Common Oil Change Scams and How You Can Avoid Them

oil changeNo one likes getting scammed, but unfortunately, thousands of people very years are still duped into paying for something they do not need, simply because they are not aware that some unscrupulous oil change stations will look for and take advantage of people that do not know very much about their own vehicles. You don’t have to be a car expert to know when you are being scammed and what you can do to avoid it. Because the oil change is an extremely common maintenance task for most people, it is where most people are likely to be scammed. Here’s what you need to be aware of:

1. They made a bunch of repairs while you were away. Some oil change stations will actually take a look at your engine and your tires to make sure everything is proper working order, while they are draining your oil or putting new oil in your vehicle. They may even make a few minor repairs for you—but they shouldn’t make any of those repairs without actually asking you if you want them made. Shops that say that they couldn’t ask you because you dropped your vehicle off and left are probably just trying to make a buck off of you. Here’s the long and short of it: don’t pay for anything that you didn’t specifically ask for and which you didn’t specifically tell them it was alright to do. They might try to entrap you into paying for those repairs, but if they didn’t ask you if it was alright to make any repairs (if they even made the repairs they claim to have made), you’re not obligated to pay for any additional work and it is illegal for them to try to hold your car until you pay for work you didn’t authorize. If necessary, you might need to call the police.

2. They showed you someone else’s air filter and told you it was yours. This scam is surprisingly common, so common, actually, that when I last took my own Kia in to have its oil changed while we were on a road trip, the shop tried this scam on me, not knowing that I’d just had my air filters replaced, before we left on the trip and knew there was no way those black, dusty filters were mine. You will probably need to have your filters replaced every 20,000 miles or so, but if you’re not convinced that the air filter they’re showing you is yours, ask them to show you where exactly in your vehicle the air filter came from. The best way to avoid this type of scam is to know when your filters were last replaced and how often your specific brand recommends replacements.

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3. They find a bunch of issues with your vehicle when it went up on the hoist. This is a scam that shops will often try to pull on people that they think are not very car savvy. As you’re sitting, waiting for your oil to be changed, they might call you back and tell you that when they put your car on the hoist, they discovered that there were a bunch of things wrong with it, probably things that sound very technical and are difficult to describe to the average person with a limited understanding of how a car works. The best way to avoid this scam? Learn a little bit about your vehicle. When they start trying to speak gibberish at you, hoping you won’t understand what they are talking about, ask them to show you specifically on the vehicle what the issue is and to explain it to you until you understand what exactly the problem is. They’ll probably give up, instead of trying to continue the charade.

4. They tell you it’s time for a service that it’s not actually time for. This is similar to the air filter scam, but on a larger scale. They’ll tell you that you need new tires, that you need new oil filters, that you need new spark plugs, etc., hoping that you do not have a maintenance schedule in your vehicle (which, if you own a Kia, you do), and that it is not updated. Many different shops can charge you for performing services on your vehicle that your vehicle didn’t really need. You probably don’t need a new oil filter every time you get your oil changed. If you’ve been paying for one, you have been throwing money down the drain. You can prevent being taken in by this scam by always marking the service you have in your maintenance schedule and by checking that schedule any time they try to tell you that you are in need of a service. It’s nice when you go to a shop that is willing to go the extra mile and take care of other maintenance at the same time you’re having your oil changed, but only if you actually need those services to be performed.

What’s the best way to avoid being scammed when you are having your oil changed? Bring your Kia back to our dealership! We have a location in Allentown and as well as Turnersville, which makes it convenient to get your oil changed without having to worry about being duped by the mechanics changing that oil. You know you can rely on our skilled, honest technicians to change your oil properly and to take care of any other service you might need!