No Oil Change for You!

California has become — ironically — the most anti-car state in the country. Fifty years ago, the Beach Boys sang about The Little Old Lady From Pasadena.

Today, the state government wants to restrict how often you’re allowed to change your car’s oil.

And also, who’s allowed to do it.

A bill (S. 778) is working its way through the California Assembly Committee (of all things) on Privacy and Consumer Protection that would impose new bureaucratic rigmarole on shops that perform oil changes and reclassify the procedure for regulatory purposes as a repair rather than routine maintenance.

Repairs being subject to stricter regulations than maintenance.

It would also formally characterize any person who performs an oil change as an “automotive technician.”

Technicians, of course, being subject to regulations.

Initially, any shop that performs oil changes will be required to pressure customers to adhere to the maximum oil/filter change intervals listed in their vehicle’s owner’s manual via oral or written “recommendations.”

This might not seem objectionable at first glance. But the maximum oil/filter change intervals listed in your owner’s manual probably don’t apply to your car — because they don’t apply to most cars.

Because most cars do not experience what the manufactures typically refer to somewhat disingenuously as “normal” driving — especially in California.

“Normal” driving excludes periods of prolonged idling, stop-and-go-driving, driving in high heat (and also extreme cold).

If you do a lot of stop-and-go driving (which never happens in LA) or drive when it’s really hot (or really cold) or pull a trailer or drive at high speed as well as a number of other things you’ll also find listed in your owner’s manual, your driving is considered heavy duty or severe — and (usually) the recommended oil/filter change intervals are more tightly spaced.

The car companies tout the maximum intervals as an advertising point — to help them sell you a car based on (supposed) lower maintenance (whoops — repair) costs. Which is kinda-sorta technically true in that you may only need to change the oil/filter once every 10,000 miles (as an example) rather than once every 5,000.

But probably not.

By pressuring customers to adhere to the maximum intervals, the shops — which will henceforth have to register with the state as Automotive Repair Dealers or ARD’s (even though changing oil is not a “repair” any more than you are a “customer” of the DMV’s) — would be opening themselves up to lawsuits filed by people who abided by the erroneous, state-pushed “recommendations” and whose cars subsequently experienced an oil-related mechanical failure, which might not be covered by the warranty since the customer did not follow the proper maintenance (er, repair) schedule.

Which, not surprisingly, accounts for the soon-to-be ARDs’ strenuous opposition to the legislation.

The end goal seems to be to reduce the frequency of oil changes — for the usual “environmental” reasons.

First, by “nudging” the car owner (via the ARDs).

Then, inevitably, by forcing him.

By classifying routine maintenance as a repair, the state can micromanage when and how those repairs may be performed. This is how it was done years ago with regard to pollution control equipment installed on cars. And more recently, with regard to working on automotive air conditioning systems that use Freon as a refrigerant. There are ultra-strict requirements in place that anyone turning a wrench must adhere to — or risk a SWAT-style raid by state “environmental” storm troopers.

And not just in CA, either.

If you follow things regulatory, what starts in California often migrates to the rest of the country. Or at least, to the major parts of it.

“California” emissions, for example, now apply to many northeastern states.
What’s likely going to congeal is a new monitoring program, the state keeping track of how often you “repair” your vehicle and — likely — fining you if you “repair” it more often than the state decrees to be acceptable. With a modern car, such monitoring could easily be done (is being done in the case of Tesla electric cars) because the car’s computer stores such information and that information can be (and is) accessed whenever the car is taken in for the already mandatory emissions check. Bet your bippie whatever service you have done is already kept track of.

Maybe not oil changes — yet.

But once they are officially classified as repairs — you bet.

And this business about classifying anyone who performs an oil change as a “technician” opens the door to prohibiting anyone who isn’t a technician (duly registered and licensed) from performing an oil change. This is precisely how it was done with AC work. Only “authorized technicians” can buy Freon, or service Freon-based automotive air conditioning systems. You used to be able to buy a can of the stuff for about $5 at any auto parts place — and recharge the system yourself, for free.

California used to be the car-friendliest place in the country. Fifty years down the road, it has become the epicenter of hostility toward the car.

And, the canker is spreading.


Not an NMA Member yet?

Join today and get these great benefits!

Leave a Comment