2012 Honda CR-V: Airport Parking Oil Change Follow-Up 2
November 30, 2012
A couple of weeks back I decided to try the oil change service offered by Wally Park, a premium LAX parking garage I frequent. They're efficient, all of their parking spaces have foam pads suspended between the cars to prevent door dings (except for the cheaper rooftop and outdoor spaces) and it's generally a pleasant place to start and end a business trip.
Beyond that, the price they charge for an oil change would still be reasonable even if they didn't include the free car wash they provide as an incentive, and the convenience of having this stuff done while the car sits idle in my absence is mighty appealing. But, as has been documented here, they screwed up on the oil viscosity. I asked for 0W-20 synthetic and they put in 5W-30 synthetic. It was a somewhat deflating end to an otherwise pleasant experience.
True to their courteous nature, however, they didn't argue when I came back in to talk about a resolution. They offered to redo the oil change for free. The mechanic who did the job came out to talk with me, and he wasn't the careless noob I'd half-expected. He was well-spoken, experienced, professional and sincere.
It soon became apparent what happened. Turns out they simply didn't have 0W-20 synthetic on hand. They get their Penzzoil in tanks from a commercial supplier, and the somewhat recent industry change to a 0W-20 oil recommendation caught them out -- they simply didn't have a drum of the stuff on hand. Stuck between a choice of installing the wrong oil or not doing the work, they chose the former, not wanting me to return from my trip to a job not done at all.
I'd have preferred option 3: send someone to the local Autozone for some 0W-20. After all, I was out of town for 4 days. They had time.
As we stood their talking I decided to accept their offer of a full refund rather than wait for them to go off to a local store to buy the oil while I needed. After all, Airport Marina Honda was just a few miles down the road. I'd take my money back ($43.96) and go there instead.
A half-hour later I was there in the Honda dealer's "Express Service" lane.
"How long?" I asked the service writer.
"About 45 minutes," was the reply. "No one is in front of you in the Express Service lane."
The above photo above was taken a full 70 minutes into my eventual 91-minute wait. Even the 45-minute estimate had me rolling my eyes because I knew I could DIY it in my own driveway in 15 minutes -- and I don't have a lift.
In the end I paid $48.79 for a confirmed 0W-20 oil change at the dealer. And when I picked up the car I noticed they did something else that surprised me.
They refrained from simply adding 3,000 miles in a knee-jerk fashion to the oil change reminder they stuck to the windshield. Instead they acknowledged the existence of the oil life monitor and Honda's corporate CR-V oil-change interval policy. Sure, there's still some life left at 15%, but the idea is to start thinking about it, to figure out when you can fit an oil change into your routine.
For most of us that takes a little time, at which point the oil life will probably be down to the 5-to-10-percent point anyway. I'll certainly take them more seriously than I would if they'd have attempted to encourage me to needlessly change it at 3,000 miles.
Meanwhile, the Wally Park oil change convenience does trump the heck out of the dealer's 90-minute "Express Service" wait. I'll try W.P. again someday, and they're taking a good hard look at adding a tank of 0W-20 so other new-model Honda/Acura/Toyota/Subaru customers can be properly served.
Still, next time around I'll make a point of asking the mechanic if they stock the oil I need before I place my order with the valet that takes the keys and parks the car. Assuming the valet knew the answer was what got me into trouble here.
That said, this impromptu Wally Park versus dealer comparison test tells me the DIY oil change still reigns supreme if I have the time and the weather is good.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 11,791 miles