It amazes me how a mechanic can sometimes mess up something as simple as changing oil!

About 6 months ago, I took my Nissan Versa to a local shop to get my oil changed because the nearest Nissan dealership is 63 miles away and I didn’t feel like driving all the up to Reno to get my oil changed up there so I took it to a local shop and they changed my oil, gave it a lube job, and topped off all the other fluids.

Well, the next day, I drive to the store to pick up a couple of things and when I came out of the store, I saw a huge puddle of liquid underneath my car! I knew the liquid wasn’t there when I pulled up to that parking space, so I stuck my finger in the liquid and it was OIL. So I popped the hood and pulled the dipstick out, and well…no OIL. So instead of starting my car, I called a tow truck and as my car was being pulled onto the back of the tow truck, I looked underneath my car and saw the rest of the oil draining out of it and realized, the drain plug had completely fallen off! I’ve never had that happen to me before!

So I tried calling the shop, but it was on a Saturday and it was closed so I had it towed out to my Dad’s place because he has a hydraulic Jack and he and I went down to the auto parts store, had to buy a new drain plug and oil to replace all the oil that drained out. Needless to say, I was extremely upset! And when I fixed the shop’s little mess up, I also noticed they didn’t tighten the oil filter too good either. So I waited until Monday, went down to the shop who did the oil change, spoke to the owner about what happened and showed him the pictures I took of the huge puddle of oil under my car and pics of my car being pulled onto the tow truck. I also took picture of the oil tank, missing the drain plug.

The owner was upset about it, promptly refunded my money for the oil change plus the extra money I paid for the new drain plug and the oil. The owner apparently docked the pay of the guy who did the oil change. And he was upset about it. I can understand honest mistakes happen and that’s why, despite how angry I was, I didn’t go to the shop and start screaming.

I’ve worked in the customer service industry for 9 years and have been on the receiving end of angry customer complaints. I was lucky I wasn’t driving my car when this happened. I’m just sometimes amazed when stuff like this happens! I can easily change the oil in my car myself, but I don’t like crawling around underneath cars and I don’t like tearing my hands up so I’m willing to pay someone to do it for me.

Tell me about it. Just yesterday for the 1st time after many years I used the Honda dealer to change the oil on my CRV. It was the 1st oil change, brand new car and I felt it is better to cough up the $$ for warranty purposes. Sure enough, small puddle of oil today under the car. The drain bolt and oil filter area all messy with old oil. To my surprise everything was tight, but I guess they are short on shop rags.

Next oil change would be by myself. Just have to keep the receipts.

It’s an unfortunate fact of life. People are not perfect and will make mistakes. Everyone of us who regularly contribute to this forum who have worked in the auto repair industry have done something silly, stupid, ridiculous, or otherwise something we are ashamed of while “repairing” someone’s car (often caused by some outside influence like distraction, fatigue, time constraints, etc). Just be glad you were intelligent enough to deal with this in some way other than seeing the lake of oil under your car, thinking “herp derp, better get the car to the shop”, and DRIVING it there (or driving it to the place on the side of the road where the engine locks up). It’s really a happy story, from the sound of things. Your Versa still runs and was not damaged, the guy who joined the club of mechanics who have screwed up something simple still has his job (as far as we know), and this was all handled in a sane manner (as far as we know). Things could have turned out much, much worse than they did.

I’m glad you were able to make it right. My worst experience with cars involved something similar, I got the automatic transmission fluid changed before I started on a big road trip. 4 hours into the drive, the transmission crapped out in the middle of Arkansas. I couldn’t afford a new transmission and was still dependent on my parents at the time, so my dad was out $3000 for a new transmission. For some reason he wasn’t interested in contacting the shop who changed the fluid. Who knows why. I guess it would have been hard to prove it was their fault, and not just a coincidence.

I would not say dealers are immune from mistakes like this. I have had dealers, loose my hub cap, forget to torque the wheel lugs, failure to reconnect vacuum lines ( of old) etc. My tractor dealer almost cost me a motor when I lost all the antifreeze while it was warming up and I was inside. I had them install a heater for my cab and they put the wrong size manifold in, causing it to crack and break. I have actually had fewer problems with independents.

Great you caught it though. Sounds like the shop did right by you.

Even the best of mechanics make mistakes now and then. Life being what it is, sometimes the mind may wander and this can create a problem. It could also be there was something going on that led to the creation of this problem. (Being interrupted by management to do this or that can contribute to a problem like this.)

What I have a problem with here is that the drain plug and the engine oil was long gone before you noticed it. The oil on the pavement was likely residual oil that was dripping out and that is not enough to prevent engine damage. Engine damage can occur very quickly with zero oil pressure and it would not surprise me if the engine in your Versa is going to have a short life.

The shop is not exactly being benevolent here. The fact they’re eating the cost of an oil change and docking the guy his labor on that oil change just means they’re trying to brush you out the door as quickly as possible while praying your vehicle gets by long enough to disclaim any responsibility.
Dropping a bottle of Motor Honey into your engine is also a very real possibility.

Mistakes happen.
Did the shop pay for the flat bed?

