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National tire chain overfilled oil by 4.5 qts. Need opinions

This is a 99 Olds 88 with a V6 3800 series II in it.

Backstory: I’m a female that majored in automotive about ten years ago, I went for my own knowledge because I was appalled that I paid $500 to watch a man swap a water pump in 15 minutes. That being said, if I choose to take my car to a shop (rarely) I often end up irate because they tell me things that are so ridiculous, i feel insulted. For example: recently a mechanic tried to tell me “the ignition coils exploded, and a pin shot out of them and impaled the PCM! Shot right through it!” I also have red hair and a short temper, but that’s a story for a different day.

This time I sent my boyfriend to get tires about 4 weeks ago. He thought he was doing me a favor getting the oil changed. I didn’t know the oil was changed until two days ago. Usually I do it, and maintain it so I didn’t think to check it when it randomly started running like crap. Keep in mind it’s Ohio. It’s cold wet and gross outside 90% of the time and I don’t have a garage or anything, so I typically take care of everything in November, so I can make it to February and avoid the -30 temps.

The car started fighting me on acceleration first, and running slightly rough as if maybe it had a misfire. I checked for spark on the entire ignition system, compression, fuel pressure, scanned for codes. Got a generic misfire. I was going nuts. In hindsight, I don’t know how or why during all of this, I didn’t check the oil simply because I was already standing there.

It is running much worse now, hestitating, skipping, and idling like hell, as if it wants to stall. The worst part is trying to accelerate. At first, if I lightly and gradually pushed the gas it would go, but if you pushed it too quickly, it wouldn’t. So there was a good chance of being t-boned making a left hand turn.
THankfully this is not the primary vehicle. It hasn’t been driven that much, the Lincoln my boyfriend typically drives, is the one with the “exploded coils,” i made them give it back. The insurance would only pay to tow to the closest shop which was a stealership, who wanted $3,000 for a PCM, coils & spark plugs. I got the parts for $350, pcm is pre programmed, I’ll have to program the keys but that’s not too bad. Sorry, got sidetracked.
The Olds is being driven more because the Lincoln is gone. This car is imaculant. It’s like my toy car, I grew up driving a 95 regal with a 3800 in it. I learned how to work on cars with it. I had to say goodbye when all the electrical dry rotted, but it had a good life and lived to 273,000 miles never once leaving me stranded. So this Oldsmobile is my baby.
I don’t like people touching it. Hence why I didn’t know about the oil change.
The company that did it is going to lie their asses off.
The oil is NOT frothy. Not watery, or milky, burnt smelling, or any other abnormality. It’s just dirty. Way too dirty for being 4 weeks old which is why I’m thinking they forgot to drain it, or maybe someone thought someone else drained it and refilled it. That would explain why it has exactly double the oil. According to the dip stick it has 9 quarts of oil in it with a capacity of 4.5 for an oil change.

I know that in this situation they would deny it regardless. It snowed today so I’m taking it to the closest place nearby to change the oil again. Luckily I know the owner of that shop. Being a woman I think they’re going to give me an even harder time.

That being said, if and when my engine takes a crap 2 months from now, I need a way to prove this somehow. The place I’m going today, knows the situation so they know to document it well, but I have no issue taking the tire place to court if need be.
Those engines have a sensitive intake gasket as it is.
That’s probably one of the easier to change but that’s besides the point. I know that mistakes happen, but this is a pretty damn big one, and that company can def afford to pay for an engine if need be. I have the paperwork to prove I’m educated in the automotive field and would never ever overfill it on my own.

That was way too much side commentary to read the whole thing. What I got from it is that a tire place changed the oil, but actually neglected to drain the old oil first and overfilled it by a lot and now the engine runs poorly.

Has the tire place admitted to it? If you can get them to admit to it, preferably in writing, your case will be easier to prove.

Your second option is to have the mechanic you’re about to take it to document that in his opinion he believes the previous oil change was performed improperly and that the old oil was never drained, leading to an extreme overfill which can cause damages as follows (and he should list everything that can go wrong with the engine at this point in his opinion).

