Walmart's Botched Oil Change Destroys Your Engine

UPDATE: Walmart Refuses To Pay For Engine Damage Caused By Faulty Oil Change
Having just arrived in Paonia, Colorado for the summer, reader Ashlee thought she should get her oil changed. Not yet familiar with the area, she went with a name she recognized–Walmart. The oil change seemed to go fine so Ashlee and her friend decided to embark on a trip to Denver. Thirty minutes into the road trip, she heard a strange noise coming from the engine. She pulled over and intuitively checked the dipstick which revealed zero oil. Ashlee then looked underneath her car and saw oil covering much of the undercarriage. Eventually, she got the car to town where a mechanic discovered that the oil cap had been put on improperly, allowing the oil to escape. Later, she received an estimate from GMC of $5,875 to replace the engine. Ashlee’s letter, inside…

I needed an oil change. After all, I had driven across the country from Georgia to Colorado. Walmart seemed to be an obvious choice, be it that I was unfamiliar with the area, and a familiar name would just be easy and reliable–or so I thought.

Last Saturday I made a decision I would soon regret… I got my oil changed by “oil technicians” and Wally-World. Driving no more than a mile or two each day after that I noticed no problem and was relieved to have the oil changed and taken care of for the time being. Thursday afternoon Courtney and I were excited to be let out of work early, so we packed up the vehicle and hit the road toward Denver for the holiday weekend. No more than 30 minutes into the trip Courtney heard a strange noise and made me listen for it. It didn’t sound normal so we pulled over as soon as the road permitted. Having just gotten the oil changed it was my first thought to check the dipstick. Empty. Nothing. A glance under the car lent a horrifying view of a filthy bottom covered in leaking oil and a smoking drive-train closer to the rear.

My next thought was to get On-Star. Push the button. Nothing. Empty rings into oblivion, then the automated operator informs me that she is unable to connect to On-Star. A lone biker-man stopped, and confirmed what we had already gathered… which was that we were pretty much out of luck. Then another car stopped, leant us a few drops of oil that was left in a bottle he had in his trunk. They advised us to coast back down the mountain and try to get back to Paonia, where we had come from. We made it back, barely. Coasted into the only mechanic in town. Bob the mechanic then informed me that the oil cap was put back on improperly when the oil was changed, causing the o-ring seal to bust and the oil to simultaneously leak out, leaving the engine to run metal on metal and in turn ruin my engine. $4000 was his initial estimate, and that was just a courtesy as he is not actually equipped to replace entire ENGINES!

Keep in mind that I own a 2006 Saturn Vue, which only has 54,000 on it. No prior mechanical problems to speak of, until Walmart’s “technicians” got their hands on it. Currently trying to work with Walmart and their insurance company to see if they will pay for the replacement of my engine, parts & labor, the cost a rental car (since the GMC dealership told me it would take about 2 weeks for repair)… and I want quarts of oil for LIFE! Final estimate from GMC was $5,875!

BOOOOOOO Walmart for sure this time!! Don’t get your oil changed there, go to a REAL mechanic! Just do not shop there, period.

We would like to see Walmart take responsibility for the botched job. Our thinking is that if they can’t even do the retail store thing right, what chance to they have on a car with hundreds of moving parts? You would have actually been better off if Walmart didn’t change your oil at all and just lied about it.

Wal-mart Automotive Center = DEATH & DESTRUCTION! [Ashlee’s Blog]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Miss Scarlet in the Hall with a Revolver says:

    Where does it say Walmart is taking responsibility? She sounds like it is have a tough time. She says “trying to work”.

  2. wmschoenhofer says:

    Hmmmm… Well good luck with Walmart… I had the exact same thing happen to me with my 2006 Honda civic at my Honda dealership. They bitched and whined but after about a week of being persistent, I got all the repairs/rental car taken care of. Although the owner of the dealership told me that “in a prior life I would have beat the shit out of you” it was all worth it.

  3. VicMatson says:

    As usual there might be the other side here. There hasn’t been any O ring on any oil fill cap on any car I’ve ever owned. Drain plug yes, but I check the oil regularly because “ALL” mechanics can cross thread the plug on not tighten it or the cap(lose cap causes slow leak not gushing).

    If you want to understand why this story is missing something just look at an O ring at a car parts store!

  4. ScramDiggyBooBoo says:

    Hmm..I have 2 perfect examples on how this could go either way. A friend of mine had his BRAND NEW cars oil changed at the 3000 mile mark. Well, they did not put the plug in tight enough and it soon fell out. Spilling his oil all over the road, and subsequently destroying his engine. Wal Marts response? “It’s under warranty cause its new, have the manufacturer fix it!” SO..he called Mitsu and they actually threatened Wal Mart with legal action. Wal Mart complied and not only paid for the motor, but also paid for it to be flatbedded to the dealer to be fixed!

    Ok, story 2: Another friend had a Mitsubishi 3000 GT that had a huge amount of motor work done by a local motor shop. Well, they messed up the timing on it, and he immediatley noticed it and pulled over to the side of the road. Now, he KNEW the car had a problem..decided to drive it home, and destroyed the motor. When he told the motor shop about this, they were unwilling to help, because he KNEW that motor had an issue, yet continued to drive it and that could have destroyed it. In this case, he was out a LOT of money. I’m not sure how Wal Mart will look at this, but if you have not told them you drove it AFTER the problem presented itself, i’d leave out that particular detail. Hope the info helps…

  5. chrisgeleven says:

    Reminds me of the time in 1998 when I went to Walmart for an oil change. A few days later I was braking for a stop sign and my brakes failed. Took it to the mechanic, where it was discovered that some idiot at Walmart put oil where the brake fluid was supposed to go. The whole brake system basically had to be replaced.

    My father and I went to wal-mart to complain, but they claimed there is no way this could happen. We went to a lawyer, but was basically told that without me getting injured due to the brakes failing (I managed to pull the emergancy brake just in time at the stop sign), it would be hard to win a lawsuit against Wal-Mart.

    I resolved to never use Walmart for auto repair again.

  6. wmschoenhofer says:

    @VicMatson: Actually on the saturn my wife owned there was a magnetic washer that helped hold the oil filter on. I assume that if that “seal” was not replaced (which would be easy if you were not expecting a magnet stuck to the inside of the oil filter) it would probably leak or come loose easier.

  7. Jaysyn was banned for: says:

    Same thing happened to me at a Jiffy Lube about 12 years ago. They wouldn’t pay, either.

    Granted I was just a dumb punk kid back then. I’d be in their ass with both feet if something like that happened today.

  8. shades_of_blue says:

    This type of mistake has happened at the nearby Walmart on at least two occasions. In one case the car caught fire once the guy pulled into his driveway. The other, the motor seized. In both cases Walmart fronted the bill because they don’t use certified employees in their TLE department.

    So you know, Walmart makes their employees fill the oil level to the book spec, ignoring the dipstick entirely or at least the one by me does. I had a friend who worked there get reprimanded for filling it to the dipsticks fill point and the shift manager made then drain the ‘excess’ oil. Don’t let these kinds of people touch your car, honestly.

  9. bluedragonfly says:

    I’m really not surprised. While I didn’t drive away from a Walmart oil change needing a new engine, I did need other work done as a result of their negligence or stupidity (it’s a toss up there really).

    I made the mistake in December of stopping at a Walmart on the way home from work one night for a long-overdue oil change. My first clue should have been when the employees were complaining about how much they hated their job but I was tired and it was 3,000 miles overdue so I stuck it out. As I was leaving, the right turn signal suddenly didn’t work. Um, ok. Took it back… they fixed it, mumbling that it probably just “fell out” or something. It got fixed for free and I was on my way.

    Fast forward to about a couple weeks later. Being in Ohio, there was a rather nasty snowfall one morning. While I was on my way to work, my windshield wipers stopped working. And my turn signals. I pulled over into a parking lot and noticed I had a blown fuse. Went to an auto parts store, bought new fuses and the problem seemed to be fixed. Used my wipers again and blew the new fuse. So, instead of going to work I headed for a repair shop recommended by the guy at the auto parts store. Turns out, the assembly (bottle, pump, whatever… I don’t pretend to know more than the basics of a car) for the wiper fluid was frozen solid which was causing the fuse to blow (naturally). The guys at Walmart who hated their job put the summer mix of wiper fluid in the bottle. In Ohio. In the winter. Even I know enough to use either a winter or all-season type of wiper fluid.

    It ended up costing me $60 to have the wiper bottle and pump defrosted and refilled with the correct mix of fluid. Yeah… I don’t go to Walmart for much of anything at all anymore, and certainly nothing car-related. I am very thankful it wasn’t more serious!

  10. parrotuya says:

    Never get your oil changed at a discount store! In fact, don’t get it changed at Jiffy Lube or Valvoline quick oil-change places ever. Either find a good independent mechanic or go to reputable dealer. A few years ago, one of those quick oil-change places stripped the thread on the oil plug causing the oil to leak. Since the the engine was aluminum, I had to replace the oil pan at some expense.

  11. rworne says:


    O rings are on certain cars: I have a 2003 Honda S2000 and it has an rubber seal or “o-ring” on the oil cap. Still, I cannot see how a car can run out of oil if the oil cap comes off.

    What I think happened is that the oil filter or drain plug was installed incorrectly and the oil just leaked out. Even so, the car was driven over several days – wasn’t there a big puddle somewhere?

  12. Jim K says:

    No low oil light? No oil warning buzzer? Or did the owner just ignore it (“that light is always on”)? Or was it also conveniently broken?

    I am not making apologies for China*Mart, but the dumbing down of the American motorist is amazing to behold.

    There’s more to this story. I know it.

  13. boomerang86 says:

    I haven’t used a national discount oil change establishment in many years, ever since a Jiffy Lube under car tech placed a filter with TWO gaskets on my 1989 Isuzu I-Mark. Yes, most of the oil leaked out and the oil pressure warning light came on. I IMMEDIATELY shut down the engine and called for roadside assistance since the car was still under warranty.

    The Isuzu dealer located the problem, refilled the engine oil and cleaned everything up; it cost me about $100. which I paid with a credit card. I showed the bill to the JL that did the work, they paid me back in full, in cash, no questions asked.

