Mechanic “forgot” to empty old oil and added full Amt of new on top

I’m going out of town this week so I stopped by a quick service location for an oil change instead of going to the dealership. This is my first oil change since I got my vehicle. I got the oil change on Monday, and now today (Wednesday) my car was shaking in park. I thought that was a weird coincidence after just getting my oil changed. I checked the dip stick and my oil was grossly overfilled. I went back to the location and explained the situation. After looking, the asst manager explained that the old oil was never drained, and that new oil was put in. So I drove 59 miles with double the amount of oil. Some new, some old. They emptied it, refilled it and assured me that since it was only driven for 2 days that no permanent damage would be done in that time. And offered me a free oil change. WHAT!?! He said that he could not give me a refund without manager approval and that a manager should be calling tomorrow. Help! Any experience with such an oversight!?

No, you don’t want a refund or a free oil change. You want this documented in writing so when you have some engine issues, they can pay up the bill. Is the car driving fine?
Others will chime in, but maybe they have to pay for the dealer to do a spark plug inspection along with other stuff to make sure no damage done.
Most of us here, will tell you to steer away from quick lube places. If you are under warranty, then change the oil at the dealership. After that, find a good shop.
I DIY all the stuff, but keep the receipts and understand the dealer would deny warranty if I screw up.


Better than no oil. Back in college my to be wife did that to her 61 Plymouth that her dad got her to use. He said to make sure to keep the oil filled, which she did. Up to the top. Smoked like crazy on the 90 mile trip home where the excess oil was drained out. No harm no foul, for that one at least.


This is the kind of thing that happens when you go to quickie lube joints. Many of us here would not let them wash our windows let alone change the oil… and your experience is why.

Agree with @galant… get this screwup in writing so that IF there is any long term damage, the quickie lube shop can be sued to pay for the repairs. And you will have to sue them. Throw that free oil change coupon in the trash and never go back.


… coupled with a LOT of similar reports over the years in this forum.
As one of our now-departed members, Joseph Meehan, used to say…
Never go to a quick-lube place. Not even for directions!


You should have written ‘“Mechanic” forgot’ instead. Friends don’t let friends use Kwik-E Lube

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Haha believe me I have definitely learned my lesson!

Remove filter. Forget to drain oil? Hmm, I’m changed filter, what else am I supposed to do under the car?

You are very lucky the engine did not hydrolock. That means oil is forced into the combustion chambers and since that liquid cannot be compressed it will bring the engine to a sudden stop. In most cases no damage is done but it is possibly for connecting rods to get bent.

As mentioned, better too much than none at all with the latter being the more common error.


Thanks everyone
I have in writing what happened. I actually didn’t even have to ask-It was typed in the comment section of the receipt I was given yesterday. I got a refund for the oil change, threw away the free card I was given, and I’m taking it to a dealership before I leave town tomorrow just to double check before driving hundreds of miles!
And I will never make that mistake ever again!


20 years ago a Dodge/Mitsubishi coupe came in with a complaint of lack of power. I road tested the car, performed like it was pulling a heavy trailer.

Since this car was in earlier in the day for an oil change the first thing I checked was the oil level, 4 inches over filled. I drained and filled the engine oil and road tested, performance normal.

There was no law suit, the lube techs were not fired and business resumed as normal at the dealership.

Quick lube shops collectively perform thousands of oil changes each day, once a month someone comes to Car Talk with a quick lube complaint, seems the odds of experiencing a problem is very low.

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A mistake happened, for an oil change place be it a quickie lube or indie shop mistakes do happen. Sorry you were in the small percentage that it happened to. I hope there is no issue with your engine.

We have a lot of wisdom to offer here at CarTalk, aren’t we?

“never go to quick-E-lube, friends don’t let friends do that”

“every used Subaru is a ticking bomb, buy anything but…”

“reliability has nothing to do with a name-plate, just have your used car purchase inspected and you gonna be fine”

I agree with Nevada on this. Considering the relative inexperience of younger lube techs and the vast number of oil changes they perform each year while under pressure their mistake percentage has to be very low.

There’s only 2 fast lubes in my area. Both have been around about 30 years or so and I’ve only heard one complaint about one of them. Even that complaint was debatable.

If a fast lube is botching jobs 2 or 3 times a week then yes there’s a huge problem with that facility.

It should be routine to check the oil level after changing oil, so there were TWO mistakes made. Not only was the crankcase overfilled, but the level wasn’t checked. I could forgive one mistake, but TWO is an indication of carelessness.

It seems to me a well run shop that has very young mechanics where this might be their first job would have a foreman that checks their work before releasing the cars. The JL I used to use did just that. That formula might be why the owner had three or four shops in the area.

I do not know that as a standard. We had oil changes done at the dealer every 5k miles. At 16k I decided to check the oil. The dipstick would not pull out. Took it in and it ended up the dipstick had rusted to the tube, no charge of course. Oil level was fine, but leads me to believe they do not check oil level via dipstick after a change. They removed the tube, greased and cleaned and said it was probably due to condensation from short trips. Still working good.

One could run a fast lube with the most competent, well experienced mechanics on Earth and odds are something is going to go wrong at some point if the pace is fast enough and/or there are too many distractions while the job is being performed.

Imagine if an Airbus captain with 25,000 flight hours was being interrupted on the flight deck every few minutes while on a Transatlantic flight. The odds of going swimming go way, way up and more than one plane has gone down due to distractions.

On the way back from Florida once I sat next to a pilot dead-heading. When we landed I asked him who did it, the computer or the pilot and he said both. The pilot may bet distracted but the computer compensates so you stay dry-most of the time.

The concern is, ironically, oil starvation. Overfilling the crankcase causes the piston motion to whip the oil into a froth, which can’t be pumped. Maybe you’re fine with using it a short time, but the long term concern is wear associated with loss of lubrication (bearings, even piston rings/bore).