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Prius Ran with No Oil, Was there damage?

bulkhoganbulkhogan Posts: 2
edited May 2015 in Toyota
The oil was changed by a highly reputable shop 2 days ago, (45 miles ago). My wife noticed today that the "Low Oil Pressure" red message flashed 3 times in the last 5 miles of her 10 mile trip (45-50 mph). She stopped the car and called me. I arrived at the parked Prius and saw no oil on the dipstick. I poured a quart of synthetic in and looked under the car to see it pouring out. My finger discovered that there was No Oil Plug. I called the shop and they sent a tow truck, put a new oil plug in, refilled the oil and claim no damage since "the Prius shuts off the gas engine when low oil pressure is sensed". Can anyone lead me to information about this "shut off feature?" What should I ask from the shop? What should be tested & checked for? How do you test for damage to the bearings? How about a compression test? The car has 100K miles. Thanks !

Comments

  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 100,157
    Wow, that's scary. I have no idea if the shop is correct.

    I guess with a Prius, there is at least the possibility that it was running on battery power.

    You might pose this question to your Toyota dealer's service department.

    Reputable or not, I wouldn't use that shop again. Seems like they probably never re-filled the car with oil, in addition to not replacing the plug. Otherwise, they would have noticed no oil on the dipstick and the oil pouring out of the bottom end.

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 4,792
    There is no way to know if damage has occurred unless a symptom develops. Accidents when they occur are not the measurement of a shops abilities, but how they deal with them is. Talk to the shop about your concerns. If a problem really has occurred the symptoms will be apparent very soon. All anyone could or should do is take a wait and see approach. If your wife did indeed shut it right down when the light came on then it is unlikely that damage actually did occur.

    Forgetting to tighten a drain plug while the consequences can be extreme is not that grand of an error. It really is on the same scale as dialing the wrong phone number, when no-one answers. You have no idea that a mistake was made until they call you back wondering why you called them.

    For the technician, mistakes are part of the learning process. The dominant opinion however is one mistake from one entry level employee and throw the whole business in the trash. (*ref above comment) I wonder how many people would be employed if everyone was held to such a standard.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 100,157
    Well, when I get poor service from a service type of business, I think it's perfectly reasonable to refrain from patronizing that business in the future.

    When I was younger, I had more patience with poor service. But, experience has taught me that most instances of poor service result from lousy management. It's not my job to keep a business open. I vote with my wallet.

    That doesn't mean that every unsatisfactory service experience indicates a bad business. It just means they'll have to prove it to someone else, besides me.

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 4,792
    I hope someone else holds you to standard that you expect to receive.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    edited May 2015
    The shop should have insurance to cover any issue that may come up from the tech not putting the plug in (or not putting it in correctly). So the next step would be to document everything in case a problem does comes up. Then if you do have an engine problem, you'd have to get another tech to say that the missing oil damaged the engine in 45 miles and the damage didn't appear until x days (or months...) later. Then you'd ask the first shop to pay for fixing the damage.

    Lots of ifs in that scenario.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 100,157
    stever said:

    The shop should have insurance to cover any issue that may come up from the tech not putting the plug in (or not putting it in correctly). So the next step would be to document everything in case a problem does comes up. Then if you do have an engine problem, you'd have to get another tech to say that the missing oil damaged the engine in 45 miles and the damage didn't appear until x days (or months...) later. Then you'd ask the first shop to pay for fixing the damage.

    Lots of ifs in that scenario.

    Plus, that shop has already told their customer that the car can't possibly be damaged, due to the "technology" in a Prius. I would bet that's a long uphill road.

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  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 100,157

    I hope someone else holds you to standard that you expect to receive.

    I have high standards when it comes to my money. I also have high standards for myself, when it comes to my work. The difference is, I'm not in charge of of the techs who work on my car. What their employer decides to do about them is not up to me (nor, should it be). When I make mistakes at work, I have to answer to my employer, as well. Those decisions really aren't comparable (employee/employer vs. business/consumer).

