Saturday, March 26, 2011

Halfway decent v. Not that bad

Our check engine oil light has been flickering for a while, so I finally decided to get the oil changed before I left for Boston tomorrow.  (I didn't want the transmission to fall out on Child while I was gone.)

We just moved here to CA a few months ago and Child took the car in last time in needed an oil change, so I didn't have any particular place I liked.  I called the Valvoline Instant Oil Change place in Vista and the person who answered the phone sounded so sullen and short that I immediately decided to try a different place.  My second phone call was to Firestone Complete Auto Care, and the way the clerk there answered the phone was like night and day.  He was bright and cheery and suggested I look on their website for a discount coupon.  I immediately decided to go there instead.

Unfortunately, that was the highest point of the experience.  Not that anything went particularly bad, but there were several areas they could have improved.  Like all auto places, they tried to upsell me on several more services, but they went even further than most places by throwing in a credit card offer.

Of course my tires were bad so they wanted to replace those, as they always do, but the man who helped me (different than the one who answered the phone) seemed genuinely peeved that I didn't take him up on his offer.  "But I'm giving them to you at cost plus a buck!"

I understand it's a great deal.  I've bought tires before.  But regardless, I just don't have $250 in the budget to drop on tires right now.

The other annoyance was that even though there was supposedly only one car ahead of me, and I was assured that they would be done by 11:30 AM at the latest, I didn't walk out until 12:30.  That was 2 1/2 hours on my Saturday gone.  I expect that at a doctor's office, but changing tires and oil isn't brain surgery.  It shouldn't be terribly hard to estimate time-to-completion, especially if there's only one other car.  (Of course there were more--I could see them in the bay.)

Would I go back?  I really, really wanted to like them after the way that first man answered the phone.  But I've been to better places, and would probably look around first.  Although actually, now that we have a house (or will in a few days) I'm going to try changing my own oil.  It'll save money, and after the first couple times, I've no doubt I'll save time too.


Joe Vasicek said...

I wish I knew how to change oil. In fact, I wish I knew a lot about auto mechanics. But yeah, if you figure out how to do that, please blog about it--it would be quite interesting.

Charity Z said...

Changing oil is difficult, labor-intensive, and not really that cheap. You maybe save $10 DIY, but that doesn't take into account that you spent your saturday at Walmart buying oil, getting filthy draining and putting in the new oil, and figuring out how to eco-friendily dispose of the old oil. My opinion is keep looking for a place you like. We've had good luck with Sears auto.

Jakeson said...

We tend to either go to the dealership for service, but recently we have been using the local Jiffy Lube. If there are any nearby, I would recommend it. They provide excellent service, and the price is not really all that bad either.