The Most Common Oil Change Scams

The Most Common Oil Change Scams

Going to get your car serviced can be a stressful experience because you often do not know if there are any small issues or if that ticking noise can be solved with a certain add-on service. Add on services contribute to over half of the revenue made by quick lube shops and far more in conventional local garages. These services seem like something you could need, but most are simply a cash grab for the oil change location. Here are some of the most common add-on services that we strongly recommend steering clear of unless it aligns with your vehicles maintenance schedule.


Scam 1: Change the Oil for Cheap!

The scam here is that some of the cheapest places to get an oil change are the worst. It was revealed by CBS46 that Halvoline Xpress oil change shops had not even changed the oil in their vehicles. They exposed this by having hidden cameras underneath the vehicle, which captured video of not only no filter change, but no oil change either. This is extremely dangerous to say the least.

This crew from CBS46 also went to another of the chains locations and caught the location doing a similar scam, except even more dangerous for your vehicle. The technician removed motor oil from the vehicle then did not change the filter. After this the technician then either forgot, or on purpose did not replace the old oil that was drained with new oil. This would lead to the car being broken down within minutes of use. This is not that uncommon at quick lube shops, since they have to hire technicians right out of high school and if the shop is busy enough they have little supervision. This can lead to the above issue or another common mistake made by young technicians is putting on a oil filter that is not to manufacturer specifications.


Scam 2: Fluid Flushes

The most common of oil change scams is the fluid flush. Many times fluid flushes are needed, but not as often as they are recommended, and even when they are recommended they aren’t always needed. These can cost anywhere from $50 to hundreds depending on whether it is transmission fluid or steering fluid.

It was exposed by CBC’s marketplace that economy lube in Guelph, Ontario was charging for fluid flushes and not actually performing them. This is common practice, and you should never be getting these extra services done when they aren’t part of the maintenance schedule for the vehicle. Technicians often get commission on these mark ups and therefore are willing to lie for the extra pay.


Scam 3: Oil, not Filter

A very common scam that is used for extra cheap oil changes is an oil change that is so cheap you can’t believe the price. These often don’t include a filter change. This is very dangerous for the vehicle, and because of that we highly recommend spending more that $50 on your oil change. Many oil changes that are priced lower will have this as a way for the shop to save a bit of money on their bottom line.

There is also a tactic where the garage does not drain the oil, but just changes the filter for the sake of speed. This can be a common occurrence in quick lube shops. This is another reason to avoid a “10-minute oil change”.


There are lots of great garages and chains that can keep your car in great shape, but these are some of the things that could happen at any shop. We always recommend knowing your maintenance schedule’s recommended services before going to the shop to avoid pointless add-on services.


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