The Consumer Experience: Drive-Thru Service

Sept. 30, 2020

Staff Writer Abby Patterson talks about her first-ever drive-thru oil change experience and how others in the industry should follow suit.

Just the other day, I experienced my first-ever drive-thru oil change experience, and the experience, in my mind, was well worth writing about.

Not to sound like a broken record, but as a 24-year-old woman, I still find it intimidating to get maintenance and repair services done all by myself, even being very exposed to the industry every day at my job. I'm finally taking on the responsibility of adult life. I'm doing my own taxes, signing up for my very own 401(k), and yes, maintaining my vehicle.

My boyfriend has been out of town for work for the past week and when he returns, we're headed out on a little weekend road trip. But before that happened, his RAM 1500 was in desperate need of an oil change. It was my first visit to a quick lube. I've been going to the same Honda dealership since I was 18 and am a creature of habit. I decided to go to the closest operator in town with drive-up services, a Valvoline Instant Oil Change just a mile up the road that I've passed by every day to get to my house.

Heading to the oil change, I really didn't know what to expect; to be honest, I was kind of nervous, looking online to know exactly what I should expect and calling my boyfriend to tell me exactly what to get and where everything in the vehicle was located to prepare. But little did I know that I really didn't need his help at all.

I pulled up to the service bay and headed right in with a lube technician's assistance. The manager of the operation greeted me as I rolled down my window halfway and asked me what services I needed for the day—just a full synthetic oil change. He confirmed the services and the price, and the crew got to work.

He first asked me for the mileage and guided me through certain procedures to make sure the vehicle's lights were working—brights, brakes and all. 

I looked around and in front of me was a screen titled "CarCam". On it, there were two cameras appeared on it one of underneath the bay and the other above the hood, showing me exactly what the technicians were doing every step of the way. In the bottom right corner was a clock timing my service. And yes, I was so impressed, I took a picture:

Throughout the service, the manager was very attentive, chatting with me about my day and was keeping me in-the-know every step of the way. I didn't pressure me into anything; he knew this wasn't my vehicle after all. He showed me what the current engine air filter looked like and compared it with what one should look like. At the end of the service, he even showed me how to reset the oil gauge in the vehicle, since I had no idea how to do so.

In total, the service took 15 minutes and 28 seconds. The lube technician in front finished the service off by showing me the dipstick, showing me that the oil was at the level it was supposed to be. The manager then asked if I had any questions and gave me my total. In fact, he even told me about a $7 off coupon through the site that I could add, which I highly appreciated. After paying out, he thanked me for coming in, guided me out of the bay, and I headed on out to enjoy the rest of my day. 

The takeaway from all of this? Communication is key, especially during the pandemic, where it has had to make up for no handshakes and no-contact. Coming into the service, I was intimidated and didn't know what I was doing whatsoever. But coming out of the service, I felt relieved and taken care of. The manager and technicians were on their A-game, not only in constant communication with me, but with one another, too. Service like this doesn't go unnoticed, and for me, it surely didn't. Let's just say I will continue to do my service at this location from now on with my own vehicle next time.