Did a tow truck damage my oil pan

       I was driving my car, a saturn lw wagon, when the engine died. I had just had it in the shop they said it would need a throttle soon.  I assumed that was probably what it was.  There were NO noises or lights prior to the engine dying.    I coasted to a stop and waited for the tow (a truck with a lift bar that went across just the front end, the back would be still on the road.  I tried to restart it would turn over but not start. 
       I called the shop the next day and was told the the motor he'd probably seized up because of lack of oil.  There was oil all over the ground there. Problem is there was no oil leading to my car or in the space where it died.  I am wondering if maybe the tow truck damaged it.  The place where the car died and the shop is around 8 miles.

The guy’s that drive tow trucks should know what they’re doing when they retreive a vehicle. And what you descibe is normal.

Front wheel drive vehicle. A trow truck snatches the front tires and raises the front tires off the ground so the vehicle rolls on the rear tires.

Sorry, but the engine blew up…


Like Tester said.

In your subject you referred to a damaged oil pan, but you never mentioned it in your post. Were you told by the shop that the oil pan was damaged?

I’ve had cars towed a number of times like that with no problem. In some cases the guy never even got out of the truck. The lift devices are pretty far away from the oil pan and he would have had to drop it or something to damage the oil pan.

I can understand your suspicions, but I honestly think that without further detail including a look-see under the car it’s much more likely that the loss of oil was the cause of the engine stopping rather than the result of the tow.

What needs to be determined now is why the oil drained, if that was the cause of the engine stopping, and what if anything can and should be done from here. If the pan was damaged, they’ll find out when they lift the car on the rack.

Post back and let us know. We do care.

“There was oil all over the ground there.”

Sounds like the car left a big oil puddle in the shop

“there was no oil leading to my car or to the space where it died”

There is definitely a discrepancy here

or I’m misunderstanding something

It sounds like there’s no oil spots where the car broke down, or leading up to it

Yet, after the tow, in the shop, there’s a huge oil puddle underneath the car, and the engine has no oil

That’s how I interpret the story, for what it’s worth

The engine was not run during or after the tow. Even if by some stretch of imagination the oil pan was damaged, the engine would not be seized.

When the car is towed its at an angle and the oil all toward the back. When it was put down, the oil came back to level and leaked out overnight. ? One theory…

First your motor was not running hence towed. So even if the tow truck ruined your oil pan it did not ruin the motor and lead it to seizing since it was not running in the first place.

So if they damaged your oil pan (they owe you that). However on seized motor that had nothing to do with the tow changing the oil pan out is akin to putting in dentures on a dead guy.

let me clarify a little.

     The mechanic says the oil pan is broken and there is also damage to the transmission (Ice getting kicked up while driving in MN is suspected).  

I heard no noises there were no lights. Engine was quiet until it died.

There was no oil trail leading up to where my car died or in the spot that my car sat for the 45 minutes waiting for the tow.

there is oil all over in the parking lot and bay at the mechanic shop from my car.

My suspicion is because I am having a hard time believing that if my engine seized up from lack of oil and there was no oil to leak out at the scene, why then is there so much oil at the shop.

Thank you all!

the engine seizing right now is only suspected due to the busted oil pan. The mechanic has not tried to put oil back in and run it.


Thank you for the additional information

If the shop will allow you to do so, please post a picture of the broken oil pan and the front undercarriage of the vehicle

If the engine will turn over but not start, then it has not seized and therefor is not an oil problem. The pan may be damaged and if there is a lot of oil under your vehicle, then either the vehicle was set down on something or there was just a lot of oil there to begin with. A shop with oil on the floor, imagine that.

Have you opened the hood and pulled out the dipstick?

Like I said, OP REALLY needs to post a picture of this damaged oil pan

Until then, all we can do is speculate . . .

With that new information, it sounds like whatever physically damaged the transmission also damaged the oil pan. TT’s explanation, or perhaps even combined with the leak being a slow one, answers the puzzle of where the oil drained out.

There’s nothing in the story to lead me to the conclusion that the engine seized while running. In fact the OP says that it turned over but would not start. There is no mention of the oil light coming on before the engine stopped running. So why assume a seized engine?

The story needs more detail.