Sunday, October 22, 2006

"No Thanks, I'll Pass On the $250 Oil Change"


I still can't believe I actually said this, last Friday, at the MINI/BMW dealership in nearby Calabasas. As I stood there, in uncomfortable silence, I really had hoped the service writer was going to say "Haa! Just kidding!" but that never happened. I began to wonder if they meant Pecos or Dollars. When I quickly discovered the service person was serious, I wondered who in their right mind would ever pay that much to have oil changed and how come I was there. Yes, I know car dealerships like to screw people, but with a jackhammer and a smile?

My wife really wanted a MINI Cooper a few years ago. We were in the market for a new car, and the price wasn't too bad (and gas prices were starting to shoot up fast, the car averages like 37-41mpg!) so a MINI seemed like the best idea around. Oh and the car "looks" pretty cool too. And as a bonus MINI/BMW picked up all the oil changes and maintenance for the first 36,000 miles. Those sure were the days...then when you get use to the VIP service, they stick it to you (and want to recoup their costs - like drug dealers!). In my mind I thought, "O.K. how much can an oil change really cost at the dealer...$50 at the most?". I was wrong. Very, very wrong. When I asked what the $250 included (I don’t know - Don Perignon with an Angry Thai Midget Massage perhaps?) the service woman answered ‘service with a smile, a visual check, Oil and a filter’. Oh, AND the hazardous waster fee of $3 was included (whoopee!). She also added that the changing of the micro-air filter was also overdue, and I was ‘strongly recommended’ to replace it - that part was $60 - but you needed the "air filter replacement service" which was $280 (plus tax). When I asked what my discounted price was (I always ask for a discount, even at Wendy's) she said she could possibly take %10 off, if the manager said "O.K.".

All was not lost though! I did get my car battery replaced when it mysteriously died, and a pretty nice car wash too (at no cost), but no oil change. So over the weekend, I was on a mission - I took the MINI to the nearby trusty Jiffy Lube, only to get 'shooed' away. They told me they don't work on fancy cars like MINI's (the last guy there that tried to work on one got some serious burns trying to remove the filter without some ‘magic tool’). And the other car shop across the street said they've never worked on one and don't carry the parts. And the third place said, "Sorry - why don't you try the dealer".

Driving all around town - I could hear the evil David Hasselhoff laughing at me, from BMW/MINI's headquarters in Germany. I wondered why nobody warned me about oil changes in these cars; how did it come to this. Was this car even worth it?

I can't criticize the car too much. Besides the stylish looks and good gas mileage, the oil doesn't need to be changes every 3,000 miles like other cars - only every 15,000 -which is a science marvel for people like me who still don't understand how a car even moves. But hell will freeze over before I spend $250 on a freakin' oil change! Even if I have to change the oil myself (God, I hope it doesn't come to that...!)

32 comments:

Waya said...

WHAT?! No Don Perignon or caviar with the service? $250? Man! That hurts! This was my hubbie's dream car, but diapers cost a lot when you have like 3 kids or something.

Good luck Tony!

metro mama said...

Yikes!

I wanted the Mini too but Sean convinced me the Honda Civic was more practical.

Diana said...

HA! You just did my husband a favor by making me change my mind about wanting a MINI. I don't think even HE would do those oil changes himself...
What's funny is I just found out this weekend that Ferrari needs to have the whole motor taken out to do an oil change, so imagine what that must run at the dealer...
Maybe that's what's so expensive, the filter and stuff may not be easy to reach on the MINI, but still I would never pay that much, either. Good luck with that.

T. said...

I guess looking cool really does come with a hefty price tag.

I wouldn't know. I still drive my Chevy and I can't remember what colour it is. (Gotta love living out in the country.)

If I need an oil change, I just bat my eyelashes at my hubs and it miraculously gets done.

But it is still a dusty, dingy, windshield cracked, with a handicap plaque hanging in the window, run down, old Chevy...

I'll never be a cool kid.

Crankmama said...

WTF? That's a good lookin' car, but I agree... who needs to dump that much cash on a stoopid oil change. My MIL drives one.. I'll see if she has any ideas.

In other news, finally got my blogroll working and put you on it.

Rachael

radioactive girl said...

Wow! That is a lot of money even if you divide it up and pretend it needs the normal amount of oil changes! I have too many kids to fit in a cool car, so I'll stick with my momvan for now.

InterstellarLass said...

