Quick Lube Shops - Pros and Cons
Everyone has heard of oil changes and how vital they are for the health of your vehicle. It also happens to be one of the least complicated maintenance tasks. But what's so special about draining and refilling some oil?
No surprise that lots of folks prefer to go the cheapest and fastest route - just to pop by the nearest Quick lube shop. And certainly why not? It is certainly the least hassle and quicker that a proper repair shop (not to mention a dealer) by a mile - no appointments, no changes to a regular commute or errands routine, in most cases you do not even have to step out of your car. Just occupy yourself for 20-30 min while the fluids are being changed and off you go. It could potentially be cheaper as well, but not necessarily.
But that's pretty much where all the pros end. So what about the cons?
- Low skill labor. That's the main disadvantage of any quick lube shop. Meeting a certified technician at a quick lube shop is like bumping into a French cuisine chef at Wendy's. By regulation, quick lube shops do not have to have a certified auto technician on location and they are free to hire anybody capable of breathing and lifting a wrench without external help. Even if such individual never opened a hood before. Now would you be comfortable with somebody with such impeccable credentials doing anything to your German car?
- Oils and fluids. In most cases the quick lube shop use generic universal grades of oil. One type of mineral engine oil for all domestics and one type of "synthetic" for all imports. They simply cannot and would not store oils recommended or approved by and for each car brand. Every German OEM will have their own very specific requirements for fluids that go into their cars. And fluids that meet such requirements should be OEM-approved. This becomes critical if your vehicle is still under warranty. In case you have a problem with your engine the selling dealer will ask for proofs of regular maintenance. And do you think they will be satisfied with an invoice, saying "Full synt euro oil" without any further specifics?
- High quality filter. Have you ever thought how quick lube shop manage to stock filters for all numerous brands and models of cars? Easy - again, they have some universal generic "filters" that kind of fit most cars. Because if they went vehicle-specific, they would need the second building for a warehouse. The problem with these generics is that they are no-name and often of lowest possible quality. In fact, as our experience shows, rather than protecting your engine they might destroy it instead as they fall apart during operation.
- Drain plug seal rings and tightening with recommended torque. All the time we see drain plugs that have damaged threads. The culprit, just like with filters, is that even if the person who changes your oil ever bothers to install a new seal, they would have to use a universal/generic one. To compensate, they would tighten the plug as much as possible and in the process destroys the thread in the oil pan. To repair it the oil pan has to come off which in some cases can be a 10-15 hour job in itself.
- Vehicle inspection. A quick lube shop main service is vehicle fluids replacement. So they are totally motivated to recommend it to you every time you visit them - even if such fluid change may not necessarily required, or possible. Whereas a qualified auto technician, while performing a quick inspection during an oil change, will be able to point out at a really urgent jobs and at things that you have to bear in mind or keep an eye on, but which can be postponed to a later date.
- Service interval indicator reset. One might think that it is no big deal if the Service Due light is still on when you drive away from the quick lube shop. The problem though is that in some modern German vehicles this information is used by the engine computer and can noticeable affect the engine performance. In the most extreme cases you cannot even measure the oil level without connecting a professional OEM-specific scanner.
As you can imagine, some of these cons can lead to most costly repairs later down the line. While you are saving money for your oil changes is it really worth it in the long run?
We do understand that as a full scale repair facility cannot match neither speed nor convenience of a typical quick lube shop facility. Nevertheless, here at Autogermany we do our best to cut your waiting time, as well as shop time for your vehicle to an absolute minimum. You can drop off your car before our business hours and leave the keys in the drop box. If that option is not for you, we can always schedule your visit at a time that is most suitable for you, and if you choose to wait, our cozy waiting area with free WiFi, coffee and cable TV is at your service. You can also be sure that we use the top quality fluids and filters specific to your vehicle which will help to keep you vehicle in a perfect condition.
Here at Autogermany we strive to be your Edmonton Auto Repair experts with our quality parts and trained staff to give you the best auto repair experience.