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Blown engine

I have a 2002 Chrysler Sebring that broke down on Thanksgiving. Unfortunately it ran out of oil, and I was told that the car has 2 sensors that detected the lack of oil and shut down the engine. A local auto repair shop replaced the sensors for $425. I paid the bill and began to drive the car home but I only got 20 miles away when the engine blew. My question is, if the the shop told me the car was fixed and then the engine blew, aren’t they somehow liable for this?

I’m not aware of any sensor in a car that will actually shut down the engine due to lack of oil. There are sensors that will tell you if the oil pressure is low and some cars have a low oil level alert though. Your engine likely failed because you ran it out of it. It was probably already done for when it shut off the first time.

I think GM had a system whereby if you started the engine and the oil pressure sensor did not register shortly thereafter, the fuel pump relay signal was shut off. None that would shut down an engine going down the road though. Too much liability.

It would make no sense that sensors that disabled the engine would need replacing after they did their job. What EXACTLY did they replace?

More than likely, the engine was doomed from the time it first died on you. Depending on what they replaced, you might, and I emphasize might, be able to argue they should refund some or all of it depending on what they told you. Perhaps you could invest the time to fully explain the sequence of events, what was repaired and what they told you about the failure and repair. Only then will you get any meaningful advice…

When you ran out of oil, did you get any indication, such as an oil light? If so, the mechanic was wrong to replace the sensors and charge you, but the mechanic is not responsible for the blown engine, that is solely on you.

Thanks everyone for the input. The sensors replaced were a camshaft and a crank sensor. Like I said, I paid the bill and they told me it was “fixed”. I can’t help but feel really ripped off because obviously it wasn’t “fixed”. I do recall the oil light flashing once about 1 week before the incident, but then never again.

Whoever drove the car with no oil in the engine is responsible for the blown engine, even if the engine did not self-destruct until a day or so later.

That being said, I don’t think that a reputable shop would have sent you on your way after the engine had been run w/o oil, so something is amiss here. Whether the problem is in the telling of the story or in the actions of the repair shop…that is impossible to know from a distance.

This is one of those posts that I’m not sure is complete. I cannot envision the scenerio described as happening exactly as described.

But I’d sure like a bit clearer description of the OP’s scenerio.
What is “engine blew”?
Why did the oil run dry in the first place?

If “engine blew” means that the crank seized and there was oil in the engine when it left the shop, well, that’s totally on the OP. If the car left the shop dry, then the question becomes how much is the shop and how much was damage due to the first shutdown.

And lastly, I know GM used have an oil pressure sensor in the Vegas that would disable the fuel pump circuit if the pressure dropped too low. I don;t know if Chryco does.

Those sensors should not fail due to the engine being run out of oil.
Seems more like a shotgun approach to fixing a car that was presented to them and would not run.
Did they tell you it had been run out of oil? Or did you tell them? Did they know this fact at all?
Or was that only discovered once it failed for good?

@the same mountainbike: the post is as ‘complete’ as I can tell it. I’m not an expert on cars, thus the reason I’m asking for advice here. The scenario did happen as described. ‘Engine blew’ was not my terminology, that came from the repair shop after I had it towed back to them for the 2nd time. I don’t know why the oil ran dry, I had checked it in late August or early September and it was fine.
@Twin Turbo: I told them it was out of oil, when it initially stopped running it was the first thing I checked. I got a ride to buy oil, crossed my fingers and put it in. So when the shop got my car it had 3 1/2 fresh quarts in there.
@VDCdriver: I’m confused, what problem could there be in the telling of the story?

Meg, thanks for following up.
I can only suggest that you need to check your oil a lot more routinely than every few months. Especially if it’s a car that uses oil, and yours apparently did.

The mechanic cannot undo the damage that was done by running out of oil. Nothing that he could hace done short of tearing the engine apart and rebuilding it could have prevented the damage from seizing the engine…if that’s what happened. If the engine suddenly groud to a halt, than that’s what happened. Once an engine stops for lack of oil, it’s on its way to seizure.

I’m sorry to say it, butt this engine is history.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that the engine is history, I guess what I’m equally upset about is that I’m out $425. If the engine was already gone, why did I pay that? Can I go after them for that? Again, thanks for your help with this.

As You Learned (The Hard Way), Two Or Two And A Half Months Is Too Long To Go Between Oil Checking On A Ten Or Eleven Year Old Car. It’s A Senior Citizen In Car Years.