I think this is starting to become a HUGE scam. It's almost impossible to do any routine maintenance on your own vehicle anymore because they make their own 'special' tools, or they hide everything and make parts virtually inaccessible without first removing the entire engine compartment. To replace a head light on my Jetta, you have to take out the battery. That is, if you can figure out how to get the battery cover off. And then if you can reach the bolt plate that's holding down the battery. The next line of auto mechanics will be women...they'll be the only ones with hands small enough to reach those tight corners!

chanchow said...

Ouch! $250 is highway robbery.

I had my own oil change eyeball popper this year (albeit less shocking than yours). I have a new Jetta, which takes a special 'cannister' filter. Apparently, very few oil change joints have cannisters in stock, so I've had to go to the dealer to buy some of my own. The charge for the oil change at the EZ Lube-- $75.

What happened to the $15 oil change?

L.A. Daddy said...

Oosh. I still do all my own changes (including my bike) but, man, that's a lot of dough. I've seen quite a few cars where's it hard or next to impossible to get to a certain part, but an oil filter shouldn't be that freakin' difficult. Check around at some local non-franchise shops -- you might find someone to help you do it for less.

MrsFortune said...

No freaking way!

Change it yourself. Hey, I've done it ... and if I can do it and it relates to a car? It's easy as ... I'm not going to say pie because I'm not good at baking, so... it's as easy as detecting a stink bomb in your kid's diaper. How about that?

Ryan said...

That's crazy, man. Maybe it is a really difficult car to change the oil on which requires the removal of many parts. If so, shame on the makers.

And I thought paying $32 last week was high. That actually pushed me over the edge to where I will be doing my own oil from now on again.

creative-Type Dad (Tony) said...

I told my wife yesterday I was going to attempt changing the oil myself. She said I could get killed and she wasn't willing to take that chance.
I think I'm going to follow her advice and continue my search for a auto shop.

Ruth Dynamite said...

I was totally outraged when the Honda dealer charged me $130 for an oil change a few months ago. I recall muttering really inappropriate things to myself and swearing at my husband under my breath (because it's always the guy's fault, right?). I don't know what I would have done in your circumstance, but it wouldn't have been very ladylike.

dadinprogress said...

we just shilled over $170 to the honda dealer for an oil change, tire rotation and to have the clock light fixed and the not sure what it's called but thing you plug your mobile phone charger into replaced (since we apparently shoved something in too tight and it all came out.) i guess not that bad, but so true re: what happened to the $15 oil change.

how much does the angry thai midget massage cost?

Angel Baby said...

Crap like that pisses me off. They should totally disclose the price and refusal of service from anywhere but the dealership up front.

I would totally be bitching about that in letters and emails. And my blog too, of course!

lindah said...

I'm looking at the same problem with my Mini; the maintenance warranty & free car washes are gone and I need an oil change soon. My Mini dealer said they would do just the oil change for $89 but they're 100 miles away; they said the maintenance checkup that goes with the oil change could run over $1000; they've never done anything but change the oil at the other ones, of course, and once charged me $120 to snap on a bumper piece. Goodyear (on the phone) said they would do it for $12.95 if I brought the filter and oil but I bet they don't know what's involved. The filter is cheap but the synthetic oil is pricey, and I don't know that I want someone who's never changed oil in a Mini messing with it. There's some kind of spring-loaded part that has to be done right or the oil will leak out. I might just trade mine in on a new one, could be cheaper.

creative-Type Dad (Tony) said...

lindah - $89 is a bargain to me. If it's done every 15k milles that's averages around $30 for a normal car.

The MINI and synthetic oil cost were $47 (including tax) - Goodyear's price at $13 would be your best bet.

There is no spring loaded part, the only difference is the wrench socket for the oil filter $7 at Pep Boys (or other local auto shop). Once you loosen the filter, no oil spilled out - since the filter is upside down (all the oil flows down to the oil pan below. That part was easy, the drain plug was the tough part - the dealer had used a torque wrench and tightened the thing like a welder. I would also recommend using Rhino Ramps --We used the car jack and that was SCARY!

Armando said...

$250?? That's CHEAP. I just returned form Alexander Mini in LA an My oil change price was $400...Yes, $400 for only an oil change at 45K. Ouch, No Way. Out comes my floor jack.

creative-type dad said...

$400!!!!! That's insane.
There's a great MINI and BMW place in Eagle Rock that I go to called "The M Shop" - the oil change is $90.

chanchow said...

I bought my friend's mini a few months ago and it's time for an oil change. Alexander Mini downtown is quoting me $350!!!!!!!!!

chanchow said...

