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Bad experience after an oil change

hsamanthsamant Posts: 8
edited March 2014 in Toyota
I took my new 3 month old '04 Corolla for an oil change last week, to a "reputed" national tire dealership, that also does regular maintenance stuff.

The next day, as I am driving down the freeway, I see a lot of smoke coming out for under the hood. I pulled over, opened the hood and see the oil filler cap missing. Obviously, the mechanic who did the oil change, screwed up. In addition to the smoke, the entire engine area under the hood is spattered with oil, and all messed up. Luckily, the engine did not run out of oil, and I was able to make my way to a spare parts store to refill the oil, and buy a new cap.

My questions are:
Do I need to do check for any damage -can the oil cause any long term to the wires, pipes, hoses, firewall?

How can I best screw the "m*&^%#$&#*&r" who did this to me? I was extremely lucky to get away without any major damage to the engine. However, mechanics who cannot screw a oil filler cap right, need to be kept away from all cars, permanently.

BTW, the establishment in question a national tire dealership associated with all those Ford Explorer rollovers.


  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    and already the whole engine compartment is spattered with oil. This is an unacceptable omission on their part, and you are right, the damage could have been significantly worse. At the very least I would go back and hit them up for a steam cleaning under the hood.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    call your local ActionEyewitnessHomeTeamLeader News number... before you get the mess cleaned up.

    many of those service/tire outfits are franchised, not company-owned, but both types of stores exist.

    we had one (wings, not fire) that had tech incompetence issues in the late 90s closed down after one of our local investigative report units got on 'em. seems nobody came in any more after the story appeared...
  • Always take your car to Toyota Dealership. I have a 2002 Corolla, $24.00 per regular oil change at Kearny Mesa Toyota San Diego!

    Life is Blissful
  • just4fun2just4fun2 Posts: 461
    Why not just take the car back to them and see what they will do for you? People make mistakes all of the time, why is it when some one who works on a car makes a mistake they are belittled as not worthy of touching a car ever again?

    My old dealer over filled my car with oil so this can happen any where. This is just how things go in the real world.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,549
    I am no fan of the mass merchants. They tend to hire cheap help and they have high turnover.

    And, they don't "know" your car like a dealer does.

    Still, the Toyota dealership could have left the cap off as well.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    you won't have major issues. you are your own final inspector.
  • hsamanthsamant Posts: 8
    Thanks for all your suggestions.

    I did go back to the Firestone Manager - he was extremely apologetic, and offered to refund me for the oil change and the new cap, and clean up the engine.

    I had initially thought about reporting the matter to the Firestone Customer Service center and other consumer groups - however, for now I have decided against doing that - (I would have done it if the operator had denied any wrongdoing or played nasty!)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,319
    You have to give human beings some slack. If they admit their error and rectify it, you are already in an earthly paradise. By allowing slack, and giving people a chance to "do the right thing", you encourage, I think, this type of behavior.

    If you come in guns blazing before anyone has had a chance to make things right, you just start a war.

    Now, if the other party won't step up to the plate, sure, you can start pushing.

    I still go to a tire shop that forgot to tighten the lugs on my friend's car, causing the wheel to fall off. But they made good on everything, and instituted better procedures for checking this sort of thing, and I'm fine with that.

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  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    happened to me...

    went to Wal-Mart for shopping for our big party this weekend and got my oil changed. First the "new guy" took 20 minutes writing up the guy in front of me, had to redo it after the guy left, then didn't assign a guy to swap his battery until the guy RETURNED an hour later. He took 20 minutes writing me up using his little palm pilot thingy that obviously had him confused and beaten.

    I use 5W30 Mobil 1, and when I read the invoice on pick-up, I noted they used 20W50 "supertech" (walmart oil) - I was mad - we had $150 worth of meat that wasn't refridgerated and now they had to pull my car in and change the oil to what I specified.

    They did that, and 20 minutes later we loaded the car - something told me to check the oil, although I was in a hurry. I usually do, but we needed to get home. I popped the hood and found the oil cap sitting on top of the intake manifold, with a bit of oil blown onto the hood liner, valve cover, and running down the exhaust manifold and turbo housing.

    I blew my stack - they checked everything over, allowed me to go into the undercar bay to check everything myself...

    Just to think - I had a 30 mile ride - I'm guessing I would've gotten 10 miles or so before Wal-Mart bought me a new motor - and it wouldn't be a reman!
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,549
    WHY in the world, would you take your car to Wal-Mart for an oil change??

    Just curious...
  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    the closest dealer is 15 miles away. I've never had any problems with Wal-Mart, and I always check teh paperwork closely and check for leaks and the oil level after the service.