  14. trogam says:

    I think she should learn how to change the oil herself. Its not that hard. The only issue is you have to then go to the dump to dispose of the oil properly. My dad changes his own oil whenever he needs to do and he showed me how when I was younger. It’ll save you the 15 bucks it takes someone else to do it, not to mention the gas to drive over there.
    I applaud her for going for the most obvious issue first though, and not just thinking it could have been something else. Hooary for common sense!

  15. Dobernala says:

    @trogam: Most auto stores take back used oil too.

  16. Dobernala says:

    @chrisgeleven: I think your lawyer is full of crap, personally. Wal Mart and all the auto service places routinely make stupid mistakes and have to shell out for repair costs. If your car was working fine until you took it in for oil, thats plenty of proof of Wal Mart’s liability.

  17. andrewe says:

    The exact same thing happened to a friend after a Wal-Mart oil change. Same cost to fix too. Wal-Mart did step up though. They offered her a free oil change gift certificate.

  18. AmbiUbi says:

    I had a similar situation happen to a friend of mine. She brought in her Ford for routine 15K service, and the place had left a rag under the hood on the engine. Unfortunately they didn’t find out until her husband pulled into a gas station after picking up the car to fill up and the car caught fire. Luckily he got their son out in time.

    And nobody is taking the blame. I believe Ford insurance has been going after the mechanic, but this happened 3 years ago now and she’s still waiting for a result.

  19. Angryrider says:

    Hmm… I thought it was understood that you can’t go to one place for everything… I guess the OP didn’t realize that.

  20. JediJohn82 says:

    People…it’s not that hard to change the oil yourself! If you know how to screw and pour, then you can change your oil. On top of that, it will cost you about half as much.

  21. Catebb says:

    I had a similiar problem at Jiffylube – someone left the cap off while washing the engine. Jiffylube owned up to their mistake right away atnd arranged a rental for a week while they had the entire engine replaced. This ended up actually being a good thing, as the car had over 100,000 miles on it.

  22. badco/LoJ says:

    @rworne: I think it was the O-ring on the oil filter, not the filler cap.

  23. MrEvil says:

    I can understand taking a car to an oil change place. I take my Crown Vic to an oil change place. The trouble with cars is that they’re low to the ground, so you can’t get underneath them to reach the drain plug without jacking the car up. A good set of ramps is nigh impossible to find these days. Crawling underneath a car supported by a jack or jackstands is not the wisest of decisions either.

    Now, if you own a truck or any type of 4×4 vehicle there’s not much excuse for you not to change your oil on your own. I changed oil on my Explorer and I change my own oil on my F250….all four gallons of it for that Diesel engine.

    As far as disposing of the old oil and filter. My city has an oil recycling bin at several fire houses and I beleive one of the auto parts chains will also take oil fluids and filters off your hands. I can’t remember if it was O’Reilley’s or Auto Zone or Advance.

  24. Bagels says:

    @parrotuya: Exactly. I know people’s situations are different- when I lived in an apartment I couldn’t exactly change the oil in the parking lot as I had no garage…But once I moved into a house, I do as much stuff myself as I can. It takes just as long (~15 min) to do it yourself and anyone with half a brain can do it. Plus doing it yourself will run you about $10 as opposed to $20 and you know the job was done right.

  25. t325 says:

    And people laugh at me when I pay extra for oil changes at the dealer. My dealer uses the VW-required synthetic oil, not the cheapest crap off the shelf. The people they hire passed 4th grade, and my car goes in dirty and comes back shiny and clean. Sure, I can’t go grocery shopping while my car is being worked on, but at least my car will make it home in one piece.

  26. JeffDrummer says:

    Messed up! I hope that they pay, but quarts of oil for life? C’Mon! You’re not Kramer ;)

  27. blong81 says:

    This is why I’d recommend going to a dealer if you were somewhere that you aren’t familiar with. Any dealer will change your oil. It might cost a little more, but their work is warranted better and they are more likely to take care of you if they do something bad to your car.

  28. Asvetic says:

    This is why I change my own oil… it’s easy and cost effective. Plus, I can guarantee that it’s done RIGHT.

  29. facingtraffic says:

    @Bagels: Same here. As I sit I’m trying to figure out if I want to risk taking it to a JL or figure out a way to do it in the street, which strikes me as probably being a wee bit illegal.

  30. bojanb says:

    it has to be an o-ring on the oil cap if it is saturn with euro-opel engine. Most of the european cars and some new toyota-lexus ones have that cartridge style oil filters. That cap needs to be tightened on 25Nm ( cca. 18.3 ft lbs ) and usualy it would be left loos or overtorqued. Sometimes they would monkey wrench it so bad taht the cap it self would crack!!! I’ve seen ones without o-rings, with two orings, with portions of old filters left and new one installed on a top of it, and even ones without filter being installed at all!!!!!

  31. ganzhimself says:

    Hmm, comment system ate my comment… Typical.

    @MrEvil: Using the proper lift points and jack stands to “crawl under the car” is perfectly safe, provided you have hard, level ground. I’d rather take a little risk and be able to afford the “expensive” synthetic oil and the higher quality filter… It usually runs me less than what the dealership charges (only place I would trust to do it right), and I get to know exactly what the oil looked like when it came out and I get to know that I did the job right.

    @trogam: What? Oil isn’t an ideal fertilizer for my lawn? []

  32. ssurfer321 says:

    Moral of the story is after paying someone to change your oil ALWAYS check the dipstick. It doesn’t matter if its a dealer, discount store or your personal mechanic you’ve known forever. Everyone makes mistakes and 30 seconds could save you $5000.

  33. sixsnowflakes says:

    Jiffy Lube on 804 East 400 South in Salt Lake City did the same to me. They forgot to put the plug back in. My lease at the time prevented me from changing my own oil. Luckily it only cost me a tow and not an engine. They never paid.

  34. Eilonwynn says:

    This happened to my mom maybe three weeks ago – Canadian tire forgot to put the oil cap back on. Luckily my local garage, which is just full of AMAZING people, had her bring it out and took a look at it free of charge, just to see how bad it was screwed up (it wasn’t. Thank whatever gods there be.)

  35. mechimike says:

    If you can’t (or won’t) change your own oil, you shouldn’t be driving a car. Or at least owning one. No excuses. I’ve owned dozens of cars, and lived in apartment complexes, lived in cold climates, etc etc etc. I’ve seen and heard of so many cars damaged or nearly damaged by botched changes I wouldn’t even think of taking any car I owned to an oil change place. When you’re doing your OWN work on your OWN car, you tend to take more care to make sure its done right. My dad has 10 thumbs and a degree in accounting and even he changes his own oil.

  36. nataku8_e30 says:

    This sounds familiar. My girlfriend took her car to a local ford dealership to flush the transmission fluid. They overfilled it, and she drove it for 5500 miles before we noticed. The car had started vibrating at stop lights when left in drive. Of course the dealership will accept no responsibility for it.

  37. suzapalooza says:

    My ex “tried” to change the oil in his car once and left the cap off completely. Oil sprayed all over under the hood – it was awful and extremely stinky. Burning oil all over a hot engine – yum! Fortunately he didn’t drive it far before his oil light came on.

    Did she not have an oil light on her dash? Don’t all cars have one? I’d think she should meet them halfway on the repair cost – yes, they screwed up, but who drives a car around for so long without noticiing A)a burning oil smell or B)a warning light on the dash??

  38. My father bought a new tire from walmart for his car. Apparently the ‘tech’ pushed the floor jack under the the car and jacked it up through the floor board on the passenger side. When he got the car back he of course immediately noticed the huge bulge and complained. They denied responsibility. He had to take them to court to get them to pay for repairs.

  39. Manok says:

    rhino ramps and a socket set. If you can’t change your own oil at home, go to a real mechanic and bring your own oil/filter and sit there and watch them. Inspect their work when they are finished.

  40. JustThatGuy3 says:


    Yup, if you can’t write your own code, you have no business owning a computer either. Also, if you can’t do your own accounting, you have no right to any money.

  41. enine says:

    Taking it to the dealer is no better, they dealer isn’t going to have their $25/hour senior mechanic change your oil, they are going to hire someone at $6/hour for those jobs so your at just as much risk.

  42. ne1butu says:

    The same thing happened to my neighbor about ten years ago at Jiffy Lube. I’ve found that you get better quality work in small shops that specialize in the kind of car that you have. The dealer is a hit-or-miss experience. So I go to a shop that specializes in European cars because the owner is always there and he’s an auto enthusiast. When they don’t do something quite right, they take care of it because they know that word of mouth matters to their business. These large chains are filled with employees that are poorly trained, don’t care, and are one IQ point away from being unemployable.

  43. Gavin082 says:

    Some cars (and I’m not sure about Saturns) have a copper ‘washer’ that fits between the the oil pan and the drain plug. They’re usually narrow and could easily be described as an o-ring. If you over tighten the drain plug, especially if it’s over tightened with and air ratchet, it can damage the copper washer. When the engine runs, the oil is under pressure and even a small leak can shoot oil out pretty quickly.

    Clearly, Wal-Mart should fix this. Most independent mechanics will change your oil and filter for less than $30. I’m not sure how much Wal-Mart was charging, but the difference in price is worth the insurance of having somebody who knows what they’re doing work on your car.

  44. Elhigh says:

    Don’t badmouth them at all until you’ve got written proof that they are dragging heels and giving poor service.

    Then screw their hides to the wall.

  45. toyotaboy says:

    something tells me you shouldn’t trust walmart to do anything to your car, not even tires.

  46. Unless your car is a supercar and sits less than 3 inches off the ground, you should easily be able to reach underneath and remove the drain plug. I used to do it in my mazda 626 all the time sans jack.

    The worst part about that car was that you had to have it completely cool so you could reach down behind the motor around the exhaust manifold and flex pipe just to get at the damn filter. it nearly required a contortionist to get it done.

    Anyhow, now with my truck I just toss a 5 gallon bucket underneath.

    Ground clearance = win.

  47. msbask says:

    @mechimike: Are you for real? Using that logic, I shouldn’t own a house if I don’t know how to do the maintenance on my oil burner…. and my refigerator… and how dare I call someone to fix that roof?!

