Fact Check

Is Your Mechanic Cheating You?

TV news investigation shows Jiffy Lube outlets charging customers for auto maintenance work that was never done.

Published Aug. 30, 2006


Scam:   TV news investigation shows Jiffy Lube outlets charging customers for automotive maintenance work that was never done.

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, 2006]

What I am looking for in particular is a news piece on the Jiffy Lube Scam (billed for work that was never done) that was forwarded to me, with the following link:


Origins:   The video embedded in the example above points to one segment of a three-part report on an investigation carried out by reporters Joel Grover and Matt Goldberg and the news team at television station NBC4 in Los Angeles in April 2006. The report was entitled "Is Your Mechanic Cheating?" and detailed the results obtained by the news team when they took cars to various Jiffy Lube locations around southern California. Through the use of surveillance, surreptitiously marked parts, and tiny cameras hidden within the target cars, the team discovered that at the preponderance of Jiffy Lube locations where they left cars for routine maintenance (e.g., oil changes, fuel filter replacements, transmission flushes), they were charged for work that was never performed. They also encountered a good deal of obfuscation and prevarication from Jiffy Lube employees and officials whom they confronted about the unperformed work, including a district manager who flat-out lied to them about his identity:

So NBC4 tracked down the district manager, Steven Ayoub at a Glendale store.

"Are you Steve Ayoub?" Grover asked.

"No, I'm not," he replied.

"Are you the district manager?" Grover asked.

"No, I'm not. I have a vehicle here," he replied.

He denied his identity and told NBC4 he was a customer.

"Which one is your car?" Grover asked.

"That one," Ayoub replied.

"The red one?" Grover asked.

"Correct," Ayoub replied.

But that red car belonged to another customer.

"That's your red Camaro back there?" Grover asked another customer.

"Yeah. What's going on with it," the customer replied.

The district manager was lying to NBC4.

"I think you're the district manager," Grover said to Ayoub.

"I'd like for you to turn off the camera and I'd appreciate it," Ayoub replied.

The full report can be viewed at the following links:

Written summaries of this series can be read at the following links:

Jiffy Lube responded to the NBC4 News investigation by promising to implement "sweeping changes":

Now, in an email, Jiffy Lube tells me that it's taking "agressive" steps to stop the fraud we uncovered.

A Burbank Jiffy Lube was closed to customers Tuesday and Wednesday because the company was retraining all its employees. Four other Los Angeles area stores were also closed — all stores that we caught on tape charging for services, like a transmission flush, that were never done.

After our investigation, dozens of customers (e-mailed to say they) wondered if the same thing had happened to them.

To ease those concerns, Jiffy Lube says it's installing video cameras in 31 Los Angeles area stores so customers can make sure repairs are really getting done.

Jiffy Lube has also terminated six employees we caught on tape, including one employee at the Encino store who sold us a new fuel filter but later admitted to the district manager that the work was not done.

Also gone is the district manager, Steven Ayoub, who denied his identity when I tried to question him.

But as reporter Joel Grover noted, "This is now the third time in three years that Jiffy Lube told us it was cleaning up its act." In 2004, Jiffy Lube was one of two large oil-lube chains that NBC4 caught pushing unnecessary maintenance on customers — and that was after they'd caught Jiffy Lube doing the very same thing the year before (after which Jiffy Lube had, of course, promised to "clean up their act").

In May 2013, yet another NBC4 I-Team investigation found that Jiffy Lube was still up to their old tricks, despite repeated promises from the chain several years earlier that they would clean up their act:

A [Jiffy Lube] service advisor named Martin told our undercover customer that our car needed $649 in repairs. We agreed to most of the services, including replacing the air filter.

But the I-Team's hidden cameras reveal that not all of those services were performed. The cameras did record a technician removing our car's old air filter. But when our customer wasn't looking, the technician simply re-installed the old air filter — and then the store charged our undercover customer $26.99 for a "new" one.

At the same store, Martin, the service advisor, told our customer they had checked our car's transmission and differential fluids and both needed to be changed, at a cost of $200. "The transmission oil ... we checked out the oil and it came pretty close to empty, and it was really dirty," Martin told our customer.

But our hidden cameras show that no one at that Jiffy Lube ever checked those fluids. If they had checked, they would have seen the fluids were clean and full,

because we had just had them serviced at another Jiffy Lube store.

At the Jiffy Lube on La Brea and Melrose near Hollywood, our undercover customer was subjected to what insiders say is another scam. Before arriving, we had a reputable mechanic test our battery, and it tested in "good" condition.

But at the La Brea Jiffy Lube, a service advisor said they tested our battery, said it was in "critical" condition, and that it needed to be "replaced." The I-Team discovered that Jiffy Lube entered incorrect numbers into their testing device, guaranteeing our battery would fail their test.

The La Brea store told us we needed $139 air conditioning service.

"The air conditioner Freon is low," a service advisor there told our customer. But again, the I-Team's hidden cameras show Jiffy Lube didn't do any tests on our car's air conditioning before recommending it be serviced, as required by state law.

During our investigation, the I-Team tested 11 LA area Jiffy Lubes, and 7 of them tried selling us repairs we didn't need — according to our expert — by using false and misleading statements, which is against California law.

Once again, a Jiffy Lube spokeswoman told NBC4 that "We take your findings very seriously and appreciate you bringing them to our attention."

Last updated:   9 July 2013

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.