Don't Get Your Oil Changed At Walmart

We understand why you might buy socks at Walmart. We even understand why you might buy food there, god help you. What’s the worst that can happen? Salmonella peanut butter? Cold feet? A Walmart oil change, however, is something that gives us pause. Reader Jason writes:

The employees and their manager spent most the time spraying each other with air hoses and windshield fluid. 3 hours later, after seeing other folks come and go, we were told our vehicles were ready. We paid and left quickly, trying to avoid any other confrontation that would delay us even more. Flash forward to last week, my wife told me that her check engine light came on while going to work and the same on the way home.

We have to admit we didn’t know there was such a thing as a Walmart oil change before this letter.

Walmart’s website claims that the most basic oil change package costs $18.88. For that price Walmart’s technicians will:

•Add up to five quarts of oil
• Install new oil filter
• Lubricate chassis (when applicable)

First of all, we hope they meant “change” rather than “add,” but we’re willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. The real question is whether it’s a good idea to cut costs when it comes to your car. From Jason’s email:

I’m no mechanic by any sense of the word, so I was pretty clueless as to what was wrong. I called the local mechanic and made an appointment for today. I get a call from my wife, said that she spoke with the mechanic, fearing the worst, I braced myself for a huge repair bill. The mechanic said that when the oil was changed, oil was spilled all over the engine compartment, after the tech at Wal-Mart realized their mistake they washed the compartment with water, allowing water to seep into the engine where the spark plugs are housed, thus causing the engine sputtering. Our bill ended up being $80.00, not too bad I guess. Should’ve been nothing. Damn you Wal-Mart!

Was it worth the savings? We say the best way to save money on an oil change is to learn to do it yourself. If your lease won’t let you, borrow a friend’s driveway. Cars are fun! If you don’t like getting dirty, consider the fact that car repairs are expensive. Find a qualified person and give them your business. Save 10 bucks on Cheerios or toothpaste, instead. —MEGHANN MARCO

Jason writes:

My wife and I made our first mistake by going to our local Wal-Mart (Kansas City, Missouri) convieniently located among the sprawl near our apartment. We needed to have the oil changed on our cars. I would’ve done it myself, but our lease prevents us from doing any kind of car maintenance in the parking lot. So one fine Saturday afternoon a week or two ago we drove to the automotive side of the building, parked our cars, and went inside. Once inside, we decided on what oil change “package” we wanted. Trying to save a little money, we went with the basic package. I inquired about the wait time and was told about a half hour. While I was sitting in the waiting room I had a good view of the garage bay. The place was a dirty, messy, clusterfuck. The employees and their manager spent most the time spraying each other with air hoses and windshield fluid. 3 hours later, after seeing other folks come and go, we were told our vehicles were ready. We paid and left quickly, trying to avoid any other confrontation that would delay us even more. Flash forward to last week, my wife told me that her check engine light came on while going to work and the same on the way home. She said that it sputtered while accelerating. I’m no mechanic by any sense of the word, so I was pretty clueless as to what was wrong. I called the local mechanic and made an appointment for today. I get a call from my wife, said that she spoke with the mechanic, fearing the worst, I braced myself for a huge repair bill. The mechanic said that when the oil was changed, oil was spilled all over the engine compartment, after the tech at Wal-Mart realized their mistake they washed the compartment with water, allowing water to seep into the engine where the spark plugs are housed, thus causing the engine sputtering. Our bill ended up being $80.00, not too bad I guess. Should’ve been nothing. Damn you Wal-Mart!

Walmart Lube,.Oil & Tire
(Photo: Brave New FIlms)