I commented just now without reading through everyone else's comments (including mine years ago!). I should add that they are quoting me $350 for an oil change at 10k miles (yes, it took over 3 years to rack up 10k). Do you go to the M shop?

creative-type dad said...

chanchow -- Yes, I've been going there for the past 3 years. Neil or John are the most honest guys there. Jo is a little hard to read - I think he's the business end of the place. Overall, they are MUCH cheaper than the dealer by like 40-50%.

BUT -I have some bad news on the MINI that I'll likely write about on my review blog. We've had so much trouble with the car now that it has 126K miles on it -- we've had the engine replaced recently and now it's back at the M-Shop for some weird burning smell.
But if you're only putting 10K in 3 years, I'm sure you'll never experience what we've been going through.

chanchow said...

The M Shop is close by, so I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the tip. My friend had this Mini for over two years and only put 5k miles on it. I'm a normal driver, about 12k/year. Trying to decide whether I should do an extended warranty (downtown Mini quoted me $1895 for add'l 3 years/100k)... I abandoned my usual practicality when I got this car. Serves me right!

COUGARXFEM said...

I have been driving for a month with the service light ON, arguing with my ex about this......If you found someone PLEASE comment on my page as I am getting desperate......do I pay the car INSURANCE.....or for the oil change......

Anonymous said...

I do my own oil changes, all you need is the oil filter, which is $8.95 (bought online) 36mm-3/8"drive socket ($10) and I also bought a oil extractor ($49 online) so you don't even have to jack up the car, and ofcouse the oil (walmart $25)Then I pay $3 for getting rid of the oil. So it's less than $40 and 30 minutes and I change mine every 10,000 miles which is much less than other cars.

creative-type dad said...

Anonymous -- That's a great idea using the oil extractor. I wish I would have thought of that.

We did end up getting rid of our MINI cooper last year when the cylinder #4 broke and cracked the engine casing. That was just the last straw in a slew of problems that started happening around 90K miles. It became a money pit.

We loved the look of the car, but the long term reliability is highly questionable.
At this point, I don't think we'll purchase a MINI ever again.

Anonymous said...

omfg...i got mine qouted at 500...and that doesnt even include the check up...500 for a freaking oil change...the total package is 650...fuck i wish i had known this before i got my mcs....i took mine to jiffy lube n they told me not gona happen...i love my mini but damn 650 for a oil change / check up...someone just shoot me

Sarah said...

I appreciate all the information. I just called the Calabassass store in LA and the qouted me $250. This is getting out of hand. Most MINI Cooper owners not only bought the car bc it was cool but bc it was practical. There is nothing practical about the oil change. I am going to take anonymous 1:19pm advice and do it myself. Times are tough and getting screwed by the dealer is not my idea of a good time. I am fighting back and hopefully turning the tables and screwing them by showing them an average person can do this!!! I will update when complete. Wish me luck!!!

Anonymous said...

Having owned a MINI Cooper S for 6 years, I thought I would add my experiences.

Every dealer sets their own service prices. I think (though I could be wrong) the more competition (dealers) in the area, the more likely you'll find lower service rates. I live in Philadelphia, and there are at least 4 dealers within a 35 mile radius. When I lived in a house with a driveway, I changed my own oil. The cost was about $50 for Mobil 1 oil, filter, and 36mm socket. Now that I'm in the city and park on the street, it's easier to get it done at the dealer. My last oil change cost $89.21 which included the oil, filter, anti-freeze, wiper fluid, and labor. Not exactly cheap but no where near the $250, $300, and $500!!! quotes that were posted. Plus, I regularly get updates for $75 oil change specials.

Definitely do some research and call around to different dealers in your area to find out their service prices and if they offer special discounts throughout the year. I have seen widely fluctuating prices for various service jobs and parts, but nobody should be expected to pay that much for an oil change.

tyre changing machines said...

You'll need an oil filter, an oil-filter removal wrench, a wrench to remove the drain plug, a funnel, a drain pan and some gloves.

Anonymous said...

I was quoted $800 at Crevier BMW in Santa Ana for a 77000 mile tune up. I said what do you do for $800? They said hook the mini up took a
Computer and look for errors, lube the chasis, and give it an oil change. Ridiculous. Iwent to pep boys and bought synthetic oil with filter for $26 with a coupon, went home changed the oil, lubed the chasis,and washed the car.dealers are such a waste of money.

Anonymous said...

The high prices at the dealer is for the special trained techs, they make 100k a year if not more