Oil Change Negligence - Is my car ruined?

moparbadmoparbad Member Posts: 3,870
Took my wife's car to local repair shop on 1/2 and on 1/3 the filter fell off, oil came out of car, car started smoking and stopped running. Wife called tow truck and car was towed to original repair shop that incorrectly installed oil filter. With new filter and oil the car is running but I hear a tapping/knocking noise that was not there before. Repair shop says that car is fine but I am worried that engine has damage.
What is my recourse? What is the shops responsibility and how do I get them to take responsibility? Planned to keep the car for 3 to 6 more years and am worried about what running with low/no oil did to engine.
Does anyone know what to do?


  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    They owe you an engine. That's why they pay for liability insurance. Any engine run out of oil and seized has some internal damage to the crankshaft, main and rod bearings, cylinder walls, piston rings, valve guides, and just about every other internal lubricated component. Engine moving parts are designed to run on a film of lubricating oil, not metal-to-metal. They will probably argue till forever that there's no problem, but if they refuse to accept liability contact a lawyer. They were negligent. Engine damage has occurred and the engine's lifespan has been materially reduced.
  • adc100adc100 Member Posts: 1,521
    What was wife thinking as car started smoking, making noise and stopped (with red oil light on)? Anothe thought for the synthetic oil haters: Unless she decided to extend her shopping rounds after the filter fell off the engine probably would be OK.
  • bretfrazbretfraz Member Posts: 2,021
    ...the services of an attorney is needed. Sure hope you have all paperwork and the old filter as evidence.

    FWIW, I did something that was very dumb once. When my car was having its oil changed at a quicky joint (I was sitting in it), I started the engine in a moment of extreme brain fade. I thought they had told me to start it. The engine was only running for a few seconds so no serious damage was done. But the shop did make me sign the receipt stating I was an idiot.
  • eharri3eharri3 Member Posts: 640
    went to change the oil on the ranger today and the oil pan nut is a bit stripped. It's a real pain, as I already bought the oil and tools and dont feel like taking it all back and then paying for an oil change. Anybody have a good way to get a stripped nut off or am i better off just taking it in to the mechanic? so close but soo far!!
  • rs_pettyrs_petty Member Posts: 423
    I assume you mean the head of the bolt is rounded off. If you have big (at least the 15 inch size for leverage) slip joint pliers you may be able to get the drain plug out. Doubt you will get anywhere by filing the sides back down. I've never had luck with any of the wrenches that are suppose to remove a rounded off bolt. Make sure the engine is warm. It will be a pain so you may want to consider for this time to take it to a local service station and let them do it for 12 - 15 bucks. Make sure you have a new plug. Good luck.
  • chevydude2chevydude2 Member Posts: 36
    eharri3... If you mean the head is rounded off, you can probably use a small pipe wrench to get it muscled off... If the threads are stripped out, go to a good parts store and ask if they have oversize thread oil pan plugs. Had a Chevelle that happened to and got a plug a few thousandths larger and it fixed the problem. Hope this helps..
  • greg116greg116 Member Posts: 116
    We have a '98 Durango with a 5.9L pushrod motor. It makes tapping noises all the time, and it's called "Lift Clatter" When the pushrod doesent quite rest properly in the seat in the rocker arm, it makes a slight noise when it moves up. It can sometimes cause damage over time if not repaired, or can be a normal part of your engine. If your car has an overhead-cam engine though, you might have a problem
  • moparbadmoparbad Member Posts: 3,870
    Car is an overhead cam engine. The knocking noise was not present before the running with low/no oil. Knock is very detectable. Took the car to a mechanic and they said noise should not be present, but only way to determine problem and extent of damage was to take motor apart.
  • amoraamora Member Posts: 204
    Did the same thing to my '95 Ranger, Pan bolt rounded, I used a pair of VICE GRIPS and
    was able to remove pan bolt, was ultra tight. Went to local Ford dealer and bought new bolt.
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastMember Posts: 1,712
    I agree that they owe you an engine.
    If the oil filter came off, then the engine bearings became oil starved and it only takes a few minutes to peel the bearing material.You've gotten good advice from everyone except adc100.

    I suppose that you have never done something like that? Everyone starts learning at one point, no one starts life knowing everything. I regularly deal with truck drivers who on several occasions have had this happen and they have a big red light and a buzzer and neither one caught their attention and bearing failure always occurs, then the man with zero patience gets to tear down a big diesel.
    NO - if the filter came off and the engine was run any length of time, it will not be allright.
    Since it is making a knocking noise, then there are sever possibilities as to what has actually failed, but if one thing has failed (which it clearly has), then the rest is not far behind.
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    You took the words right out of my keyboard. BTW, you been on vacation? :-)
  • moparbadmoparbad Member Posts: 3,870
    Went back to the repair shop today and the manager said they will rebuild motor or replace motor with low mileage used motor. Either solution is fair and better than I hoped for.
    And just in case anyone was wondering, the car was driven for less than 1 1/2 miles and not over 35mph before the damage was done.
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    It's good to hear that they were willing to accept responsibility for your engine. Even the best shops can make mistakes, and they probably have liability insurance to cover it.

    Unless they're going to send your engine out to an automotive machine shop for the rebuild, I'd lean toward the low mileage used one. A lot of components can be scuffed in 1 1/2 miles, despite what the snake oil infomercials would like you to believe.
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastMember Posts: 1,712
    Sounds like they are willing to take responsiblility for their actions.

