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Had Oil Change Done...Oil Filter Came Loose...What Shall I Do?

Hello! I would greatly appreciate all comments. I had an oil change done to my car (Kwik Kar Lube and Tune in Pflugerville, Texas), two weeks after, as I was driving back home, I smelled something funny coming out of the engine so I quickly pulled over. I opened the hood and smoke was coming out of the engine. I checked around and noticed that the oil filter was missing. I asked three people two be witnesses. The following day I went over to the oil shop and told them what had happened and they proceeded by telling me that they were going to put oil on the car…I told them that it didn’t make any sense, because the damage was already done to the engine, but they told me that that was the way they had to do it, so I said it was okay. Two days later they told me that they were going to deny my claim because I had driven the car for more than 700 miles and when the guy went out to my house he did not see any oil leaks. Bottom line, is that I did not Loosen that Oil Filter and they just want to clean their hands and not take responsibility. I have already filled suit in the small claims court and waiting to hear back from them…My question to all of you…How shall I best prepare? I am not asking for a new car, but I do want a 150,000 mile engine.

You might tell us the year, make, model mileage of the car, and why you ignored the red oil pressure light.

If the problem was discovered quickly enough, no damage would have been done to the engine. You did not mention if there is any apparent engine damage…

Did the oil light come on? Did you hear any knocking noises? Does the engine run quietly now?

Curiously missing from your post is any description of anything that would indicate that the engine is damaged. If you pulled over immediately, before the engine light came on, and the engine never made any unusual noises and runs fine now, the you may not have any damage at all. If that’s true than they owe you a new oil change and a good engine compartment steam cleaning.

Unfortunately it’s impossible to determine if the engine’s life has been shortened and if so how much. The court may give you some compensation based on whatever laws exist in your state to require competant workmanship, however unless you can prove damages you may get nothing.

By the way, on what grounds is your small claims court case based? How much compensation are you asking, and for what?

Its a 1993 Nissan Maxima…I never did see the oil light go off. And I have not attempted to turn on the car. I am sure that the guy who went and looked at the car did already because he put oil and the filter.

I did not see the oil light go on. I have not driven the car. I have the receipt and they have a 3,000 mile guarantee on all their services. I think the bottom line is that they did not tighten the oil filter properly and it came loose. Anytime there is no oil on your engine there will be damage. I can easily get a mechanic to do a compression test and other tests, but like I said, no oil on any car is detrimental to the engine. I am asking for $3,000.00

I would suggest first trying to discover if there has been any engine damage, and second, you may need to see an attorney.

Well you can collect for your damages. How do you show your damages is the question. If you stopped the engine when the oil light went “on”, probably no engine damage. Just because it lost oil though doesn’t mean there was damage. They should clean the mess up though. Why do people keep going to these places?


I agree that they probably did not tighten the filter properly and it came loose. The problem is that if the engine is shut down immediately a sudden oil leakage does not necessarily mean engine damage. No oil light or knocking means that the level in the pan may not have dropped below the oil pickup tube before the engine was shut down and the lubrication system may not have lost pressure. If that’s the case, there was no damage.

If there was damage, a compression check won’t show it. It would be to the main bearing/crank surfaces, as that’s where a loss of pressure hurts first. That could only be determined by and engine teardown…or by the engine making a knocking sound when you start it again. Damage not serious enough to create a bearing knock would really only be reduced bearing life, and that requires a teardown to determine.

Again, you may get some money due to the expectation of competant workmanship, but unless you have bearing knock I think you’re out of luck. Until you drive the vehicle again you have no real case.

I sympathize with you and think you should get some compensation whether you have damage or not, but I don’t know that the court will agree.

  • mountainbike

These quick lube places are sure quick - but awful risky. I am not sure what your argument is. Did you sustain damage or not? How do you know? How long did you drive after the low oil pressure light came on? Does your low oil pressure light function? You had best get your act together before you go before a small claims judge. If it is confusing to him or if you do not have answers to basic questions you will lose. Also, you say you want a “150,000 mile engine.” What does that mean?

Consider the idea that they could have put on the wrong filter as well. That could cause it to hold on for a while and then come off. One thing bothers me about this story. If the filter is completely missing, I would think you would lose enough oil while it was loose, yet still attached, to cause the oil pressure light to come on. A small gap would have you hosing the pavement. Does your oil pressure light work?

I’m sorry folks, this whole post smells bogus. I have never heard of an oil filter coming off all at once. As soon as one starts to leak, all system pressure is lost so the oil light would come on immediately, even if the oil had not gone below the pickup. I’m flagging this one as inappropriate.

