I frequented the same shop for the last ten years to have my oil changed. They had Castrol Oil, my favorite, in bulk. This meant I got it at a lower price than I did going where it was only available in cans. The last time I pulled in for an oil change the garage no longer display Castrol Oil signs.
“What happened?” I asked. “Did you change owners?”
“No,” the attendant said. “We lost our contract with Castrol Oil.” Then he tried to sell me on the new brand they carried.
“Can I still get Castrol Oil?” I asked.
“Yes, but we need to charge a can fee.”
I told him to go ahead and charge me the fee. I went into the waiting room and sat there thinking this would be the last time I’d come to a familiar place to get my oil changed. I also racked my brains trying to think of other places around Spokane that had Castrol Oil in bulk. None came to mind.
I could go back to changing the oil myself, but getting rid of the old oil was still a problem. More places accepted old oil than did ten years ago, but it was still a hassle. That was the reason I quit doing my oil changes. Besides that, crawling around underneath my Chrysler was not much fun. My four wheel drive Dodge pickup sets higher off the ground but the oil plug is over a crossmember which sends the black stuff all over the place. No, I did not want to go back to changing the oil myself.
Not long afterwards I saw an ad on television for Oil Can Henry’s. I laughed at the fact there was no waiting room. Costumers sat in their cars while vehicles were being worked on. That was crazy! And somewhat dangerous. Suppose an idiot fires up the engine for some stupid reason while the mechanic is checking the belts? Or sticks it in gear when he is asked to start the vehicle and runs over the attendant? That all sounds silly, but these were the things I was taught to be aware of when I studied auto mechanics in college.
It wasn’t long after I saw the commercial I discovered Oil Can Henry’s featured Castrol Oil. My next mission was to find one in the Spokane area. On Memorial Day my brother and I took our mother to dinner. On the way to the restaurant I spotted an Oil Can Henry’s.
A few weeks later I pulled into the Oil Can Henry’s. I did something that I hated customers doing when I worked in gas stations. I pulled up to the garage door. I never liked this because it gave me the feeling that the customer thought he was more important than all the other patrons. If there was a vehicle in the bay, I’d have to go out and ask the person to move his car so I could get the automobile in the shop out.
When an attendant came out, which was immediately, I ask if I should park to the side. He told me no but I could pull over to the other lane because the car in that bay was leaving sooner. So I did. The building was designed so the car in the bay could pull straight out the other side instead of backing out.
“Have you been to an Oil Can Henry’s before?” he asked.
“Here’s a complimentary newspaper and price list.” He handed them to me. “We do things differently here. You sit in your car. To your right is a monitor. You can watch everything that is going on all around your vehicle, under the hood and underneath. Now if you will turn your headlights on, I’ll make sure they are working.”
He checked the headlights, blinkers, taillights, brake lights and backup lights. All good. He proceeded to check the air pressure in my tires. My turn came and I pulled into the bay. A different attendant guided me in then came over and squatted down next to driver’s side window. A very good tactic to make the customer feel comfortable because the attendant is not at a higher level which sometimes makes the patron feel as if he’s being overpowered.
Additives were explained to me in a very friendly way with him holding up the bottle for each one. They could add one before draining the old oil to break it down and clean the system. Something I used to do with diesel oil. Then he asked about putting in an additive to help protect seals and gaskets. He ended his spill with, “This is a service you do not have to take so it is quite all right if you choose not to have it.”
Since I knew the importance of keeping the engine clean and the oil change was well past due I gave the go ahead. One thing I really liked was he yelled out what he was doing to the tech underneath the vehicle and that person would repeat.
“Oil cap coming off,” the attendant yelled.
“Oil cap coming off,” the guy underneath the car yelled back.
“Putting breakdown additive in.”
“Putting breakdown additive in.”
Every step was yelled back and forth. This told me each person, including me, was aware of everything that was going on.
They took the air filter and the positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) valve out and got new ones ready. He brought the air filter to me with a new one.
“Here’s your old filter,” he handed it to me. “Would you like it replaced?”
I tipped it up slightly to get the light to shine through it but I made sure it wasn’t noticeable because the filter did not need changing and I wanted to see what I’d be told. I turned the filter around as if I had no clue what I was doing.
“Sir,” the attendant said, “if you hold it up in the light and look through it you can tell how dirty it is.”
Wow, I thought. These guys were being straight with me. In no way did he try to tell me I needed a new one. I was tempted to tell him I had a degree in auto mechanics but I decided not to just to see if he tried to sell me other things I did not need.
“The only reason I ask is because many customers like their air filter change with each oil change,” the attendant said.
“This one is fine,” I told him. I couldn’t believe people threw their money away by replacing a perfectly good filter.
“All right,” he said. Then he handed me the PCV valve with a new one. He explain what it did, what happens if it wasn’t working correctly and how to tell if it needed replacing (tipping it back and forth to hear if the valve inside moves). All his information was correct. My valve sounded sluggish. I probably could have waited until the next change to replace it but I nodded yes.
The attendant explained every procedure they could do in a way that didn’t make me feel like I was a fool for not knowing. When I told him “no” he simple said, “That’s fine, sir.” In no way did I feel obligated to buy any service. The attendant always came over and kneeled down next to my window to explain everything and when I wanted to just chit-chat.
By the time my car was done I felt very comfortable with the work that was done. I told the attendant I really enjoyed my visit and I would be returning. He thanked me and I left with a smile on my face–something I had never done at the place I used to go.
I highly recommend Oil Can Henry’s the next time you need an oil change, transmission or transaxle oil change and cleaning, cooling system flushing, or power steering oil change and flushing.
Resource: Personal experience