CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Dealer forgets to put oil in

I had the oil changed 3 weeks ago at dealership. Afterward, the dealer drives car from bay to park it. I start the car, wait 20 seconds for a car to go by, drive 30 feet and notice warning light and shut motor off and go inside. They tell me that it must be maintenance reminder light and have me start car. The dealer then sees it is oil light and tells me to shut it back off. They check oil and they forgot to put oil back in. The manager and shop foreman look it over and tell me they don’t think it ran long enough to do damage (I estimate it ran total of 1 min at min, 2 min max and never at over 10 mph), but if any repairs are needed I would be covered. They wrote up an invoice for me listing what happened so there’s record. The car has run fine for 3 weeks or 750 miles. I don’t hear any engine knocking, it isn’t using oil, the gas mileage is unchanged at 33mpg, and I can barely see the exhaust smoke even with it below 20 degrees.

I’m told everything is fine. If I was going to have problems, I would have by now. Do people agree?

Believe it or not, a good friend of mine went in for an oil change a few days ago (different place) and had the same thing happen. Unfortunately, they drove off and several minutes later the car just stopped. They had to be towed back and the engine is “fried.”

Anytime an engine is operated without oil it accelerates engine wear. You want keep all service records for the vehicle from this time forward so if an engine problem occurs shortly in the future, the finger can’t be pointed back at you for the cause.

Tester

Ask The Manager And Shop Foreman To Duplicate This I/2 Baked Oil Change On Their Own Cars And The Demonstration Will Put You More At Ease.

Make, Model, Model-Year, Miles ?

CSA

Problems do not always surface immediately. Odds are there is damage with the only questions being exactly how much damage and how many miles before any symptoms become noticeable.

The real problem with something like this is that if noticeable symptoms (oil consumption, knocking, low oil pressure, etc) surface a year or 25k miles from now it will be very easy for them to then lay the blame on something or someone else.

Since the engine was “wet” (everything flooded with oil) when the oil change was performed, the engine probably escaped damage…But you never know…It seems the average distance traveled with the crankcase empty is around 7 miles before engine seizure…For you, it’s wait and see and hope for the best…

Wet and no oil pressure burns that WET oil up in a hurry.

Tester

Assuming they drained the oil in the usual manner (i.e. not trying to get every last drop out) , then put on a new filter, and forgot to put in new oil, and all this happened within as hour or two of when the car was then operated for a couple minutes, I doubt a minute or two at idle or close to idle did much damage. I’d be most concerned about the valve stem seals I guess. They might start to leak a little more in future years than if this didn’t happen. But I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it. I’d just pay att’n to any unusual noises and bring these to the att’n of the dealer as you find them.

Not much to add that hasn’t been said yet except that those guys are a bunch of morons.

A thin layer of oil maybe a half a thousandth of an inch thick is all that separates the crankshaft bearing shells from the crank journals on a running engine.
A running engine can generate 1500-2000 PSI of pressure in the cylinders.

With zero oil pressure how long does it take for that 1/2 thousandth of oil film to go away on a running engine with that kind of pressure being applied? A nano-second.

I would bet if the oil pan were dropped and some bearing caps removed, one would find a lot of copper underlayment showing.

I used to change my own oil but sometimes I have Goodyear do it. Anyway, I check the oil before leaving the place and check for leaks when I get home.

How old is the car and how many miles does it have ?

I agree with “tester”. Regardless of how well it runs now, there is the possibility it had it’s life shortened. A lot depends upon the car, they don’t all react the same way to this abuse. Personally, if it happened to me, I would try negotiate an extended free service contract with them. May be too, a free extended warranty. If they refuse, I would notify the manufacturer. Tell the dealer…they won’t like that. I would and have been a real pain with dealers when they did something wrong. Find a way to protect yourself.

I don’t disagree with anyone, but I think I would have an oil analysis done now with an oil change to look for any metal particles. That should tell you if there was excess wear. The dealer should have it done but you probably want to have your own done with the dealer kicking for the $25.

Bing…good idea. Anything you can do proactively is worth considering. Sitting around waiting for your motort to fail or not, then calling the dealer to account may be harder to do in another year or two.

EllyEllis Says," I used to change my own oil but sometimes I have Goodyear do it. Anyway, I check the oil before leaving the place and check for leaks when I get home. "

In years past, all the oil filter boxes admonished that after refilling the engine, it should be run and checked for leaks. Some of my packages no longer say that.

I change my own oil and still check the level, run it for a bit while I’m reparking it, and then check for leaks. I recheck the level when it cools down. Without adequate engine oil, everything else is meaningless.

Every mechanic or oil changer at every shop should do this too, but they all don’t. The owner has to take up the slack.

CSA

thank you everyone for the replies. the car is a 2009 corolla with about 40K. the toyota dealer did do a 2nd oil change after 500 miles to look for metal particles and found none. they also did an engine compression test and said it was normal. I also called a 2nd Toyota dealer and talked to the service dept and asked their opinion. they also felt it didn’t run long enough to damage. So I don’t know what to think. I’ve always tried very hard to take care of cars. my last two went 180K with no non-routine repairs. I just do all the recommended maint even doing it sooner than whats recommended.

I might ask what the compression numbers were. You would be amazed at how many shops/mechanics are dead wrong about what they should be.
Those numbers should have been written down; preferably on the repair order.

It might also be added that the first thing damaged in a zero oil pressure situation are the crankshaft journals and a compression test has less than zero to do with that particular issue.

I don’t see the numbers on the invoice- just within specification. I remember they told me it was “over 100.” I was also there for part of it and I saw the dial go up over 100 maybe 105. I don’t know what’s normal range for a 4 cylinder smaller engine. They will repeat the compression test next month if I want and I am taking them up on it. I don’t want to engage in wishful thinking, but I am really hoping everything will be okay. I wonder if I should ask them if they would also remove the oil pan and look at the bearings? I don’t know how time consuming that is or if they will go that far without symptoms. If the first thing that goes bad is crankshaft journal, what are the symptoms of that? All I really want is to know my car is okay or if its not for them to fix it. I don’t know much about cars. I was always somebody who did whatever maintenance they told me.

Should provide impetus to learn to do your own oil changes. So many horror stories of quickie-lube type places, now dealerships. Of course, if you screw it up yourself (which can happen, we are all prone to a mistake now and then) you won’t tell a forum like this.

Similar situation for me about a year ago. My mom took her 2006 Honda Civic to Walmart for an oil change. She drove it for a week and heard weird noises from the engine. There is a puddle of oil in our garage where it spilled over. We discovered that the technician forgot to close the oil cap, but Walmart denied any wrongdoing. The dealer just told us to put in more oil and keep driving, since there’s nothing we can do about it. So far, the car is fine. Hopefully it stays fine.

Many Dealers Have Fast Oil Change Set-Ups And Many Employ Lube Guys To Do The Work, Not Technicians. . . Seven-Eleven Clerk Last Week, Oil Change Whiz This Week. I Change My Own, Always Have.

I’ve always believed that nobody cares more about my car than I do.

CSA