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Mechanic Seized Engine - Says it's not his fault - 99 Blazer

Hey Folks - I convinced my mom to go to my mechanic that I had good experiances with, however once they got her car in - they called to report more work needed than originally requested. My mom told him she couldnt afford it and to just do the work requested. They said not to worry they would work out a payment plan - they already had it taken apart and wanted to do the work while everything was accessible. However from our review it seems as if they droped the intake and the coolant went into the oil, and instead of changing the oil - they left it in and gave the car back to my mom to drive home. Just short of 100 miles the engine began to knock. The truck was running fine when she took it in. It needed an alignment, brakes, a tune up, and to check a small trans leak.

~ The day it was dropped back off to the shop we checked the oil and it was jet black and gritty. What are her options? the shop isd refusing responsibility - they are telling her if she buys a new engine that they will install it for free, but they wont pay for the engine. They also charged her more labor on her brakes then is allowed by Michigan, and an unlicensed kid (office guys son) bled her break lines and the brakes were not working properly the night she drove it home. Should we try to go to his insurance company? should we consult an attorney? what are our options? PLEASE HELP ME

Questions, and I am sure more will come:

  1. Exactly what work was done, as indicated on the invoice?
  2. What is oil change history of this vehicle? Jet black and gritty could mean the issue of engine seizure has been a long time coming, and it took just 100 more miles to seize.

For these items, if you choose to get an engine replacement, then warranty should cover:

  1. Brakes were not working properly the night she drove it home. Warranty fixes. Mom should have returned the car and not driven 100 more miles with known brake issues.
  2. They also charged her more labor on her brakes then is allowed by Michigan – discuss with shop owner even if you aren’t going to repair the car.

I think we all need a lot more information before concluding the shop was at fault with the engine seizure.

I can’t make heads or tails out of what you’re saying.

The car went in for brakes, alignment, a transmission leak, and “tune up.” (The term tune up means nothing, so you have to specify what was done). But then some other mysterious work got done while it was there? What exactly was the “more work”? And how does that relate to coolant in the oil? Are you saying that they replaced the intake manifold gasket - maybe? If it needed replacing then there was likely already coolant in the oil.

If you did end up with a substantial amount of coolant in the oil then the oil wouldn’t be black and gritty - it would be milky - something like a chocolate milk shake.

Does mom ever check her oil? How old was the oil that was in there? It sounds, not like you had to convince your mom to go to your mechanic, but more like you had to convince her to take the car to a mechanic. If mom has not kept up with maintenance/repairs on her car I don’t think you blame it on the first shop that tries to do something with it.

Anyway - you need to fill in an awful lot of blanks before anyone will be able to try to help you out.

On the invoice they showed Breakes (pads & rotors) twice, an oil change, and upper intake work
She had just recently had an oil change and everything was fine - it didnt need an oil change, and the evidence we saw after the engine died was that the oil was thick, black & gritty.

Total miles on vehicle? Miles since last oil change? Amount of oil in crankcase when you checked it?

Total Miles are about 125K - Oil was changed not even 1,000 miles before we took it to these guys. I dont know about the crank case but when we pulled the dip stick what came out was sludgy and gritty

The post is a little unclear.

What additional work did the shop want to do?

What did the shop actually do? What did the tuneup consist of? What was the condition of the oil before it went into the shop? Was there any coolant in the oil?

Blazers are known for intake manifold gasket leaks. My 2000 Blazer’s was replaced at 45k in Feb 2004. The only symptom was a slow drop in coolant level, ~1 pint in the month before the leak was discovered. If coolant leaks into the oil it will displace the oil from the crankshaft bearings leading to engine failure. If the Blazer was losing coolant for any length of time before it went into the shop, the engine may have been already damaged goods.

Was this repair the additional work the mechanic wanted to do? Did the shop offer to change the oil? Was the offer refused?

Ed B.

I have replied to some of the same questions you have asked up above. They told her it was leaking but no one before them ever mentioned anything but a small trans leak

An emotional plea for support can only get you sympathy. Coolant mixed with oil quickly blends into a frothy milkshake appearance as already stated. The original post indicated that they failed to change the oil but the subsequent post indicates that the oil was changed even though doing so was not necessary. If the truck is at home and was driven there after returning to the shop the engine is not seized. A great deal of information is needed to give meaningful opinions. It would seem advisable to get the truck to another shop and contact a lawyer and your own insurance company.

Myself and several other regulars here have little patience with incompetent and/or crooked shops but we like to be well informed before stepping in too deeply.

Do I have it correct here,the engine runs, no mechanical noises, the issue is that the oil looks blacker than someone thinks it should? We are already talking about attorneys,and insurance companies,was there a dog involved in some way.

OK I see in the title,Mechanic siezed engine,did not really get my attention.OH,a bit of a knock, I guess I got lost in the clutter.It does make me wonder, is this thing knocking or is it siezed?

I am often lost in the convolutions of threads like this one. Even a well thought out and unemotional post can get quite difficult at times but when the poster is too personally involved while not being well versed in gear head language it’s a real struggle for me. Just an offhand guess, condensation from the leaking intake could be accumulating in the dipstick tube and it would be pasty and somewhat gritty. But if faced with a seeping intake gasket the shop would have been doing the owner a favor to insist that the repair was made while hoping they were not too late. And then if they found out they were too late they look like idiots or crooks. But then we’ll never know for sure.

You need to contact a lawyer. Then an expert needs to inspect the motor and all the other pertinent “evidence” to determine if you have a case against the garage.

If this was a new and expensive car a lawyer would be more interested. The age and miles on the Blazer will limit the amount of damages since the value of the vehicle is low.

If the brakes were not working correctly the night she picked it up then why did she continue to motor on for another 100 miles before the engine knock developed?

Based on the complaint of black gritty oil it sounds to me like the engine was sludged up due to irregular oil changes and was on borrowed time. The time ended a 100 miles later and the shop may be the beneficiary of the blame based on their being the last ones to touch it.

If the engine oil is full of coolant then that could very well contribute to this problem but the black and gritty oil points to a sludged and potentially damaged engine anyway. The point could be made is that if the oil really was changed a 1000 miles earlier then it should not be black and gritty already unless there’s a pre-existing problem.

At this point I wouldn’t want to say one way or the other whose at fault.

Without telling you yadayadayada bad maintenance no information, let me approach this as someone who knows nothing about cars and ask you these questions:

a. “they called to report more work needed than originally requested”

What did they say was needed?

b. “they already had it taken apart”

What did they already have taken apart?

c. What is the Michigan limit on money charged for brake work?

I googled the “Michigan limit on money charged for brake work” several different ways and came up empty,could the OP please explain this law?

Thanks All - I dont have the “gear head” language down and didnt put enough pertinent info in my initial post for any of you to follow me. Thanks Anyway, I’ll just be getting another mechanic to look at it and tell us why it failed. Then consulting an attorney.