    Maybe people shouldn’t be allowed to live in their own bodies unless they learn to drill their own teeth, remove their own tumors, and do their own colonoscopy too?

  48. freefallmotion says:

    I took my car in to Walmart for an oil change and tire rotation. My usual mechanic was on vacation and I had run up more miles at work then usual, and wanted to get the car ready for a road trip. The oil was fine (I always check, but still surprising), although they did manage to spill oil down the front of the engine block when filling it. But the ‘technician’ over-torqued the wheel lug nuts with the impact gun, and wound up warping the brake rotors. Killed the brake pads, which chewed up said rotors. Haven’t gone back there for auto service in 10 years, and I don’t plan to again.

    Of course using a torque wrench or anything like the proper tools would be a new concept to them.

  49. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    I would like to applaud the OP for not writing the letter in all caps, that must have taken restraint.

    Speaking of restraint, I’d like to also applaud the OP for not beating the ever living daylights out of the tech that worked on your car.

    Now my advice, I’d give the insurance company two weeks to take care of this (if not less) and then it’d be to court with walmart.

    If one of those techs ever even look at my car, a beatdown will ensue. My dog pooped in my bimmer once, I had his balls cut off, just a warning.

  50. synimatik says:

    Jiffy Lube, an establishment whose main focus IS oil changes, did the same thing to be years ago. Though not as bad, I still ended up with a 1000 dollar clutch job after the ass hat who performed the work poured oil into the brake fluid reservoir for the clutch.

    The claimed no responsibility. The moral? As I’m sure other have said before. Go to a dealer or real mechanic if you don’t want to do it yourself.

  51. tsj9197 says:

    saturn vues have a cartridge oil filter. you unscrew the cover and replace only the filter element. they must not have tightened to the specified torque. or the didn’t get the new o-ring thats comes with the filter on right.
    a trained monkey could do it right.
    leave to the idiots at wal-mart to muck it up.
    never take your car to walmart, even if you just going to shop there.

  52. Natheo says:

    Why did we go to Wal-Mart of all places for an oil change? And why didn’t we notice the low oil pressure light?

  53. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    @mechimike: You’re dad has 10 thumbs? Wow, guess what I have…MONEY…and I use it to have people do things I cant or dont want to do my self. There are qualified professionals who can do everything from change oil to clean my appartment to making me a ruti tuti fresh and fruti.

    Hell under your assumption, I shouldnt drink beer (cant brew it) or scotch (cant distill, make oak barrels or find a place other than the garage to age it and I dont really like the taste of ‘hints of garage’) and that aint happening because me, I’m an alcoholic, yes, but you are a meanie.

  54. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    @msbask: What do I have to be able to do in order to have sex under his assumption. (I’m prety sure I’m gonna qualify under this one)

  55. milk says:

    @RamV10: I never bothered with the filter. I listened to my friend explain it, and just told him to do it. But I have to agree about not needing a jack. I never used it to crawl under there. It’s a great excuse to get filthy.

    Speaking of Mazda, I really need to check the process out on my 3. I just bought it a couple months ago and am terrified some douche bag is going to break my brand new car. :/

  56. DarrenO says:

    @Natheo: My thoughts exactly, about seeing the low oil light. Also driving the car for any length of time after you realize there is NO oil is just plain the wrong thing to do and will ensure that you fry your engine. This story seems almost as fishy as the other Wal-Mart story they link to above about Wal-Mart not changing the oil. Is it possible we just have people making stuff up??

  57. crackers says:

    @mechimike: You’ve got to be kidding. I live in the city of Boston, and only have street parking. What am I supposed to do, jack up my car in a parallel spot?

  58. backbroken says:

    I bet it was the cheap Chinese oil.

  59. Thrashy says:

    @MrEvil and ganzhimself: Working under a car supported only by a jack is dangerous, as if the jack fails (and I had a hydraulic floor jack do just that less than a week ago) you could be trapped under the car at best, or crushed if you’re not lucky. However, supporting a car while you work underneath it is *exactly* what jackstands are for and you shouldn’t be concerned about it so long as you using them properly.

  60. apotheosis says:

    I blame the Bush administration. If it weren’t for his underhanded catering to the monopolistic practices of his cronies in the oil industry, our cars wouldn’t “NEED” oil in the first place.

  61. ganzhimself says:

    @DarrenO: On my car, a GM product, if the engine is a quart low, the Low Oil warning light comes on.
    @backbroken: I’m not sure if it’s 100% true or not, but Wal-Mart’s “private label” oil, which they use in the standard oil change is re-filtered, recycled oil. Supposedly, motor oil doesn’t go bad, it just gets dirty. Anyway, changing my own oil with Mobil One Extended Mileage Full Synthetic and a K&N filter FTMFW!

  62. Stormslanding says:

    This is suspicious.

    First, the oil filter on a Saturn is in the front of the engine and its the only part that has an O-ring. The cap does not have one and the plug doesn’t either. Its possible that she misunderstood both mechanics, but she better get it straight if she is going to court.

    Second, she states that she drove too and from work for the first few days. IF the oil filter was improperly put on and somehow managed to fall off there would be a HUGE puddle of oil on the ground at her work, home, store wherever. If it happened while she was driving the engine would have smoked something crazy as the filter is located in the FRONT of the engine, sending oil all over the block.

    Third, 4 cylinder engines are notorious for burning oil. I owned one saturn in my life, had regular oil changes every 3000 miles, and after 2 years the engine seized due to lack of oil. Saturn swore up and down it was my fault, but the leasing company took my receipts, and had no problems taking the car back. In fact the CSR I talked said it happens more then you think.

    As far as I am concerned she has no case and can prove nothing. Why would she take her car to a GMC dealer when its a Saturn? Too many holes to be real.

  63. Thrashy says:

    Not to mention, an oil change is one of the easiest things to do on a car provided you’ve got the necessary tools, and if you don’t, they can easily pay for themselves over the life of the car. Plus you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing exactly what’s going into your engine. If you really can’t or won’t do the change yourself, take the car to a good and trustworthy mechanic to do it. Avoid Jiffy-lube and Walmart like the plague. Cars are just too complex and expensive to treat like disposable appliances.

  64. ganzhimself says:

    @Thrashy: I never work under the car without jackstands. I figure getting crushed by a few tons of American (ok, Canadian) steel would be less than pleasant. It only takes few seconds more to do it right… Hell, I live in an apartment complex and I do it right in the parking lot, I don’t care. The management and maintenance aren’t there on the weekends, so, who is going to stop me?

  65. Inglix_the_Mad says:

    @VicMatson: As usual there might be the other side here. There hasn’t been any O ring on any oil fill cap on any car I’ve ever owned. Drain plug yes, but I check the oil regularly because “ALL” mechanics can cross thread the plug on not tighten it or the cap(lose cap causes slow leak not gushing).

    If you want to understand why this story is missing something just look at an O ring at a car parts store!

    While the mechanic could easily have been wrong or simply have been mistranslated by the owner, I’m pretty sure that my:

    Ryan OMC has an O-Ring
    V-Star 1100 has an O-Ring
    1984 Dodge Omni had an O-Ring
    1990 Ford Tempo had an O-Ring
    and I’m pretty sure that my
    2001 Dodge Intrepid’s O-Ring is simply in a plastic groove.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about the O-Ring part though, as my 1990 Tempo got the oil changed at one of those lube places and lo, they put the cap back on wrong. What saved my car? I worked 3rd shift so I happened to see the smoke of the oil burning off the top of the engine. I stopped the car and looked at a hot dipstick that read half-full. Ironically my previous car, a Dodge Omni, had taken to burning a LOT of oil towards the end. When I traded the car in I had taken what was left of a case of oil and put it in my trunk.

    Did I ever go into that oil-change place pissed. They bought a new hood sound / heat dampener (the oil had sprayed up on it causing it to separate layers, an engine steam clean, and my money back.

    I now check my car’s fill cap before I get a block away.

  66. incognit000 says:

    I can’t help but think that * (if that’s their logo I’m gonna use it) has got to be the worst place to go to to get your oil changed. I pretty much have to take my car to quick-change places because it has almost no ground clearance (leastwise not enough to get my fat ass under there) but the only way for me to trust ’em is for me to call around and see if they’re good. There ARE good quick-change places, and you can usually spot them by the presence of an old man who used to own his own garage before everything went corporate. These ones staffed by working-for-the-summer teens and fired-from-everywhere-else fourty-somethings aren’t worth spitting on, though.

  67. Save Money. Live Better….

  68. abgwin says:

    had a much more minor version of this happen. I used WalMart for oil changes when I lived in San Diego, since they were close to work and the dealership where I bought the car was evil. Had had them change the oil maybe 6 times, when on the seventh, the tech came out and said that there was “something wrong” with the car and the plug couldn’t be reinstalled – it just spun and wouldn’t tighten.
    Turns out that they had repeatedly over-tightened the plug to the point that it tore the threaded insert lose from the pan. They tried to claim that it was the previous service, but when confronted with the paperwork proving that THEY were the previous service, they initially agreed to fix it.
    But when the evil dealership presented an estimate of over $1,000 (seems the entire pan plus quite a bit of labor to switch it out) it took some serious pressure to get them to finally own up to it and settle.
    In the end, they did the right thing but a) it never should have happened and b) shouldn’t have taken an act of god to have them fix it.
    I only “cherry pick” with WalMart – only buy a few things that either can’t be found elsewhere or are at such a low price that I’m guessing (hoping) they lose money on each one. Currently, a $19.95 oil change is one of them, but I check the car out each time I get it back.

  69. wgrune says:


    Because GM owns Saturn…

  70. cerbie says:

    @VicMatson: what cars don’t have them, and what do they use, instead?

    @rworne: if it was in such a way that pressure was required, or if it was a leak above the oil pan, a noticeable puddle might not exist. A puddle, for sure, but not necessarily an obvious problem puddle.

    @Jim K: I’d like to know that, too. Does the car not give an oil warning light after a change?

    @RamV10: right…’cause everybody has ‘3 arms and can fit past their shoulders. We’re not all lanky bean poles, dude. In any case, that’s what jack points are for, are they not? Jack, apply stand, wiggle in, do work, wiggle out, cursing occasionally.

