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2009 Toyota Matrix engine catastrophe

My wife has been driving our 2009 Toyota Matrix and noticed the oil light flicker on and off as well as a “grinding noise” the last couple days, when I got in to drive it sounded horrible and immediately took it to the repair shop we had our last oil change at. After they found oil shavings on the dipstick we are now getting a quote for 5500$ for replacing the engine. Apparently the lack of oil in the vehicle ruined a bearing or so they are guessing. Now I know for a fact it was not leaking oil or burning oil significantly enough to notice (I say goodbye to wife when she leaves and would have noticed either,) so I am left feeling they failed to put enough oil in or any at all. So I know we are at fault for not dealing with a notification light immediately but am wondering if I have any ground to stand on to complain and request they at least help pay for a new engine. This repair shop has replaced my water pump and I have gotten two previous oil changes from them, the last time the vehicle was in for an oil change they recommended spark plug replacement and fuel injector clean up…other than that everything with the car was fine. This replacement cost pretty much totals this vehicle, if I can’t get them to help pay for this, what would be my next best option? The car still runs, but for how long with this kind of issue and at what cost to safety? Cheers to whomever reads this and offers help! Thank you - Daniel.

edit 1 : most recent change was just under 2 months ago, she only drives to work and back for the most part but took it out of town when the event occurred.

edit 2 : general consensus is that I am learning a very expensive mistake and to always check your oil on a regular basis, beginner car stuff that I have let slide on my wife’s vehicle, I really appreciate everyone here for their advice, I will be done responding to replies.

How long was the time between the last oil change and when this event occurred?


Previous oil changes were about every three months, the most previous change was just under 2 months ago.

Engines use oil. Very little when new, more when older. That light that came on was telling you that you forgot to check (or did not learn to check) the oil level to make sure it had enough to properly lubricate the engine. So now the engine is damaged. It seems like it is all on you. Sorry


So what? 2000 miles ago?

If the shop messed something up with the oil change, it would have shown up long before now.



Thank you for your response. I recognize this is inherently our fault, it just seemed to throw up a lot of red flags in my head and wanted to be thorough.

Thank you for replying, it was under 1000 miles at the time, she only drives it to work and back for the most part. But it makes sense that if they did not put any in at all that this would have occurred much sooner. So hypothetically, if they only put half the required amount in would this still be the case?

I would say this is on Your dime. To continue with the oil pressure light on and loud noises from it means dooms day for the engine.
Your post also indicates that You (or Your wife) are not checking the oil level on a regular basis. It is vital that both of you get into that habit whether it be in this car or a replcement.
If You can get the shop to do a contribution to another engine, You are very lucky, but the worst You can get from them is a no.

If you mean that the lack of visible oil smoke told you that the engine was not burning a “significant” amount of oil, I have to tell you that you are mistaken. The vehicle’s catalytic converter will “eat” oil smoke in most cases, so on modern vehicles you can’t use the lack of oil smoke as an indicator that all is well with the engine. The only way to determine an engine’s rate of oil consumption is to check the dipstick on a regular basis, to replenish the oil as necessary, and to continue that routine on a frequent basis.

As Tester essentially stated, because the last oil change was 2 months ago, if the shop didn’t add sufficient oil, the problem would probably have shown up within a few days–at most.

I know that this is a very hard way to learn this lesson, but hopefully you have learned that it is necessary to pull that dipstick and check the oil regularly–even immediately after servicing. If the shop had screwed-up, you would have known right away by checking the dipstick right after it was serviced. And, if you had checked the dipstick on a regular basis over the past 2 months, you probably would have caught a low-oil situation before it got to the point of destroying the engine.


You’re grasping at straws.

The first thing a mechanic does after completing and oil change is, check the oil level.

Just a habit with us.



Thank you for replying, this seems to be the consensus. I appreciate your time.

Thank you for your reply, this seems to be the consensus, I appreciate your time.

I assume this means you never checked the oil in two months. There’s no way you’ll be able to make any kind of claim against them with this being the case. In the future, I strongly suggest you check your oil regularly, especially right after an oil change.

You are welcome and sorry for the bad news.

The reason you may have not seen oil burning is because the catalytic converter was burning it before it got out the tailpipe. My daughter lost the engine in her @007 RAV4 because of an oil burning problem that was a known defect. She did not get reimbursed because she never checked her oil and there was no oil in the engine when she took it in because it was making a funny noise.