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4-wheel drive needs pricey oil change?

Q. A few weeks ago, I stopped at Jiffy Lube for an oil change for my 2005 Kia Sportage. I asked the man behind the counter for a price on an oil change. He said $24.95. And then he said: “Oh, you have four-wheel drive. That'll be $39.95.” I asked what four-wheel drive has to do with the price of an oil change, and he just pointed to the price on the board. Is there any reason an oil change for a four-wheel-drive vehicle should cost more?

RAY : Only when the owner of the garage has a boat payment due.

TOM: The answer is no. There's no technical reason why an oil change should be any different on a four-wheel-drive vehicle. The number of driven wheels is determined by the transmission, not the engine. So a four-cylinder engine, for example, holds the same amount of oil whether the car has two-wheel drive or eight-wheel drive.

RAY: My guess is that this particular Jiffy Lube (Jiffy Lube is a franchise, so each store is owned by an individual, not by Jiffy Lube itself) includes something else along with the oil change.

TOM: Exactly. So, along with any oil change, for instance, this Jiffy Lube also checks your differential fluid level. And since you have an all-wheel-drive vehicle, you do have an extra differential to check. If your car had an on-demand-style four-wheel-drive system, there'd be a transfer case to check, too. Still, an extra $15 bucks for that seems kind of steep.

RAY: We checked with a local Jiffy Lube franchise near us, and they charge an extra $2 to do it.

TOM: It's something a lot of places will even do for free since it gives them a golden opportunity to sell you a complete differential and transfer case service!

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