Cars – Replace Instead of Repair

Huge multitudes of people depend on cars to get around. A vehicle in good operating condition can mean the difference between getting to a job and not having one. Access to food, laundry, hair care, sporting events, church, unique nature areas, family in other locales, and a variety of services are usually facilitated by a working vehicle.

Three common problems exist in sustaining a good ride. 

Low-Quality Quick Oil Change Places

Experiences I have had in the past few months leaning on quick oil change places was quite informative. Searches I’ve done on the web recently match my experience. The quick oil change places are a bad deal overall.

You can get lucky and find a good one for a time, but staff turnover and changes in business model can lead to bad quality. The biggest problem is a gullible public who trusts that a good job was done. Many cases exist of improper oil changes due to many reasons.

Little in most people’s experience informs them their oil change was done properly.

  • Did the technician just put in 1 quart of oil instead of the full 5.5 or 6?
  • Were shortcuts taken on re-attaching the oil pan screw?
  • Maybe the oil filter was applied the wrong way?

Most people can’t know due to either a lack of tools or experience with oil change procedures. Perhaps you live somewhere that has rules that prohibit putting a car on a crank to either do your own oil change or even verify that it was done properly.

Sure, a quick oil change place may show you a dip stick after pulling it out of a hot engine, but is that truly reliable? What about an auto shop manager who has techs who don’t like that person, overworked, underpaid, or otherwise just too inexperienced to consistently do a good job?

Were you unlucky enough to have your oil change done at a place that just had a staff change over? I experienced all of this in the past few months but didn’t think much about it. I should have.

Quick oil change places have problems. Their problems affect your car.

Time Needed for Quality Oil Changes

Many retail chains will close at 5pm. True, some are extending their hours to 7pm. Can you get to a quality place in time after work to get your oil change and avoid the temptation to get service at a low quality quick change shop?

You pull into the parking lot of a retail chain. You go in and minutes later, the service advisor states they are at capacity and can do no more oil changes that day. You smile politely and leave but are inwardly frustrated at arriving an hour before they close only to be turned around. A situation like that is not their fault.

The inability to get an oil change on time reveals a bigger issue. The population of people is surging and these old approaches to retail building architecture, construction, and staffing isn’t keeping up. The day you show up may be the only day you can appear at the shop that week. Not getting quality service that day could lead to major car problems weeks later. Your only reliable option is taking time off work. That means making an appointment with a quality service shop. Possibly getting a rental car. Otherwise, hoping the shop has complimentary car shuttle service that can take you to and from work. If not, budgeting for a taxi on those days.

Quality oil change places/situations have additional time requirements. They are exclusive by definition. Their exclusivity affects your car.

Quality Auto Repair

Finally, when the car is damaged or no longer works you are at a point of decision. Replace or repair.

I can remember a time not too long ago where many retail chains seldom offered certain car repair services. Anyway, they do more now than they once did but I see often occurring through the labor of young technicians. Many young techs are graduating from tech school with good foundational skills and knowledge but without the experience base to do a great job. Or, time limits are imposed internally in the shop by management who decides it is not profitable to follow through on an issue.

The result is sometimes a circus act between customer and shop trying to chase the right resolution. A part may have been promised to arrive at a certain time but actually took so long to get that it changes the equation substantially. That can lead to more promises that when broken further erodes trust. Usually, the result is a poor outcome in the tangible and in reputation. I will give you example.

Go in to do a repair for one thing “knowing for a fact” the operational state of a car. Later, after the one thing is addressed, you end up with 3 or 4 things messed up that wasn’t messed up before. They got messed up as a result of unscrewing things to get to the one thing. Basically, take out some things and then put those things back. The problem is those things don’t get put back in right. Sometimes things go wrong like the plastic covering security light panel on the top of your dash is split in two because the electrical was not rewired good last time around. Now, the turn signal and hazard lights work after the 4th or 5th go round.

How do you get into that kind of circumstance? It starts with bad quality oil change service. Ends with trying to preserve a vehicle out of anxiety.

When the car breaks, have it towed to the junk yard and get a used car. The internet on your smart phone or the tow truck operator knows where the junk yard is located. Not thinking about or being familiar with a junk yard is an error of thinking. Just tow it to the junk yard and switch to another used car. That is far more a streamlined and reliable process than trying to preserve a vehicle in most cases.

Lesson Recap

Avoid quick change oil places. They are not as good as advertised due to internal politics, cheap oil that isn’t profitable to begin with, and the nature of doing something fast versus doing it right.

Plan out your oil change at a quality oil change place. You must take time off to ensure you can continue to spend less on car maintenance. Even better if you can change the oil yourself.

Always replace the car. Car repairs over a certain amount isn’t worth it unless you and the techs have a beyond great understanding. Know about junk yards.

First act when the car declines dramatically is to tow it to the junk yard, call a taxi, try a rental car for a 1 or 2 days until you get a used car. You’ll end up better off that way.

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