1996 Lexus ES 300 Long Term Road Test

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1996 Lexus ES 300: Jiffy Lube Vindicated

March 12, 2013

1996 Lexus ES 300

In our popular article "Stop Changing Your Oil," we were critical of Jiffy Lube for recommending too-frequent oil changes. We had heard that Jiffy Lube had changed; that its techs would give customers manufacturer recommended oil change intervals. Since we needed to get an oil change before getting a smog test — and needed that inspection before selling it — we decided to go back to Jiffy Lube and see how things had changed.

We even decided to try playing "gotcha journalism." Here's what happened.

When the sales guy approached us we said we didn't know if we needed an oil change or not. We said we weren't sure what the intervals were. The sales guy said the best way to tell was to look at the color of the oil. This, by the way, isn't entirely true. See #4 in "Urban Legends about Oil.". But we took it as a good sign that he wasn't just going to default to just-go-ahead-and-change-it mode.

The tech guy then looked up the oil change interval on his computer and said it was either 5,000 or 7,500 miles depending on how we drove it. This, of course, is the good old severe versus normal driving schedules. In the past, quick-change oil shops have tried to get everyone on the severe schedule because it means more business for them. But now, we were being told by the technician, "We can set the sticker for whatever you decide." Eureka! This is just what we wanted to hear. No more 3,000-mile intervals glaring at us from the little sticker in the corner of the window.

Here's another nice surprise. We priced an air filter at an auto parts store before heading to Jiffy Lube and found they cost $14.99. The Jiffy Lubsters installed one for $16.99. It was worth the two extra bucks to have them pop it in. The total bill was $51.48 and we were on our way in a half hour.

Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor, @ 153,458 miles

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