$70 for an oil change? WTH?

I've had German cars for years--VW, BMW, and now two Mercedes--and I think $70 is high. Many places choose not to work on Mercedes, even oil changes, so we sometime go to the dealer. Even there, I think it's $50 max. The BMW and VW generally ran $39.95. On the plus side, the oil doesn't need to get changed as often so it's probably a wash.

You didn't say what kind of German car you have. If it's a VW, this doesn't really apply; but if you have a Mercedes, I highly recommend only having it serviced (including oil changes) by either a dealer or a place that specifically says they work on Mercedes. The last time we had the oil changed by a non-Mercedes shop, they put the wrong oil filter in and we burned through oil way too quickly. I'm not certain if the two things were related, but it's been fine since we went back to the Mercedes guy. We've been burned a few other times on things like brakes, so now I just stick with the non-dealer Mercedes mechanic.

Before anyone asks, I have no idea why it's harder to find places to work on Mercedes than BMW. It might not be like this in other cities.
Also, I'm not sure how old your car is, but our German cars have all used synthetic oil. It should say in the owners manual what kind of oil they recommend. I don't think that was dishonest.

Our old Ford Explorer used regular oil and lower octane gas and we could get the oil changed for $20. I think my old Honda was the same way. I've had to get the $39.95+ synthetic oil change since I had my 2000 Passat.
It's an Audi. And it's turbo-charged, so I don't know if that matters.

Ironically, the maintenance warranty expired in December. The warranty paid for every other oil change. It seems questionable that they decide to recommend the expensive oil now that they don't have to pay for it.

I don't know much about cars and mechanics, etc. If I'm in the wrong here, let me know and I'll shut up about it. But I feel a little taken advantage of, and I don't know how to respond to the survey. Plus, Audi USA always calls to ask about my experience, and I don't want to bash the dealership if it didn't do anything inappropriate.
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Lolo which dealership did you use? Many of the dealerships in DSM have been bought by Lithia, which isn't that bad of a company. They have been headhunting my husband to work for them. I think in the near future they will buy the Honda dealership he works for.

The service advisor should have explained to you what the differences are between regular oil and synthetic. We switched over to synthetic years ago, it is much better than regular.

I think $70 is a bit much but I don't know how much is normal for an oil change. DH does all that at home, he refuses to pay for something so simple to do. I think what part of the price you paid was due to the high cost of oil a few months ago. Dealerships buy barrels of oil in huge amounts, so if they bought it last summer when it was over $100 a barrel the customer pays a higher price. Plus synthetic is more expensive period.

I would let Audi know about your complaint, don't feel bad about it. That's why they ask you to do it. Maybe they might pay for your next oil change.
At the very least, they should've briefly explained what advantage/disadvantage to synthetic oil. Since they do not have to pay for the oil change anymore, yes, it looks self-serving to me. I think you got duped, but it might not be a bad thing in the long run. You don't need to change the oil as often, so it might be a savings in the long run.
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Well, without having been there, I wouldn't know if you were taken advantage of or not. However, they asked you a standard question, one that I have been asked in the past, you said yes, and they gave you that service based on your answers.

I know more about cars than the average person, thanks to a mechanically minded Dad and I have seen people get totally hosed by mechanics. One told my friend she needed her tires rotated and aligned that they were wearing, I said please show me, and he said oh, you can't see it yet. I told her don't do it, she did it anyway.

But, in this case? It's hard to say. If you had asked about it and they talked over your head or talked down to you, I would say yes. But this seems pretty simple to me.
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I was curious, so I asked my sister what she pays. She has a 2006 Audi A6. She said it's around $50 at the dealer, every 8,000 miles. She said she tried to get it done at Jiffy Lube in October and they told her after they took everything apart that they didn't have the right oil filter. Unfortunately, they didn't put the car back together again properly, resulting in a $200 repair bill.

ETA: She also said that she got the impression that Audi doesn't sell Audi parts for newer models to non-Audi dealers or certified mechanics.

Last edited by mrspoppers; 02-18-2009 at 02:08 PM.
She said she tried to get it done at Jiffy Lube in October and they told her after they took everything apart that they didn't have the right oil filter. Unfortunately, they didn't put the car back together again properly, resulting in a $200 repair bill.
Originally Posted by mrspoppers
Jiffy Lube, Wal Mart, Sears are not worth the money you save. I've heard so many horror stories about people who do take their cars there. There isn't enough oil, to much oil, wrong filter, forgot to put in the drain, didn't tighten everything, over tighten the filter just all sorts of issues. Then want to fight you over the problems and don't have the facilities to fix the mistake.

