Engine Damaged by Dealership

I have a 2018 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5 which I purchased in 2020, certified used. I took it to the dealership for an oil change and tire rotation. One week later my car had no oil, the engine was knocking hard and the gauges went off. My son in law looked under the car and found that the drain plug (not oil cap) was off, not broken off, just off. The dealership fixed the car and told me they test drove it. Took it back the next morning because I heard a soft whistle when I accelerated and decelerated. I had a feeling it was the engine. I made sure the rep heard the noise when I dropped it off. Turns out I needed a new engine. The manager said it was the engine block and valves that is being replaced. My car is ready for pick up. I am concerned that the replacement will affect the other original parts. I will request that everything done be in writing and certifiable and I also want a warranty. Is there anything else I should ask? Do you think my car will be okay or should I pursue a replacement? Thank you so much.

New motor. You should be good.
Engine knocking? Oil light?
My dealer did same thing. No oil cap when I got home.

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You should be fine with the repairs . But now you need to check oil level once a week before starting the car. Look at the drive for oil when you back out of parking space. Pay attention to your warning lights on the dash . If you are not familiar with the dash your manual will have a picture showing just what and where they are.

Just in case you misunderstood . the oil fill cap is on top of the engine and underneath is a drain plug .


thank you. Have you had any issues with your car since. And I understand people make mistakes.

Oh, oops it was the drain plug not the cap. wrong term lol. But I understand the warning lights on my car.

When you pick up your car w/replacement engine, make sure the check engine light (on dashboard) turns on with the key in “on”, but the engine not yet started. Then make sure it turns off immediately after starting the engine. If one or both don’t happen, insist that be corrected before taking your car from the dealership.

Why? Replacing an engine involves the drivetrain computer and its wiring. The computer and its software must be compatible with the engine and transmission configuration. If all that doesn’t match correctly, then the first symptom will usually show up in the check engine light experiment above. There could still be remaining problems with the computer config. If so those will usually show up in a few days or a few weeks via the check engine light.

If there are check engine light problems, that’s not the end of the world btw. Don’t panic. They can usually be resolved w/a little shop tinkering. Just make sure the dealership is who is responsible to resolve them, not you.

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Wow. Mistakes happen, people are human. I get it. But I don’t see how the technician didn’t notice all the oil on the shop floor? I guess if your in a hurry and trying to do things as fast as possible, which they are, it’s possible. But still, kind of wild.

The main question might be whether this replacement engine is actually new or if it is a used one. Used does not mean new. It only means new to the vehicle it is installed in.

Other than the engine itself, I would hope they would replace the front pump (converter) seal on the transmission. The last thing one wants is to have the existing seal leak transmission fluid immediately or a few months/year later. That would mean the transmission has to come out to replace that seal and they might then argue that leaking seal is not their fault…
Any engine or transmission out operation I’ve ever done means a new pump seal is a given. No labor charge; just the cost of the seal only. It’s cheap insurance…

The drain plug is threaded in by hand, then tightened with a wrench. If the worker is interrupted by a service writer with a stupid question, the drain plug may not get tightened.

Thanks for your feedback. My car is a push to start. I will pay extra attention regarding the check engine light.

Thanks for the feedback. I will be sure to ask about the front pump converter seal on the transmission.

You have a 2018. Now you will have a new motor. That will increase the value of your car. It’s a good thing. No oil means shortblock can be damaged. And cams in heads. So, you better have gotten a long block. Or basically all new motor. Your paperwork will detail parts. Keep the paperwork.

Legally, you are entitled to be made whole after their negligence caused your loss.

It was a used engine so repairing the used engine or replacing it with a different, but relatively equal, used engine is all you can expect based on the legal aspect. Taken on the words above, if the repair entails a new block and valves, and the engine is returned to service, then that is satisfactory resolution to the issue. They should warrant their work for some period of time to ensure there is no defect in materials or workmanship in the repair. This is fairly standard practice but I would ask (and get documented) what they are providing if it’s not clearly spelled out in the paperwork.

If the repair entails a new short or long block, then you are in a better position than prior to the incident that damaged your used engine and should be thankful they went beyond their legal obligations.

That is not a forgivable mistake. If you think it is, the only car you ever work on should be your own.

How long does it take for motor r&r?

Do you really think the technician would install the wrong engine?

That’s a great question. Hard to say what sort mistake a tech might make. You mentioned a very serious mistake above that could be made by something as commonplace as a service writer interrupting a tech’s work to ask a question. My comment however wasn’t so much that the tech might install the wrong engine, but they might not install the correct computer or computer software that’s compatible with the engine. Or might not connect up the wiring to the computer correctly.