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Car driven without oil

The dealer did an oil change for me about a month ago.They failed to properly tighten the drain plug,and I ran completely dry.The dealer knows it is their fault.I’m thinking that a thorough inspection by an impartial mechanic is called for.Any advice on how to proceed?Thanks.The car is just over 1 year old,about 8k miles.

How are they telling you they’ll handle the problem? Without that information, it’s hard to give you advice.

How far was the car driven after the drain plug fell out? Did you pull over and shut off the engine as soon as the oil pressure warning light came on? If so, there may not be any significant damage. If the car was driven a few minutes with no oil there could be quite a lot of damage.

How does the engine run? Any problems or unusual noises?

The only way to “inspect” the engine is to take it completely apart. The potential damage cannot be seen any other way. I don’t think that’s a good idea at this time.

I would document everything and get a written statement from the dealer. Then, if you have problems with the engine in the future they can repair or replace it at no charge to you.

If the engine has been damaged they owe you a new engine, simple as that.

I would add that if the car was driven after the light came on, then the driver shares responsibility. If the car was stopped as soon as the light came on, there should be little or no damage.

I would ask for the longest possible factory backed(not third party) extended warranty for free. Usually these go to 100k or sometimes 120k miles. If nothing happens in that time period nothing will to this engine likely. It took some life off likely but most cars are not junked or sold due to worn out engines but other issues.

The dealer may state we will guarantee it but there is not telling if the dealer will change hands or new leadership will come in and your “guarantee” will be null and void.

A key question when you finally realized oil was really missing was oil light illuminated and funky noises happening?

We need some elaboration,did the plug fall out or was it just loose letting oil slowly leak?

In the fell out example can you prove the car was not tampered with in that one month period?

In the slow leak example,did you notice oil under the car where it was parked? did you check the oil during this one month period?

As others have asked, how long did you drive with the oil light on? (the wasn’t safe to stop/had to get out of dangerous area doesn’t cut it)

But you do state “Dealer knows its their fault” well thats a big admission,are they offering compensation that you think is not extensive enough?

Thanks everyone for your responses.Here’s more info:I did not see the oil light come on until I heard the funky noises.I pulled over right away.The plug had fallen out completely.Hadn’t noticed any leaks.The AAA guys who came to tow me took a look and diagnosed so I could return to the dealer armed with some information.They also said I should try to stay with the car to make sure that only oil is added to the engine.They said sometimes mechanics put in an additive to quiet down a damaged engine.I told the dealer to call me in before any work got done.They failed to do this.By the time I was escorted to the shop,the work was already done.(replace plug,refill with oil)Tech report was “no problem at this time”.The car sounds and drives ok to me.

They are offering to do a compression test.If there’s a problem will repair/replace engine.If they find nothing wrong will offer 7 yr/100k powertrain warranty free of charge.

A compression test wouldn’t pick up much of the damage that could have been done here. If you heard strange noises from the engine, then some damage was done. The questions now are how much damage, and how long before it shows up as an operational problem?
I have to admit that I don’t stare at my oil light the whole time I am driving. It is understandable that you might not notice that it was on for a few seconds.

It would have helped your case greatly if you could have found the plug,(it would have showed how far you drove with the plug out). I dont believe that a plug that loosens over time does not leave a spot wherever it is parked,thats not how it goes, when the plug is loose there is a gradual loss of oil that can be detected by oil spots under the car and decreasing oil level that would be noticed when you periodicaly check your oil.

You did not elaborate on the Dealers admission that the cause was their mistake.

Elaborate on “the AAA guys diagnosed” please

I do make a continous scan of my warning lights,gagues.

If you heard noises I cannot understand why no noises now.You figure a additive has been added elimating noise? Replace the oil with oil with no additive see if you have noise.

I think we’re beyond the “who is to blame phase”,just want to figure out where to go from here.The AAA guys said that the plug was missing,asked if I had an oil change recently.They said it was not tightened well enough,came loose eventually fell out.

This is what the dealer wrote me:
I received your email regarding the recent service of your Honda Fit
and would like to address your concerns. I want to let you know that we
sincerely value your business and want to apologize for the inconvenience
caused to you by our service department.
To address the concerns in your email of course you are free have
your Honda inspected by a technician of your choice. I believe that we can
address your concerns directly by having one of our highly trained team
leaders inspect and perform a compression test on your engine in your
presence. If the results of this test indicate any potential engine problems
we would take the proper steps to repair or replace the engine with a new
one from American Honda Motor Company. If the test does not indicate a
problem I would provide you with a 7 year/100,000 mile powertrain service
contract with a zero deductible at no charge. This will cover your engine
for seven years or 100,000 miles from the original in-service date of the
vehicle. You currently have a 3 year/36,000 mile new vehicle warranty and a
5 year / 60,000 mile powertrain warranty, both from the manufacturer. This
will give you peace of mind for the next seven years.

Before you agree to the dealers extended warranty. You might want to run the car for three thousand miles. Then have the oil analyzed for excessive metal, and bearing particles. If test come back as having excessive bearing, and metal particles, Demand a FACTORY NEW ENGINE. My guess is it will. The compression test is meaningless. Its the crankshaft and rod bearings that could be damaged.

You will have to play the “blame game” if you want any more than they are offering.

It is suprising to me that Honda accepts that they are the cause of your plug falling out,but that’s their decision.Your lucky they accept responsibilty,you are past the first hurdle. Now you can say “you admit guilt” I do not accept your compensation, and can use their admission of guilt in your favor.

Many Business’s would not have accepted blame and it would be up to you to prove they left the plug loose,and how could you do that?

If I was the boss of the person who wrote that letter we would be talking and they would have quite a job explaining why they put my company in this position, 90% chance they could not adaquately explain.

My fear is if you agree to the warranty you will forfeit the possibility of a new engine. So a year from now if the engine does fail you may only get a partial bottom end rebuild, or a used engine.

JPT–I just want to try to clarify what americar stated, since his advice is potentially valid. He said:
“My fear is if you agree to the warranty you will for fit the possibility of a new engine”.

I believe that he intended to use the word “forfeit”, rather than “for fit”. I think that he makes a good point, even if it is a bit difficult to interpret.


 Fixed the spelling err :-)

The difficulty as I see it is that it can be impossible without a teardown to determine what damage might have been done to the most susceptable parts, the main bearings and crank. A compression check only tests the ability of the cylinders to compress the air and is totally unrelated to the condition of the bearings. A teardown on a new engine is unrealistic and introduces more potential for problems than it prevents.

Since determining what damage may have been done is impossible I think the 100,000 mile full warranty is as good as you’re going to get. I’d ask to have it extended to 150,000 miles (or 200,000 and settle for 150,000) and also ask for free scheduled maintenance for the life of the vehicle, but in the end you’ll probably have to settle for their offer.

The bottom line is that you cannot provide any evidence that you’ve benn in any way “damaged”.

To drive home the point of what (the same mountainbike) is saying.

It is reasonable to expect a new modern car to last at least 12 year, and 200,000 miles. Having said that, there warranty offer is laughable. After all, the warranty offer is less then a lot of other car manufactures standard warranty.

Can the average mechanic do this analysis for excessive metal and bearing particles?That sounds like good advice.The service manager said he wanted to see the oil from the next change.Not sure I want them to do it though,probably would say everything is fine,even if it was not.

Thanks again to everyone responding.I really appreciate it.

As far as oil analyzing. It is done by a lab. The cost of the test kit usually comes with a container that you put a sample of oil in, then mail it off, Shipping is usually included.