My 2005 Mazda 3 has a "new" oil filter cartridge, rather than the customary oil filter that nearly every car has on it. Once I got used to dealing with it, it was no big deal removing the cover and replacing the cartridge and the two O-rings that provided the seal between the oil and the outside world. I noticed that the O-rings were green and looked and felt like new when I replaced them. All went well till my son took the car to a national chain to have the oil changed prior to a 2,000-mile trip. Since this chain deals primarily with brakes and exhaust systems, we figured it was reputable.
After they returned home from the trip, they came to visit. My wife asked what was dripping under the car. I figured it was condensation from the AC, but I checked anyway. Turns out it was oil dripping from around the oil filter cap. I grabbed a pan, slid it under the car, and proceeded to investigate. I drained the remaining 1 1/2 quarts of oil. Then I removed the oil filter cover. I could see that the O-ring that should have provided a seal between the oil and the outside world had deteriorated into a stiff square-ring. It no longer had the resilience to make a seal. I checked the manufacturer of the filter and saw that it was stamped with a five-letter country name that starts with C.
Monkeys must have been in the accounting department when this national chain decided to save a few cents and buy filter assemblies that included cheap-sealing O-rings that do not stand up to the conditions in the engine. At the rate it was dripping, the car would have been out of oil in a few more miles.
I contacted the service provider and explained the problem, pointing out that saving pennies on cheap O-rings nearly cost $4,000 for a new short block. It refunded the cost of the oil change, but not the cost of a replacement filter assembly, nor anything for my time and trouble to redo the oil and filter change or to clean up the oil spill in the driveway. Needless to say, we will go back to changing our own oil and filter using a well-known brand of filter.
This entry was submitted by Fred Heim and edited by Rob Spiegel.
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