Bad job of changing oil filter

HELP!!! Just picked my 2010 Subaru Forester up from getting an oil change. Drove about 3 miles. Car began smoking at a busy red light. Smoke in driver compartment and coming from engine compartment; oil light came on. Luckily, I was less than a block from my mechanic’s garage and drove straight there. He said the oil filter “didn’t seat” (did they put a little oil on the gasket??). At least 1/2 quart of oil leaked out after I stopped vehicle. What should I expect in terms of damage?

You should have pulled over and called the mechanic to come and tow your car back. Because you drove it with the oil light on, any engine damage is on you, not on the mechanic.

The big question is how much oil was in the engine at the mechanic’s garage and how much did he add? Any potential damage would be predicated on that amount.

A quart, not a problem. Three or four quarts may well be a big problem and anytime that red oil light comes on it’s time to worry; especially if that light was on during the block long drive to the garage.

Since you only drive less than a block after the light came on, and you didn’t hear any knocking sounds (did you??) you probably haven’t sustained any damage. The only thing I’d suggest should it ever happen again is to shut the engine off immediately and have it towed, even if it’s less than a block.

The surfaces do have the ability to hold some oil film for a very short time, perhaps an entire block once the pressure disappears, but bearing damage once that film disappears is immediate and severe. Hopefully you lucked out.

All you can really do is have the immediate oil issue remedied and then go with it to see what happens. You will need to get a little obsessive about checking your oil since it might start burning some. Unlike keith I’m going to say that the shop is significantly on the hook. I would say that you might share some of it - the oil light does mean that you should stop safely and turn it off. But they obviously made a huge error. Rule 1 of finishing an oil change is to run the engine for a while and check for leaks. There’s no telling what it was. Either someone forgot to tighten it or, another common issue is that the old filter gasket stays stuck to the engine and the new filter gets screwed on top of it.

Thanks for the info. My husband drove the car home after the oil change around 1000. The car sat in the driveway all day and it looks as if it dripped a small amount (a few tablespoons). I drove it downhill, and the car was literally at the light a block from the garage when it began smoking. I couldn’t pull over because there was no room. We’re talking less than a minute for the oil light (it flashed a few times as I drove to garage), and I’M liable? That’s AWFUL?? The owner said he’d “make it right.” Have been taking my car to only him from day one, 50,000 miles ago. Yikes!!

If it only flashed, then there is probably no damage, but if it is still leaking a little, even if only a few drops, then the mechanic needs to remove the oil filter and either put on a new one or at least check for a double gasket or a defect in the gasket.

Does anyone know what the mechanic meant by oil filter not seating correctly? As far as I know, it seems to be a canister that bolts on…there doesn’t seem to be a chance of not seating correctly?

I always get my oil filter changed every oil change (3 months/3000 miles)…on a 2000 corolla. I think the oil filters for this type is anti-backflow…do the oil filters of this type also need to be seated correctly?

Thanks again, guys! No knocking sounds of any kind. The Subaru only has idiot lights instead of gauges, so don’t know how hot engine got, or if any oil pressure there. Thanks for the advise. Guess we’ll see how much integrity this guy has - but, you are right, I should have pulled over and walked to the garage. It would’ve been just as fast. So, guess I must take some blame if car is damaged.

Would it make any difference that I’ve only used synthetic oil since first oil change?

If its a 4 cylinder engine, its a screw on canister that sits on a little shelf on top of the engine and yes they need to be tightened 3/4 turn past contact to properly seat the gasket.

Your oil filter is a metal canister with the filter inside that screws onto a “pipe” (for lack of a better description) that sticks out of the engine. It’s sealed by a rubber gasket that gest compressed onto a flat surface on the engine when the filter is screwed on. “Not seating correctly” is almost always due to the filter not having been properly tightened or to the rubber gasket being either damaged or missing.

Your comment about the dripping now bothers me. I agree with Keith. He needs to replace the filter with a new filter after checking the new filter’s gasket to see that it’s in good shape and properly seated in the filter canister (which I always do when changing oil), cleaning and visually checking the flat surface on the engine to which it seats (again, this is always a good idea), and cleaning the surrounding area (since his error made a mess).

The only other reason filters leak after installation is overtightening. If he did that, than the threads on the filter canister may be damaged and his retightening the filter may not seal the rubber seal properly. Again, that would necessitate a new filter. The pipe itself is pretty tough to damage with the filter, because the filter metal is softer than the pipe’s. If someone else here has seen the pipe damaged, please, I urge you, correct me on this.

Oh, and anti backflow valves are common. It has no special meaning to your problem.

Will report tomorrow on what he says and does. Thanks, mountainbike!

SMB, FYI the filter is a remote on the Subaru 2.5 engine. Its like the filters on the old Rambler 6 cylinder engines, right there in your face when you open the hood, beside the oil fill tube. At least it is on the new Subies.

True, Keith, I was mistaken in that portion of my description. I forgot we were dealing with a horizontally opposed engine. But it does take a canister, and the rest remains accurate.

Sorry for the error. I’m old. I forget things. {:slight_smile:

Yes, the rest is very accurate, that’s why I hit the agree button.

Thanks. I confess to not paying attention to the buttons. Too much is overload to my already easily saturated intellectual capacity. {:slight_smile:

I don’t use those buttons either. The only time I notice them is on the rare occasion that I think something should be flagged. Other than that I always forget they’re there. Is that bad etiquette? It’s way too much pressure for me 8-/