Red-i-Lube is ‘The Smoking Engine’

Melissa writes in a a comedy of car errors, a spiral of compounding auto troubles and escalating costs. A simple oil change ends up as an engine getting replaced and several hundred dollars. Now she wants to know if she should take Red-i-Lube to small claims court. You be the judge, after the jump.

Let me first say I am a fan of your site – I find the postings both informative and interesting.

Your call for anecdotes inspired me to write about a bad experience I had with Redi-Lube – an oil change company based out of Worcester, MA.

In August 2005 I brought my car to them for an oil change. Several weeks later, I broke down on the side of the highway. When inspected by my mechanic I was informed the engine was dry – completely void of oil. I confronted Redi-Lube and they conceded it had been an employee error in replacing the oil filter. They offered to replace my engine with a used engine, however they would not allow me to use my own mechanic. I was fairly happy with the results… Redi-Lube even fixed an exhuast problem I was having with the vehicle free of charge as a “show of good faith.” The owner also gave me a 6 month/6000 mile warranty on the work. I was told that I would receive the warranty in the mail. I never did.

Then a few weeks later the check engine light came on in my vehicle. I brought the vehicle back to Redi-Lube. No one contacted me for a week. I finally called and was told that my catalytic converter was the cause of the check engine light, but that was not covered under warranty. When I talked to my mechanic, he told me that the specific part of the catalytic converter malfunctioning was attached to the replacement engine Redi-Lube had put in, but this would be difficult to prove. At this point I wrote a letter to the owner of Redi-Lube and explained the situation.


The owner insisted that he had taken off the catalytic converter from my old engine and put it on the replacement engine, although he failed to mention it to me at the time. He was nasty on the phone, saying he was hurt by my letter because he had tried to be fair throughout this process. In the end he offered to pay for the parts necessary to fix the problem, but I would have to pay for labor. Considering this was an $800 job and I would only have to pay for $200 I agreed. Now, 7 months later and well beyond the mileage covered by warranty, I find out that the wiring done when they replaced the engine is wrong causing two fans to come on when the engine starts, which drains power from the engine. My mechanic said it could cost up to $400 to find the wiring problem and fix it. Now I wonder if I should take Redi-Lube to small claims court for reimbursement.

Any thoughts? Thanks for the time to rant.