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Differential fluid drained by accident

Oh they make some coin for sure… There are profits hiding everywhere… the best one… and most maddening for ME is when they upsell the customer. Most typically go for the upsell to better grade oil and filter…on the way to the best Synthetics… They buy everything in bulk so they save there no problem.

Makes me shake my head because the SAME customer who asked me for my oil change price and looked at me from the side of their face when I told them the amount basically caves in to the Quikie lube place in an instant and winds up paying more than I quoted them.

Somehow the public at large firmly believes an oil change with filter is under 20 bucks… I see it all the time. Again the reason I dont do half the oil changes I could possibly do…I would be drowning in oil if I did every one or even every other vehicle I see. But I give them a more than fair price on name brand supplies…and BUNKO… Many times I say “I dont really get into oil services”…when they ask…and especially when I can tell that they are the ones who believe oil changes are like 12 dollars…Just to avoid that mad dog stare i get.

The Struggle is REAL people


“It’s all caused by sheer carelessness and not thinking.”

I agree, but I think that it is important to add two additional factors in a situation like this–
Lack of actual automotive expertise
Lack of familiarity with Subarus.

While–in theory–this mistake could happen at any service facility, it is much more likely to take place at a facility where automotive expertise is not required in order to be hired, and then the training is extremely brief, and is lacking in a lot of important technical details.

@HopsiceRN didn’t said an “auto shop” changed the oil. We don’t know any more than that.

@HopsiceRN, do you have the receipts for your oil changes? I suspect those are the only receipts that you have for a one year old car. If you haven’t already, confront the oil change auto shop with the dealer prognosis. Tell them that they are the only shop that touched the car, and you want their insurance to cover the repair. You should take a friend or two as witnesses. If this doesn’t get them to repair the car, you probably need a lawyer. No reasonable person would expect you to have done work on the car yourself if you don’t normally do it.

I am surprised you guys lost focus on the original issue and started a rant about quick oil change shops. @HopsiceRN needs help with a seriously expensive problem, and we are not homed in on it. How can we help the OP get the transmission fixed at as little expense to her as possible?

Like I said before, on my Acura, the trans drain plug is a square hole that fits a ratchet (either 1/2 or 3/8th can’t remember). The oil drain plug is a regular mm hex bolt with the words “engine oil” in raised letters. You would have to be a complete idiot to mix it up. I would have thought everyone would do a similar thing as a preventative measure? No? Of course on the Pontiac there is no way to drain the trans without pulling the pan.

@jtsanders What, us lose focus on the original question?!? If you take out the rants on the quickie lube places, I think there are some very good suggestions. 1. Analyze the oil removed from the differential 2.Get estimates for the repairs 3. Get a lawyer 4. File a claim with the shop that changed the oil 5. Gather your oil change receipts 6. Confront the oil change shop

Would auto insurance cover this? I know it’s not the classical scenario I think of for car insurance, but the impact is the same - expensive repairs, significant loss of use of the car. If it would, then the insurance company would do much of the legal leg work to recover the funds. It might worth at least a phone call to the insurance agent.

I’m not sure what your legal remedies are OP, or even for sure who’s to blame. But one bit of advice frequently posted here going forward, it’s always a good idea for the owner to check the engine oil level on the dipstick before starting and driving away from the shop, anytime any work is done, and especially after an oil change is done. Doing that can determine if the oil level is low, for example the oil drain plug wasn’t installed, or that the oil level is high, for example, instead of draining the engine oil, the fluid was drained out of the transmission.

I have 3 nurses in my family, wife and both of my daughters. It takes a strong and caring person to be a nurse. March in there and tell them that they are the only ones who changed your fluids, so they are responsible. Tell them that the dealer confirmed their mistake damaged your vehicle. You know they have insurance to cover their negligence and you want your car repaired by the dealer. Give them a copy of the repair estimate. If they balk, tell them you want to speak to the owner, NOW. If that does not work tell them that they will see you in small claims court and will be paying for your rental too.

I agree with Knfenimore… Get LOUD… Its not as if you did this to yourself…they laid hands on your car…its pretty clear cut. The problem with court is all the proof BS… How do you actually Prove they did the damage…its certainly logical that they did…but proof…


There is no auto insurance that is going to cover a mechanical failure unless it is the result of a collision, fire, or vandalism. It is not the purpose of car insurance to protect against drive train problems regardless of the cost. Of course a warranty or extended warranty policy would except that there are exceptions for when the damage is caused by neglect or abuse (willful or not). A quick read of the policy will explain what is covered. Now the liability insurance of the quick lube place is what will cover this. Sorry, no banana but nice try.

I’m surprised nobody’s suggested it yet, but I’d recommend you see an attorney. There’s a lot of money at stake, you will need to use a civil action, and you want to be sure you do this all correctly.

Sincere best.

I suggested a lawyer about 6 hours before you did’ @“the same mountainbike”. No big deal, just pointing it out. BTW, I like the way you think on this issue!

The one unknown part of this to me is the bit about the fluid sample. Most of the time what happens during a botched Subaru oil change is that the final drive in the transaxle is drained and never refilled. This leads to an overfilled engine as the engine oil was never drained.

It would be odd for someone to botch this and add ATF to the final drive as that dipstick is down low, out of sight, and generally out of mind. The more obvious ATF stick is noticeable and has nothing to do with the final drive.

An empty final drive will not last very long; especially at highway speeds.
A final drive full of ATF will last longer but will eventually give up.

I’m curious about where this sample was taken; from the final drive or the auto transmission?
Of course, if the transaxle is wiped out bad enough the ATF can migrate into the final drive AFTER the destruction of the pinion shaft, etc. The final drive could have been empty until ATF came flooding into the final drive after the pinion shaft destructed. This should lead to a low ATF level on the auto trans stick.
There are some unknowns here so I’m just pointing that out.