7 Oil Change Ripoffs, Scams, and Problems To Avoid

Oil Change Scams


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Oil Change Scams

Service Shop Scams

Although doing your own car maintenance might be tough for apartment dwellers and the mechanically inexperienced, changing your oil at home makes sense. The process itself is cheap and easy, and more importantly, you can guarantee that you’re doing honest work. 

The same can’t be said for quick lube shops where scams, ripoffs, and shoddy maintenance are more common than you’d think

What could go wrong? Well, we’ve got a list of seven scams and ripoffs that you could encounter at commercial oil change shops.

Mechanic is preparing an oil filter change at a modern car engine

1. They Might Not Change Your Filter

There’s no guarantee that your mechanic will change your filter. In fact, they might even lie and say they’ve replaced it while leaving the old one installed. That could ruin your engine, experts say. To ensure that your mechanic is honest, ask that they put your old filter in a bag.

Pouring oil to car engine. Fresh motor oil poured during an oil change to a car
Phynart Studio/istockphoto
Car mechanic talking with customer

3. They’ll Upsell You

Shady quick lube shops take advantage of the fact that most customers know next to nothing about cars. Here for our cheap oil change? Well, you’ll also need to flush your steering and brake fluid, they might say. In one investigation, CBC News found that one shop that recommended unnecessary services increased the final bill by more than 10 times what a typical oil change would cost.

Shot of a woman talking to a mechanic in an auto repair shop

4. They Might Overcharge You

If you think about what an oil change actually entails — a filter and around four quarts of oil — you’ll realize it’s cheaper to do at home. Whereas the average oil change ranges from $20 to $100, it should cost around $30 to $45 to do at home. While that doesn’t include extra tools you may need, such as a ramp and filter wrench, you’ll save money in the long run.

Related: Car Expenses That Are Really Worth the Money

Auto repair shop - motor oil change
In auto repair shop...Car mechanic is changing engine oil
car maintenance and repair - mechanic writing checklist paper on clipboard

7. They’ll Be In a Hurry

In a rush to service many vehicles, some shops might not complete the oil change properly. This could mean not filling enough oil, or leaving caps and plugs improperly secured, leading to leaks or engine damage.

Related: How Often You Really Need to Take Your Car in for Service