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How much damage did they cause my engine?

So I bought my car new in August of 2018. I leased it and planned to purchase after so I haven’t been cautious of the mileage. It has 24k miles on it and I’m 1.5 years into my lease.

I took the car into the dealer for routine maintenance 2.5 weeks ago. Oil change, lube, filters , etc. Yeaterday I went to take my daughter to my moms and we noticed it smelt like gasoline or fumes very strongly in the garage. I left and drove the 8 minutes (5miles) to my mother’s house. Parked in her driveway for 15 min and then left to run an errand.

I noticed the car made some weird sounds and didn’t feel like it was driving right. I looked down and saw the oil light was on. I pulled over and turned it off, hoping that it would clear it and maybe it was just being weird. I turned it back on, drove it about 500 feet and stopped because it wasn’t accelerating and it was making noise. I turned it off, checked the oil and it was bone dry. Not even a drop of oil in the car.

I called the dealer and the towed it back and gave me a loaner. They said that the “oil drain plug washer was allowing the oil leak”. They said they will double check it tomorrow morning and then pay to have my driveway and garage cleaned and will get my car to me.

My issue is, what long term damage did my engine suffer because they messed up the oil change? I’m sure it significantly cut down on my engines lifespan because it ran for that long without proper oil levels in it. Sure it may be fine now, but what happens if my bearings break 3 years down the line when they should have lasted much longer?

Now the car I planned to buy, I don’t really want to because they messed up. Do I have a leg to stand on with what they did to demand that they swap out my vehicle or let me swap into a new lease without penalty?

I actually really like the loaner they gave me and would love them to swap me into that one. It is a model up and a 2020. Think they may go for something like that if I threaten them? Thanks in advance everyone. I know that was long so I appreciate that you got to the very end!

Threaten them and you will get zero cooperation from the dealer . The repair is on record so future problems will be covered . Just drive it until the lease is over ( a really lousy way for an individual to have a vehicle ) and turn it back in .

After you get it back you can ask the general manager what they can do to put you in a different vehicle but the cost might not be worth it.


You’ll probably have to threaten them with legal action to get them to swap the loaner for the damaged car. Since the car is leased, I doubt you’d be thrilled with the results of such legal action anyway. You had no equity in the car, your argument that you planned to buy it at lease end and that you are now deprived of that opportunity would likely not entitle you to any relief outside of the lease simply being cancelled. Btw, it’s not a case of “is there any damage”. An engine that seized due to lack of oil pressure is toast. You only had a few seconds to shut it after the oil pressure light come on.

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From what you write, it isn’t clear that you will ever get the original Tucson back, and that would be a good thing. If they do return it to you with the original engine, do not buy it. If they return it with a new engine, you should consider buying it. If they return it with a used engine, even rebuilt, don’t buy it.

If they try to return it to you during the remaining few months of the lease, don’t accept it without a 15 to 30 minute test drive in town and on the highway. The longer the test drive, the better. If you don’t accept it, you probably can continue driving the replacement until the lease is over. If that works out, see what offer they give you to buy the replacement Tucson.

Actually, if the engine runs dry of oil, it happened on a lease. It doesn’t get any better than that. Lease over in six months, problem gone.


Your dipstick was dry but that does not mean the engine was completely empty of oil. You were probably down two quarts that had seeped out over two weeks. You did the right thing and had it towed when the engine went into safe mode.
I am sure they will let you upgrade your lease to a newer and nicer one if you are willing to spend more. I don’t think you have much basis to threaten them. Seems to me they acknowledged the mistake, did the fix, gave you a nice loaner, and cleaned your driveway

You can get the upgrade, but you can do that at any time with or without the dealer messing up the oil change. It just takes money.

As for the damage, it depends on how long the oil light was on. No matter how low the oil level got, as long as the oil light was not on, you had oil pressure. If the oil light had come on just before you noticed it, then I would doubt that much if any damage was done.

The fact that it wouldn’t accelerate and making noises causes me some concern. Was it not accelerating because of increased drag or was their a protection circuit kicking in to get you to stop driving. If the latter, OK, but I would make the dealer show me in manufacturer provided documentation that this circuit does in fact exist. It might be in the owners manual but if not, then it should be in the factory service manual which the dealers service department should have.

If he can’t provide that information, then he should remove the oil pan and all the main bearing and rod bearing caps and look for damage. If no apparent damage, then at least 10% of then should be plasti-gauged to insure that the bearing clearances are still close to new tolerances and not just below the wear limits. If they check out, then accept the car back. If not, they could replace the bearings and rings and the engine would be returned to the condition it was in just before this incident.

It sounds to me like this engine will never run properly again, and since this was a lease, it ceases to be your problem once the lease is up. One of four things is going to happen: the dealer is going to install a new or remanufactured engine, the dealer is going to install a used engine from a junkyard, the dealer is going to pull your engine and have it rebuilt with new bearings, etc. Or, they may just clean out any metal shavings from the oil pan, put oil in it, and it might just run well enough to claim that it will be fine, though we all know that’s a lie.

As long as a factory new, or remanufactured engine is installed, the car will likely run fine for the rest of its expected life. If the existing engine is correctly rebuilt by a professional machine shop, it might run fine for many years. If they claim no damage was done and not to worry, I’d turn this car in at the end of the lease and find something else to buy/lease.

Considering the age and mileage of this engine, a simple glaze break honing along with new rings and bearings would restore this engine to the condition it was in before the incident, maybe slightly better. It would last just as long or longer s9slightly longer) as if the incident never happened. Any further machining would actually be counter-productive.

I can’t imagine any new car dealer is going to go that route for a car that’s being leased

Me neither and I would not accept that either.

Thanks all. I ended up getting them to give me a deal on a new SEL and they are cleaning the oil up. Thanks for your help!!

That’s great t news. The dealer worked with you to find a satisfactory solution for both parties, and you should remember that when you look for your next car. We learn more about each other when we have to solve problems than when everything is OK.

A few things you might want to add to your list of preventive items.

  1. Check your oil level before leaving the oil change facility 2. Look at your garage floor while backing out each time 3. Pick a day to check oil level before starting vehicle 4. If weekly is more then you want then at least use the 1st and 15th of each month and check tire pressure also