If they offer me coupons, it’ll get ugly

By Mir
November 6, 2006

So, a funny thing was happening with my car. Being the sort of person who is right on top of my car’s performance and maintenance, I’d barely noticed.

But when Otto was here, I started the car up one morning and it stalled. “That’s not right,” he said. “You need to get that looked at.”

“Really?” I countered. “No, see, it’s okay! Because if I restart it, it’s perfectly fine!” And then I backed down the driveway, threw the car into Drive, and ignored it when the transmission slipped and the engine revved and the car didn’t move for a second.

“ACK!” said Otto. “TAKE. YOUR. CAR. TO. THE. DEALER!”

I do not like to make Otto ack. I was suitably chastened.

The first thing I did, in an effort to both fix my car and maintain my preferred level of denial, was to take my car in for its long overdue oil change. I thought maybe that would make everything better.

Well, the oil change did not magically repair my car. Go figure.

I called the dealer to see about bringing the car in, and we went round and round for a bit (they do free loaner cars, which is very nice, but I haven’t quite figured out the proper ass-kissing protocol to be promised one right off the bat), and we settled on me bringing the car in this morning. They couldn’t promise me a loaner, but I agreed to give them an hour for diagnostics, at least.

Once I arrived and started describing the problem, I mentioned that it only happens when the car is started cold. Which presented a problem in terms of diagnosing the issue in an hour, because the car was now warm from my drive over, and an hour wouldn’t be enough time for it to cool down. So they decided to give me a loaner and let me leave.

I went about my day and got the call late this afternoon; had I been doing my scheduled maintenance, ma’am?

Little warning bells went off in my head.

Which scheduled maintenance were we discussing, I countered. I bought that car less than a year ago. It wasn’t due for anything major. What’s the problem?

Well, ma’am, have you been doing your oil changes at least?

Aha! I felt triumphant as I smugly encouraged him to check the sticker on the windshield—I’d just had the oil changed a week ago!

Oh, he said. Well. You’re going to need to go back there, ma’am.

My confusion only grew as it was explained to me that not only was my transmission fluid dangerously low (the same fluid that was supposedly JUST CHECKED), but I was missing an oil gasket and as a result, had an oil leak. Oh, no worries; the dealer fixed me right up and I got my car back.

But I’m thinking that the oil change place is definitely going to refund my money for the oil change, seeing as how they claimed to check my fluid (they did not) and stole my gasket, and I had to have another oil change today. (Okay, I’d been meaning to have the oil changed a little more often, but I didn’t mean EVERY WEEK.) I’m also thinking that maybe they should pay for the service I had to have done today. And I’m sure you would never guess this from reading me, but my voice sure can carry when I want it to. Just sayin’.

Is it wrong that I’m sort of looking forward to this?

The only problem is, Chickadee is having her teeth pulled tomorrow, and I probably shouldn’t drag her to the local oil change place. At least, not unless I can figure out a way to blame THAT on them, too. (“You people left me with an oil leak that caused crowding on my daughter’s lower jaw! LOOK ASHAMED!”)

Okay, Operation Retribution may have to wait a day. Those damn kids, they’re always getting in the way of my righteous indignation what with their LIVES and NEEDS. Sheesh.


  1. Aubri

    Honestly, I think it would be hillarious if you did try to blame the oil change place for Chickadee’s lower jaw crowding. I wonder how they would react… heh.

  2. Cele

    Oh, if you run short of fouled oil change indignation, just call me for a booster shot, I’ve got plenty left over from my last bout with them.

  3. Brigitte

    Hopefully they give you at least a refund, rather than what we got: a coupon for a free oil change at a place you don’t trust any more!!

  4. Kim

    They should at least give you a refund. They have messed stuff up on my truck and now I stand and watch what they do. My father makes me:o)

  5. Meritt

    Oh my gosh… I can’t believe you are missing your oil gasket. WHAT kind of place did you go to for your oil change? Wow.

    I hope they don’t give you a hard time and deny it!!!

