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Student’s Car Dies After Trip To Oil Change Chain

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(credit: CBS) Liz Collin
At 15 years old, Liz Collin made her broadcast debut covering...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Twin Cities college student says a recent oil change cost him his car.

The engine on Joe Mikula’s Toyota Camry quit a few weeks after he paid for a quick oil change, but what another mechanic found now has Mikula fighting with a well-known chain to fix his car.

When the time came to change the oil in his 1999 Camry this summer, Joe Mikula pulled into a popular chain.

“I went around Roseville after work and most places were busy, and so I decided on Jiffy Lube,” Mikula said.

Mikula says the mechanic finished in 20 minutes and he was on his way. But a few weeks and about 500 miles later when his mom had the car, something went wrong.

“She said that it started getting slower and slower, wouldn’t quite get up to speed, and then it eventually just died,” Mikula said.

They had the car towed to a new mechanic that told the Mikulas Jiffy Lube never drained the car’s old oil and never put any new oil in that day.

The mechanic took a picture to show about 10 ounces of old oil. Had it been new, the mechanic says there would have been much more and it would have been much lighter in color.

“With tax it was $27.05,” Mikula said, who still has his receipt from the June oil change.

Now, Mikula is looking at a bill of $2,000 for a brand new engine.

“They just seem like they’re refusing to own up to it,” he said.

A Jiffy Lube spokesperson told WCCO a mechanic they hired found Mikula’s engine failure wasn’t a result of his service visit to Jiffy Lube. That spokesperson also says there were multiple oil leaks on the car.

However, Mikula’s mechanic says he found no evidence of leaks and he says if the engine had lost that much oil, it would have been smoking.

The Mikulas thought a simple check of surveillance video would clear it all up. All Jiffy Lube locations are wired with cameras to capture the mechanics at work.

However, a spokesperson says the company only holds the recordings for 60 days, and even though the Mikulas and WCCO asked about that video within that window, Jiffy Lube found no footage from the day the service was performed.

Mechanics say it’s always best to ask whoever changes your oil to show you what they’ve done before you leave. You can always pull the dipstick out yourself to make sure the oil stain is where it should be.

It’s a lesson Mikula learned the hard way, as his Camry still sits in the shop, unsure if he’ll ever make the trip back to a Jiffy Lube again.

“If I did, I’d definitely check my oil after, and I’ll probably do that no matter where I go now,” he said.

The Mikulas are still waiting for Jiffy Lube to pay to repair the Camry, but that doesn’t look likely.

They’ve now reported the company to the state attorney general’s office.

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