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Engine seized after oil change

On July 24th I took my car in for an oil change at pep boys, I also got a new filter and tires rotated but my main reason was an oil change !
So about 3 days ago it started making weird click noises and sounded like it didn’t have oil … I didn’t have time to take it into pep boys until yesterday but there was no tech available so I drove to firestone when they checked my car they said I had absolutely no oil what so ever they checked for leaks and I had none ( pep boys forgot to put oil in my vechicle) … I got another oil change well after I left the clicking didn’t stop and I got stranded on the freeway

I made firestone make notes about there findings

I’ve been looking into it and if all points that my engine gave out because of pep boys failure to add oil to my car, I’m not sure on what to do

( I have little/no car knowledge )

Does it sound like pep boys is at fault here? I paid them for an oil change and didn’t get it causing my car engine to give out ?

If they did not put any oil in your vehicle you could not have driven 5 miles let alone a week. Proving Pep Boys at fault will be difficult. You should have checked the oil level the morning after an oil change at the least.


This is really a legal issue so you’ll need to file a claim against PB, put a new engine in, take it to small claims court, or whatever to try and collect. I change my own oil but on the rare occasions that the dealer does it, I always check the oil level before I leave. It protects us both. Then at least I have a baseline of whether oil was ever put in, something caused the oil loss, and when.

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No intention of sounding snarky here, but contributors to this board often point out the hazards of going to national chains instead of independent mechanics. Your experience, unfortunately, confirms their advice. The chains often hire younger people with little experience and focus on quick turnaround, which often results in more mistakes.


Beyond that reality, there is also the possibility of some… substances… being involved in that inattention. There is a Jerky Lube in my town that had to shut-down for a couple of weeks, as a result of a very observant local cop. The cop noticed headlights in back of the J-Lube long after it had closed for the night, and he found one of their “techs” and the J-Lube manager sharing a quantity of “nose candy”. I wonder how many customers of that place had problems because the “tech” was… distracted.

That is not to say that this type of thing couldn’t happen at an indy shop, but I think most indy shops with local ownership are pretty careful about protecting their investment from damage by shady employees.

I have very little knowledge on cars, so I trust people when I go and take it in… so all I’ve read and what my dad told me because he hadn’t seen the car till last night he’s like it sounds like your engine might give out 10 mins later on the freeway it gives out ( he called me while driving ) because he heard the noise as I was driving away

I called pep boys filed a complaint waiting on there DM to call me back …

You should’ve stopped immediately and checked your oil level. Did any warning light(s) come on?

So you drove the car around for three days with the engine making strange noises, and you suspected that it didn’t have any oil in it, yet you didn’t check the oil level yourself? That’s staggering.

No they didn’t. If Pep Boys had neglected to add any oil at all, you wouldn’t have made it more than mile or two before the engine expired. They may have left the oil drain plug loose, or the filter might’ve failed, but there would be evidence of oil leaking out.

More than likely the damage was done when you elected to continue one for three days after first noticing that the engine sounded like it didn’t have any oil in it. Changing the oil after the fact wasn’t going to fix anything.

As mentioned above that claim won’t stand up because had they not added oil the engine would’ve failed on the same day, probably within five minutes of you leaving Pep Boys.

Possibly, but you’d have to prove it. Based on what you said here, at least part of the blame is on you because you failed to react properly upon hearing the engine make some strange noises. It’s going to be difficult to pin anything on Pep Boys because the damage was done a week after you got the oil change.


Couple thoughts:

  1. Was your oil light on at any time?

  2. Yes, we should be checking our oil after an oil change. Those of us used to working with cars know that. People who don’t know about cars don’t.

I don’t X-ray myself after I go to the doctor to make sure he didn’t miss anything. I can see where someone who isn’t into cars would not realize that you have to assume a lot more stupidity from chain lubemonkeys than you do other professions.

So, that’s good advice for the future but I don’t see that it has any bearing on whether or not Pep Boys owes OP a new engine.