It is good to know the shop was remorseful and did not blow it off.

Unless it’s a really small shop, it’s unlikely a “mechanic” changed your oil. These duties are typically relegated to the most junior person. In the same vein as a nurse taking your BP at the Drs office…

Doesn’t excuse the mistake but makes it more believable.

“It amazes me can mess up something as simple as changing oil”.

If you watched Triedaq do jobs around the house, it wouldn’t amaze you at all. For example, he has repaired faucets that were dripping. The faucets don’t drip, but now the handles have to be turned in the opposite direction to get the water on. I hope he sees this because I have been after him for two years to make the handles turn the right way on our bathroom sink. I’m certain that if he worked on the steering in the car, you would turn the steering wheel counter-clockwise to go right and clockwise to go left.

However, we won’t discuss the roasts that I have burned in the oven.

Mrs. Triedaq

Mrs. T, you sound like a good lady, and Mr. T like a good man. Thanks for the chuckle.

Today, “Mechanics” don’t change oil or perform lube jobs…In many of these shops, if you pulled in in a mobile drug-test van and announced 'Okay everyone, line up! In five minutes the place would be empty…

“Lube Technicians” tend to be high-school drop-outs…Sorry, but that’s just the way it is…These are the reasons that DIY oil changes are still very popular…

I have roadside assistance with my insurance company so I didn’t have to pay up front for the towing of my car. That’s included in my monthly insurance bill. I was lucky that no damage was done to my engine. I’m not much of a mechanic but over the years I’ve learn quite a few things. My Dad made sure when I got my first car that I knew how to check all the fluids in it, how to change a tire, what warning lights on the dashboard indicates and so on. I’m also smart enough to figure things out. I’m not afraid to pop the hood and look around and figure out which dipstick goes to what. When I bought the Versa, first thing I did when I brought it home was pop the hood and looked around so I would know where everything is.

Again, you’re assuming the engine is not damaged and that may not be true at all. You were not aware of the drain plug missing and with no plug and no oil this means you were not aware of the red oil pressure light.

With no oil, and especially with thinner oils being used, any oil film will be wiped away in seconds. This leads to the overlay on the crankshaft bearings being scrubbed away along with possibe scoring and galding. The fact that the engine may appear to run fine now with no obvious symptoms does not mean much.

It’s no different than an automatic transmission that has been run very low or out of fluid; damage occurs in seconds. The only questions are the degree of the damage and the future.

I can only hope there’s not damage. The amount of oil underneath my car was significant and the oil was still draining out when it was put on the tow truck. When I got home I checked the driveway and there wasn’t any oil in my driveway so I doubt I lost a lot on the way to the store which was about 5 miles away. But keep in mind, this is just my personal opinion. Now that you mentioned this, how do you check if there’s been damage done? Would a mechanic have to basically take my engine apart to inspect for damage? Or is it one of those, pray for the best situations?

“In many of these shops, if you pulled in in a mobile drug-test van and announced 'Okay everyone, line up! In five minutes the place would be empty…”

I have to agree, based on a local news story from a few years ago.
It seems that one of my town’s cops was suspicious about seeing headlights in back of the local “quicky lube” after closing hours. (Yup–The most famous, most advertised chain!).

The cop pulled around to the back, just in time to see two guys in the car frantically putting some objects underneath the seats. Since that activity, coupled with the car being in an inappropriate place at an inappropriate time gave him “probable cause” to search the car, he placed the two guys in cuffs, and duly noted the white powder residue on their noses before executing a search of the vehicle.

Sure enough, he found enough cocaine to be able to charge at least one of the two guys with Possession With Intent To Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance (Cocaine), and both were found to be under the influence of cocaine.

What is the upshot of this little tale?
The two guys were the manager of the place and one of his employees!
It took a few days for the regional management to find someone else to manage the facility, and as a result, it was closed for a few days.

Chalk one up for the good guys!


No, not Pep Boys!

I am referring to a chain that only deals with fluid changes, not mechanical repairs, tires, etc.

I won’t mention the name of the chain because the last time I posted this anecdote (including the name), it was removed by the moderators. I suppose they feared libel charges, even though I related a real incident. But, of course, the moderators had no way of knowing if it was a real incident or just something concocted in order to “smear” that chain.

I guess that they were right to remove my post at that time, but I am now playing safe by not mentioning the actual name of the nationwide chain.

PepBoys mechanics are NOT very experienced mechanics. Once they get experience they move on. We have a pepboys not too far from where I live. The oldest guy there is 25-26. And he’s the ‘Master’ mechanic.

The guy who changed my oil, I didn’t slam his shop on Facebook or anything…I kept the name private and didn’t tell my friends not to go there. I live in a small town so news travels fast. Also, the owner of the shop, I see him in town all the time. He’s a nice guy and suprisingly only in his late 30’s and his shop has been in business for 14 years so when he opened his own shop, he was in his early 20’s. His shop also services the local law enforcement vehicles too. Oh yeah and the mayor of our town’s family owns a local tire shop which supplies tires for the city police vehicles and the sheriff’s department vehicles. Good Ole Boy system at its best.