    If you are suggesting that the consumer should reward poor service (with possibly major financial consequences) with continued business, then I'm not sure how things work in your world. Take off your car repair business owner hat, and look at it from the other side. Not every business is a good one. If they aren't, eventually they will be out of business, and while that's sad on a personal level, it's healthy on an economic level.

    If I've been patronizing a business for a long time, and had good experiences, then I can overlook a hiccup, here or there. If it's my first or second time, and I'm treated poorly? I'm out.

    Nothing wrong with high standards. There are plenty of local businesses that meet those standards, and I'm happy to give them my business. I'm actually pretty loyal. In most cases, those businesses/owners realize that the customer doesn't owe them anything. They have to earn it.

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 4,792
    edited May 2015
    kyfdx said:

    I hope someone else holds you to standard that you expect to receive.

    I have high standards when it comes to my money. I also have high standards for myself, when it comes to my work. The difference is, I'm not in charge of of the techs who work on my car. What their employer decides to do about them is not up to me (nor, should it be). When I make mistakes at work, I have to answer to my employer, as well. Those decisions really aren't comparable (employee/employer vs. business/consumer).

    Nothing wrong with high standards. There are plenty of local businesses that meet those standards, and I'm happy to give them my business. I'm actually pretty loyal. In most cases, those businesses/owners realize that the customer doesn't owe them anything. They have to earn it.
    One would think that someone who gives consumers advice about business should know something about being in business.

    Quote " Trust cannot be earned, it can only be given".

    The one strike and you're out attitude you portrayed is indefensible in the real world. Nobody is perfect and like it or not learning often means making mistakes. The consumers should be glad that there are business people who look far enough ahead that they accept the risks associated with people in order to hopefully grow them into being the a seasoned technicians that the automobile owner needs the shops to have. Where would the consumer be if all of the shops took the safe road "with you" and stopped the process of bringing in new technicians to staff for the future? They could reduce a lot of the mistakes that way but life is going to do what it is going to do and eventually the businesses would all close.

    Nothing wrong with high standards. There are plenty of local businesses that meet those standards, and I'm happy to give them my business.

    There is nothing wrong with high standards, but this isn't about high standards. What you portrayed here is difficult to put into words that don't fall to the real level of your advice. The problem is that you can't live up to the very standard that you are trying to hold others to and if "your standards" were to be applied to Edmunds as you did here what would that mean for Edmunds? One mistake by one person and throw the whole organization in the trash? I don't think so.

    "When I make mistakes at work, I have to answer to my employer, as well." So where would you be if your bosses clients held them to the same standard that you demand? You should be thankful that business people have higher standards than you do. IMO.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 100,157

    kyfdx said:

    I hope someone else holds you to standard that you expect to receive.

    I have high standards when it comes to my money. I also have high standards for myself, when it comes to my work. The difference is, I'm not in charge of of the techs who work on my car. What their employer decides to do about them is not up to me (nor, should it be). When I make mistakes at work, I have to answer to my employer, as well. Those decisions really aren't comparable (employee/employer vs. business/consumer).

    Nothing wrong with high standards. There are plenty of local businesses that meet those standards, and I'm happy to give them my business. I'm actually pretty loyal. In most cases, those businesses/owners realize that the customer doesn't owe them anything. They have to earn it.
    One would think that someone who gives consumers advice about business should know something about being in business.

    Quote " Trust cannot be earned, it can only be given".

    The one strike and you're out attitude you portrayed is indefensible in the real world. Nobody is perfect and like it or not learning often means making mistakes. The consumers should be glad that there are business people who look far enough ahead that they accept the risks associated with people in order to hopefully grow them into being the a seasoned technicians that the automobile owner needs the shops to have. Where would the consumer be if all of the shops took the safe road "with you" and stopped the process of bringing in new technicians to staff for the future? They could reduce a lot of the mistakes that way but life is going to do what it is going to do and eventually the businesses would all close.

