Dealer forgot to add oil

I took my 6 month old 08 Honda Civic to the dealer I bought it from today to get the oil changed.

I drove off the lot and got a mile or so when the oil light came on and the car started knocking.

I was able to get back tot he dealer before it stalled out on me.

Dealer is saying they will go over the engine thoroughly and fix anything that appears damaged.

I think we should at the very least get a new engine.

I’d love to hear everybody’s thoughts on this. The car is less than a year old with under 5k miles.

A new engine.

While I am empathetic towards your situation, you may run into a problem with the part where you drove a mile or so after the oil light came on and the engine started knocking.

Right…The red oil light does not mean turn around and drive back to the dealer. It means stop driving the car and CALL the dealer…In any case, the engine is junk…

Simply amazing. I’ll never cease to be amazed that this can actually happen, at a dealer no less.

Six month old engine, less than 5K on the clock, garbage. Way to go, dealer.

For future reference, if the oil light comes on you have to stop the engine immediately. While this is clearly the dealer’s fault and they are rightly assuming responsibility, you might’ve been able to save the engine had you done so…or not, considering there never was oil in it. No matter.

I guess this is kind of a cynical way of looking at it, but in this kind of situation it’s almost better that the engine was completely destroyed. Even if they only drove the thing out of the bay and parked it, that engine sustained potentially very serious damage. But if the engine still seems to be running fine, you can bet they’ll try to tell you everything’s fine-- it’ll be a lot easier getting them to replace a completely dead engine.

Engines suffering this treatment can be filled with oil and they will SEEM to be OK for about a week…Usually, a connecting rod bearing will fail completely and the engine will “toss a rod” within 1000 miles of the run-dry…

It’s damaged goods and a 6 month old '08 Honda should get a brand new from Honda engine - period. This does not mean a very low miles used one, reman, or anything else.

If they try to palm this car back off on you rather quickly with some comments like “we did this, we did that, she’ll be fine now”, don’t buy into it. Even if they give the car back to you with oil added, and some oil stiffeners, you should refuse to accept the car back.

This is a dealer screwup so this means the dealer will have to foot the bill on it. Honda Motor Co. will not warranty this in any way (unless the dealer lies to the rep and the rep is one of those ho-hum guys who could care less).

You got a mile away before the oil light came on??? That would indicate something, but you would have never got that far if they forgot to add oil. The light never would have gone out. In addition with that oil light, you don’t drive the car, not even that mile; you drive to the edge of the road and park it.

Certainly they should do any repairs for damage that can be identified now. I would want them to document the situation and that they are ready to take responsibility for any additional problems that show up during the normal new car warranty related to this event. If you had not driven back to the dealer with that knocking engine, I would have suggested a new engine, but you are not in a shared blame situation.

I might add that while I normally suggest that you not use the dealer for any mechanical service other than that paid for by the new car warranty, in this case I would make sure all future oil and filter changes are done by a dealer if not this one and that you maintain good documentation of that service.

Thanks for your responses. As soon as the light came on I called the dealer immediately and told them what was going on and that I could see the dealership from where I was. They told me to keep going.

Well, don’t follow that advice again. Two strikes against the dealer, now. Good luck on getting a new engine. as ok4450 said, make sure they make it right.

What do you guys think should happen to the Tech responsible? I would base my decision on his quality/come-back record. Does everyone have one “no punishment” failure like this?

Mistakes happen…Fact of life. But if it keeps happening then I’d fire him. Not sure how many comebacks like that I’d wait until I fired him…Probably the 2nd or 3rd time. MANY MANY years ago I had a Computer Operator (remember them) that worked for me totally trash 5 removable disk packs (remember them) in a span of 10 minutes. There was a problem with the disk drive and he didn’t notice it. Each pack cost about $600. LUCKILY they were just scratch packs so no data was lost. It took me less then 10 minutes to fire him. One disk pack I could see…2 maybe he thought it was the first pack and he was trying a second…but 4 MORE??? GoodBye.

The dealer owes you a complete repair and free extended and expanded warranty.

As to the tech’s punishment, that’s going to be a difficult call. A long term employee with a good track record I would say eat the costs and give him a second chance.

While I have no way of knowing for sure, it’s possible if the car was only in there for an oil change that a young lube guy or trainee may have made a mistake. If so, he’s probably toast and fired.

While not totally defending the guy who made the mistake, be it a young trainee or experienced tech, it is also possible that there could be factors that helped to cause this mistake.
What if the guy drained the oil, got yanked away by another tech or a service writer/manager to do someting else momentarily? The guy comes back and still under immense pressure and time constraints fails to add oil or the proper amount of oil.

I’ve worked in shops and with many jobs, minor or major, the person doing it should be left the hxxx alone for the most part. A small distraction can cause a major problem at times.
It’s why I used to scream bloody murder about being coerced into becoming a state vehicle inspector. One would be in the middle of torquing rod cap bolts, get yanked off to do a worthless, money-losing inspection, and when returned to the original job one was left wondering - did I tighten this or that or not?

A guy I worked with got pulled off a Subaru engine job one time for some state inspection procedure followed by returning and finishing the engine assembly. He came over to me with a wrist pin keeper and wanted to know if I had been screwing with him. Nope. After 15 minutes of fretting over this, he decided to follow my advice and tear back into the engine, where sure enough he found a keeper missing.
Goes to show what kind of problems an annoying little distraction will cause.

One other thought:

We should not have to do this, but whenever someone else works on my vehicle I always check the work to the extent possible before starting the vehicle and driving off. In the case of an oil change I’d check the oil level, check to see that the filter looked new (to the extent that I could see it), and start the engine and check for leaks. Yes, it has saved me from destroying an engine in the past when the dealer service department didn’t tighten the plug. The leak was dramatic.

Just to add another opinion, dig in your heels and demand a new engine. You can be generous and give them the option of trading you for a new car.

I would just go for a new car off the lot, period. It will not behove you to trust the mechanics at the dealership again. Good luck. I had the same type of thing happen…no radiator coolant. I just tossed the keys to the salespeople and demanded another car. It did mean for me to have a TUDE, big time.

Good plan. Honda is paying for the rental while your car is sitting there. You hold a lot of cards. Just tell them that you are not coming back in until your NEW CAR is ready to pick up. In the meantime, it will cost them $40/day in car rental fees. O.K., probably more like 20/day with their discount.

I have to agree with the others here. Either a NEW engine or NEW car with no mileage AND a full warranty.

Just to be sure they don’t stick you with a ‘tinkered’ engine like was suggested, write down the engine serial number and check it against the new one to make sure.

Let me add that you get ALL discussions in writing and signed.