Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Jiffy Lube Theory

I once had a friend who drove one of those Volkswagen New Beetles - you know, the cute bubbly kind. I talked to him quite a bit about the quality of VWs before I purchased my Jetta, and I distinctly remember him telling me that the only place he could get his oil changed was the Volkswagen dealership - that Jiffy Lube or the like wouldn't do it because it was a "German engineered car" and that somehow made changing the oil that much trickier than, say, on a Japanese- or American-made car. I found this a little unbelievable and asked him if he'd tried going somewhere other than the dealership or if this was something the dealership had told him. It was something the dealership had told him, the cunning bastards! I took my Jetta to Jiffy Lube and was not shunned because I was driving a "German engineered car" (though, truth be told, it was actually manufactured in Mexico).

I HATE Jiffy Lube and have recently managed to link them back to my continual problem with leaking coolant. I know, I'm nuts, right? How could JIFFY LUBE have anything to do with my coolant springing a leak not once, not twice, but THRICE. Fine then, I'll tell you.

Jiffy Lube trains their "mechanics" to be a bunch of money hungry conniving bastards. I go there for convenience - there's a Jiffy Lube close to my office, there's a Jiffy Lube close to my house, and they really do live up to their name of being "jiffy" - and despite consistently trying to siphon an extra $20 - $100 out of me, I must admit that I've never had a complaint about their customer service. But that's just the thing - the you need this, this, and this done to your car in addition to an oil change. Look, I brought the thing in so you could change my oil, so change my freaking oil!! Without fail, every single time I bring my car in for an oil change, I need a) a new air filter; b) a $60 "engine flush"; c) a radiator flush; or d) all the above. It doesn't matter if I said yes the previous time, they tell me I "need it" the next time. Really? So you're telling me that the air filter you gave me 3,000 miles ago is so crappy, I already need a new one?

It wasn't until about a year of driving the car that I started really having problems with it (though the "check engine light" came and went sporadically during that entire year) and it wasn't until a trip to Jiffy Lube that I first started having issues with my coolant. They had told me I needed a "radiator flush," I said no, and I remember it struck me as terribly coincidental that shortly thereafter I started having issues with my coolant. That was when the misfiring cylinder started causing issues with the performance of my car (nothing quite like trying to get going on 3 cylinders), I brought my car into a mechanic recommended by a friend (who has since become my speed dial mechanic), had the leaking coolant fixed while it was in, and everything was just fine until I went to Jiffy Lube and got my oil changed at which time the coolant light started going crazy again. Hmmmmm.

I ignored it - as I so often do when lights start blinking and beeping in my car (I like to think it'll go away on its own) - and in December when I had to have my car towed to my speed dial mechanic because it absolutely refused to start despite how many times I turned the key and the string of insults and curse words I yelled at it, I had them fix the leaking coolant again. And again, it was just fine (say it with me now) until I went to Jiffy Lube. Granted, it could be just an incredibly strange coincidence, but strange coincidence or not, I no longer plan on getting my oil changed at Jiffy Lube. In fact, I'm starting to think there's something to this "only get your oil changed at the dealership" thing.

My speed dial mechanic called me this morning to let me know that in addition to the problems I had listed off to him over the phone yesterday and in person this morning, I also needed new brake pads because (to quote him) I had virtually "no front brakes." I trust he's not trying to get a few extra bucks out me because he never has before and because I have noticed the ear-drum-exploding, finger-nails-down-a-chalk-board sound of my brakes squealing, most notably when I'm in reverse. Luckily the warranty will be covering my leaking coolant; after 100,000 miles my warranty becomes null and void. Guess how many miles I have on my car? 99,960, I shit you not. Looks like I brought it in just in the nick of time, and to anyone who, like me, decides to purchase a Jetta despite all signs pointing to "DON'T F**KING DO IT," I strongly suggest you make sure you can get a warranty with it and you do it in full force. I paid about $1000 to purchase the extended warranty and so far the warranty has paid for about $700 in repairs, so I lost $300 on the cost of the warranty, but that's better than having had to pay for those $700 in repairs out of pocket.

From the sounds of it, I should be getting my car back tomorrow (pending they can exorcise the demons from my cooling fans). I put up a picture of an A4 as the wallpaper on my work computer as a reminder of why I have to drive the Jetta for the next 8 months. When I told Matt that, he started laughing and said the Jetta's not "THAT big of a piece of shit." Easy for him to say - he doesn't have to drive it every day. :)~


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am still trying to figure out how you ended up with the crappy car? For a girl that claims to be spoiled, I think you are handling it rather well. Most spoiled girls would have already traded it in for a newer model. Good job at getting the most out of your vehicle.

5/09/2006 6:23 PM

Blogger erika said...

Well...I didn't know it was a crappy car when I bought it, and I would have traded it in a long time ago, but finances are a little tight right now with the wedding in August. I'm spoiled, but I'm reasonable - I don't expect the impossible. :)

5/10/2006 8:16 AM

Blogger Britt said...

GIRL.....you and your car problems! :) Hope everything, besides the car problems, is going GREAT!!!!! You guys need to come up to WA and visit us! :)


5/10/2006 9:51 AM


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