Before we go into this sad tale of dumbshittery and insipid laziness, I want to make one thing clear: the owner of the Audi is not at fault here. Choosing to go to a lube shop for an oil change does not make you a monster. But monsters do lurk at lube shops, and some of them are idiots.

Here’s what happened, to a Florida-based Audi S4 owner named Mike, as explained in his post on the Audizine forum:

I already blame myself enough and am aware what I did was stupid by not taking my car to a more trusted shop or doing the work myself but i’ll share this post anyways and be ready for the flaming :(

I’ll pause here to remind everyone, again, that I don’t blame the owner. A business with the sole purpose of changing car fluids should be reasonably expected to be capable of changing a car’s fluids.

I was looking through Groupon and happened over a $49 deal to get a full synthetic oil change at the Valvoline Instant Oil Change place. [edit] Note, I usually do the oil changes myself but its been a little hectic lately. We are selling the house, things are packed up, yada, yada. So I figured, why not do an added 5K interval change at such a cheap price and i’m driving around anyways near there. I cant buy [sic] the parts that cheap and it’s Valvoline so whats to lose right? ...and there is where my mistake lies and what turned into a 4 hour ordeal that involved police.

I pulled up to the oil change place and stayed in the car. A couple minutes into the change I feel a jarring / ripping sensation through the floor of the car. I’m thinking, “Hmmm, I hope they know to slide the aero belly pan to the rear to let it drop down instead of pulling on it.” ...I make a mental note.

“Jarring/ripping sensation.” Just remember that for the moment.

So now they are at the stage where the person up top starts to pour in the motor oil. He starts to poor it in and stops pretty quickly yelling to the guy below to make sure he drained it all out as it is overflowing. ... Mental note number two. Hmm.

Just to clarify here, Audi owner Mike is in his car, and the jokers doing the oil change are pouring oil all over the place, because the oil isn’t going into the engine. Almost as if the crankcase was still filled with some unknown oily, viscous liquid.

Almost like a lubricant of some sort.

A few minutes go buy [sic] and I call the manager over and mention to him that I would appreciate it if he make sure all the 1/4 turn fasteners are put correctly back into place because they are very expensive to replace. He smiles and assures me he will make sure that happens.

Those fasteners are used to secure the plastic aero pan in place, which helps protect the underside of the car and help control the undercar airflow. I’m not sure why those fasteners are so expensive (even on eBay they’re not cheap, considering they’re basically screws) but they’re Audi parts, so, you know. That’s life.

Now the oil is supposedly back in the car and we are about to close our transaction. I’m standing at the front of the car and i’m staring at a 1/4 turn fastener sitting on the ground under the front of my car. I’m waiting...waiting..waiting for someone to pick it up to put it in or to tell me “You’re all set.” ....and sure enough I hear...”You’re all set; you are good to go.” So I bend over and pick up the 1/4 turn fastener and ask to talk to the manager.

The manager comes over and I point out to him that his person just left $20 worth of fastener of mine on the floor and I’d like to go into his pit to see what else is missing. He takes me down into the pit where I see this...

This is a good place to pause because, well, holy fuck.

An interesting fact about the Audi S4’s aero pan: it never had an option for a sunroof. That huge hole hacked into the pan is not supposed to be there.

I’m looking up at the car at first and I see the DSG drain plug right there and there is DSG fluid all over it and dripping. I’m thinking “Why can I see the DSG drain plug? Theres supposed to be an aero pan covering this?” and i’m also thinking...”Oh crap, they drained the DSG fluid.”

And, even better, Mike just realized that the reason they couldn’t put oil in the engine is because it was still full of oil. Instead of draining the engine oil, they seem to have drained the transmission.

As I keep looking up my brain starts to register what it is seeing. Holy crap, this guy cut my car into pieces. My aero pan has a huge hole cut into it. I’m standing in the oil pit now with the tech and the manager and I ask the tech if he did this to my car and if he drained my DSG fluid. He says absolutely not. Well since I am under my car every week and I know no one else was under my car I’m finding that very hard to believe. So I took it upon myself to walk around their oil pit until I found two of these...


Yeah, sitting in their trash can are two pieces of my aero pan he cut out. At this point i'm thinking that I need witnesses, and a lot of them. I call my wife and I called the police so I could at least get a report.

Here’s what I really don’t understand: how the hell could it have been any easier to cut a big-ass hole in that belly pan instead of just, you know, turning those fasteners a quarter turn each? This seems like more work, so what we’re looking at here is either profound stupidity instead of laziness, and a ridiculous disregard for a customer’s car.

Why would anyone do this? This makes no sense.

It looks like this is what happened...

1. Employee cuts hole in transmission aero pan and drains DSG fluid.
2. Tech tries to put in motor oil and it overflows all over the engine because no engine oil was ever removed.
3. Tech and manager were going to let me drive on my way with no DSG fluid and massively overfilled engine oil in which case id likely be out an engine and transmission.

I had the car flat bedded to Audi and will await the damage on MON. I’m worried they tried to cover up their mistake of draining the DSG fluid and put some no name brand automatic transmission fluid in the DSG in which case I dont even want to know how I can get Audi to test the fluid in there to see if it is non OEM.


I have learned my lesson. This sunday sucks.

Mike

This all staggering. Why did that worker decide that instead of removing the pan with the quarter-turn fasteners, a better plan would be to cut into the pan, like he was opening a tauntaun to get to its warm, warm innards. How is there not a standing policy that says “DON’T HACK AWAY AT CUSTOMERS’ CARS?”

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Plus, if he had not noticed that fastener and just drove away, how long do you think a DSG transmission would last without fluids before grenading? I’m not guessing very long. The hole-cutting is appalling, but draining the wrong fluids and not realizing it/lying about it are just fecal icing on this whole impressive shitcake.

I want to re-iterate again that the people blaming Mike the Audi owner for taking his car in for an oil change can suck it. There’s plenty of reasons why, occasionally, you may not want to change your own oil.

I normally change the oil on my cars (it can be oddly relaxing), but when I’m busy or the weather’s been crappy (I don’t have a garage), I’ll drop a car off to get the oil changed. It’s fine. I’m not ashamed, and I haven’t committed treason. Oil changes aren’t rocket science, and while I think it’s good for your relationship with your car to do your own, it’s not the end of the world to let a shop do it.

I just can’t believe all of the self-righteous responses blaming the owner in the thread:

drives an S4.... looks on GroupOn for oil-change deals... when ballin on a budget goes wrong.

Laying in bed reading this, turned to my wife and said, “you know those jiffy lube places? If you ever take either of our cars there, I will have to hurt you.”

Jesus H Christ on a cracker, what a **** show! But seriously, who takes their S4 to an economy oil change place. What did they expect, factory trained Audi techs in the pit?

Serves him right

Serves him right? Come on, cut the self-righteousness. You guys are worse than vegans (nothing against vegans as a whole, but I’ve known some painfully self-righteous vegans).

That said, any shop that specializes in oil changes should goddamn know how to change oil without resorting to carving away at cars. They have one basic job to do, and there’s no reason any customer shouldn’t expect that any of these shops can manage to do that same job I can do on my back on a gravel driveway. This is absurd.

An email requesting a comment was sent to Valvoline Instant Oil Change, and as of publishing time, no response was received. We will update as soon as we get a response. Mike has informed us that he has been in contact with Valvoline, so hopefully they’ll make this right.

UPDATE: It looks like Valvoline will be sending Mike a check for the damages ($1,442.48), so that’s good.


Contact the author at jason@jalopnik.com.

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