I know you're all shooting in the dark, and I am even more so, but with your collective "blind" advice things are becoming more clear. Thank you all so much.
I am getting a "rebuilt" engine out of this, I guess... the dealership is replacing the rod and say the heads look OK. Some minor wear, but it was nothing to sneeze at.
I guess I should know better than to trust any of these discount shops at this point, eh?
They aren't real mechanics, I realize now, in most cases... just barely trained technicians. And yes, at this particular shop --- I'll go ahead and say it "Big O Tires" they seem to be over worked and running everywhere.
I don't know why I figured somebody would tell me the level was low. It makes sense that technicians work on step X-Y and don't have the knowledge to see other factors or the time to do anything outside those steps.
I check my oil sporadically, but with my increasingly improved attitude on car ownership and maintenance I will set up a schedule on my PDAPhone to check it monthly from here on out.
I am still going to follow up with the KIA dealership to ask about the piston ring conditions and Wynn's to ask about how this would cause the "fatal" damage. I just have to know. Big O is paying for the rod replacement, so I'm mostly covered --- but like I said, if I can help somebody (even Big O) in the process I feel obligated to do so.
At first, before I posted here, I was leaning towards the tech. putting too much pressure into the fuel injector during the service (the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_r-aQMh2Ck) at about 1 minute into the video, talks about using the appropriate PSI for the size of engine and to refer to the manual.
Now, I realize some key underlying factors that could have contributed and some best practices for taking care of my automobile.
I knew Car Talk was a great show, but now I know you all are a great audience and community.
I'll post back with how this turns out and send Click and Clack an e-mail or phone call to tell them how great you are. Seriously, thank you.
Also (off topic, but I offered in my original post) - you all are very smart and probably know this... but there are three great free PC maintenance programs out there that are truly free and do a great job of keeping your computer running well: CCleaner, Defraggler, and Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. CCleaner, used carefully (rtfm!) will clean up temp files and take care of registry problems and can be scheduled. Defraggler is like Window's Disk Defrag on steroids (also should be run on a schedule), and Malwarebyte's gets all the viruses, spyware, and malware that McAfee and Norton don't. If any of you that have posted to this thread need specific PC advice, send me a message through this site and I will gladly help.
Thank you so much!