    This time, it paid off.
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    ....I would have imagined you would go to a friends's house with a sixpack, and do stuff like this over there!

    You are welcome to come over to my place if you are ever up in western NY if you need an oil change!
  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    with a garage and ramps, but I always end of working on his car or his kid's car (trashed through abuse) instead of mine.

    You're very accurate in your assumption, though. When I was in the Air Force, I was "the car guy" in my Security Police unit. For a long time, I gave up weekends and evenings to help people with their vehicles. I'd charge a 6-pack or a case, depending on the job.

    When I complained to my wife that I didn't have much time off, she recommended I start charging actual money.

    I did, and suddenly had much more free time....

    Still, to get a 4-wheel brake job or a major tune up with tranny service and oil change for $50 plus parts is a bargain.
  • just4fun2just4fun2 Posts: 461
    If you were the one who was going to change the oil in a customers car, what would you expect to be paid?

    Changing oil is not a difficult job. People really don't want high school kids working on their car. Why would a person want to change oil for a living with such low pay?

    I think that a minimum wage job just give minimum results or less.
  • rae52rae52 Posts: 103
    Zues, I've read your posts in various forums here on Edmunds for a long time, and, I've got tell you that I'm not surprised. The old saying "you get what you pay for" is so true!
    At least you caught the problems before a major catastrophe occurred

    Have a nice holiday!
  • rae52rae52 Posts: 103
    zues, a few years ago, I went to the Walmart on Rt22 in Phillipsburg, NJ and walked into their service write-up area and I noticed a sign that stated if there are any problems as a result of them doing an oil change, they will ONLY refund the cost of the oil change! Were you (or Isell) aware of this policy?
  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    but after checking things and finding the oil cap off, I demanded that I look at the oil filter and drain plug. I found out it's their policy to use blue anti-seize on the filter and drain plug so they can tell if the plug or filter had been tampered with....

    On your note of "a sign that stated if there are any problems as a result of them doing an oil change, they will ONLY refund the cost of the oil change", that may scare a few people into letting Wally World "make the problem go away", but Federal and state laws supercede their goofy little sign.

    No amounts of signs can relieve them from implied warranty of merchantability and the Bureau of Automotive Repair regulations.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,549
    They actually have a sign that says this?


    " If we leave your drain plug loose and it falls out on the freeway causing the engine to sieze, we will only refund the price of the oil change"

  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    thing in rae's state - I'll look the next time I'm there.

    I'm sorry, but if you cause my engine to fail, you're buying me a new one, not a reman (my car is fairly now, not a 150,000-mile beater), and I'll enjoy the rental car you're paying for while mine is in the shop.
  • vidtechvidtech Posts: 212
    i am surprised to see all the oil change enthusiates who trust someone else to change their oil.especially the wal mart harvard far as the victim with the missing oil fill cap,i would hate to see what your belts and hoses turn into in a short time.
  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    I'm not a victim, and living in townhouse with no garage, I can't do my own oil changes, although I have nearly ever since I've been driving - drives me nuts.

    Considering the car was only moved 30 feet or so, then parked, there was only a couple of drops of oil on the valve cover. No damage to belts. Not that motor oil is like acid to belts anyway - make them slip and squeal maybe, but nothing else.
  • vidtechvidtech Posts: 212
    belts are a little more resistant to oil.last time i spilled oil onto one of my radiator hoses it turned soft and mushy.nothing i would want to rely on.
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,557
    Always take your car to Toyota Dealership.
    Why? How is that helpful advice and why should you Always take your car to a dealer, no matter what brand it is?
    I totally disagree with that comment.
    As was stated, oil change ain't rocket science. Find a good reputable independant shop, they usually do a much better job then chain oil change places and are consderably less than the dealer.

    Why not just take the car back to them and see what they will do for you?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,319
    I ALWAYS get tons of flack for saying this, (Oh, when will I learn) but....

    out of all the things you can pay someone else to do, having your oil and filter changed must be the best bargain of the century.

    I never feel so good about spending money as when I write a check to someone else for doing this for me. I'd like to kiss them, too but I'm afraid they'd take it wrong so I don't.

    AHA! Let me parry your blow before you strike!

    I realize that changing oil is about the last thing anyone can do to their new car without taking it to a dealer or without having a $300 computer or a set of CDs roms telling you what to do next. So I appreciate the poignancy of hanging on to this last vestige of owner control....but I'm ready to let go. That $25 I save just isn't the thrill it used to be, especially with 7 quarts of filthy oil sitting on the floor saying "Hi, Joe, I'm TOXIC WASTE and you have to get rid of me!!"