    Nothing wrong with high standards. There are plenty of local businesses that meet those standards, and I'm happy to give them my business.

    There is nothing wrong with high standards, but this isn't about high standards. What you portrayed here is difficult to put into words that don't fall to the real level of your advice. The problem is that you can't live up to the very standard that you are trying to hold others to and if "your standards" were to be applied to Edmunds as you did here what would that mean for Edmunds? One mistake by one person and throw the whole organization in the trash? I don't think so.

    "When I make mistakes at work, I have to answer to my employer, as well." So where would you be if your bosses clients held them to the same standard that you demand? You should be thankful that business people have a higher standards than you do. IMO.
    I'll go back to the main point An employee/employer relationship is not the same as business/customer. My work is constantly judged and evaluated (not here...lol). If I fail to measure up, my employer will deal with it. But, both employee/employer have a lot invested in a relationship. It's more like a marriage. A business/consumer transaction is not like that... It's like comparing marriage to a first date. On a first date, if it doesn't go well, you often don't get a second chance (I feel an old adage coming on). But, if you are married, you are invested in that relationship.

    But, I'll answer one of your examples.. A new member comes to Edmunds Forums and has a bad experience the first time? They will likely not come back. And, that's their prerogative. That's why we have Forums Moderators. To provide better service than they'll likely get on another forum. If we are good 98% of the time, we'll be successful, even if we lose 2%. That doesn't make those 2% wrong for not coming back. They had a bad experience and that's probably best for them.

    You say it's indefensible in the real world? People make those decisions every single day. If you don't believe that single customer experiences don't have an impact on repeat business, you are ignoring your own experience, which you've documented on these forums, many times. No business is "owed" the right to exist and be profitable.

    And, you might minimize the OP's problem as "a loose drain plug", but a car running completely dry of oil is a major, major mistake, even if it's the result of a simple job. I would compare that to an electrician catching your house on fire, or a plumber flooding your basement.

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 4,792
    Your first response you wrote " Seems like they probably never re-filled the car with oil, in addition to not replacing the plug. Otherwise, they would have noticed no oil on the dipstick and the oil pouring out of the bottom end. "

    You are supposed to be offering reputable advice. Do you know what it is about your guess as to what occurred that is totally false and reveals that you have no technical experience at all?

    A loose drain plug is a significant error by an individual, I would never say otherwise but it should be a teachable moment, not a reason for a lynching.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 100,157

    Your first response you wrote " Seems like they probably never re-filled the car with oil, in addition to not replacing the plug. Otherwise, they would have noticed no oil on the dipstick and the oil pouring out of the bottom end. "

    You are supposed to be offering reputable advice. Do you know what it is about your guess as to what occurred that is totally false and reveals that you have no technical experience at all?

    A loose drain plug is a significant error by an individual, I would never say otherwise but it should be a teachable moment, not a reason for a lynching.


    Well.... you are offering reputable advice. I'm moderating a forum, and don't hold myself out to be an expert on car repair.

    And, as I've mentioned before, as a customer, it's not my business to insert myself into the employee/employer relationship. Nothing stated as been a recommendation on what that business owner should do about his technician. Not my job and not my business.

    I've only stated what I would do myself, given those circumstances. 40 years of being a car owner and consumer of car related services allows me to voice an opinion. Though, I will also mention that my advice applies to all service related businesses, not just automobiles. You, being a forum member are permitted to disagree, and disregard all advice given. On this or any other subject. ;)

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,197
    I'm going to jump in the middle of this....sorry.

    As the former manager of a large automotive repair facility I will say that mistakes can and will happen.

    This, however was a MAJOR blunder and were I the owner of that Prius I would be VERY concerned.

    From this point forward, every time that car hicuups or makes a strange sound the fear of immiment doom will be on the mind of the owner. Do I sell the car now, fearing the worst? If I sell it, do I disclose what happened to the new owner? Will this devalue my car?