    @msbask: given that analogous refrigerator maintenance is pulling it out and vacuuming the back once every few years…probably not. Also, I have no idea what an oil burner has to do with a house—must be a regional thing.

  71. Thrashy says:

    @ganzhimself: Ah, for some reason I missed that you were using jackstands :) My car is of the variety that could probably be team-lifted by a few people but it’d still be less than pleasant to have a faceful of transaxle come down on me. Jackstands all the way…

  72. This has happened to me before. It’s pretty common. While Walmart is responsible for this accident, you should always check your dipstick after an oil change. I check it right after and the day after.

  73. Pro-Pain says:

    This poor girl drove the vehicle too long. WalMart is NEVER going to pay for this damage. They’ll be in court for years over this, and will end up settling for less than half of what it cost to get the engine replaced.

  74. mgy says:

    It’s very disturbing to read just how many “That happened to me too…” stories that have popped up here. This may be a new Consumerist hot-button issue.

  75. stang96 says:

    not sure what the oil cap looks like, I used to own a 2000 SL2 and the oil cap was a bitch to get on and off, and mine did have an o’ring that made it even harder. This story is a pleasant reminder as to why I insist on doing my own vehicle maintenance.

  76. asaturn says:

    Another reason to learn to do your OWN MAINTENANCE. oil changes are not that hard. you can do them in a parking lot in 15 minutes. but at least if you’re going to go somewhere, go to a place that specializes in working on cars, not in selling discounted chinese kitty litter.

  77. evslin says:

    Walmart is good for one or two things, but I wouldn’t trust them to replace my wiper blades let alone do anything more detailed with my car.

  78. Nighthawke says:

    If you have to take it to a walmart to get it done, stand there and act like you know what you are about. This’ll make them slow down and THINK before they act.
    After the change, make the shift super stand there while you pop the hood, check the dipstick for the proper level and look under the car for any drips (or runs in this case). If you see anything out of the ordinary, raise a stink with he/she/it. If they balk, walk into the store and DEMAND to talk with the store’s general manager. Be civil, but be firm and take no guff off of them over it. Politely and subtly remind them of the best way of them getting business is word of mouth. If they don’t get the idea, whip out the cell and call for a tow to your mechanic. Take their names and prepare a EECB to home office.

    Best case, no damage done and reimbursements. They close their garage up and the Smart Bat applied to the monkeys they hired.

  79. 2vnms4u says:

    I used to work at a Sears Auto Center, and I can’t tell you how many times we had people come in to ‘fix’ problems with new tires they’d had installed at Wal Mart. They apparently don’t know how to properly balance tires or simply don’t bother trying. I wouldn’t take my bicycle in there to get the tires aired up. It makes you wonder how many people out there have had problems like this with them. I suspect this is the very top of the tip of the iceberg.

  80. kval07 says:

    This story makes me feel like my suspicions about my Walmart oil change are probably true. A month or two ago I went to get an oil change on my 07 Malibu at Walmart. Normally I take it to get done at the dealership, but I decided not to on this occasion. Convenience being the biggest reason. I asked the guy to fill up my tires since they were looking low, which he agreed to. I thought he finished awfully quick, but when I went to get my car he verified that the oil was changed and the tires were filled up, no problem. When I got home, I noticed that it didn’t look like the tires had been touched at all. Ever since then, I have had a sneaky suspicion that my oil was never even changed either. I don’t have any proof, since I never checked immediately afterward. Stupid me. But the speed with which it was done and the lack of air in my tires makes me think that my oil was never touched either. I won’t be going back to Walmart. Convenience, time, and cost aren’t nearly as important as driving a car that I know won’t break down and cost me tons in repairs.

  81. mac-phisto says:

    pretty common occurrence – & not just at walmart. be very, very careful anytime you let someone that is not ASE certified under your hood – places like walmart, monroe, jiffy lube & firestone are essentially training grounds for mechanic n00bs. only a fraction of those workers will pass their certification, so BE WARY!

    also, it helps to educate yourself a bit. what type of oil does my car use? what is the filter #? where is the drain plug located? knowing the answers to questions like this can save you big $$$ in repairs down the road.

    also – ANY TIME you get work done & notice something is not right (new sound, different handling, etc.), turn around RIGHT AWAY. this is your car telling you there is trouble. DON’T IGNORE IT!

  82. Lithium542 says:

    Hayne’s Manual – $12.99
    Oil Filter and 5 Quart Special @ Autozone – 12.99
    1/2 Inch Ratchet for Oil Filler Plug – 4.99
    Tire Change jack and 4 cinderblocks you borrowed from your neighbor – Free

    The knowledge that your oil change was done properly, and if something breaks it’s your own darn fault – Priceless.

  83. TheLadyK says:

    I can change my own oil (that and changing a tire were my parents’ requirements for me to get my license when I turned 16 *mumble* years ago) Its a good thing to understand.

    Do I? No on either. I have AAA for the tires, and various mechanics for the oil. Currently I’m not allowed to change my own oil, I have a company car. I can take it anywhere I want, but between the lying to the car people and going against my lease to do it in the parking lot of my apartment… I’ll stick with checking the dipstick after paying someone.

    We no longer live in a world where it is possible to do everything for yourself – you get to pick and choose. I don’t build or maintain my car myself, its a choice I’ve made.

  84. Drowner says:

    That happened to me too! Me and my pappa went to Wal-Mart to get a cheap oil change, then drove down to a tire place for the brakes and such. Lucky we did because the tire people came in and said “Your engine is COVERED in oil. We cleaned it off for you but someone didn’t put the gas cap on right.”

    Worse part? My dad was their frickin manager. They couldn’t even do a good job on their boss’s daughter’s car.

    And yes, he was ripshit.

  85. leemikemphstn says:

    I worked for Wal-Mart for four years, and our store did the same thing several times. All she has to do is sue Wal-Mart (she’ll win) and they’ll pay to replace the engine. It happens all across the country, all the time at Wal-Mart TLEs (auto departments).

  86. YES, I OWN A 2002 SATURN VUE, AND HAVE HAD TO GET A FULL ENGINE REPLACED. I totally believe what happened. My car had 117,000 miles on it, had oil changed regularly (receipts to prove) and out of nowhere, my timing chain snapped. My initial quote was about $4000 as well. Screw THAT, freakin hippies. I found a used engine for $700 with 32K miles on it, and it cost $900 to remove and install the new engine. So $1600 in total.

    My timing chain snapped, and since my engine (2.2 ecotec) was a “zero tolerance) engine… metal on metal, BAM.

    I feel for the OP. I tried getting Saturn to help with the costs, they said I was SOL, I must of not changed my oil regularly. I showed receipts, nada. The same month my timing chain blew, Saturn did a recall on the timing chains on the 2.2L engines. It sucked ASS, my car had the same problem but because the engine wasn’t an L-series, Saturn gave me the finger, threw trash at me while driving away in their new Astra.

    pfffft. I hate Saturns now.

  87. SybilDisobedience says:

    Something similar happened to my boyfriend’s car several years ago after an oil change. New engine for his ’91 Corolla: $7000 with labor. A crappy lesson to learn, but we are much more picky about our cars these days.

  88. Maymar - now with 37% less anonymity says:

    @enine: You’re right that most dealers have specific lube techs, but for what it’s worth, most of them are trying to become apprentices.

    @Stormslanding: As wgrune said, Saturn’s a GM division, and odds are, a GMC dealer (most likely a Pontiac-GMC dealer) would be closer than the (formerly) shiny happy plastic people. Generally, any GM dealer can work on any GM car (except for warranty work, the rules are weird that way).

    And although mechimike might’ve gone a little extreme, everyone should have done at least one oil change by them selves, have some general concept of how their vehicle works.

  89. rhmmvi says:

    Two responses:

    1) You (OP) should have done this yourself. Come on, people. Get over this kind of thing and realize that not everyone has neither the time nor expertise nor desire to perform every activity that truly can be done myself. I personally have no desire to do an oil change, but I do my own taxes because I like to. Others among us I’m sure would balk at doing their taxes and gladly shell out some money to an accountant–which is fine. Criticizing the OP or making yourself seem to be self-reliant and therefore brilliant is ridiculous.

    2) As usual, the theme of this site pervates. Caveat emptor–buyer beware! You get what you pay for, etc–however, this all comes back to the reasonable person standard and product liability. The OP had a reasonable expectation that W*M would change the oil for the certain price, and that came with continued operation of the car. Resulted in a major issue, this W*M should pay. Simple, end of story. Our posts should be helping the OP communicate with W*M and document conversations to launch an EECB *IF* the need arises at a later date.

  90. friendlynerd says:

    Where did she say she had a 4 cylinder? Many VUEs have 6-cylinders, with some of them made by Honda depending on the year. For someone who seems to know everything you assume a lot.

  91. backbroken says:

    @ganzhimself: Yeah, I was kind of joking.

  92. xamarshahx says:

    they did the same thing to my friend’s car, only difference his car lit on fire and was destroyed, lawyers would not take the case saying it would be impossible to take on wal mart to prove this.

  93. RonDiaz says:

    I had the same thing happen at the local TiresPlus although not as bad. I got my oil changed there because I had a coupon and needed my tires rotated which they are supposed to do for free. A couple days later I notice a decent amount of oil under my truck and see it leaking from the drain plug. I took it to my regular mechanic, because I didn’t trust them to fix it and sure enough they had somehow slapped in some different drain plug that didn’t fit right. I think the moral of this story is forgo the quick change type places and just pay the few extra bucks for your regular mechanic to do it. Of course in the case of travel, you don’t have that luxury.

  94. ganzhimself says:

    @backbroken: I know, but I wanted to see if anyone else had heard or knew if that particular rumor of the WalMart store brand of oil was actually recycled/refiltered oil.

  95. LorneReams says:

    I had Sears replace my oil pan because they stripped it out. I found a local mechanic who became a personal friend, and I will never go somewhere else. This is one of those cases where you do not want to be saving the $3 or whatever less you pay at a crappy chain.

  96. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    I think every oil change shop ends up replacing the occasional engine.

    If you want it done right, do it yourself, but if you screw up, well, nobody can bail you out.

  97. @verucalise: P.S.- to the OP- It only took 1 full day for my engine to be yanked and the new one to be put in, at a Chevy dealership that I can honestly say I trust with all my cars. Don’t, scratch that, CAN’T see how it would take 2 weeks.

