Piston Slap: Justification for Jiffy Lubrification

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap justification for jiffy lubrification

TTAC Commentator Detroit-Iron writes:

A friend of mine and I were talking about my last Piston Slap question, in particular several people’s dislike of Jiffy Lube. My perspective is that unless you have cars in the shop all of the time or live in one place for a long time, it is difficult to find a trustworthy mechanic. I also believe in general that a good process is less likely to harm a vehicle than trusting to individual diligence. At Jiffy Lube they really only do one or two things and they have a system. They always go for the upsell, but unlike some mechanics they are not likely to recommend any truly expensive unnecessary work (or deliberately break something) simply because they don’t offer it.

Sajeev Answers:

Yes, that is fair. But Jiffy Lube (seemingly?) deliberately strips oil pan bolts and over-torques oil filters. Which makes for a fun time for the owner’s son, when tasked with the next oil change. Sans the leverage-intensive underground service bays, that is. That was my last experience with Jiffy Lube. In general, I believe that not all franchise locations are created equal. Is this a case of one bad apple spoiling the bunch?

More to the point, is an ASE certified master tech at the dealership/trustworthy shop gonna make the same mistakes due to indifference? Truth is, nobody’s perfect when it comes to oil changes. My hands aren’t clean (so to speak) in this matter. Plus, oil pan bolts tend to leak/strip themselves after 5+ years of use.

I’ll put this to the Best and Brightest: are problems with Jiffy Lube and other oil change services a problem with the company, the store/regional manager or the service tech in question? I tend to think it’s nurture, not nature: if someone fosters a hostile work environment, the quality shall suffer. Have at it.

Send your queries to mehta@ttac.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

Join the conversation
2 of 59 comments
  • Djn Djn on Nov 04, 2010

    My son was one of those high school kids working for minimum wage at Jiffy Lube. He now changes the oil in all our vehicles, from a 1959 Alfa Romeo to his BMW 318is. He's also become a pretty fine wrench when it comes to Fiat clutches or BMW wheel bearings.

  • BrunoSaccoBenz BrunoSaccoBenz on Nov 04, 2010

    When in college, I recall my mom came home after a Jiffy Lube oil change and I noticed a trail of rainbow blotches coming all the way down the rain slick street and into our driveway. I checked her Acura down in the garage and sure enough there was a growing puddle of oil on the floor. The kid had only tightened the drain plug half-way. If it hadn't been a short drive my mom probably would have ran the engine dry. When I bought my used 190E Benz, the first time I tried to change the oil myself, I could not release the oil drain bolt. I finally had to take it in to an indie mechanic who found the bolt and oil pan threads all stripped due to too many sloppy quickie lube oil changes. Although I kept my cars away from the quick lube shops, my wife was still taking her Saab there. They top off your fluids with the cheapest stuff. When we took a trip over the Cascades in winter, to our great alarm we could not clear the dirty windshield because the windshield washer fluid had frozen solid in the resevoir. I had never had that happen before because I, or my mechanic, refills my car's resevoir with anti-freeze washer fluid. I now insist my wife take the Saab to an independent mechanic for regular fluid changes (don't have time or facilities to do this at home any more). I have my trusted independent mechanic change the oil on my Mercedes 300D. Yes, it costs a little over twice as much as a quickie lube shop. I know that he does it right and doesn't try to upsell me on services I don't need. I also consider it an automotive checkup where he'll go over the car that I know he's familiar with and look for any problems or update me on any upcoming maintenance needs. It's like my regular preventative visits to the doctor or dentist.

  • SCE to AUX I'll take the one in the photo.
  • ToolGuy EV Nerd Question: Let's say a person has a home and has electricity and has an EV and has plenty of time to charge and can choose between 120V and 240V at-home charging on this particular charge cycle. How would the choice of 120V (using the 120V 'cord' charger that came with the vehicle) or 240V (using the charger on the wall) affect the following:a) Cost of the 'fill-up' -- i.e., is there a difference in efficiency of the energy delivery to the vehicle battery between 120V and 240V?b) Long-term life/health of the vehicle battery -- i.e., we know that fast charging stresses the battery more -- by analogy is 120V better than 240V?
  • Cprescott Very expensive and nice looking golf cart.
  • SPPPP Speaking of soggy bottoms, those vinyl seats look very uninspiring. But the rest of the car looks pretty nice. I am not such a fan of combining a Nissan CVT with an over-stressed 3-cylinder, but I guess time will tell how that works out.
  • Lichtronamo Like most here, have a L2 Charger at home. Have only plugged into a publicly accessible charger 2x only to try it. We have an EV and ICE car in our garage, so we haven't driven the EV on a longer trip. I would like to try it on a road trip. I think the driving characteristics of an EV with somewhat longer stops along the way would be enjoyable.