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Oil Change Outrage: Follow-Up

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Can you really trust some of the biggest names in car repair?

Last year, investigator Joel Grover caught California's two biggest oil-lube chains ripping us off. They promised to clean up their act. Now, Joel goes undercover again, to see if they're keeping that promise.

It's something most of us do every few months -- get an oil change. But last year, we caught two big chains, EZ Lube and Jiffy-Lube, pushing more than just new oil.

They were selling unnecessary repairs to NBC4's undercover customer driving a test car.

So now, NBC4 sent a new test car, and a new customer back to six of those stores. The first stop, an EZ Lube in North Hollywood, which told NBC4 last year that the fluids in the car needed to be replaced, even though they were brand new.

This time, they passed the test.

"Coolant looks good, brake fluid looks good," the technician said.

An EZ Lube in Costa Mesa also passed the test. The technician there said, "Your power steering is also clean."

NBC4 thought EZ Lube had cleaned up its act, until they met Joey at a Glendale store.

"The power steering should be flushed out," he said to the NBC4 undercover customer.

He also told her the power steering fluid was dirty.

"It just looks like it hasn't been serviced," he said, even though NBC4 just had all the fluids changed at one of LA's top garages -- ISE Automotive.

Joey at EZ Lube also insists the undercover NBC4 customer needs a new fuel filter.

"Change the fuel filter. It's still the original AC Delco one," he told the NBC4 undercover customer.

NBC4 wondered if they even checked the fuel filter. It isn't an original AC Delco filter at all. It's a NAPA filter, put in the car 6,000 miles ago.

Would things be any better, at the nation's biggest lube chain Jiffy-Lube? Not at a store in Silverlake. They push four repairs on the NBC4 undercover customer totaling $365.

One of the repairs they suggest is a transmission flush, telling the NBC4 undercover customer the fluid is "pretty dirty." But then they tell the NBC4 undercover customer the opposite, at a Sherman Oaks Jiffy-Lube. The technician says, "I checked your transmission. Still good."

They try to sell the NBC4 undercover customer an engine flush.

The technician says, "The oil that you had was extremely dirty."

Suggesting repairs based on the color of a fluid is an old trick that's against Jiffy-Lube's policy.

"We do not tell any customer that they need a service or suggest a service based on color of fluid," says Judy Scholl, vice-president with Jiffy-Lube's corporate office.

So why did those technicians suggest services based on color? Joel Grover went to the Jiffy-Lube at the Sherman Oaks store and spoke with the manager.

"I think this employee violated your company policy. I'd like to show you our videotape right now," Grover tells the Jiffy-Lube manager. "I'm not interested in seeing what you have right now," the manager tells Grover.

And what about that EZ lube technician who claimed the new power steering fluid was dirty?

When Grover spoke with the technician, he asked him, "Did you tell her the power steering fluid looked dirty?"

The technician replied, "I did not say that sir."

After watching himself on tape, Grover asked the technician, "Did you hear yourself on tape say that fluid was dirty?"

The technician walked away, but when his boss looked at the tape he told Grover, "(The technician's) procedures were incorrect."

Then, the manager actually thanked NBC4 for doing the undercover sting.

"Keeping us well aware of what's going on here. Thank you guys for the great reporting," he told Grover.

Jiffy-Lube says it plans to do it's own investigation into the findings of NBC4's story. They also tell NBC4, they're about to implement a new training program at all jiffy lube stores that should provide better service to customers.

So what can you do to avoid being ripped off? Click below for a copy of NBC4's and the Automobile Club of Southern California's Auto Repair Tip Card.

Car Care Tip Card In English
Car Care Tip Card In Spanish

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