Many people try to save when it comes to common maintenance items. Your oil change light comes on the dash and you see that you are going to have to have to spend a little more this month as you have to take your BMW in for service. As you drive around your dash reminds you that your oil change is due then you see a sign for a quick lube place and it’s a cheaper price than what your local shop charges. You think, it should all be the same and i’ll save some money.”
The issue with Quick lube places is the “Quick” in the way the services is provided. There is a saying in the automotive industry that says, “fast, cheap, and reliable; Out of those three pick two.” Quick Lube places have business model where they are promising you two out of those three. You will have fast and cheap, but don’t expect their service to be reliable. Quick lube places also have a reputation of being the place where many people who are interested in getting into auto repair get their start. Novice technicians will learn on the job, on your European automobile. Technicians who become skilled will leave that job as Quick Lube businesses tend to be the lowest paying in the automotive field.
We have seen customer’s European automobiles come with all sorts of sorts of issues coming from Quick Lube places. The most common being cars coming in with stripped oil drain pan bolts. At best we can re-thread the oil pan to accept the bolt. At worst the customer will have to get their oil pan replaced as oil will steadily drip out. We also have customers coming in with low oil pressure lights. We have seen many places that install the wrong filter or the filter installed incorrectly, which causes the engine to not build enough oil pressure and can cause serious damage.
The biggest issues with taking a BMW, Mercedes, Land Rover, or other European brands to a high volume unspecialized places like a Quick Lubes are the advanced internal engine lubrication systems require a bit more knowledge and different procedures than your typical commuter car. For example, modern BMW automobiles no longer come with an oil dipstick to check the oil level. They use sensors inside the oil pan to determine the oil level. The systems are also very temperamental when the engine is overfilled or under filled with oil.
What about the unexpected? Go to fill in the oil and the hood cable broke? Or the oil drain bolt stripped? When companies depend on a variety of customers and volume as a main part of their business model, their techs aren’t motivated to keep a car on their lift to actually fix a problem. They are motivated to patch up problems and move on to the next car as volume for them is key.
When cars get serviced for something as simple as an oil change our mechanics take care to find leaks, suspension issues, or anything else that might be an issue for our customers down the line. As we are a niche European automobile repair shop we depend on building relationships with our customers and return business. That is why we won’t provide “Quick” type oil service.