My question to all of you…How shall I best prepare? I am not asking for a new car, but I do want a 150,000 mile engine

You’ve got two problems that I can see immediately. 1) You have to prove and quantify the damage. Good luck there. 2) Do you really believe you will be better off with an unknown, used engine with 150,000 miles on it? It could be worse off than the one you have. Maybe the owner ran it without oil too.

Well, Keith, now you have. Several years ago, my son’s then girl friend called him, to tell him her oil light was on. He drove across town, and investigated. The filter was lying there, I forget where, not that that is important. He screwed it back on and added oil. She started home, and within half a block that filter popped off again.

Yes, it was the correct call-out, I forget the exact name, one of those from Wal-mart, tough-guard I think.

He went and got another filter, and put it on, and it never came off again. he tried to get her to send it to the company, but she never did. There was no damage to the motor as far as driving it many more months could show.

it was a 90’s Camry.

It could come off under several scenarios.
One would be that the driver ignored the oil light and continued on. Nothing new there; it happens all the time.
Two could be that the Kwik Lube used an inferior, non-branded filter with lousy cut threads or the wrong filter that just did not fit right on the threads. A few weeks of oil applying pressure and away she goes when the threads finally give up.

There is one easy way to tell if you’re getting an inferior or bootleg oil filter and the same goes for fuel/air filters. Most of the bootleg ones will be on the shelves there and will be in plain unmarked boxes, usually white, yellow, etc. Most of the filters themselves will also be unmarked.
The fact they can buy these filters from an importer on the cheap, real dirt cheap, is the reason why they use them. Much more of a markup than a name branded filter.

OP, you can expect some footdragging and stonewalling from the KL. That’s entirely normal.
For the inconvenience, I would certainly not settle for a 150k miles motor. It may be as bad as the one you have.
You might consider paying an attorney 50-75 bucks or whatever to send them a letter and ask for a response. That could prod them into movement if they see that legal proceedings could occur.

OK, on the part of the oil filter popping off, I’ll stand corrected on that part. As soon as the filter came off, the oil pressure light should have come on, regardless of the oil level in the pan.

If the OP stopped within a few seconds of the filter coming off, then the engine was not damaged. The oil change place seems to have done the right thing so far, as long as they put on a new filter. If the OP wants the oil change place to offer him a 150k mile limited warrantee on the engine, that would sound reasonable, depending on the vehicle. You would not expect them to be responsible for a burned valve or any other non oil related failure, and maybe not even for an oil related failure if the OP doesn’t maintain regular oil changes.

I think if I were running the oil change place, I would offer him the limited warrantee as long as he kept bring the car in to me for its regular scheduled oil changes, and maybe throw in a free one to boot. What are the odds in this case to ever have to pay out (as long as the OP is telling everything and the oil light didn’t come on) and I’d have at least one regular customer.

BTW, I did see an oil filter pop off once, but it wasn’t due to the threads, the seam around the bottom of the filter, where the can meets the base, failed. The base of the filter was still attached. This was on a racing engine with a high volume oil pump and the guy used a regular street filter. He ran out of the oil filters he needed and made a stop at Walmart on the way to the track. I don’t blame the filter manufacturer for this, it wasn’t built for this application.

I had a similar situation when a large chain discount store based in Arkansas changed my oil and put the wrong size oil filter in the car. It rode with no problem for about a month, then the filter fell off because it did not fit properly, and I was completely unaware until the motor began to knock loudly. My motor was ruined. The store had to buy a motor for my car because I had kept the receipt and scoured the roadside until I found the filter that fell off. The filter size was noted on the receipt, and did not match the required filter size in the manual. Because I had kept the paperwork, I was able to recoup the towing charges, the motor, and the labor to install it.

Difficult to understand what If the filter was lose, you should have experience some noise such as oil being sprayed, engine knock, etc.

I had the misfortuine of not tightening an oil filter once, actually the gasket from the old filter remained on the block. After starting the engine to back the car out of the garage I got the noise, engine knock,oil all over the garage floor etc.

It’s hard to believe that you drove around with a filter coming loose.


It’s interesting reading all the replys people have given. Sometimes strange things happen and no matter how much we think we know, there will always be something that will come up,that we have not experienced ourselves. The question was, “What should he do to get the help he needs?”

If that happened to me, and I was getting a run-around with the dealer, and I had witnesses, I’d ask the witnesses write a statement of what they know. Then I’d make a copy of these statements and include them with a letter to the State Attorney Generals Office. That office has a division that handles problems consumers have with companies.

Good Luck with your problem. Just don’t roll-over and play dead. Don’t accept less than what you had, but at the same time, don’t ask for something better that what you had either.

Time Bandit,
So…did you have any engine problems? How long did your engine run before you realized the oil filter problem?