If anything good can come out of this it’s learning to take a more active approach to car maintenance. It’s better this happened to an old car rather than a newer, more valuable one.

I have cars that are much newer and I check oil every week, along with the rest of the cars’ fluids on 5 of our cars. Most Owner’s Manuals admonish owners to check at every fuel fill.


Honestly, I think you got “took”. One thing you could try is challanging what they told you. Try to make them show you in exploded view drawings exactly what they changed. But if, in fact, they can’t show you sensors that shut the engine down from low oil pressure, than you have them by the cahunas.

I guess you know by now the blown engine is “on you”. When a car runs out of oil, it is the driver’s fault.

“I don’t know why the oil ran dry, I had checked it in late August or early September and it was fine.”

“I’m confused, what problem could there be in the telling of the story?”

The problem–as I suspected–was that you left out the all-important detail of not bothering to check the oil for at least 3 months. With any car, the oil should be checked on a regular basis, but with a 10-year old car, you should be checking fluids every week. Failure to do this is what doomed your engine, unfortunately.

Everything in life has the potential to be a learning experience, and I hope that you have learned from this experience that you need to lift the hood and check your fluids frequently. If you do this with your next car, you will save yourself a huge amount of money in the long run.

When I first read your posts, I thought you were talking about the low oil issue and the 2 sensors that monitored the oil. so when you said they replaced the sensors, I thought it was those two. Now I am seeing this differently, you had two issues, you ran out of oil and at the same time, the sensors failed.

The sensors apparently were needed as the car didn’t run when it went in and did when it left. That is not related to the low oil, these are separate issues. You added the needed oil so was the shop aware that you had run out of oil? Also, since your oil light was not on, I don’t think your engine ever went dry.

The “blown engine” could actually be due to something besides the oil issue. For example, I don’t know which engine you have, 4 cylinder or V6 but if it is the 4 cylinder, I believe that has a timing belt and it could have broken. That is not directly your fault, it comes under “stuff happens”.

If you have the V6, then it could be due to low oil. This engine has a history of being sensitive to oil issues. If you go too long between changes, or if the oil gets too low for too long and starts to break down faster, then a number of things could have happened, most likely would be the timing chain tensioner freezing and breaking the timing chain.

How many miles were on this vehicle?

Lack of lubrication/sludging can cause cam/crank sensor problems on Chrysler’s 2.7 L engine. I have seen cam sensor faults set in the computer and upon inspecting the sensor it has a thick layer of sludge and metal shavings. This will prevent a good signal to the PCM.

With your car having a no start condition it would be difficult to assess the mechanical damage to the engine from operating with no oil. They may have known the engine was history after getting it running but didn’t have the courage to ask you for another $4000 to replace it. They may have hoped the engine would have lasted another month.

You may try to negotiate a partial refund on the labor, $400 is exessive unless that charge includes towing.

I think Nevada has put it all together:
Chronic low oil caused sludging which disabled the sensor(s).
The fresh oil loosened the sludge and clogged the screen or an oil passage and finished off the engine.

I have seen cam sensor faults set in the computer and upon inspecting the sensor it has a thick layer of sludge and metal shavings. This will prevent a good signal to the PCM.

Good point! But did you necessarily have to replace those sensors? I would think that cleaning them up would be sufficient. The other bothersome part would be that noticing that condition and simply forging ahead with the repairs. which brings us to the next issue-

They may have known the engine was history after getting it running but didn’t have the courage to ask you for another $4000 to replace it. They may have hoped the engine would have lasted another month.

I’d have a real issue with any shop that would even consider this kind of approach. It’s a real disservice to the customer. Not only giving false sense of security but the real possibility of being stranded again down the road in perhaps less than ideal conditions. Why would they be afraid to be brutally honest? Hey, this thing was run completely out of oil. We can clean up/swap out these sensors and you can take your chances but we think it might be good money after bad…

Not implying you condone this shops way of handling it, just trying to understand the various angles…

The cars that I worked on were under warranty and you can’t get paid for wiping off a sensor. A part must be replaced to get paid. If there are any doubt about a $20 sensor it should be replaced. This is a minor repair, about a $50 warranty claim.

I aways made notes about the lack of maintenance and the need of an oil change but instead of a thank you tire squealing is sometimes heard when the customer picks up their car. You can lead a horse to water…