  98. darkrose says:

    Once the warranty expires on my 2007 Saturn Vue, I will be having the guy down the street who loves to borrow my riding lawn mower to cut his grass change my oil for me. He’s a mechanic and an all-around good guy.

  99. @Stormslanding: I TAKE MY SATURN TO FUCCILLO’S CHEVROLET OF NELLISTON, NY. They are cheaper than Saturn’s mechanics, and their parts system can cross reference Saturn’s parts system. This helped immensely, as I needed an axle seal on the transmission. Saturn said it would take a week or more to come in, but using the computer BAM! My car shares the same seal as some Chevy cars, most likely the cavalier.

    I wouldn’t bring my vehicle to a Saturn dealership if they offered to work on it for free, the frauds.

  100. Hart88 says:

    As soon as I saw the words “Walmart” and “oil change”, I knew this was not going to end well. Were there no gas stations around?

  101. mechimike says:

    @JustThatGuy3: I didn’t say “rebuild your own engine” There’s a difference between being able to do basic maintenance and being a wizard. I would say, anyone that can’t take a computer out of a box, install software, and put it all together and make it work shouldn’t own one either.

    And if you can’t balance a checkbook and deal with the intricacies of a bank account, maybe you should move somewhere where commerce is based on the barter system. ;)

    My larger point is, some people are lazy, and our society supports that laziness. Then people complain when some stranger they entrusted to perform a menial task for them that they should have been able to do themselves, screws up.

  102. Erwos says:

    This same thing happened to my brother-in-law. Best thing to do is to call:
    1. The oil changer
    2. Your car insurance
    3. The car manufacturer
    4. A lawyer

    … and in that order. In his case, the manufacturer paid for it, and then went after Jiffy Lube.

  103. friendlynerd says:

    Weak argument after weak argument. If someone is willing to pay for a service – say, an oil change or someone to set up their computer and configure it for them – that’s their business.

    Whether it’s because they don’t know how or simply don’t feel like doing it is irrelevant. But whomever they paid to provide those services is on the hook to do it correctly.

  104. mechimike says:

    @Wormfather is Wormfather: I have money too. And my dad, well, he’s an accoutant, so he could tell you to the penny how much money he has.

    A good portion of the time, whenever I’ve paid someone to do something for me, they’ve screwed it up. Its not worth my time, my frustration, or my MONEY to pay some jackleg to do something for me which I then have to re-do.

    I clean my own house, I fix my own car, and a mix my own drinks. Maker’s Mark Manhattan, perfect, on the rocks. Because I have to deal with lazy, incompetant, ignorant bastards all day long.

  105. Snarkysnake says:


    Thats a wise analogy there,”Dr. Einstein”.

    If you are too lazy or stupid to change your own engine oil,then don’t expect a discount chain store to hire anyone any smarter than you to do it.

    The fact is, this is a basic part of auto ownership that you should know. I don’t trust anyone but myself to care for my car as much as I do. They didn’t have to pay for it-I did. thats why I’m not going to let some slacker 19 year old that just finished a fatty do such important work when they have next to no accountability.BTW- some of the most religious oil changers that I know are women. Once they learn what to do,they don’t let it slide when it needs doing.They will enjoy their car longer for less money.

  106. mechimike says:

    @CCS: Been there. Actually, I once replaced an oil pump on the street. A driveshaft, too. And, if you look, most larger cities have D-I_Y garages where you can pay a few bucks for some bay time and do whatever you want. Lots of them have tools you can rent, too.

    I’m perpetually amazed at people who pay people to do everything for them. There’s a certian pride to be had in D-I-Y. America used to be a D-I-Y nation. Now we have a service economy. Well, (in the words of Alan Greenspan), at least that’s _some_ economy. (Better than nothing!)

  107. mechimike says:

    @Stormslanding: 4 cylinders are notorious for burning oil? Really? Tell that to my ’94 Civic with 258,000 miles that doesn’t use a drop between changes.

  108. CharlieInSeattle says:

    @wmschoenhofer: Beat the shit out of you? WTF? What does he think he is, a mobster?

  109. mechimike says:

    *sigh* This is apparently what happens when a Jalopnik libertarian decides to check out a link on Consumerist socialist.

  110. CharlieInSeattle says:

    @VicMatson: The O-Ring is on the oil filter, she’s not a mechanic and probably didn’t understand, but yes if you put the oil filter on wrong it will leak oil, and at quit a fast rate. This is why I do my own oil changes. Though it’s a pain in the ass on modern cars, because some asshat engineers don’t put shit in a logical place.

  111. Xay says:

    @mechimike: A D-I-Y nation founded on the backs of slaves and indentured servants?

  112. deckard97 says:

    @Erwos: I concur.

    On #4 the lawyer, if I recall my business law classes correctly, there is a contract between the establishment and the customer that does occur a once a customer enters an establishment for goods or services. For instance if one enters a restaurant one would expect the food not to make you sick. However in the case of an oil change there is the paper that one signs. What does the paperwork say? Is it a waiver of liability for Wal-mart? If you sue can you build a case that a judge would believe and that would produce enough of a settlement for an attorney to take up the case? I’m sure this sort of thing happens all the time.

  113. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    @mechimike: I work upwords of 70 hours a week, so does my fiancee, we really dont have time to do any of that stuff and we make good money so it makes sense to have someone else do it (hell the reason we dont own a house is because, get this, we havnt had time to look!) Then again I probably spend 20 minutes a day trolling around on consumerist…anyway…

    I take my car to my dealership they change the oil and give me a loaner or take me to the trainstation. I go to my bar and they make my drink. Restaurants…well they always seem to mess stuff up. My house is clean on Friday when I get home ($50 is a drop in the bucket for a clean house). If my fiancee and I had to do all those things ourselves we’d be miserable people who never spend any quality time together as we’d rather snuggle up on the couch or go to a movie on Friday night than wash dishes, laundry and paper, rock sicsors over who cleans the bathroom.

  114. theblackdog says:

    @verucalise: Had you ever had a mechanic change the timing chain on that car before? I believe the normal interval to have a timing chain changed is 60,000-80,000 miles.

    If it wasn’t changed, well consider yourself glad it lasted that long.

  115. n0ia says:

    To those who are saying there is no O-ring, I’m pretty sure the 2006 model VUEs have a drop in oil filter. The oil filter housing cap does in fact have an O-ring that has to be replaced from time to time, and perhaps that’s what they’re talking about.

  116. Oface says:

    @mechimike: Bitter much?

    @rhmmvi: You beat me to it. Huzzah.

  117. mac-phisto says:

    @mechimike: sometimes changing your own oil isn’t the best idea. i try to do most of my work on my own, but i don’t necessarily recommend it:
    (1) if you don’t know what you’re doing, you DEFINITELY should not change your own oil. sure, it’s pretty easy, but if gomer pyle can forget to replace the filler bolt or install the wrong filter – so can you.
    (2) changing your own oil may sound like a good idea, but i know more than one person who has been denied in-warranty repair (esp. for transaxle work) b/c they couldn’t show proof of “manufacturer recommended maintenance”. most DIY people will simply tell you to maintain receipts for the oil/filter, but that didn’t fly with one friend’s land rover & another friend’s jeep. YMMV – keep that in mind.
    (3) if you’re not going to dispose of your oil properly, please don’t do your own oil change. & no, “pouring it down the storm drain” does not qualify as proper disposal.

    if you can find a reliable mechanic that you trust to change your oil on the cheap, your time & efforts may be better spent elsewhere.

  118. ganzhimself says:

    @CharlieInSeattle: Like placing the power steering resivor behind and below the alternator… A place that’s nearly impossible to reach, and if you do try to reach it, the engine better be cool. It’s a beautiful piece of GM engineering.

  119. ganzhimself says:

    @theblackdog: From what I understand a timing CHAIN *should* last the life of the engine, or at the very minimum, 150,000 miles. But, it SHOULD be inspected at regular intervals, along with the sprockets to make sure no teeth are missing/damaged. Break the timing chain/belt in an interference-type engine, and well, it’s time to shop for a new engine. Timing BELTS, on the other hand, need to be changed somewhere around 60k-100k miles. Depends on the car.

  120. katieoh says:

    they actually did that to my mother’s ’03 saturn vue once… or, at least, they screwed up the oil change pretty badly. it also had to go in the shop. usually they’ll pay up, you just have to complain loud enough.

  121. Ragman says:

    @wmschoenhofer: There is no magnet on the oil filter. The magnetic ring is on the transmission filter to pick up metal fragments, but does not hold the filter on. Spin-on oil filters have O-rings mounted in the base. Drop-in cartridges use O-rings in the cover.

    @JustThatGuy3: Your analogies are flawed – they’re saying that someone shouldn’t own a car unless they’re an automotive engineer. Mechimike’s point is a little over the top, but so are your analogies.

    You don’t need to change your own oil, just understand how it’s done, so you can check for dumb mistakes. If someone is too stupid to understand an oil change, how the hell did they pass the license test?

    @mechimike: “My larger point is, some people are lazy, and our society supports that laziness.” Some people have too much demand on their time, not that they are lazy. Some don’t like working a 60 hour week to come home and spend the weekend housecleaning, working on the cars, and mowing the lawn. Either way, don’t knock it – hiring others to do work for you helps the economy and creates jobs. It’s just that when they screw up the menial tasks, they should own up and make it right.

  122. msbask says:

    For all anyone knows, this woman spins her own silk, sews her own clothes, churns her own butter, files her own taxes, and installed the toilet in her upstairs bathroom.

    But by all means, let’s just assumes she pays people to do EVERYTHING for her, making her lazy, unmotivated and completely un-self-sufficient like every other damn American nowadays…. just so we can dismiss her claim that Walmart (allegedly) f*ed up her car.

    Wow. Talk about blaming the consumer…

  123. NotATool says:

    who drives a car around for so long without noticiing A)a burning oil smell or B)a warning light on the dash??

    @suzapalooza: I can answer “B” — that would be my wife. She drove around with the parking brake on and burned up the brake. I asked her why she did that, when the brake warning light was on. Her response was, “I don’t look at those lights.”