    Alcan, I've been overloaded. Too many things going at one time. You know how that goes.
  • adc100adc100 Member Posts: 1,521
    I have made every mistake known to man, and am not looking down on his wife. It just struck me odd that car stopped immediately after making bearing noise. You would expect some time delay between bearing noise and bearing/failure (miles for sure) before stopping. Maybe the radio was too loud? Anyway, I enjoy and learn from your posts.

  • cwopetecwopete Member Posts: 22
    Bought an 96' Neon with a 2.0L inline 4 cyl with 54 K miles. The oil dipstick shows signs that the engine may have oil sludge in it. The dealer has already done an oil change on it but I think that I might want to have the engine cleaned internally. There's a service station that will do the service for around $80. Is it worth it? Will this hurt the engine?
  • chevydude2chevydude2 Member Posts: 36
    cwopete... If you are at all mechanically inclined you can do the flush yourself. Drain out a quart of the motor oil, pour in one quart of automatic transmission fluid into the crankcase and idle the car for about 10 minutes. DON'T REV THE ENGINE... Drain the oil, change the filter and put fresh oil in. Run that oil for about 500 miles and change the oil & filter again and you should be all set. I have done this on many of my used cars and never had a problem. Hope this helps.
  • adc100adc100 Member Posts: 1,521
    You might want to just do an oil change to synthetic and run it for say 3500 miles at least (syn oil does a more gradual cleaning). I have personally never heard of using the transmisssion oil- but then again there are lots of things I haven't heard of . If it gets black you might want to change sooner. Are you using oil? If so you could have a bad ring.
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastMember Posts: 1,712
    Trans fluid used to be used as a cleaner for sludged up engines. They used to put 1 quart ATF(Dexron) and 4 quarts motor oil run it for a while and then drain and fill with clean oil.
    Sometimes it worked, sometime it didn't.
    Marvel Mystery Oil works best for that purpose, but you have to remember that sometimes the sludge is better left alone if it isn't causing a problem.
    If you disturb it and flush it into the crankcase, it has a nasty habit of pluggin up the oil pump pickup tube, and that isn't a good thing.
  • chevydude2chevydude2 Member Posts: 36
    Opatience... I have used that many times and it works great.... but if cwopete is jumpy about it, then maybe he should just do a few oil changes evey 1,000 miles to help clean it up..
  • 210delray210delray Member Posts: 4,721
    I was changing the antifreeze in my '97 Camry 4-cyl today and in the process, removed a small bolt from the front of the engine block (facing the front of the car). I thought it was the engine coolant drain plug, but it turned out it was a hole leading to the oil passages. I know this now, because while running the engine to circulate the coolant, I forgot to reinstall the bolt.

    I was in front of the car looking down, when I saw oil splash marks on the garage floor. (The car was just outside the garage.) When I looked under the hood, there was oil everywhere. I immediately shut off the engine, but since I had to add about 3 1/3 quarts (the oil capacity is only 3.6 quarts), I am wondering if any damage was done. Once I got the mess cleaned up and added more oil, the car seemed to run fine.
  • mactheknife1mactheknife1 Member Posts: 6
    I have heard of using tranny fluid but have not tried it myself. I have used Amsoil's & Gunk's engine flush, which is made specifically for that purpose. This has worked well many times. Follow the directions and only idle the engine DON' REV IT. Also important, don't over fill the crank case. A couple easy methods of removing oil is to either remove the existing oil filter and pour the oil out, install the filter and run the engine for 15 seconds, shut it off and drain the filter. Repeat until you have removed matches the amount of flush to be used. Or just buy a couple of the cheapest oil filter you can get, run the engine for a minute and toss it. Install another one and flush the engine. I prefer to buy some cheap oil and an additional filter for the purpose of flushing the flush. Then run the engine for 15 minutes, drain and install the good oil.

    As far as using synthetic oil to flush, probably not a good idea especially if there is a lot of sludge. As the synthetic cleans (and it will, synthetics are great at keeping the crank case clean)the oil can become contaminated to the point that the exhaust may have a lot of smoke, not good for the engine.

    I agree that if the engine has a lot of sludge just leave it. You'll probably just make matters worse.
  • moparbadmoparbad Member Posts: 3,870
    My Prizm now has motor replaced with used motor.
    The repair shop that did the oil change paid for all cost of replacing engine. They also put in new battery at no charge (i did not ask for the battery). The business said to bring the car back at 1000 miles for oil change and filter (no cost). Also will top off the AC when it gets warmer.
    The car is running very well. I am very happy that the shop backed it's work and took care of it's mistake. There are some good people out there.
    The cause of the loss of oil and filter that started it all, an incorrect filter was installed which fell off.
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    Thanks for the update. Glad to hear the problem was resolved to your satisfaction. The low mileage used engine was the way to go. Sounds like the repair facility is going the extra mile to make up for the error.
  • reid8reid8 Member Posts: 28
    My dad had a similar experence,years ago he had the oil chahged on a Toyota Cressida.After the car was parked in the garage and my Mom had driven about 15 miles my Dad comes out and sees a big puddle of oil.He finds my momand they have the car towed back to the shop.The problem was the gasket from the filter stuck to the housing so when the new filter was put on there is now 2 gaskets and it leaked.They added oil to the car and my brother still drives the car today.I don't know if it leaked all the oil but the motor was ok after this .I change my own oil and I still check to make sure the gasket is on the old fiter when I pull it.This happened about 10 years ago,I think its an 87.
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