Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Odd Ball Oil Filter

Last fall as I was getting everything ready for winter, I decided to change the oil in the John Deere garden tractor. It is a small tractor but it is a better one as it has the kohler engine. It has a pressure oil system. And it has an oil filter.

They want big bucks to come get the thing and change the oil for you. Then redeliver it back again. And I am tiiiiiiight. Won't pay it!! Not 80 bucks for a quart and a half of oil. And the filter of course.

So I set in trying to find a matching filter. It was installed by the factory and wouldn't budge. I tried all the filter tools that I had and it still wouldn't come off. So I bought the closest filter that I could find, at Wal-Mart.

I couldn't get it off, so I was just going by my recollection. And at 60+ years, my recollection aint too much. So I bought something close, and took it home. Still couldn't get it to budge.

Went to the Auto Zone to see if they had the matching filter, or a way to look it up. They didn't and couldn't. But they did have a oil filter wrench that had three fingers that collapsed onto the bottom, as you turn counter clockwise. I used a 3/8ths breaker bar and bodily removed it, totally wrecking it in the process.

And now I could see that it didn't match the one I bought at Wal-Mart. Oh boy, the 80 bucks began to look much better. Just by chance, I went to Lowes. They sell John Deere tractors, but the much cheaper line that have Briggs motors in them. But I was out of ideas, except for the Deere dealer.

Low and behold, they had the exact replacement. It was black and even had the right part number next to the JD logo. Of course it cost $8 instead of the Wal-Mart $4.

Now that brings me to what I did today. I decided to see if I could take back the Wal-Mart Fram filter, that was just laying on the bench in the garage. I still had the sack and even the receipt, from October 17.

The wife tells me, "its a good thing you didn't get that at Target, because you only have 90 days to take it back there. But maybe Wal-Mart is different". Putting the fear of the customer service folks squarely on my shoulders.

So as I drove to the corner Wally World, I had a built up fear of the process. Now mind you this is a $3.98 purchase, and could just be pitched out, but who knows if you don't try. I am tight.

The greeter at the door made a big procedure of looking it up in a return manual, and placing a large yellow sticker on it. "Gota take that to customer service now" he said. So I went and stood in the longest line ever. They only had one clerk and 10 customers to serve.

When I got to the counter, she took it out of the box and peered down into it to see if I was bringing the dirty filter back to her in the new box. "What's wrong with this?" "Oh nothing, I just bought the wrong one." I replied. She looked at me skeptically and rang up the return, thrusting a receipt to me for my signature. And just like that I had my $4.28 back, which I promptly spent at the McDonalds counter.

As I sat and ate my french fries, I couldn't help but wonder how much I really saved, by doing the oil change myself. If not in actual monetary value, but in aggravation. Its only four months later, and I'm just now finishing the project.

But then remember, I am TIGHT!

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