  6. Bob

    but what did the dealer say was the problem with the car stalling?

    the oil change place should grovel about the oil seal & not checking your fluid levels. BUT, if you’d been checking it yourself all along it wouldn’t have gotten low in the first place.

    (just in case Otto doesn’t have the courage to speak up, I thought I’d present this point of view. this is an unpaid political announcement of the male car care club and approves it’s contents.)

  7. Niki

    I once had a Jiffy Lube tell me that my serpentine belt was badly cracked and needed to be replaced NOW. They didn’t have one in stock (it was a Kia, nobody ever had parts!), but if I would go to the auto parts store and buy one, they would put it on for me for $60. Hubby said the worst it would do was just stop running, but not mess up anything, so we waited. At my next oil change (somewhere else), they looked at it and said it was fine. So the question remains – which place was lying – the first or the second? I say give the oil change place hell – they deserve it – if their main service is an oil change and fluid check, they should at least get that part right!

  8. Jenn2


    You crack me up. I may use that on the kids today.

  9. el-e-e

    Honestly, I don’t know HOW you manage to keep making oil change stories funny. A testament to your writing talent. :) Good luck with it all.

  10. Ruth

    Skewer the bad (presumably men) trying to take evil advantage on delicate, innocent, trusting crowning-flower-of-creation ladies. Every Rose has its thorn for a good reason. Teach them to treat you gingerly.

    For the rest of you guys who wouldn’t dream of it – they only make you look better. But you should mow them down instead of letting the weeds choke you out. Guys hold guys accountable more effectively than ladies do.

    Thank Goodness for Otto, huh? Engines and transmissions are valuable tools to have at our disposal. Maybe he’ll give you a crash course in jargon so they’re less likely to perceive you as an easy target. When I learned to ask pointed questions they stopped trying stuff on me. They also like the ego boost from being asked.

    Salt and pepper go together, so I’m inviting you to add a few grains for balance.

  11. Aimee

    I have an EXTREME SURPLUS of righteous indignation left over from our battle with Cingular over the $50+ of bogus text-messaging charges we were getting every month. I bet if I send you mine and you combine it with yours, you can get them to refund your money, pay for your other charges, pay for Chickadee’s teeth, and chip in for the wedding!

  12. InterstellarLass

    I’m horrible about getting my oil changed. Can you believe I didn’t know you had to do it every 3,000 miles? Yeah. My first car I ever bought died a sad death when the engine siezed…

  13. Laura

    Just a quick tooth extraction note. Our daughter had two teeth pulled this summer and was so intrigued by the numbness in her lip she chewed and chewed on it and really hurt herself. I guess it is fairly common in younger kids (she was 6) and I know Chickadee is older but I thought it was worth mentioning. The extraction was a piece of cake, but Em was so traumatized by her lip hurting after that when we get the next two teeth extracted they are going to have to put her under because she is so freaked out!

  14. Amy-Go

    AAAAAAAACK!! I have been gone too long! And I have missed so much! I am so ridiculously thrilled about your engagement news! And so sorry to have been out of touch so long. I’m sure you thought I died. But enough about me! You’re ENGAGED! WOOOOOOOOOT!

    *stops commenting to dance merrily about and possibly do a little hallelujah-ing in the front yard* ;)

  15. Niki

    Oh – and I forgot to comment on the ACK. Personally I channel Bill the Cat every time I hear that.

  16. Latte Man

    Idignation at the Oil Change Place is good. However (believe or not I do really hate to be the bearer of potential ill news), that doesn’t explain why your transmission Fluid is LOW. Sure, the Oil Change Place should have checked it. BUT, Transmission Fluid is not something that typically “burns off” or “leaks” unless there is a problem.

    While it may seem to run “perfectly fine” right now, it fixed the symptoms, and not the problem. At the very least, keep an eye on the situation (i.e. look for staining where you park your car).

  17. Susan

    Give ’em hell!

    One line I learned, years ago, was, “How are you going to compensate me for this?” By wording it that way, it’s a GIVEN — not an option. Also, if they try to pawn off a coupon on you, say you would rather just get your money back because you don’t plan on doing business there again.