    After showing her the bill for the brake repair, I think I’ve convinced her that she needs to pay attention to warning lights when they come on…

  124. mechimike says:

    @Ragman: Valid point. However, I think the mentality of “I need to work 60-80 hours/week to afford my lifestyle” just means you have an over-ambitious lifestyle.

    But, I guess I shouldn’t judge. Right? I mean, because I chose to work my 40 and go home, to do “menial” tasks I choose not to pay others to do, and drive a POS beater car, doesn’t mean I should look down my nose at someone who works twice as much as I do to afford the Mercedes and a servant for every chore.

    Still, I can’t help but think we’d be better off as a whole if more people tried to be independent.

  125. Julia789 says:

    My Saturn VUE, only 45,000 miles on it, twice something happened with a “defective or cracked 0-ring” and a leaky oil tank. Both times, each a year apart, all the oil leaked out pretty quickly, over a day or so, and I was unware of it until my engine started knocking loudly.

    The mechanic said it’s not the first time he’d seen the problem, and the cars are all quite new. It still to this day burns a ton of oil between changes, and no one can tell if it’s really burning it, or covertly leaking it somehow very slowly.

  126. Geekybiker says:

    This is the sort of thing where Walmart is clearly liable. They have, or should have insurance for this sort of thing. If they are being difficult, its worth getting a lawyer to send them a letter, it’ll probably clear things right up.

  127. mac-phisto says:


    You don’t need to change your own oil, just understand how it’s done, so you can check for dumb mistakes. If someone is too stupid to understand an oil change, how the hell did they pass the license test?

    i dunno where you live, but where i live, it’s questionable whether you actually have to learn to drive to obtain a license. & just the other day i had to keep a straight face watching soccer mom try to figure out the complex task of fueling up her escalade (she honestly had no clue what to do). one individual i know ran their car for ~90,000 miles before the engine seized up b/c they never even popped the hood!!! 3 years without a single service – i’m surprised they got as far as they did.

    my point is, there’s a lot of uneducated people out there that simply refuse to learn even the most menial things – an oil change is not even near the top of that list.

  128. HeartBurnKid says:

    @Snarkysnake: Lazy or stupid has nothing to do with it. I’m an apartment dweller, and it’s a condition of my lease that I can’t work on my car in their parking lot. I don’t know about the person who went to Wal-Mart in the first place, but it’s quite possible that she’s in the same or a similar situation.

    Also, the “coding” analogy is rather apt. If I said that you need to know how to write a script file, or a short binary in C++, in order to use a computer, you’d laugh me off, and rightfully so. That’s not a skill that the average user needs. Helpful, sure, but not necessary.

    Help me out here; she paid for a service, Wal-Mart bolloxed it up, and as a result her car is ruined. How the hell is this her fault?

  129. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    @NotATool: My fiancee just did that, caused all sorts of damage to the car, $1600…then when I got done, she had the nerve to ask to go to the emergency room. J/K, I was actually very understanding and told her to be more carful.

  130. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    @mac-phisto: When I was a kid my neighbor put oil down the storm drain, both our lawns turned yellow.

  131. Trai_Dep says:

    My local mechanic had a very amusing but quasi-amnesiac guy working there. Before he was moved away from cars, he forgot to replace the oil plug during an oil change. 30 mins later, similar results.

    > Got a brand new engine removed and replaced in a bit over a week, no hassles, plenty of apologies and a rental.

    >> Realize the LW is an out of towner, but demand Wal-Mart make the car whole again quickly, then find a decent local mechanic (Car Talk’s message boards have a list of listener-recommended mechanics spanning the country).

    >>> Avoid Wal-Mart. They’re incompetent and evil.

  132. TheDude06 says:

    This happened to me once at a jiffy lube. Our poor little 1990 S-10 died about 1.5 miles from the oil change place. The shop said it was due to too much oil being filled, which caused damage that pretty much ruined the engine. After much insisting on our part, corporate sent out an insurance adjuster to look at our car and paperwork, and they eventually cut me a check for $2000 to repair the engine.

    Jiffy lube’s insurance ended up paying the bill.

  133. Yurei says:

    All i’m going to say is, this is the company that hires cashiers that don’t understand why you don’t put mothballs in with food products, and why bread or eggs does not go on the BOTTOM of a grocery bag.

    If they hire such sterling individuals to bag your stuff, just imagine who they would have to work on your car.

    Nope, I would not ever, EVER get my car serviced by wal mart even if they were the last mechanic on earth, within eyesight of me as I was broken down in the worst weather absolutely possible. Would not do it.

  134. Trai_Dep says:

    @trogam (and all home oil-swappers): Pleeeease tell us that you take your spent oil to a mechanic for recycling rather than dumping it down the drain (they’ll take it, often for free, sometimes for a nominal recycling fee).

    Totally agree that oil changes are the easiest self-repair to do (hey, though, remember to replace the filter too, and while you’re at it, the air filter and check the fluids as well).

  135. Trai_Dep says:

    @Wormfather is Wormfather: To be honest, I did that a couple times too. Until a shocked and chagrinned neighbor caught me and – nicely, considering the ecological Gotterdumarung I was committing on the Bay Area fishies I had done – explained what a lousy thing I was doing, then pointed me to the recycling-at-mechanics trick.
    The same person called her bf down and he showed me pointers on basic tune-ups, too. And how to jack a car properly. A really nice couple that seduced me into seeing The Big Picture in an incredibly helpful, constructive way. Yay, kewl neighbors!!

  136. BrAff says:

  137. Caveat says:

    Never happened to me in Wal-Mart California but happened the first time I had the oil changed in Reno, NV. Within a few miles I heard an odd sound while driving (I think the oil cap which had never been put on dropped on the ground from the engine). I didn’t realized what happened but the next day I saw a big oil spot on the ground and it was easy to figure out from there. Fortunately most of the oil was still in the engine. I asked from Wal-Mart and got with no hassle:
    1. Rag, brush, and chemical to clean driveway.
    2. 2 quarts of oil to make sure I got to the car dealer without problems
    3. A new cap.
    4. A complete redo of the oil change by Toyota to ensure no obvious problems were generated. They did find that the oil pan bolt was also loose.

    While I can say that Wal-Mart made good on the error the hassle was not worth it and I will not use the store in Reno again. In any case I would never used them on a fairly new vehicle, mine was 10 years old.

  138. bbagdan says:

    I had some engine work done on a motorcycle and they forgot to put the oil back in. Fortunately I discovered this shortly after picking it up. Brutal.

  139. enine says:


    You don’t take used oil to a mechanic, you take it back to the automotive store where you bought it as they are required by law to take the used back for recycling.

  140. enine says:


    A timing belt needs replaced a timing chain does not. A timing chain is a lifrtime part like a crankshaft or piston, it lasts the lifetime of the engine.

  141. netcaretaker says:

    Walmart? Oil change? Huh? Sorry to hear this, but she could have at least looked for a Jiffy lube or something.

  142. Farquar says:

    So much for the Conusmerist commentors manifesto.. particularly the don’t bash the OP section.

    I don’t change my own oil, that doesn’t make me a bad person. I prioritize my time, and 15 minutes (I assure you, it will take me longer than 15 minutes, and it takes you longer than that too) spent changing my oil to save $10 isn’t worth it. There are much more valuable things I can do with my time, and energy.

    The point of the story is Wal-Mart screwed up. Big time. What are they going to do to fix it? The point is not that OP should know how to change her own oil. (maybe she does and also prioritizes her time, and if she doesn’t it shouldn’t matter in re Wal-Mart’s screw up) The point is not that no person EVER should spend any money at Wal-Mart. It’s been said here, repeatedly. We get it. You are enlightened. Everyone else is a peasant. Nobody gives a shit.

  143. harvey_birdman_attorney_at_law says:

    @Wormfather is Wormfather:
    Hello, exactly.

  144. Kelly says:

    While this bothers me, I have to wonder, if the cap was leaking oil on to the valve cover…it had to drip somewhere, and it likely eventually dripped on to the exhaust manifold.

    Maybe homegirl is hard-of-smelling, but buring oil, even in very small amounts, is a difficult scent to overlook.

    I had a oil cap gasket on my 20 year old Mercedes start leaking what appeared to be about two drops per mile, and when I parked it, there was obvious smoke coming from the right side of the hood. In my case, just flipping the gasket over solved the problem for probably another 10 years, but still, didn’t she notice SOMETHING in the days beforehand?

    Although she was driving only a mile or two, so maybe things didn’t get hot enough….

    My stepson had Pep Boys hose a timing belt job on his ’95 Neon. Bent a valve on the way home…they redid the entire thing, valves and all, no questions asked.

    I still am amazed they didn’t notice something was amiss when they backed it out of the repair bay, but it IS Pep Boys…

  145. Farquar says:


    What is a libertarian? Someone who believes individual liberty is of the utmost importance?

    Is the exception to that the liberty to choose to use the services provided by others for a fee? Apparently you are all for individual liberty so long as that individual liberty only includes doing everything for yourself. Which doesn’t sound particularly libertarian, sounds more like you are making their decisions for them.

  146. StevieQ says:

    What, there was no JiffyLube nearby?

    This is like people who complain about the Scampi at a Friendly’s.

  147. Farquar says:


    No. It’s like complaining about the Scampi at Friendlys if the Scampi at Friendly’s puts you in the hospital for 4 days. Sure, the Scampi at Friendlys tastes like shit, and you are silly to complain if it doesn’t taste like what you could get at Phillips. But, you still have a right to complain if it almost kills you.

  148. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    @harvey_birdman_attorney_at_law: Not sure what comment your refering to, but if I said it…rock on!

  149. Trai_Dep says:

    @enine: Really? I wasn’t aware of that. Thanks!
    What if you buy it at a non-automotive store? I can’t see retail places doing anything but snickering if I show up w/ 4 qts of used motor oil. Great tip for those that get it from a auto parts store, though. Awesome!

  150. bmorg003 says:

    My Dad taught me how to change the oil in a vehicle before I was old enough to drive, and I’m doing the same with my boys. I am the only one who changes oil in my vehicles and I check them regularly.
    Not to fault the victim though, if Walmart did the oil change and the victim never touched anything under the hood (as many people are today), then it is Wal-marts responsibility, pure and simple.
    If the victim wants to keep this from happening in the future, your best bet is to change your own oil.

