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2011 BMW X5 seizes 30 miles after work done

Ok here goes. I brought my x5 with 72k miles to a reputable BMW indi to fix an oil smell problem I was having when running the heat. After looking at the car they said there were a number of small oil leaks that needed addressing as well as they found a leak at the water pump. So they can recommended replacing the valve cover and gasket. Oil cooler gasket , oil pan gasket water pump and later the coil packs because there was a torn boot. I also had them order a spare key. All totaled 4900. They had the car two days and called to say it was done. I picked it up and drove it home about 20 highway miles no problems but a slight sweet smell which I mentioned. Next day drove about 15 more miles and the car shut down on the highway Shifted itself into neutral and managed to get across three lanes of speeding Friday rt 495 traffic into the breakdown lane. Staties tried to jump it but no go. Wouldn’t turn over. Had it towed back to the mechanic and was told I need a new engine. This thing was running great before the 4900 worth of work that was done. I am throughly convinced it had something to do with the work done. I am totally beside myself. Any recommendations on how to proceed? My first reaction is that they owe me an engine. This baby only has 70k. Comments and advise please.

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Oh. Ironic by the way. My car o scope. A German car will be a in your future. And not in a good way. Lol

That sweet smell is likely coolant, and it seems like your engine may have either overheated or run out of oil. Did any lights come on before it stopped?


The first step would be to raise the hood and check for which fluid is missing, the oil or the coolant.

There was a repair to the engine oil cooler, a leak could have caused all of the oil to leak from the engine.

The water pump was replaced, the cooling system may not have been full when you received the vehicle. Did you check the fluid levels the day after getting your vehicle back? Driving without sufficient coolant can cause engine failure.


You are certainly correct that we should check the fluids before leaving a shop, but when a customer has a mechanic do more than $4000 of work that involves the cooling and/or lubrication systems, the customer has every right to expect that those fluid levels are correct and have been checked. Maybe you go up on your roof and check the roofer’s work, or closely examine the operative record after a doctor has done some mysterious procedure inside your body, but most of us don’t.

Sorry to be a pain in the butt, but making a person feel guilty for the errors of a professional is just plain wrong. The person who started this thread did NOTHING wrong by driving the car 30 miles from the shop. Let’s focus on the place where the mistake was made.

Where this person goes is to the shop, with a simple question. “What are you going to do to fix this error you made?” The next steps are based on the answer.


Here here. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: a number of long-time members of this forum lack empathy with those who don’t see cars as anything other than a basic tool of transportation.

OP, you need to provide some follow-up. It does certainly sound like something that is related to the repair, but without knowing what failed, we can’t do anything but speculate wildly.


I put the responsibility 100% on the shop to ensure the work’s been done correctly. If the engine seized after 30 miles because of improper fluids, that’s on the shop.

But getting them to accept responsibility is the hard part. They’ll argue it was because something else failed.


The shop certainly deserves to tell the OP the exact cause of the failure. If the shop did that much work on the engine when it was within 30 miles of a total failure, it seems that they should have heard problems but returned the car to the OP without comment. Much more likely is that they forgot to do something critical. With the benefit of hindsight, it probably should have been taken to a different shop for an unbiased diagnosis.
The bad warning to me about this shop is that they did $4900 worth of work to correct a slight smell. A valve COVER???
Tell us who this dealer is!


It wasn’t a dealership:

I wonder if that means an individual without insurance.

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The repairs which were done–to the tune of $4900 I might add–required draining the oil and coolant from the engine. If the shop failed to correctly refill either of these fluids, or check for leaks after test-running the engine, that’s on them. Suggesting that the owner did something wrong is just plain absurd.

The car was brought to the shop in running and drivable condition, to fix oil and coolant leaks. There was no evidence of imminent failure, otherwise that would have been noted on the initial work order, and the customer would have been required to sign off on that observation. An engine which is in such poor condition that it is about to seize up or break apart internally within the next 100 miles would be making so much noise that it would be glaringly obvious that a major problem exists.

Therefore, the shop owes you a working used engine, of similar age and mileage–together with the labor and incidental materials needed to perform the installation.

My advice is to tell the shop bluntly that having just performed all this work, unless they can prove otherwise, a mistake on their part has led to the engine failure. Ask them when they are going to correct their mistake and replace the engine. If they give you any BS or excuses, have an attorney contact them. They will change their tune real fast once that happens.


Who cares whether a slip-shod shop has insurance, or not?

This “indi” shop is on the hook for MAJOR repair expenses, in order to make the OP “whole”. Whether their ineptitude is paid for by liability insurance, or whether it comes out of their till, they owe the OP an overhauled engine.

And, in order to speed this process along, the OP should be posting information on local social media, and might want to consider contacting the Consumer Affairs reporter from the local/regional newspaper and/or TV station. That “indi” mechanic will definitely not like a TV reporter to be standing in front of his business while reciting an account of the OP’s experience.

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I wasn’t trying to make the OP feel guilty, it is in the owners best interest to check the coolant level after a thorough heat cycle to insure the system is full. If something appeared to be out of place the vehicle could have been towed back to the shop and repaired.

Going to battle with the independent repair shop over the engine damage is likely to become a bad experience. The shops that I have worked for have always corrected problems like this but not all shops take responsibility for their errors.

Who cares? The guy who hopes for a chance to get the mechanic to admit his error, and who hopes to get reimbursed without a huge legal hassle.

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It might take longer to receive compensation, and it might even require a court suit, but getting reimbursed is what this is all about for the OP. If he has to file a Civil Suit, a competent filing will include reimbursement of all legal fees upon victory in the Court.

The bottom line of the situation is whether the “indi” shop will voluntarily admit their guilt, and make the OP “whole”. If they don’t readily do that, then the OP needs to sue that shop’s ass.

But if this gets turned over to the guy’s insurance company, they will settle it quickly out of court unless the guy has a much better explanation than we know about currently.

I agree it’s always best to check the fluid levels before leaving but I have rarely done that. When the car stalled though, that at least would have been the time to check them before the shop had the chance to cover their tracks. I remember having an engine put in at a GM dealer 150 miles from home. When I picked it up on a Sunday afternoon, I just hopped in the car and drove it the 150 miles home without checking anything. Pretty standard practice I think but I would be a little more cautious now.

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Seized up means a lack of motor oil or due to severe overheating caused by a lack of coolant.
First thing that needs to be known is how much oil is in the crankcase and since they changed the oil pan gasket one would assume it was filled with oil afterwards. Or maybe not…

They told you that you need a new engine. So did they not tell you WHY you need one? The sticky part here is that if they screwed this engine up and are not so ethical they have a chance to cover their tracks due to the car being towed back to them.


This would be an immediate escalation and create a highly adversarial situation. IMO, this tactic should be employed only if the shop decides to stonewall the OP. Even then, I would contact a lawyer and get their advice on this tactic.

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I’m not on social media and never have been. Back when I worked the IT folks cautioned us about what is put on there for the world to see. Talking about what you had for breakfast is one thing but complaints and opinions are there forever for people of ill repute to come looking for. Today it is one group, tomorrow it could be someone else. So I just say forget using these forms and talk to the folks eyeball to eyeball. If they don’t stand behind their work, there are legitimate next steps. Always remember that you may be wrong and come to the wrong conclusions but once it’s out there you are liable forever.

I should have added: In my humble elderly opinion.