Give Me An Oil Change…Not A Sales Pitch

When you are blonde…5’2″ (on a good day)…and show little interest in the inner workings of your car…its easy to become a walking bulls eye for a mechanic’s sales pitch for things OTHER than what you came in for…

(this is of course…a hypothetical situation…the fact that I completely fit the above description has no relevance here……so here is more of what happened…hypothetically…to this girl who we will call…for continuity’s sake…Casey Roman)

I go to get an oil change. The wait is THREE hours long. Not just at shop A…but shop B…C…AND D. (All in Wilmington). When I finally get in…its not long before the…”we recommends” start coming….

It begins with my air filter…which is brought to me as evidence, to point out its grey hue…and that they *recommend* a change. I can’t argue…I have no idea what the threshold is for air filters…the very point at which they are unable to perform their duty…of filtering. I agree. Add $17.95.


I did not expect that during my OIL change that they would also check my battery. Perhaps they are just really thorough..for that I would thank them. However, they…recommended…I replace it. They said it was dying and asked if I had had trouble starting the car.

No. I have not had trouble starting my car. Granted..batteries are not designed to last forever (its called “planned obsolescence” folks…)…but warning signs.

They (the mechanics at the shop) told me I was in luck…they had just ONE more of my battery left and they might be able to talk one of the guys into staying late to install it. My $12.00 oil change was about to turn into a $135 + purchase…..oye.

I deferred replacement till the following weekend. (1) I wasn’t convinced that I needed a new battery…(2) I wasn’t prepared to drop that much money….there were movies to be rented that night…..

I took my car a few days later to an Exxon/Mobile station and asked them to SHOW me how much battery I had left….the results: the batter was fine…its in the “green” and while it IS wearing down…they told me there was NO need to get a new one right away.

I was….[    ] (“mad”)

Exxon man said that I should see some warning signs before the battery goes kicks the bucket….this is not always the case but I thought I’d share some of that info….to save you some money in the event that you are not in imminent danger of having your car die on the road….

1. First turn on your lights and some battery operated functions (fan, radio, etc)…then turn on your car…if there is a slow engine turnover or if the lights go dim…it may be time for a change.

2. Try to notice differences on days with different temperatures. If its hard to start on cold days…and easy on warm days…it may be time for a change. This should be no problem to check seeing as how we have a few days of cold followed by a few days of summer here….

3. Make sure any slow turnover (or complete failure) is due to a DEAD battery vs. a draining battery. For example…leaving a dome light on too long will drain the battery but if you can get it going again..and drive around for a while…the battery should recharge itself. On the other hand….if its an old, dead battery….a jump may get you to the mechanic but not much further.


Now I’m no mechanic…obviously. But these are some of the suggestions I got when I asked a few car gurus. I’m told that AutoZone also does free checks. (None of this advice came from AutoZone…no shameless plug here..)


So if you feel like you are getting..the big sell…get a second opinion or ask to SEE the battery level.


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