Is This Illegal?

Undercover Investigation has authorities examining repair shops

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC Los Angeles caught big name lube and tune chains trying to sell services that some car makers say are a waste of money and could damage your car. Now, authorities say what we caught on tape is illegal.

    Part two in a series of reports examining services offered by some lube and tune shops. Click Here for the first report.

    Is This Illegal

    [LA] Is This Illegal
    An undercover investigation has authorities examining repair shops.

    Nearly every time we try to talk to Jiffy Lube or EZ Lube, their employees run away. Like at an EZ Lube Glendale.

    On hidden camera, a technician tried to sell us a fuel injection cleaning for our Honda Accord, telling us the car maker recommends it.

    "Honda recommends every 12,000 miles or once a year," the technician says to an undercover customer.

    "So Honda recommends the fuel injection cleaning," the customer asks.

    "Yeah," the technician replies.

    But Honda says fuel injection cleaning is not recommended.

    "If you use quality fuel, they have detergents in the fuel that will help keep the fuel injectors clean," says Chris Martin with the Honda corporation.

    When we tried to question that EZ Lube employee who made the false statement, he went and hid behind a filing cabinet.

    But EZ Lube can't hide from the authorities, like the Orange County District Attorney's Office, who watched our undercover tape.

    "The misleading statements that we saw, yes, they are disturbing," says Deputy District Attorney Michelle Cipoletti.

    Disturbing because just last year, the DA slapped EZ Lube with a five million dollar penalty for, among other things, making untrue and misleading statements to consumers. The company signed an injunction promising to permanently stop doing it.

    "They're false and misleading if they're saying it's recommended by the manufacturer and and they are not, " says Cipoletti.

    Like at an EZ Lube on Sunset Boulevard, where they tell us to do an engine flush on our Honda, to clean out old oil deposits.

    "Does Honda recommend an engine flush," our undercover customer asks. "Yeah," the technician replies.

    The truth is Honda, Nissan, GM and Ford all recommend against doing engine flushes.

    "Engine flushes could potentially damage an engine," says Dave Johnson, a top Ford engineer.

    That's what Dave Golji says happened after EZ Lube did an engine flush on his Ford Mustang.

    While out on the road, Golji says, "I pushed the gas. Nothing happened. Like the engine pretty much stopped."

    Car makers like Ford say sludge won't build up on their newer cars if you change the oil on schedule. Thus, you'll never need an engine flush.

    You're just spending more money than you need to and we don't want you to do that," says Johnson.

    Back at Jiffy Lube, like the one in Glendale, we caught them also selling services like a fuel injection service, by falsely suggesting they're manufacturer recommendations.

    "Honda recommends that also," our undercover customer asked. "Uh, yeah," the technician replied.

    We asked a former Jiffy Lube employee if it was common practice to make these false statements. "It was a normal, everyday thing," the insider says.

    It's comments like that, that has authorities concerned about both companies. After the DA watched our undercover tape... They met with some of EZ Lube's top executives.

    "I will be on them every step of the way," Cipoletti tells NBC Los Angeles.

    EZ Lube is now promising the DA they'll start giving customers an estimate form which clearly shows what services are and are not manufacturer recommendations.

    They also say they'll stop selling services on cars that manufacturers tell them could cause damage.

    "We're on top of EZ Lube and we want to make sure that they don't deceive the public," Cipoletti says.

    EZ Lube tells NBC Los Angeles it's terminated the employees we caught on tape making untrue statements. The company has also offered Dave Golji a replacement engine for his car, which died after he got an EZ Lube engine flush.

    As for Jiffy Lube, they told us they're taking steps to minimize the chance of their employees making untrue statements.

    Both companies want to hear from unhappy customers.

    Jiffy Lube can be reached by phone at 800-344-6933.

    EZ Lube can be reached by phone at 800-559-5823 or email info@ezlube.com.

    Click here to read both companies full statements to NBC Los Angeles regarding this report.

    Click here to read documents and statements from Honda, Nissan, General Motors and Ford regarding these services.

    Check out Part 1 of this investigation