A dealership is more expensive but you know if there is a problem they will fix it. The shop rates are high sure but dealerships have to carry insurance, pay for training, carry a huge inventory, pay the mechanics and their benifits. I think the standard shop rate in DSM is well over $120 an hour.

If you do want to save alittle money go to a small mechanic shop. You know they don't want to ruin your car, don't want bad word of mouth, and want your repeat business.
Oil has gone up but not that much. A 6pk case of synthetic runs about 35.00 wholesale.

Actually, you can go back to regular oil on your next oil change. The oil is drained and the oil filter changed so basically you'd only have traces of the synthetic oil. You wouldn't be mixing the two.

I remember hearing at one of our marketers meetings that high performance cars are the only ones who really benefit from synthetic oil. And not too sure on the exact comments but also that it does more harm than good on older high mileage cars. Something about it being thinner and there being internal leaks in an engine which the thicker regular oil wouldn't be able to leak in to. .
Originally Posted by YolyC
I was under the impression that synthetic oil doesn't contain petroleum distillates...which conventional oil does contain. When conventional oil is heated, because of the distillates, it swells and expands...which engine seals also swell and expand to accomidate. Synthetic oil is thus thinner....because it doesn't contain the distillates...which can lead to leaks because many of the engine parts have swollen and expanded (those that can...such as gaskets and seals) have expanded.

I did a bit of research and it appears that they now "engineer" synthetic oil...and add petroleum distillates to it to prevent the leakage issues that used to happen from switching from conventional to synthetic.

Now in my linear rational mind, I'm think that if you are engineering synthetic oil to contain petroleum distillates so that it too can swell and expand when heated, what makes it better than conventional oil? There must be something about the performance that makes it the better choice to justify the added expense of using it?

I'm going to have to about this. My BF is gonna love me tonight....cause we get to talk about cars....lol.
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Can you report back tomorrow, NCC?
Hubby and I have German cars (I live in Germany so we try to support the local economy :lol).

We either verify per our owner's manual what oil should go in or we ask up front the cost and if Hubby thinks it is too much, he will purchase the oil in advance and bring it to the dealership.

We always have our cars serviced at the dealership because if any problems occur, we have recourse with the manufacturer.

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She said she tried to get it done at Jiffy Lube in October and they told her after they took everything apart that they didn't have the right oil filter. Unfortunately, they didn't put the car back together again properly, resulting in a $200 repair bill.
Originally Posted by mrspoppers
Jiffy Lube, Wal Mart, Sears are not worth the money you save. I've heard so many horror stories about people who do take their cars there. There isn't enough oil, to much oil, wrong filter, forgot to put in the drain, didn't tighten everything, over tighten the filter just all sorts of issues. Then want to fight you over the problems and don't have the facilities to fix the mistake.

A dealership is more expensive but you know if there is a problem they will fix it. The shop rates are high sure but dealerships have to carry insurance, pay for training, carry a huge inventory, pay the mechanics and their benifits. I think the standard shop rate in DSM is well over $120 an hour.

If you do want to save alittle money go to a small mechanic shop. You know they don't want to ruin your car, don't want bad word of mouth, and want your repeat business.
Originally Posted by hayseedlady
Bingo...

Yep, I always purchase my own oil.

Can't wait to see what you find out ncc
I was told that once you go synthetic there is no going back, as well...
I've always used full synthetic oil because when I was 16 that's what my dad told me to use. However, once I forgot to tell them and they used regular oil and it wasn't a big deal. I just had to get my next oil change sooner than I would have if they had used synthetic. I think synthetic is a much better way to go.
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Jiffy Lube, Wal Mart, Sears are not worth the money you save.
If you do want to save alittle money go to a small mechanic shop. You know they don't want to ruin your car, don't want bad word of mouth, and want your repeat business.
Originally Posted by hayseedlady
This is my thinking too. I found a little shop top go to after my service warranty ended and while it's not super cheap, I am happy with their work and never get the feeling I'm being hoodwinked.
Ok....so here's the report

According to my BF, in the old days (10-15 years ago...lol) there were lots of problems discovered when people would switch from conventional to synthetic oil, espically if the car was older and had been using conventional oil for a long time. Its basicly for the reasons that I mentioned in the previous post. He also said that because they now engineer synthetic oil and put additives in it along with synthetic petroleum distillates, that it minics conventional oil in that regard.