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  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    even if I crawled under my car in the gravel strewn asphalt and did my own work, my neighbors would report me and I'd lose my lease.

    Also, I have to dispose of the oil. Double and triple checking the grease monkey's work is a small price to pay, and I get the car done while we're shopping at the Wal-Mart Supercenter - the cheapest place in town to buy your groceries.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    state law requires all shops, or some shops, to take back used oil for proper disposal. there may be a fee, which is only fair.

    here in Minnesota, I can drive two miles to the county garage, and dump my old oil in their recycle tank outside for free... and throw the filter in one of their steel drums for handling, too.

    having said that... the filter fitting drools all over my left half shaft on the Exploder, so I have the dealer's quick lane do mine, because they clean up afterwards. that's worth ten bucks over the cost of oil and a filter to me at this point. and yes, I do check afterwards to be sure plugs are in and drools are cleaned off, every time.

    their computer also says that I have had my oil done "two thousand miles early" and with a new filter every time, just in case I throw a rod or something and need to raise some hob.
  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    for free oil disposal.

    Then again, my townhome rules prohibit working on your car...
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,319
    One of our clever comrades here in Town Hall once published a list on how to save $25 doing your own oil change. Of course, it was written to be funny and very exaggerated, but the list was about 30 items long. "Jack up car, install jackstands, retreive oil catcher, find paper towels, get filter wrench, etc. etc."

    Very funny I wish I could find it.

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  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    Gender specific oil changes by mudflat Jun 20, 2002 (2:23 am)
    Oil Change instructions for Women:
    1) Pull up to Jiffy Lube when the mileage reaches 3000 miles since the last oil change
    2) Drink a cup of coffee.
    3) 15 minutes later, write a check and leave with a properly maintained vehicle.
    Money spent:
    * Oil Change $20.00
    * Coffee $ 1.00
    * Total $21.00.

    Oil Change instructions for Men:
    1) Go to auto parts store and write a check for $50.00 for oil, filter, kitty litter, hand cleaner and shop towels
    2) Discover that the used oil container is full. Instead of taking it back to O'Reilly to recycle, dump in hole in back yard.
    3) Open a beer and drink it.
    4) Jack car up. Spend 30 minutes looking for jack stands.
    5) Find jack stands under kid's pedal car.
    6) In frustration, open another beer and drink it.
    7) Place drain pan under engine.
    8) Look for correct size box end wrench!
    9) Give up and use crescent wrench.
    10) Unscrew drain plug.
    11) Drop drain plug in pan of hot oil: get hot oil on you in the
    12) Clean up mess.
    13) Have another beer while watching oil drain.
    14) Look for oil filter wrench.
    15) Give up; poke oil filter with screwdriver and twist off.
    16) Beer.
    17) Buddy shows up; finish case of beer with him. Finish oil change tomorrow.
    18) Next day, drag pan full of old oil out from underneath car.
    19) Throw kitty litter on oil spilled during step 18.
    20) Beer. No, drank it all yesterday
    21) Walk to 7-11; buy beer.
    22) Install new oil filter making sure to apply a thin coat of oil to gasket surface.
    23) Dump first quart of fresh oil into engine.
    24) Remember drain plug from step 11.
    25) Hurry to find drain plug in drain pan.
    26) Discover that the used oil is buried in a hole in the back yard along with drain plug. (IDIOT!)
    27) Drink beer.
    28) Uncover hole and sift for drain plug.
    29) Discover that first quart of fresh oil is now on the floor.
    30) Drink beer.
    31) Slip with wrench tightening drain plug and bang knuckles on frame.
    32) Bang head on floorboards in reaction to step 31.
    33) Begin cussing fit.
    34) Throw wrench.
    35) Cuss for additional 10 minutes because wrench hit Miss December(1992) in the left boob.
    36) Beer.&! nbsp;
    37) Clean up hands and forehead and bandage as required to stop blood flow.
    38) Beer.
    39) Beer
    40) Dump in five fresh quarts of oil.
    41) Beer.
    42) Lower car from jack stands.
    43) Accidentally crush one of the jack stands.
    44) Move car back to apply more kitty litter to fresh oil spilled during step 23.
    45) Beer.
    46) Test drive car.
    47) Get pulled over: arrested for driving under the influence.
    48) Car gets impounded.
    49) Make bail.
    50) Get car from impound yard.
    Money spent:
    * Parts $50.00
    * DUI $2500.00
    * Impound fee $75.00
    * Bail $1500.00
    * Beer $25.00
    * Total-- $4150.00
    -- But you know the job was done right!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,319
    Hysterical! Thanks for finding that!

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