Jiffy Lube forgot to change the oil in his car. He wants a new engine.


If you’ve ever wondered how a 2014 Lexus ES 350 sounds when driven at 55 mph with no oil in the engine, Gregory Greer has your answer.

The noise, Greer said, is “like an earthquake, like Vooo Vooo Vooo. It’s like a bomb going off. And very strong shaking. Obviously there was a problem.”

According to Greer, there is still a problem. His engine broke down on the Clara Barton Parkway on the evening of November 21 because Jiffy Lube forgot to put new oil in after removing the old oil. He wants Jiffy Lube to pay for a new engine and not the used one the company offered him.

“All I’m trying to do is get healthy again,” said Greer, 55, a technical writer who lives in North Bethesda.

Greer took his Lexus to the Jiffy Lube on Route 7 in Falls Church on November 21. The car had been his late mother’s, a gift to him when she stopped driving. He had used Jiffy Lube in the past with no problems.

When Greer picked up the vehicle, the Jiffy Lube customer service representative told him that he couldn’t figure out how to turn off the car’s “Low Oil” light. He suggested Greer take it to a Lexus dealership.

“That struck me as a bit bizarre,” Greer said.

It was also incredibly prescient. When the engine stalled, Greer steered the car to the shoulder. He then drove it home, limping at low speed.

I asked Greer if it smelled like burnt oil. No, he said. There was no oil to burn.

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The next day he had the car towed to Ourisman Lexus in Rockville, who confirmed the engine was toasted. Greer called Jiffy Lube. He said a manager there told him they had checked the maintenance bay video and indeed the old oil had been removed but no new oil had been added.

As compensation, Jiffy Lube’s insurer, Erie Insurance, offered Greer what it described as an “industry-standard replacement.” This was a used engine with approximately 52,000 miles on it. When Greer’s car died, it had 72,077 miles on it. Erie explained that it only supplies new OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts when a damaged vehicle has driven less than 15,000 miles.

Greer doesn’t think that’s good enough.

“Whose engine was that?” he asked for the replacement. “Did you drive 200 miles an hour on the Beltway?”

Greer said that just as he doesn’t want to wear someone’s used underwear, he doesn’t want a used engine either.

Said Greer, “I want a brand new engine, meaning brand new: no one else has used it.”

When Greer declined the offer, Erie mailed him a check for $7,983.14, the cost of a used engine. Greer also received $5,984.40 from his insurance company, State Farm. He said Rockville-based Ourisman Lexus told him a new Lexus engine would cost $24,000 to install. (Ourisman declined to comment.)

Jiffy Lube’s sites are independently owned and operated. I contacted the franchise headquarters in Houston, who referred my questions to Falls Church’s franchisee, CB Squared Services. In an email, the franchisee replied:

“We are committed to providing every customer with quality vehicle maintenance services and we apologize to Mr. Greer for his recent experience in our business. Our goal is to restore Mr. Greer’s vehicle to a proper condition. In this situation we have offered to pay for the service and installation of an engine with less mileage than the engine that was in his vehicle when he brought it to us, along with a three (3) year extended warranty.

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“When Mr. Greer declined our offer, we directed our insurer to resolve his engine damage claim with his attorney as soon as possible under Virginia law. It is our understanding that Mr. Greer’s attorney declined our insurer’s offer to also restore his vehicle to its proper condition.”

They added: “Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, mistakes do happen and we regret that Mr. Greer’s experience did not live up to his expectations and that we were not able to rectify the condition of his vehicle.

“We remain available to work with Mr. Greer to resolve this situation.”

Greer said he has already asked Ourisman to put a new engine in his nine-year-old car. If Jiffy Lube doesn’t change his mind, he’ll have lost more than $10,000.

I asked Greer if he would ever let Jiffy Lube change his oil again. Sure, he said, if they reimburse him for the new engine.

“I would give them the benefit of the doubt,” he said.

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