The IUSB Vision Weblog

The way to crush the middle class is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation. – Vladimir Lenin

The Dreaded Oil Change

Posted by iusbvision on February 18, 2007

Winter’s finally here and we all are making preparations for the new season. For most women, this is the opportunity to buy boots, coat, scarves, gloves, matching purse, and … an oil change???

There is nothing I despise more in this world than sitting in a waiting room leafing through Better Homes and Gardens  and Popular Mechanics magazines while waiting for a half hour for my car to be lubed up for the next 3,000 miles. This isn’t the worst of the torture.

After waiting for a while, a guy in overalls walks into the office and brings me outside to my car and asks me what kind of oil I want and to show me my air filter. Just when I think everything is fine, he pulls up on his screen that my car needs its tires rotated every X miles and that for the price of Y they could do that today as well as put weather-protected windshield wipers or something for an extra fee. I become annoyed and tune him out after he asked asks me what type of oil I preferred.

I understand this man was probably just trying to do his job.  If he was providing maintenance to me like a doctor would, I would want to know all of my options. I guess if I was more knowledgeable and confident about cars, then I wouldn’t feel inferior at the garages. It’s like the mechanics pick up on the uncertainty and thrive on it.

I know my oil needed to be changed. To me, oil is just oil even if the label proclaims to be “high performance” or for “3,000+” (this is where my ignorance shines). I also know when I say, “I would like an oil change, please” does not translate to “Change my oil, rotate my tires, give me new headlights, wipers, underbody, tune-up, and your complementary cups of coffee”.

Stacy Rummel

One Response to “The Dreaded Oil Change”

  1. Chuck Norton said


    This is a great piece. It shows why an oil change place needs a salesman/service writer who is more sensitive to the customers needs.

    Perhaps I can help out! :-)

    The oil change place will always show you the air filter, but will rarely tell you that it really should not be changed. Most air filters are a little bit dirty but are not clogged. If it is clogged it will be all almost all blackened with dirt or sludge, with almost no white or yellow showing on the side of the fins of the air filter.

    The oil change place will usually just imply that the air filter should be changed, even if it shouldn’t. This puts the customer in the position of feeling like a dork if they don’t know the right answer to give right away, so many buckle and just say “change it”…. and the price is often too high to be reasonable.

    Your observation that they pick up upon the uncertainty of a customer and thrive on it is often right on the mark.

    As far as oil is just oil, this is where the oil change place has a point. Oil is not just oil, different brands of oil interact with the metal in different ways and depending on the type of engine that you have there are differing weights of oil and it is important to know what the correct weight of oil should be for your car.

    Also, for some who buy a car new it is a common practice among people to only use one brand of oil through the entire life of the engine. I am the same way. I use Valvoline (or the generic of Valvoline is car-quest brand oil) in my vehicles.

    I hope this helps out some.

    By the way, I should have mentioned this a long time ago, you really are a fabulous writer.

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