Why won’t Jiffy Lube pay for my engine repair? Isn’t it responsible?

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By Christopher Elliott

 After getting an oil change at Jiffy Lube, the engine on Ian Culhane’s Subaru stops working. The likely culprit is a botched oil change, he says. Why won’t Jiffy repair his car? 

Question

I recently got an oil change done at Jiffy Lube in Seattle. Afterward, I noticed that the oil indicator light was on. The next time I turned on my car, my engine rattled, and several warning lights appears on my dashboard.

I immediately checked the oil level, and the dipstick was dry. I have strong reason to believe that Jiffy Lube forgot to add any oil back into my engine.

The next day I had my car towed to the nearest Subaru dealership. They confirmed that no oil had been added. They disassembled the engine and found significant damage as a result of the lack of oil. They are estimating that the total cost of disassembly and repair will be over $9,000. 

I have been gathering any evidence that might be useful in proving they forgot to add oil, including the oil change and towing receipts, photos and videos of me checking the oil, checking that the oil drain plug and oil filter had been installed, photos of the damage from my Subaru dealership, and recorded phone calls and conversations with both with the dealership, Jiffy Lube’s customer support line, and an employee at the Jiffy Lube.

Over the course of three weeks, I spoke with Jiffy Lube customer support, two separate general managers, a district manager, and a claims specialist. None of these individuals gave a clear explanation of the process for getting a claim approved. Several times they directly contradicted one another about their process. Each time they promised to follow up by a set date, they never did.

I’m not confident that Jiffy Lube plans to take any responsibility. I am wondering what course of action would be most likely to get a prompt refund for the damage they did. — Ian Culhane, Seattle

Answer

I’m sorry to hear about your engine trouble. Jiffy Lube should take this matter seriously since it happened right after your oil change. Jiffy Lube offers a limited repair warranty that should cover your damage. One of the things it explicitly covers is engine performance, drivability services and repairs. So if your Subaru sputtered to a stop after getting an oil change, Jiffy should take care of you in a jiff.

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But the wheels move slowly. Your incident happened in late March of this year, and you contacted me in early April asking for help. Warranty claims like this can take weeks and often months. 

I publish the names, numbers and email addresses of the Jiffy Lube executives on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org. A brief, polite email sent to one of them might have moved the process along, although I’m not sure if it would have led to a faster resolution. (Related: Jiffy Lube ruined my car engine. Why won’t it pay $12,998 for repairs?)

You did a terrific job of keeping records. I also like the way you documented everything with photos and videos. 

In reviewing your paper trail — the correspondence between you and Jiffy Lube — I don’t see a hint that it will refuse to pay your claim under its warranty. But I can see how the foot-dragging is testing your patience. After all, your car is in the shop with a $9,000 repair bill. You don’t have all day.

I contacted Shell Oil, which owns Jiffy Lube, and asked about your case. A representative confirmed that your claim was still active. A Jiffy Lube representative called you and sent you a settlement agreement to pay for your repairs, which you signed.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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