My first question, though, does - if he’s been driving around with the oil light on then it’s at least partially on him.


We have had quite a few stories like this at CarTalk. We have a sibling publication called BestRide where we post a lot of buyers guides and do focus stories on popular topics. To try to help prevent some of these sad stories from happening in the future I wrote one that encourages drivers to check their oil when the car is given back to them after an oil change. I also did math one day till I needed an Excedrin trying to figure out how much oil changes cost vehicle owners as a percentage of the overall cost to own & operate the vehicle. I hope you have a good result. This is something that can happen to any of us.

The reason I didn’t suspect the oil thing was because I got it done on the 24th it made the noise the last 2/3 days so I didn’t think it was the oil until yesterday when I went to firestone they told me … all mechanic places are closed Sunday’s here and I had absolutely no time at all I was trying to take it in yesterday and my plan was to take it in this morning

I don’t think you appreciate the gravity of the situation as it pertains to your car’s health. When your car makes a noise like your describing. You pull off the road as soon as you can. If you’re driving down the highway, and you hear something like that, you put your hazard lights on and pull over right away. It’s not a matter of it being inconvenient for you at that time. It’s not something that can be put off until the next day. Unfortunately it sounds like it’s going to be an expensive mistake.

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They did not forget to add oil. If they had you would not be able to drive it around for a week or so before problems arose. Changing the oil after the fact won’t help anything.

Unsaid is whether or not the bottom of the car is wet with oil. A leaking drain plug or oil filter is much more likely. The year and mileage is unknown but there’s always the possibility of oil loss through a sudden parts failure, etc.

You also bear some responsibility for this. You continued to drive the car even though you stated that it was making noise and "sounded like it didn’t have oil. Yet you motored on because you “didn’t have time”.

The inability to check the motor oil level has already reached epidemic proportions. I know; it would take 2 minutes to do this and I can’t be bothered.
Sorry I’m a little harsh, but some of this is on you and as I mentioned; there could even be a mechanical fault which happened after the oil change.


I have seen people try and destroy an engine in a junker by draining the oil and driving it around in a field until it blows. Take a lot,lot longer than you would think.
I had a 56 Desoto that threw a rod through the pan with the speedometer buried past the 120 mph point (yes I know they were optimistic.)
The point is however , the engine had no oil in it because the pan had a slot in it the width of the rod across the width of the pan
and i drove it from Niagara Falls to my house in Buffalo. It started and ran a week later when I was going to junk it but one of the parts I wanted to keep was the starter. I am confidant I could have made it to the junkyard.

Engines built in 56 were not built anywhere near the tolerances they are today. Todays engines would not last 5 minutes with no oil.

Don’t quick lube places dispense oil with a nozzle from a bulk source?
Maybe the “tech” mistakenly only put in a qt or so of oil, enough to last a few days.

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Yes, and it is possible for those nozzles to malfunction when they get old.
I know this from experience, because of a gross overfill of my crankcase at the dealership, many years ago.

Luckily, I discovered it before leaving their premises, and they corrected it. The service manager showed me the metering device, which was… very old… and apparently very inaccurate, and he had me go talk to the dealership’s owner in order to share my experience with him. Apparently, the service manager had been complaining to the owner about this very issue for some time, with no results. The next time that I went there for service, the service manager proudly showed me the new metering device on their bulk oil barrel.

Update : so I guess my engine is on recall, so I’m getting a new engine put in my car
I will check from now on when I get my oil changed since Idk how my car had no oil at all when I got it changed … and I’ll have my dad teach me how to change it myself eventually so things like this don’t happen

At whose expense and how did this come about ? Did you take it to a dealer ?

Some Hyundai engines have crankshaft problems, if only we knew from which decade this vehicle is from.

Here’s a news article I just found about the engine recall. Maybe things will work out OK for J.gruesome after all - and for the oil change place. Good luck.