Kane in Your Corner: Mechanics duping drivers on oil quality

When you get an oil change, you trust the mechanic to give you the right stuff. But a Kane In Your Corner investigation finds you may get the wrong oil, or oil that may potentially damage your engine.

Kane In Your Corner went undercover to seven mechanics and quick lubes. Test results indicate six of the seven sold motor oil that was not 5W-30, according to the Petroleum Quality Institute of America, which assisted with the investigation. The vehicle manufacturer specifies 5W-30 oil only.

In addition, the PQIA says two of the garages provided oil that could cause engine damage if used long-term. Tests show those oils were not only far off in viscosity, but also low on anti-wear additives, which the PQIA says makes them unsuitable for most cars. "If they put that oil in my car, knowing what I know about oil, I would be close to livid," PQIA president Tom Glenn says.

One of those two businesses, a Meineke franchise on Woodbridge Avenue in Edison, declined to discuss the oil they sell. An employee who identified himself as "Steve" initially questioned Kane In Your Corner's honesty, saying, "I was here that day and we didn't give (your producer) an extra quart of oil so I don't know what oil you tested." Informed News 12 New Jersey had video indicating the business had provided the extra oil, "Steve" declined to comment further, saying he was not the store manager and "I don't anything about where (the oil) comes from, exactly." The manager did not return messages.

The President of Meineke Car Care Centers LLC, Daniel R. Rivera, says: "We are looking into this situation and will take the appropriate steps to make sure this center and the rest of the Meineke system is operating according to industry, state and federal regulations."

At the other garage selling potentially harmful oil, a BP station in Metuchen, the investigation took a twist. The owner told Kane In Your Corner he had just fired his supplier because of concerns about the oil he was getting. "We think we're buying a product that's reputable on the market," he says. "Then find out later it's not." He also produced invoices proving he had switched suppliers. Industry sources say the new supplier has a reputation for selling a quality product.

Darren Wall, manager of Quality Auto Center in Colonia, the garage the lab says provided the right grade of oil, says there's no excuse for getting it wrong, since garages use computerized databases to tell them what oil to use. He says, "If you don't have that technology, you really shouldn't be in this business."

Even without a computer, finding the right oil for Kane In Your Corner's undercover vehicle was absurdly simple. It was literally printed on the oil cap, which technicians had to remove before adding new oil.

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