Dealer failed to secure oil drain plug and the engine is damaged

Yesterday I had my 2011 Toyota Prius oil changed at the Toyota dealer service as I always do. Driving on highway in 80 degree weather, I heard a weird cracking noise then the low engine oil pressure alarmed on my dashboard so I pulled over to the highway shoulder. I had some oil in the back truck and noticed a film of splatter oil the back of the car. Nonetheless I put a remainder of the quart and the oil just spewed into the shoulder. I got it towed back to dealer just before they closed. They did provide me a loaner car. My tow guy looked under and pointed out that the oil plug was missing and took photo of it and recommended I contact a lawyer.Anyways, the service manager notified me that the engine seized and would and offered a rebuilt engine with 1yr warranty. This Prius has only 46K miles and well maintained. I don’t think this is fair and I am insisting for a new engine. Should I reach out to lawyer? It’s disappointing that you take vehicle to dealer service and they rush and not secure the plug which ruins your engine. Any insights what the dealer can fairly resolve this. Also that service manager first explained that my oil filter seal failed which then I responded that I thought it was the missing plug clearly caused the leak. Any thoughts and advise?

Yes, take the rebuilt engine with a smile and accept the fact that the dealer did the right thing. His offer is completely fair.

A rebuilt engine will last every bit as long as the original (which is likely no longer available) AND you gain the 46,000 miles you already used up on the original.


They technically only owe you the value of your used engine with 46k miles on it, not a brand new one. I feel your pain though. I’d rather have my original engine than a rebuilt one. Be glad they’re offering to pay for their blunder.


What is the condition of the rebuilt engine? Is it used as well with whatever amount of miles? Or better warranty?

Rebuilt means a used engine, completely disassembled and returned to factory condition with new parts. Bores may be machined oversize and oversize pistons fitted, same for crank and rod bearings. Essentially equivalent to a new engine. Not the same as a used engine.

You are long past your regular warranty so this adds a year onto the engine itself to cover any issues missed in the rebuild.


Can the rebuilt engine be tracked with their original miles? It is a used engine too- correct?
It still is very disappointing that their carelessness can ruin your original engine.

I don’t know what that means. You will have a receipt showing the engine and when it was installed, the dealer has this, too, so every Toyota dealer has access to this.

Yes, and No. It was used, it was reconditioned to be “like new” and then installed.

Stuff happens. Cars blow engine, cars get hit. It is just a car. And not a collectible car. NO ONE cares if it has the original engine or not. It is a Prius, not a 1969 Camaro ZL-1

Yes it is, and you are justified in being upset.

Well, nobody would rebuild a brand-new engine, would they? :wink:
As Mustangman stated, a rebuilt engine from Toyota will be returned to like-new condition.

Yes, it sux to have to be in this situation, but you can’t reasonably expect a brand-new engine when you had already used the original engine for 8 years. The legal principle here is that you deserve “to be made whole”, and that could be accomplished by simply installing a 40k mile used engine that hadn’t been rebuilt. As a result, getting a rebuilt engine is better than just being “made whole”.


Lesson learned to do your own oil changes or insist to have the service advisor to double check the torque on the plug before you drive away…

Is there a way maneuver compensation for them to buy my car for a good price? They had asked me if I was interested to sell my car the last time I had my oil changed there due to its low miles and high demand.

You can ask but I doubt if they would give you much . Just let them put the rebuilt engine in the vehicle then if you trade or sell at least it will be drivable .
You have only put 46000 miles on it in 8 years so I don’t think your next vehicle needs to be a Hybrid .

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The rebuilt engine offer w/one year warranty is a reasonable solution imo. I’d even accept a used engine if it was from a wrecked-from-behind car with a similar number of miles myself. It probably isn’t possible to install a new engine on your Prius in any event b/c there are no 2011 exact replacement engines available 8 years after the car was manufactured.

Yeah, this is the primary reason why many of us here change our oil and filter ourselves. But most car owners don’t want to do that job themselves, which is understandable: It’s potentially dangerous, and involves crawling around in the dirt and getting oil on you hands and clothes. The advice here for the car owner who prefers to have this work done by a shop is to always check the dipstick before driving away from the shop, then start the engine and look under the car to see if anything is leaking, then do the same thing at your next stop. Then once more the next morning. It seems a bit of a hassle, but think of it as you being the manager of the shop staff. In business the manager is always required to check on the work quality of those he manages. Being a manager is a job in other words.

Another good idea btw is to buy a dozen oil drain-plug gaskets next time you visit the dealership, and keep them in your glove compartment. Each time you get the oil changed, give one to the shop tech to use. Those gaskets are supposed to be replace w/every change, but the shop usually doesn’t stock the correct gasket, so they just re-use the old one. Over time that can result in leaks and the problems that result from overtightening of the drain plug to stop the leak.


In the old days, installing a rebuilt engine was quite common. Sears and Montgomery Wards listed pages of rebuilt engines in their catalogues.
Every part in a rebuilt engine is renelwed or replaced. The engine is as good as a new engine. I had to have an engine replaced under warranty in a Ford Aerostar van. It was a Ford factory rebuilt engine. I put well over 120,000 miles on that engine and it still ran well and used no.oil.when I traded the van.
Now a used engine is something different. It comes from s car that was probably in an accident. It is an unknown quantity. An overhauled engine may simply mean new piston rings and the valves reground. I regard this as a sloppy patch to buy a few more years of service. However, a rebuilt engine is as good, in my opinion, as a new engine. I would let the dealer rectify his mistake by installing the rebuilt engine.

That’s wrong.


Like shoes, rebuilts are not necessarily of the same quality. I think it is probably fair on an 8 year old car regardless of mileage, but I’d feel better if it was a Toyota rebuilt rather than some other after-market rebuilder. At find out where it is from and what they do to rebuild them. The only one I ever bought was a factory GM Goodwrench one and it was fine. (Can’t say for sure if it was a rebuild or a reman but was the standard replacement.) Maybe they will humor you a little with the quality of the engine.

Thanks for the link.
A remanufactured engine is remanufactured to the original blueprints and exact specifications, and is tested to original equipment standards.

A rebuilt engine , the repair is done up to the level of failure. This directly means that the engine has been repaired up to the level of failure for which there was a need of rebuilding; but apart from that, components are left intact. The testing procedure of rebuilt engine depends upon the individual rebuilder from whom you are getting the job done.

It sounds like remanufactured engine is the preferred option.

To me, it would depend upon where this “rebuilt” engine came from. A Reman unit from and backed by Toyota would be acceptable. A rebuilt engine from some assembly line 3rd party might not be as the quality of those can vary greatly.

Example Many years ago I installed a complete rebuilt VW engine in a Type 2 VW; or bus. The original engine was wiped beyond repair. This rebuilt engine came from a facility in Tulsa, OK.
The engine lasted 200 miles and gave up its life. The reason why is because the new cylinders and heads were not mated to each other properly.

I discovered that out of a lot of 75 engines supplied by this rebuilder that 71 of them were defective. That makes the odds against someone very risky.

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So it seems a reman or rebuilt engine from Toyota manufacturing is the preferred option.

I will say this again . I think the dealer is trying to do the right thing . Just let them do the work and after the vehicle is back on the road then decide whether to keep , trade or sell . I know it is not easy to do but stressing yourself out will not help.


When the service manager explained that it was due to oil filter seal failure, it was a clear sign that that trusting them to do the right thing was clearly not evident. If dealers are always honest maybe things would be easier. I hope that they will rectify this.

I do appreciate forums like this to assist on topics that are not my expertise.