proof you can bring back with you if you choose to confront them about their scam or sloppy service, whatever the case may be.
Inspect the Dipstick
One of the easiest ways to make sure that you have fresh lubricant after an oil change is to just look at it. Remove the dipstick and examine what you find. Lubricant that has been used for a few months is going to appear dark to the eyes, and it may feel gritty to the touch. Fresh lubricant is going to look much different. It should have a light golden color and it should be very smooth when you rub it between your fingers. If it's a close call oneway or the other, don't worry about it. You could just be looking at residual engine debris. If it is black and gritty, however, chances are you were taken advantage of.
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