  151. @rworne: Actually, this exact thing happened to me with my 2001 Honda S2000. Took it to Honda dealership to get oil/filters/etc. changed, then discovered a thousand miles later (when my engine started making noises) that the knuckleheads had either failed to replace the oil cap or didn’t screw it on tight enough, because it was gone, the oil had leaked out, and my engine now had a cracked cylinder wall. Curiously, the oil pressure light never came on or anything, and the new knocking noise was the only thing that clued me to the problem. Fortunately for me, I had purchased an extended warranty (only time I’ve ever done such in my life), and was able to get a new lower engine block for nothing instead of $8k. For whatever reason, the Honda guys accepted blame for this without any protest.

  152. innout3x3 says:

    @mechimike: Agreed.

    Get under your engine. Take the screw off. DIY.

  153. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    @ganzhimself: I don’t even trust a dealership to change my oil. Right after I bought my Explorer, the I took it to the dealer for an oil change because they had given me a free coupon for it. I figured since it was free, why not?

    If you’re familiar with Fords, some of them take 5w20 motor oil. Mine DOES NOT. Mine takes 5w30. But instead of reading the big, bright yellow lettering on the oil cap that says “5w30” they just put 5w20 in it anyway.

    Didn’t damage anything, didn’t cause a problem, and I just had the oil changed a week later. Point is though, dealers aren’t any better. They are large national chains which have no standards and employees that don’t know an oil plug from a butt plug.

  154. mac-phisto says:

    @enine: in many states (my own included), mechanics are obligated to act as a used oil repository (in connecticut, they are not supposed to charge a “recycling fee” either, but i’ve caught more than one doing so). they hate it (obviously, b/c they have to pay to have it disposed of). however, one mechanic i know made a smart decision – he bought a waste oil burner to heat his 3-bay garage in the winter & now happily accepts used motor oil from customers (& charges a nominal fee to other mechanics looking to dispose of theirs). the upfront cost would make you choke, but he probably saves >$1000 on heating costs + the fee for oil he takes in from the competition (+ who knows what in medical bills – his garage used to be a freakin’ icebox in the winter!).

  155. FrankTheCrank says:

    @CCS: I used to change my oil on the side of the street outside my three decker. Since it was relatively easy to change the oil, no lift or jacks needed. Took me about 15 minutes total. Always used synthetic and got 200,000 miles out of that car before the trany wore out.

    I use a lift and jack with my Honda V6 Coupe now. Still, all synthetic with an OEM filter runs me about $28. The used stuff goes back to Autozone.

  156. Natheo says:

    I think the main point here is pay attention to your damn automobile. It’s not going to take care of itself, and for what you’re paying for it, you shouldn’t 100% trust others to take care of it. Watch your gauages. It doesn’t hurt to give the car a good walk around before you get in it. And you should always be watching for leaks right after an oil change. Always.

  157. failurate says:

    @RamV10: You must be Reed Richards. I think for most of us non-stretchy type, it is an issue of arm length and leverage, especially with filters.

  158. Xerloq says:

    Make a claim on your auto insurance policy to fix your car while you gather info for your car. You need to show actual damages by getting your car fixed first (save your receipts). $5K might be too high for small claims, but you should try. Gather your information (get written statements from the mechanic, simple timeline of events, receipts, etc.) and head off to small claims.

    Your insurance company might even get involved in the suit – mine would. It’s much nicer to have one large company battle another in court so you don’t have to.

  159. Kelly says:


    You’re right, it’s amazing what you can see ‘happening’ if you just pay attention.

    Yesterday, I noticed oil on the rear bumper of the S-class. My heart sank, and I peeked underneath, immediately…no leaky diff…looked at the trans pan, nothing there, then the engine oil, none gone.

    Hmmm. Well, I’d drive it and pay REALLY close attention.

    (my apologies for the italics goof, earlier)

    I’d forgotten just the day before I’d been at the high-pressure car wash cleaning a Coleman Road Trip grill which had gotten funky in places over four years of use, and I was seeing food grease splatter, even though I thought the car was far enough away to avoid getting anything on it.

    I had a nice chuckle when I realized it about a mile after leaving home.

  160. ChaosMotor says:

    Anyone who thinks qualified people work at Walmart is fooling themselves.

  161. theblackdog says:

    @ganzhimself: Oops, you’re right, I was basing that number on a timing belt instead of a chain.

    Still sucks to have one break either way.

  162. @cerbie: FWIW, on a 626, the drain plug is about 18 inches from the edge of the passengers side of the car. A 12 year old can reach that far.

    Also, you can’t get to the oil filter from the bottom. Epic poor catalytic converter placement.

    Every car i’ve ever changed the oil on i’ve been able to do without jacking. Sure, jacking makes it hella easier, but if you don’t have the required jack/stands, you should still be able to get at it.

    In any case, if someone chooses to pay for an oil change, they shouldn’t have to check the oil when they leave, it should be done correctly. If I call a plumber because my toilet overflowed and there’s shit all over my floor, I expect to not have that happen 5 minutes after he leaves. If I call someone to mow my yard, I expect the grass to be shorter and look good. It’s not rocket scientry. This girl paid for a service and it was done incorrectly. Wal-Mart is at fault and I hope if it does go to court they get bent over and raped repeatedly by the judge.

  163. sean77 says:

    @DarrenO: I don’t know of a single car that has a “low oil” light. That light you think you see is about oil pressure.

    You can leak oil but still have sufficient pressure in the lines.

  164. failurate says:

    @mechimike: We’ve transitioned from a manufacturing/production economy to a service economy. You screw up the whole system when you do things yourself.

  165. Tijil says:

    @mechimike: You wrote “If you can’t (or won’t) change your own oil, you shouldn’t be driving a car. Or at least owning one. No excuses.”

    I personally maintained 27 of my 29 cars, but these days, being disabled, I can no longer do my own maintenance – and that’s NOT an excuse, that’s a fact.

    Maybe when you grow up you will understand that there are legitimate reasons some folks can’t do everything themselves.

    Until then, stick a sock in it.


  166. parad0x360 says:

    @t325: I dunno my friend has had some bad experience at a Mazda dealer. He has an RX-8 and would do all service at the dealership. One time he brought it in for a cold start problem and when he got it back the interior roof had grease all over it.

    Another time they scratched his rear quarter panel and wouldnt own up to it. Another time they changed his oil but not his filter, they also hassled him about fixing a recalled issue. It really depends on the dealer. Some are amazing and put in the extra effort and some are penny pinchers who screw you whenever you can.

    The thing is this dealer was huge and looked really nice so you wouldnt expect them to be such jerks.

  167. backbroken says:

    @mechimike: So, by your theory we should all be doing our own oil changes.

    What about the guy working at Wal-Mart who screwed up this oil change? I guess his car is gonna be farked!

  168. FrankGrimes says:

    Why don’t all of you people change your own oil? There are countless stories of this happening to people. It takes like 45minutes to do it. Yes you might get a little dirty but take responsibility for doing some of your own maintenance and you have the assurance it is done right.

    Get yourself some latex gloves crawl under the car loosen a bolt drain the oil into and old milk jug.
    Remove the oil filter put new oil in new filter.
    Screw back on.
    Put oil drain plug back in.
    Put new oil in the oil fill.
    Don’t forget to put the cap back on.
    Drop off used oil at Kragen,Autozone NAPA etc. to be recycled for free.
    What is so hard about that?

  169. BradTheSlacker says:

    @freefallmotion: Actually, WalMart’s lug wrenchs are supposed to set the torque value by looking up the car info in the database, at least that’s what they were working on about 5 years ago.

    Way back in ’98, I wrote the app the techs out in the garage use. Bad things do happen, but if you knew how many oil changes they do, you’d be suprised that there is not more problems.

  170. mizmoose says:

    I hate to play “Blame to OP” but Walmart? Eep.

    Recently my Stupid Truck blew a tire in the middle of nowhere, south of Youngstown, Ohio. I was reluctantly headed toward $national-car-parts-chain, despite hearing bad stories like this, but wound up pulling into a place I passed by – a tiny little local place that called something like, “{Someone}’s Oil & Tire”. They wanted $110 for a single new tire (before labor & fees). When I said I wanted two (replacing one at a time isn’t good for your vehicle), I wound up paying $210 for the tires, balancing, stems and he threw in a tire rotation! ( says the tires I got retail for $85/per, too).

    For quality, Small Local Business will usually win over Big Chain Store. Little places are bound to have less employee turnover and managers who care more about quality work being done, because repeat business means more to them. That means that even if you’re just passing through town, you win.

    (Also, never ever ever Jiffy Lube. Just saying.)

  171. mizmoose says:

    @FrankGrimes: Not everyone is able bodied and/or willing to do the work. Getting “under the car” often means ramps or lifts, and while ramps are usually more stable, doing lifts badly can kill you.

    However, even my motorhead friends say, “I’d rather pay a shop I trust $ to change my oil than waste my time, unless I’m already under the hood for something else.” Given that today the shops can do it in minutes, why bother? It’s also a good “first test” of a shop — if they can do a simple oil change without a hassle, you can trust them with something more complicated.

    I think I’ve changed my oil once, and that was before my spine went to hell and bought a condo there. These days I can barely check the dip stick in Stupid Truck. Can’t reach the tranny dip stick at all!

  172. cerbie says:

    @RamV10: mine’s in the center, just under the firewall, with wheels and suspension bits in the way from the sides. Jack one front wheel up several inches, and then it’s easy to get to.

    In any case, if someone chooses to pay for an oil change, they shouldn’t have to check the oil when they leave, it should be done correctly.

    True, but even at a good place, errors can occur (less regularly, of course). I think mechmike is reaching a bit far, but you should be able to check your fluids and accessory belt(s), and generally scan for non-uniform nastiness; especially right after stuff has been changed.
    I in no way wish to blame the victim; Wal-mart is at fault. But, it could have been made a far less severe problem.
    I know I would rather storm back in at a couple quarts low than be on the side of the road with a bum engine. There are many better (by which I mean harder to find out about before it’s too late) things to be stranded because of :).

  173. Breach says:

    Im sorry, but anyone who would tie Wal-Mart with quality ANYTHING, merchandise or services, is an idiot.