    Also, I’ll ask my husband what he thinks the low tranny fluid might indicate, along with the stalling. He’s owned several shops and has been a mechanic for 25 years. He’s GOOD!

  18. Monica

    Before I was allowed to get my drivers licence my dad insisted I know how to check all the fluids and change the oil in my car. I also had to know how to adjust the timing, but that was because my car had “issues”.

    When I met my husband, his policy was to have his oil changed before every road trip. Well that worked just fine when he was single and running off with his friends every month or two for a weekend away, but after almost a year of dating (and only one road trip) I noticed the little reminder sticker showed that he was seriously overdue for an oil change. We drove to dad’s as he has a hoist in his garage making oil changes simple, and well… it took a while as the oil was only semi liquid.

    I have now reformed him (or dad did, one or the other) and he is very good about regular maintenance.

  19. Vicky

    Good grief! It’s no longer acceptable to check your website weekly. Look how much I’ve missed! You’re getting married now? Didn’t you JUST have a car accident? Didn’t you JUST have a boob/puss incident? Things are just going too fast for me around here…but better late than never with the congrats right?


    (I’m gonna have to stop working so much at my job and stop to read you daily…my boss won’t mind, cause you’re getting married!)

  20. Liise

    BILL THE CAT! I thought I was the only one.

    *grins madly*

  21. Daisy

    How about a combination of events to gain sympathy from the very ashamed oil change place? Chickadee gets her teeth out, and while she’s still woozy from the gas, stop by the oil change place and say, “I can’t stay long because my child is about to pass out, so decide right now: how are you going to compensate me?” To rush things further, have Chickadee look nauseated and hold a bucket.

  22. Katherine

    Oh unbelievable!! Let ’em have it, make ’em weep.

  23. Her Bad Mother

    Retribution can wait a day. Then, let ’em have it.

  24. David

    Katey bar the door, and Heaven help those poor slobs when Righteous Indignation shows up. I got lazy once myself and started taking my car in for oil changes. That all stopped though when the guy started talking out his butt about my fuel injection system. I guess he thought since I wasn’t doing the work myself, I didn’t know anything about my car. Oaf! They should know better than to try that crap on a “car guy”. Go get ’em, Tiger!

  25. Javajabber

    Make sure that BEFORE you go to the oil place to get a refund and your parts reinstalled, you bring a signed statement from your dealer saying what was missing and what was wrong. They can’t argue with something that’s in writing. Good luck.

  26. Muirnait

    Definitely blame them for the lower jaw crowding, and I also like Aimee’s idea of having them chip in for the wedding!
    And Javajabber sounds so smart and well planned out. I’m gonna have to try to learn from you guys…wowsas.
    Me, I’m boring…I take my car to the dealer for all its scheduled maintenance (and they call me if I fall behind) but I don’t know a thing about my car or how it runs.

  27. peepnroosmom

    One of my hubby’s favorite pastimes is irritating the oil change place. They have a 30 minutes or it’s free policy. He is ticking down the seconds just to get the next one free.
    Bill the Cat. I haven’t thought of him in AGES! ACK!

  28. sumo

    Mir’s experience is probably more about incompetence than outright deception, but on a related note check out this Jiffy Lube story:

  29. Shiz

    Grrr. We seethe with rage. How dare they touch your baby!

  30. dorothy

    I once had someone poke a hole in my radiator while changing oil. I had to be towed 225 miles – this happened right before I left to drive to Iowa for Thanksgiving.

    Fun times, those cars.

  31. MommyHAM

    My Charlie Brown, while a semi-blockhead as a domestic partner, is a mechanical genius, and thus works on cars for his trade. He tells me HORROR stories about the hack-jobs at the oil/lube places….and, get this…the dealer he works for does the oil change at a cheaper rate than most of those get-ups, and so people think they are saving $$ by going to the oil/lube places, but really they aren’t. Especially when things like this happen……Makes me appreciate Charlie Brown’s mechanical prowess, right in my own backyard.

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