Missing oil cap advice

I took my '07 Tacoma w/ 45k miles in for an oil change today and received a call from the shop stating the oil cap was missing and half the oil was gone. The last time the hood was up was at the previous oil chage from another shop about 3 months ago. The shop today found the cap under the hood and stated the shape of the fill tube helped retain some of the oil. What should I be concerned about? Is there any long-term damage? Do I have any recourse against the previous shop(Sears)?

Thanks for your help,


I’d Be Concerned That The Present Owner Of The Vehicle Hadn’t Checked Under The Hood For 3 Months. Most Owner’s Manuals Recommend Checks At Each Fuel-Up. How About Your’s ?

Other than that, I’d say it’s probably too late to be concerned about anything. If you’re lucky, no damage has been done.

Recourse ? If I worked at Sears and you showed up 3 months later complaining about a missing oil cap, I’d think you were a nut job.


No matter how new your vehicle is you should check under the hood occassionally. You are lucky that no damage was done and that half of the oil was still there. Mistakes happen and I always check under the hood after an oil change, even if it was done at the dealership, They will think you are nuts if you try coming back now because it is your responsibility to check under your hood occassionally.

I have made this same bonehead move. My first beater car I changed the oil on and about a week later I noticed a little bit of smoke coming from wheel well. I figured a caliper had seized as the smoke was real light. I got out and noticed oil on the bumper, I freaked out and popped the hood, I blew three and a half quarts out of the top of the crankcase in a week. I was lucky and the fill cap got stuck in the radiator fins. I did fry the alternator from all the oil but it was a good lesson learned. Everyone makes mistakes

There might be some long term consequences, but I assume the engine is not now burning a lot of oil or making a knocking noise when you run the engine. If the engine is running fine, you got lucky.
A little advice. Whenever you have any work done by anyone, look the car over and make sure that the parts you paid to have replaced were in fact replaced. Also just look it over to make sure everything looks normal under the hood, and check for leaks of any sort.
I doubt you have any recourse against Sears because a) right now, there is no harm, b)for all anyone knows, you left the cap off yourself while topping off the oil sometime in the past 3 months, and c)if anything goes wrong with the car from here on out it is up to you to prove that the Sears caused the problem.
Finally, most quicky oil change outfits get you to sign as you pay for your service a contract that limits any civil claims of damage to arbitration. Probably Sears does this as well, but check your paperwork. That might actually work to your advantage, since the arbitrator can include in any decision whatever evidence he or she likes.

Hopefully their estimate of the amount of oil remaining was a pessimistic one and there was more than half.
Could there be damage? Hard to say at this point.

Keep in mind that if you’re not raising the hood on a regular basis to check the oil and other fluids there’s going to be a point at which you’re going to lose an engine or transmission no matter if the oil cap is present or not.

If I hadn’t bothered to lift my hood and do some fluid checks in 3 months, I think that I would keep my mouth shut, rather than make it obvious that I had no real concern for the mechanical well-being of my vehicle.

Anyway–as was already stated–how would the OP go about proving that Sears was guilty of not replacing the oil filler cap? Legal recourse in this case requires having proof of negligence on the part of Sears, and the OP’s own lack of initiative has resulted in a total lack of proof.

Live and learn, Eric. Live and learn.

First I would avoid Sears for service. They are not any better today than when my father-in-law walked off the job when they were expecting him to sell un-needed products and services and when they wanted him to do work he was not qualified for.

Sears is not known for their quality service.

Having said that, I think you have missed serious damage this time.

 [b] The last time the hood was up was at the previous oil chage from another shop about 3 months ago. [/b] 

 That is way too long.  Even if you only drive it once a week to the grocery half a mile away, I would suggest checking under the hood more often would be prudent. Every time you buy fuel, you should be checking the oil level.  It only takes a second or two and you can wait until you get home if you like.  But do it.  

 It would pay you to open the owner's manual and take a look at the prescribed service schedule.  Make sure you follow it.   I would (assuming an automatic transmission) that you change  or have changed, the transmission fluid and clean the filter no less than every 30,000 miles.  That is change not flush!

Once again I am reminded that my checking under the hood when I pick up my car from servicing is a good idea. I usually check oil level and for missing caps and underneath for dripping oil, etc. I have my rims numbered so I can check to see if tires have been rotated properly. my motto: Trust but verify!

No matter how new your vehicle is you should check under the hood occassionally.

This happened last week while visiting relatives in NY…Friend of my wifes sister was visiting and she had a 2007 (she bought new in 2007) Camry. There was a puddle of fluid under her car and my brother-in-law wanted to check it out for her. He asked her to pop the hood…she didn’t know how…She’s owned the vehicle for 4+ years and she’s NEVER opened the hood before…it turned out to be nothing…it was actually coolant from my nephews friend who was visiting earlier…

Yep, I do the same thing. Whenever I pick up a just-serviced RV, I always find something they missed. 90% of the time, it is something they charged for but didn’t do.

Eric, I don’t wish to beat a dead horse, but you really should get in the habit of reading your owner’s manual and checking under the hood. You should also check your tire pressure at least once a month.

We should realize we are not going to change the viewpoint held by many that if they pay for a service that it should be done right, even if it will be them that suffers the consequences.