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Determining engine damage due to lack of oil

I’m wondering if there are specific diagnostic tests that can be done to determine whether a lack of oil in the engine has caused any damage.

My car is about a year old with 15K miles on it, and has not had any problems so far. I recently had an oil change, and the instant oil place incorrectly screwed on the gaskets–my oil started dripping out within a mile of the shop (which I did not notice at the time). I didn’t become aware of the leaking oil until my oil light started coming on, and the car started to make a growling/rattling noise, at which point I pulled over and checked the dipstick, only to find that it was totally dry. Once the car was properly serviced and the oil replaced, I continued to hear a rattling noise for a couple of days, only while the engine was cold and only for about a second as I was starting the car. Otherwise, the car seems to be running fine. The noise is now gone, but I’m wondering if there has been some damage that may not be readily apparent now. At this point I can still show causality between the negligent job done by the instant oil place and any damage there may be, but if engine problems don’t become apparent until way down the road, I won’t have much of a case to prove negligence on the part of the oil change shop. At this point, the instant oil place is saying they will not pay for any diagnostics/repairs, but if it’s determined that there’s oil-related damage, I can submit a claim. Since I’m paying out of pocket for these diagnostics, thre is a limit to the types of tests I can pay for.

Any input or advice greatly appreciated

Yes, there was definitely damage done. Chances are that it’s in the form of damaged main bearings, connecting rod bearings, and cylinder walls. Verifying it involves pulling a bearing cap or two (from under the engine with the oil pan off) and checking the bearings and their corresponding surfaces for damage.

I think you need to find a lawyer and begin to document everything immediately. The lawyer can best advise you how to proceed. Ask him/her about recovery of the diagnostics costs. And the legal fees.

Sure there was damage. Whether it will significantly shorten the engine’s lifespan or reduce your utility of the vehicle is another issue.

Take note of any consumption. I’ll assume that there was little to none before this event. You could get into used oil analysis to see if continued increased wear (based on statistics of engines like yours) and can do stuff like compression checks …and as was suggested, a visual inspection of the main/rod bearings. That will cost you money unless the outfit is willing to foot the bill in a chance that it won’t warrant an overhaul.