    All of that being said, itf the car were promptly shut down, it's probably OK.

    Would I return to that shop? that would depend on my previous experience and the concern and empathy shown by the owner over that incident.

    I would expect this from a Quickie Lube but not a quality shop. Still, stuff happens.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 4,792
    Stuff happens, totally agree. There are always a lot of questions surrounding these situations and sometimes its never truly known just how the failure occurred. But there are some things that are easily ruled out as plausible. The car didn't leave with no oil in it, the low pressure light would have immediately come on and stayed on and the OP's statement rules that out.

    Quick lubes got in the habit of painting the drain plugs with a very soft compound after they are tightened. That proved two things, that the plug was tightened (supported by the two person verification routine) and whether someone touched it afterwards or not. There has been a significant amount of fraud played against shops over the years. The quick lubes adopted that routine because of how often consumers deliberately tried to scam them.

    The mistake of leaving a drain plug loose is only prevented by using a solid work routine, not by trusting one's memory. It's a mistake that anyone can make if given enough chances and that doesn't make them a bad person, or a bad mechanic and it certainly doesn't predict how successful someone could learn to be, or is. Through the years the number one cause for such an issue, where a service step is started but not completed is a well timed interruption. The tech can do that to him/herself, it could be caused by another technician, management, or by a customer walking in and demanding a techs immediate attention. From there it turns into an "out of sight, out of mind" event. At that point nobody knows that a problem has occurred until some symptom is detected. Most of the time when not tightened the plug doesn't just fall out, but they do leak and spots in the driveway or garage suddenly appear when before the service there were none. That little fact allows for the opportunity to teach how to perform that step of the service installing and tightening the drain plug as a single step. The plug doesn't go into the oil pan unless the tech has the wrench in his/her other hand so that it immediately get's tightened. The process prevents the mistake, and that is something that has to be learned.
  • bulkhoganbulkhogan Posts: 2
    Update:
    • The shop promises to do right. They say if there is rod or main bearing damage we will know it sooner rather than later. That bearing damage will show up in the next few thousand miles rather than 15-20,000 miles down the road.
    • I will do an oil analysis in 1000 miles or so.
    • The shop volunteers to drop the oil pan, remove a rod bearing cap and allow me to inspect it...I don't know if I want to go there yet.
    • The shop also firmly believes that the Prius has a gas shut down in the event of low oil. Toyota service guys cannot confirm the presence of a low oil shutoff/ If that were the case how come there are stories about seized up Priuses? Also, our low pressure light flashed on and then went off....could I have a bad sensor too?
    Keep the insights coming! Thanks,
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 4,792
    Oil pressure switches normally close and turn the light on when the pressure drops below approximately 6psi. Exactly how the system would have been staying over that minimum pressure with little to no oil in the pan is a curiosity.

    As stated earlier, being a good shop doesn't mean that mistakes don't occur, it's how they handle them when something does go wrong that sets them apart from the crowd. They are correct that any bearing issue will likely show itself pretty quickly. The analysis will be interesting but without a known history from previous tests potentially inconclusive.

    As far as the engine shutting down. there is no system that is monitoring the engine oil pressure that will command the engine off. However, the variable cam timing system is heavily dependent on the base engine oil system. At start up the camshaft will be locked at its base setting. It gets there because there are springs inside the phaser that rotate the camshaft as oil in the phaser bleeds off after shut-down. When the computer commands the phaser to move, the oil that is supplied to the phaser first unlocks it, and then the camshaft is allowed to be advanced and retarded as required. If the main oil system loses pressure with the camshaft unlocked, it will fall to full retard since it takes that engine oil pressure to advance the cam. That would cause the PCM to generate a trouble code (approximately a ten second test) for the camshaft over retarded (P0012). If that code did not set then either there was still sufficient oil pressure to allow the PCM to control the camshaft timing, or your wife simply shut the engine down before that ten second timer expired first. Both of which bode well for the engine again being unlikely to have suffered a failure.
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