As far as performance, he said that synthetic oil is heads and tails above conventional oil. As conventional oil is used in the engine, it is mixed with air, dust, dirt which is all sucked into the engine. As conventional oil is heated, it begins to break down and becomes thick (the swelling I mentioned earlier) and it also looses viscosity (basicly, it becomes like sludge and its harder for it to flow through the engine). This is why conventional oil must be changed so frequently (3k-5k thousand miles).

Synthetic oil resists breaking down better than conventional oil. It doesn't loose viscosity and it doesn't turn to sludge as fast as conventional oil. Since it is engineered, it DOES break down eventually, but you don't need an oil change as frequent...every 7k-10k miles.

He also said that what most people use in thier cars (if you are switching from conventional to synthetic) is not TRUE synthetic oil...its more of an oil blend of synthetic/conventional oil. Cars that are sold with synthetic oil in the engines (think performance cars and some luxury cars) the oil changes cost MUCH more than $70....try $150 and up. However, they only need oil changes every 15-20K miles (less if its city driving with lots of stop and go).

He also said that if you are a city driver or a driver that drives less than 20 miles a day, or if your commute is a lot of stop and go, then you should get your oil changed more frequently than the standard recommended. The reason why is because when you are stopped at a traffic light....your engine is still moving and turning over...but your odometer is not. Even when the car is stopped, if it is running, then the engine is stilling going...although not as fast as when you are driving....but still moving. So, if you do a lot of stopping and going....there are miles on your engine that your odometer can't record.

So....at this point...my eyes kinda started glazing over because he starting rambling on and on about things like engine size, cylinders, towing capacity, and something about horse power.
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NCC: ha! Sounds like the conversations I've had with my boyfriend... Mechanical Engineer. I can hold my own for a bit, then it's total glaze over.

For those of you that go to Jiffy Lube: a word of warning- check under the hood before you leave the location. Once, about 3 years ago, they didn't replace the cap for the power steering fluid and for 3 weeks it spattered all over under the hood. I just had to have $800 in repairs because even though I cleaned it best I could, over time,it ruined part of the intake system and exhaust recycling valves resulting in a broken vacuum seal it needed to run properly.

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It's an Audi. And it's turbo-charged, so I don't know if that matters.

Ironically, the maintenance warranty expired in December. The warranty paid for every other oil change. It seems questionable that they decide to recommend the expensive oil now that they don't have to pay for it.

I don't know much about cars and mechanics, etc. If I'm in the wrong here, let me know and I'll shut up about it. But I feel a little taken advantage of, and I don't know how to respond to the survey. Plus, Audi USA always calls to ask about my experience, and I don't want to bash the dealership if it didn't do anything inappropriate.
Originally Posted by LoloDSM
My car is an Audi S4, and I paid $85 I think for the last change at Jiffy Lube too. The synthetic is based on the manufacturer's recommendation, and though sometimes I'd question that, my husband bought the car while he was an Audi brand specialist at a dealership. For him to insist on synthetic after we've had the car for a few years, and he's no longer selling them makes me less skeptical.

FWIW, Audi's like many German and Swedish cars, will run forever if maintained, so it's worth the investment in the long run.
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Jiffy Lube, Wal Mart, Sears are not worth the money you save.
If you do want to save alittle money go to a small mechanic shop. You know they don't want to ruin your car, don't want bad word of mouth, and want your repeat business.
Originally Posted by hayseedlady
This is my thinking too. I found a little shop top go to after my service warranty ended and while it's not super cheap, I am happy with their work and never get the feeling I'm being hoodwinked.
Originally Posted by gemini
ITA with this. and DH would agree with NCC's post.

I'm not sure about the other places, but walmart doesn't hire qualified mechanics. I know this for a fact, not only do I know people who used to work there, but also I've had cars ruined by them.

I used to get full service oil changes, you know the one where they check all the fluid levels and top them off. Well they apparently were only putting water in my radiator. After a year, my engine was falling apart from rust.

Another incident, I went there just to get a battery charged. Was there 3 hours! Not to charge the battery. It took 2 hours just to find someone who even knew how to take the battery out. I went through 6 mechanics before finding one who knew out to do it! This was not a new car where the battery is hard to get to either. This was a '85 cadillac, 2 freaking bolts! And of course guy number 6 tried to tell me my battery was bad, despite the fact they previous 5 tested it and said it was ok, just low on juice.
The place that used the wrong oil filter and did a bad brake job on my car was the neighborhood repair shop. The place that fixed these things is also a small repair shop, but they specialize in Mercedes and BMW. Small shops aren't one-size-fits-all.
I always pay around $80 for an oil change & it lasts me for 6,000 miles versus the $30 one for 3,000 miles.
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