    Granted, I believe in hind site Wal-Mart should pay for the damage due to their employees negligence.

    They let those same door greeter people work on the cars too?

  174. JiminyChristmas says:

    I count myself in the ‘could but don’t’ change my own oil camp. To begin with, I don’t have a torque wrench, oil filter wrench, or ramps or jacks for safely elevating the car (and getting at the oil filter is a PITA otherwise). So I suppose I would have to purchase those things. Then, I could go to the auto parts place, buy a filter and oil, go back home, do the work, and then drive back again to dispose of the oil.

    Between driving back and forth and doing the work that’s easily over an hour. I can take the car to Valvoline and they do the whole thing in 30 minutes for only about $20 more than it would cost me to do it myself.

    Meanwhile, they do half a dozen other things at the same time, like topping off fluids and checking the tire pressure that would otherwise require me to spend another hour dicking around, getting supplies and dragging out tools. I have my own air compressor, but should I need washer fluid, coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid, transmission fluid…I don’t have all of that stuff on hand around the house.

    So, given the choice between spending two of my non-working hours working on my car, or parting with an extra $20, I’ll choose the latter.

  175. simona says:

    do it urself, 15 minute job. Since its an suv there is not need to jack up the car.

  176. @n0ia: Timing BELTS should be changed every 60-80,000 miles. Not Timing CHAINS.

    Generally, timing chains should last a hell of a lot longer!

  177. @ganzhimself: ahhh you beat me to it! Didn’t see your comment! Thank you. (And yes I had my car completely serviced for EVERYTHING at 100K, like a good girl)

  178. planetdaddy says:

    Change your own oil.

  179. Ragman says:

    @mechimike: “However, I think the mentality of “I need to work 60-80 hours/week to afford my lifestyle” just means you have an over-ambitious lifestyle.”

    Not everybody who works overtime is doing it to afford an over-ambitious lifestyle. I know people who are DIY types, and who would do it all themselves, but they do get travel assignments and work more than 40 hrs a week. Kinda hard to mow your yard or clean house when you’re hundreds or thousands of miles away for a couple of weeks.

    @mac-phisto: “my point is, there’s a lot of uneducated people out there that simply refuse to learn even the most menial things – an oil change is not even near the top of that list.”

    Sad but true. Worst part is when they ask you for advice, and do the ONE thing you tell them NOT to do.

  180. murphy1701 says:

    I am not sure how wide spread this polioy is.. .whether it is just our store or company wide.. but the Walmart I work at requires a salary member of management to inspect every car after the work is done.

  181. mystry says:


    I have to wonder about the people your dad manages. Especially with his/her comment about the oil. Did he/she really say that they didn’t put the GAS cap back on correctly?? Last I checked, the gas cap had nothing to do with the oil. I know I grew up on a farm, but I didn’t think technology had changed that much! lol

    Well, now my Wally world experience. I have had 2 experiences like these, both involve them leaving tools under my hood. Thankfully the were nowhere where they caused a problem. But, on the upside, I now have a prybar (why that was in there, I am really questioning!) and my brother has an oil filter removing tool. These were in 2 different vehicles, about 6 months apart. I haven’t looked to see if there were anymore tools in there since my last oil change, hmmm… maybe I should go look and see what the Wally-Lottery left this time. lol

    Another thing I have noticed and I will never buy there is the tires. My b/f and I have had the same exact tires on our vehicles, the only difference is that I bought from a tire dealer, he bought from Wal-Mart. My tires were on a 4×4, his were on a 2WD. His tires wore out in half the time of mine. His were not driven on as much as mine were either. Thus, I refuse to buy from Wal-Mart. I believe they wouldn’t be safe if I did.

  182. TechnoDestructo says:


    He knew it was a problem…but did he know it was a TIMING problem?

  183. TechnoDestructo says:


    Great advice, except for:
    people with no safe place to do it
    people with no place to store oil until they get around to disposing of it
    people with disabilities precluding it
    people who have homeowners associations (or less commonly, city governments) that preclude it unless they have a garage (or less commonly, even if they have a garage)

    And there’s the fact that a lot of people feel that the 10 bucks they’ll save (the first time, more like 20 any subsequent time, if you keep the pan) just isn’t worth the hassle of disposal, or of the work itself. Oh, and that’s doubly true for any car that has an awkwardly-placed oil filter.

  184. chuck0008 says:

    Ok, I’m going to call bullshit here. I’m not sure how closely the Mods read the forums, but this probably needs to be removed, and I will email them as well, if I do not see a response on here. I grew up in Paonia. My dad stil lives there. Granted, I haven’t been back there in 2 years, but, if it has grown from the 2000 people that it was into being large enough for a SUpercenter (since they are the only ones with oil change facilities) in that time, th someone must have struck gold. Otherwise, the closest Wal-Marts are in Montrose, Grand Junction, or Glenwood Springs, all of which are roughly 70 miles away, which meant that she would have had to drive that distance with her messed up car. Also, if she was going to Denver, and the car broke down 30 mins into the trip, it would have had to be on the top of McClure Pass, unless she was going the very long, flat, can’t coast down it way. If so, in order to get back to Paonia, she would have had to coast through Somerset, which is 10 miles east. If sh kept driving that far on a damaged engine, she is partially responsible for the damage she did. Also, last I checked, Bob the mechanic isn’t the only guy in Paonia, or Hotchkiss, or Crawford, or Somerset. Pure BS. Probably one of those people whoe hobby it is slanderizing Wal-Mart. They are not great, but they ahve their uses. For everyone who has an issue with them, go build something better. It’s called capitalism.

  185. Jay Slatkin says:

    @chuck0008: Your 70 mile estimate is quite a ways off. I regret not being able to get the exact store location into this story. Look for an update to this story next week.

  186. chuck0008 says:

    OK, so they finally built one in Delta. that’s still 30 miles off, and plenty far enough to run a car out of oil. Either way, this still smells fishy.

  187. BigJames80 says:

    @Breach: Judging from the talent at my local Wal-Mart, I believe that the greeters would do a better job.

    @mechimike: Amen, brother. Back to the ol’ Jalop’.

  188. rioja951 - Why, oh why must I be assigned to the vehicle maintenance when my specialty is demolitions? says:

    Certainly there could be some sort of liability, they were paid for a service that was not completed to standard. Well, OK thats my opinion.

    Thats why I never let anybody that is not a dealer touch my new RX-8. Even while I’m down here in mexico only a mazda dealer touches anything under the hood. As for my other car, its not a junker but has been a very nice ride for all the time I’ve had it and I now make all the minor changes it requires. (oil and coolant changes, basic tune-up and all that)

    P.S. IANAL

  189. @Lithium542: You forgot a few items:

    Statistical value of my non-work time: $20/hour
    Climbing under my car when I can hire someone else to do it: $15
    Total: ~$38

    Now, for comparison:
    Dealer oil change: $25
    Free “car wash”: -$3
    Knowing it’s someone else’s fault if something goes wrong: -$5,875
    Total: -$5,853

    I’ll take the mechanic behind door #2.

  190. The_IT_Crone says:

    Whoa. That happened to my ex-boyfriend at a Valvoline station. The repair station that he took it to said that Valvoline drained the oil (or in any case it was gone) and didn’t fill it up again.

    He wasn’t able to successfully get the $4k in repair that it cost to fix, though I’ll admit he’s a lazy sod and didn’t try too hard.

  191. CyberRanger says:

    @chuck0008: I agree w/ Chuck. I also grew up in Paonia & the closest SC Wal-Mart is either in Delta (30 mi), Montrose (50 mi) or Grand Junction (70 mi). No matter what, she still had to drive a ways to get back to Paonia. Hello, “Check Engine Light”?

    You cannot coast 30 min from Paonia back to Paonia. Ain’t gonna happen. There is a number of places she could have called a tow truck from between McClure Pass & Paonia. Its a podunk town, but not that podunk. 30 mins puts you almost at the top of McClure Pass. There are many hills & flat areas (Paonia Reservoir) that you can’t coast thru. Paonia may be small, but it has numerous mechanics.

    There are a number of inconsistencies in her story. I’d like to hear the full scoop.

    CyberRanger, aka, Greg Lenderink

  192. lawstud says:

    These guys can be sued for doing the job wrongly and causing damage to the car.

    Get a lawyer. Thousands graduate every year in this country and need work.

  193. lawstud says:

    workman like quality – the work has to be up the standard that the profession has.

    Considering this is a mistake and not common practice it is negligent to breach that standard. By causing damages the guy now has a lawsuit against them. He just has to prove that the mechanic caused it.

    Need to take pictures and document it all. Have the mechanic who saw the car followed up write down what he saw and thinks and then say a short clause about admitting to it under penalty of perjury and it’s an affidavit, i.e. evidence.

    Build a case

  194. SableHemlock says:

    The one time I got my oil changed at Wal-Mart, they left a wrench of some kind in there and it continually rubbed up against one of the belts in my engine. Luckily it wasn’t in a direction where it would have totally destroyed the belt, but when I got my oil changed again, at a reputable place, they were like, “Yea, whoever did this last time left this wrench in. Do you want it?” Not really a good sign.

  195. JustThatGuy3 says:


    I _can_ change my own oil. I choose not to, because it’s worth the $20 difference in cost to me to get someone else to do it. I’m not lazy, I just have better things to do with my time than waste it on menial tasks I can easily outsource.

  196. Turboner says:

    Ah, the risks of owning something you refuse to learn how to maintain yourself. FFS, no one even waxes their own skis anymore. You’d think, in the age of the internet, where there’s a how-to complete with pics and excerpts from the service manual on everything from fixing windows to changing timing belts, people would be more resourceful. What percentage of car owners changed their own oil in the early 20th century compared to now? You can even wear sexy latex gloves to keep your fingernails clean ;)

    If I had a dollar for every dollar I saved by maintaining my own cars…

  197. mr mike says:

    Quit crying, YOU made the decision to go to Walmart.

  198. vandalin says:

    I used to work at a Wal-mart. In at least two instances, the TLE guys failed to put the plug back in the oil pan, which ruined the customers engines. The immediate (rote?) response from management was to pay for repairs.

    I don’t bring my car to Wal-mart for oil changes as a result.