If you’re one of those people – like me — who puts off getting your vehicle’s oil changed, here’s a story that’ll scare you straight.
A couple of weeks ago I got an email from Faith Kropiewnicki of Glen Lyon, who said in 2013 she and her husband, Robert, had bought two brand-new Kias, a 2012 Sportage and a 2013 Sorento. Two months ago Robert was driving the Sorento to work when the engine made a noise, the oil light went on and the car conked out.
The Kropiewnickis had the Sorento towed to Ertley Kia in Moosic, where they had purchase both cars in 2013. After a month or so of going back and forth, Robert was asked to produce oil-change receipts.
“He told them most of the oil changes were done by him,” Faith said. “My husband is experienced and does all his own care for our cars.”
The Kropiewnickis came up with four receipts from a local garage where they say some of the oil changes were done. They had no receipts for the products Robert had used when he changed the oil himself.
A day later, the dealership called the Kropiewnickis. The Sorento needed a new engine, which would cost $3,000 that would not be covered by the warranty because the oil had not been changed every 7,500 miles, as recommended by Kia. There was nothing the dealership could do.
“Both cars were bought at this dealership so you would think they would go out of their way a little, considering the cost of a brand new cars today,” Faith fumed. “This should not happen to a new vehicle.”
Unfortunately, however, it does, if you don’t change the oil reasonably often, because high operating temperatures breaks down the oil, making it less effective as a lubricant – which means engine parts start rubbing together and wearing out.
Over time, oil not only loses its ability to neutralize acids, but it can absorb contaminants and become saturated with the stuff, which remains in the engine and causes corrosion.
Faith insists that her husband changed the oil on schedule. Kia spokesman James Hope says because Robert can’t prove it, there was probably a “significant lack of maintenance,” which voids the warranty.
It’s a classic case of “she said, he said,” which you really don’t want to get into when you’re dealing with a big-ticket item like an automobile.
As I wrote a few weeks ago, the manufacturer can’t void the warranty if you have service and maintenance done by someone besides the dealership, even if that someone is you. But you do have to be able to prove it.
So if you don’t have time to make an appointment at the dealership for an oil change, pull into one of those quick-lube drive-throughs, pay the 25 bucks to get it done, and then stick the receipt in your glove box. Takes about 10 minutes. I did it myself just yesterday.
Christine Young is the Times Leader’s Consumer Watchdog. She can be reached at ConsumerWatchdog@timesleader.com. Her column appears weekly.