$200 oil change

I brought plenty of car equipment with me, as advised: air filters (engine, cabin), oil filters, belts, brake pads, windshield wipers. Abuja is a pretty small town and I don’t really put on too much mileage (which is good considering my 12mpg). I have only put about 4K miles on the car since being here, less than 500 miles a month and probably closer to 100 miles a week. But the time had come for an oil change, so I talked to some people and set it up

I knew that the oil itself would be expensive and the initial price was pretty shocking: about $150 for 6 liters of synthetic oil. I saw that I could get that for just over $50 on Amazon, but I understand that there is a premium on quality down here. I was assured that I’d get good oil (i.e. Valvoline or Mobil) and I made arrangements for my car to get picked up and serviced.

About 30 minutes before I’m expecting it to be ready, I get the following text: “Sir, I’ve finished servicing your vehicle. I used 6 liters of oil but still need 2 more.”

What the fuck is this, I wonder. There’s a contradiction in there, and it was worrisome. A few more text exchanges and a couple phone calls later and I identify the fault. My servicers thought my car needed 6 liters when in fact it uses 8 liters of oil. Of course, they drained the oil before realizing this, so I’m faced with the potential of my car not being drivable for the next 24 hours. Some determined phone conversations later, I receive assurance that they’ve located 2 more quarts and will not be mixing different qualities or makes. It’s going to cost me an additional $50 though; ain’t that great.

As shocking as all of this was, when I finally get my car back, I find that they’ve used Reilly or O’reilly synthetic oil. Now maybe I’m falling victim to premium branding and this kind of oil is just fine, but I was pretty upset to have been charged triple the price of a premium brand and then received a generic oil, not to mention the stress and worry associated with an partially filled engine.

I knew that my windshield wipers were wearing out and I was additionally chagrined to find that the swath of untouched window on the return swipe of the old blades persevered through a replacement set. I’m not convinced that the new blades go put on, to be honest. I need to have a heart-to-heart talk with my servicers tomorrow and make it clear that I’m not very pleased to have gotten shafted like this.

I should have expected it because nothing in Nigeria comes easy. Nothing works the way planned, nothing is reliable, there is always a twist, a game, a turn that always breaks against you. Someone is laughing their way to the bank right now from this oil change, which is unfortunate, especially for me!

At least with modern engines, low mileage, and synthetic oils, I will only need one more change before I leave here. It’s still one of those things that batters against a person and wears down the general positivity one brings to live. There’s a reason that people burn out and there’s a reason there are significant bonuses for people living here. It’s hard.

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