Hi everyone. I know this is somewhat of a lengthy post, but I wanted to be as detailed as possible. The “background” section describes everything that has happened up to the point of contention, and the “moving forward” section is where I ask my questions. I have a 2004 Hyundai Sonata (2.7L V6) that’s been in the Hyundai dealership’s service department twice in the past few weeks, and I believe they’ve ruined my engine. I am hoping I can get advice on what can be done and how I can move forward (or if there’s even a chance they didn’t do anything wrong).
The first time I took the car in was on 22 May. The recorded mileage on the invoice was 145,409. They changed the oil and oil filter, the cabin air filter, topped off the fluids, and replaced the windshield wipers (it was all part of a coupon deal). When I got the car back, their “Multi-Point Inspection Report” stated that the oil pan was leaking (it was actually the gasket, not the pan itself), and that they recommended an injection flush and a coolant flush. I’d heard/read good things about this service department, so I decided to go ahead with the recommended service. I dropped my car off on 02 June and requested that they complete the above repairs, in addition to replacing one of the O2 sensors that I believed was going bad. The recorded mileage on that second invoice was 145,556.
Later they called me and stated that, upon closer inspection, there was evidence that the valve cover gaskets and the crank seals needed to be replaced. They also added that, since they were going to be working on the engine anyway, I may as well go ahead and have the timing belt and water pump replaced. Now, although I was skeptical of all this (after all, they had just inspected my car and none of these issues had come up), I decided to go ahead and authorize the repairs. Again, I had heard/read good things about this place, so I was inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.
I picked my car up on 03 June. On 17 June, I took the car out on the highway for the first time since the repairs. I drove about 60 miles on the highway when I suddenly heard a loud knocking noise coming from the engine, and a noticeable loss of power. Luckily I have AAA, so towing was taken care of. I had my car towed to the dealership on Friday, 19 June (that was the earliest they had a loaner car available). The mileage on my car when it was towed was 145,749.
Friday and Saturday went by with no word. I called Monday morning (22 June) and was told they would call me back, but they didn’t. I called again Tuesday morning, and the receptionist told me to come in because they had to “show me something”. When I arrived Tuesday afternoon (today), the “service advisor” and the mechanic who had worked on my car took me to the back and showed me an oil pan full of metal shavings. They told me they hadn’t opened up the engine yet, but that everything pointed towards “catastrophic engine failure”.
I asked them what they thought had happened, and why. I told them that I always keep up with maintenance – something that the service advisor agreed with. The mechanic said he wasn’t sure, and that the engine had seemed fine when he worked on it. However, they made sure to spend plenty of time telling me that none of the work they had done was possibly connected to the problems the engine was having. Simply stated, the best they could do was tell me they didn’t know what had happened.
After that, the service advisor gave me a quote for a new engine ($9376.22 + $1694.00 labor – ha!), and for a used engine ($1650.00 + $1936.00 labor). She said that because the used engine is from a junkyard and has an unknown history, there would be no warranty. Also, she said the used engine has about 140,000 miles on it. I asked about repairing my engine – either rebuilding or remanufacturing it. She said their “expert mechanic” would be the guy to talk to about that, but that he was out getting parts from a different store, so they would have to call me an hour or so later. Of course, they never called me.
Prior to this latest incident, the engine was running fine. There were no strange noises, the engine performance was fine, no indication that the oil pressure was low… nothing. Additionally, the dealership had my car twice, and both times the services required that they drain the engine oil. If the problem had been an existing one, surely they would have noticed the metal shavings and alerted me of that fact. On the contrary, as stated above, the mechanic that worked on my car commented that everything seemed fine.
I reached out to a friend of mine who is a mechanic and described to him everything I’ve written above. The first thing he told me is that it sounds like someone ran the engine with no oil in it. This is exactly what I was thinking had happened. My theory is that, once the repairs were completed, the mechanic turned on the vehicle to verify his work, but had forgotten to replace the engine oil. Once he realized his mistake, I believe he simply filled the oil, closed everything back up, and called me to pick up my car. At that point, the damage would already have been done.
I have two main questions:
What are the odds that the dealership did nothing wrong? At this point, given the history and the dealership’s actions, I am inclined to believe they are guilty. However, I am not unreasonable, and would be open to hearing other possible causes for the problems I am experiencing.
What can I do about it at this point? Is there any way to prove the existence of foul play? If another mechanic looks at the car, would he be able to offer up any kind of evidence that the dealership’s mechanic is responsible for the latest problems? Or would this just be a case of my word against theirs?
Any advice or input into this matter would be greatly appreciated.