You can combine that document with the receipt for the oil change from the tire shop to make a chain of evidence that the tire shop screwed up.

Personally in this process I would avoid mentioning things like “I majored in automotive.” First, I don’t even know what that means - “Automotive” was not a major offered at my university. And second, it’s irrelevant. You did not perform the work on the car, and you do not want to give the tire shop an opening to claim that if you’re really as knowledgeable about “automotive” as you claim you should have mitigated the damages by recognizing the problem right away. And since you negligently failed to follow up on the cause of the problem the results, which could have been mitigated if you had, are now not entirely the mechanic’s fault.

Note that I am not arguing that this is the case - simply pointing out that the shop may well attempt that argument if you continue to tell everyone how much you know about car work.


With your extensive automotive knowledge why are you paying someone 500 bucks to change a water pump that can be done in 15 minutes…

So are you saying that you’re going to continue driving the car with double the amount of oil in it?

“According to the dipstick…”.
Maybe the only real way of knowing how much oil is in it would be to drain and measure.

For what it’s worth, I’ve seen a lot of overfilled engines and have yet to see an engine destroyed by this. The worst I’ve seen was one that hydrolocked, However, once the cylinders were cleared and some oil drained it was fine.

A suggestion to the OP. If you normally change the oil/filter in the car, is your filter still on it if they did not drain the oil? There’s a low chance that they used the same brand of filter, but if your filter is still on the engine, take a picture and use that as part of your evidence.
Good luck!


Before you try to drive it another inch, check your transmission fluid level.

Occasionally someone with limited knowledge will drain a tranny, add another 4 quarts to the engine, and everything gets destroyed. Beadbusters (kids at tire chain stores) do not always have the knowledge to do the tasks they’re assigned by their (often unknowledgeable) “managers”.


Why does someone who knows so much about cars need help here?

Well, we can be sure they didn’t drain the transmission. If they had, the car wouldn’t even move. The hydraulic servos that operate the clutches and bands wouldn’t operate without fluid. All gears would be like neutral. I’m amazed at how often this misperception has popped up here in the past.


There’s still fluid in the tranny after you drain it. That’s why when your fluid is contaminated you have to do a 3x3 or put it on an exchange machine.

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Yeah I would have said to check the trans fluid too. Except I don’t think this car has a trans drain plug. Need to take the pan off to drain it. Hondas though have a drain plug for both. Have to be really incompetent to mix them up but it does happen.

Take the car back right away and have them correct the oil level and put them on notice for the engine damage, if any. Once the oil level is normal, you’ll need to get a diagnosis done by a pro. Then you can put a claim in to the oil change place for any damage.

Maybe they thought it was named Olds 88 b/c it takes 8.8 quarts ? … :wink: … seriously, the first thing is to drain the oil out enough to bring it to the proper fill mark. Then just drive it normally. There’s a good chance there’s no lasting problems.

In the meantime write a polite letter to the shop manager that did the over-fill explaining what happened, and that if a problem develops as a result of the over-fill, you expect them to make you whole. That’s about all you can do. Oh, and complain to your bf, b/c he should have definitely told you he had the oil changed. It’s your car after all.

When they are going to screw up, theres a 50/50 chance that they will not drain it and add oil, or they will drain it and not add oil. You got number 1, lucky you didn’t get number 2.

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Don’t drain it yourself, You need documentation of how much oil they drain out. Don’t let the shop drain the oil directly into their recycle barrel.

I had a similar situation with my daughters car, she got her transmission fluid changed and headed for my house, 300 miles away. She said she didn’t think she was going to make it here.

I checked he fluid and it was bright yellow, they had put manual gear oil in her automatic. A trusted shop drained the fluid into 2 jugs and gave a letter attesting to what they found. I told her to give Jiffy Lube one jug and tell them the other one was for her lawyer if things didn’t go well.

They tried two more fluid changes but in the end they had to replaced the transmission.

Have the oil changed and forget about it. Consider the cost of an oil change compared to the cost of small claims court fees.

I suspect they put in 5 quarts instead of 4.5, this is not unusual. This will show well over the full line but be aware the dipstick only shows the top 1 to 1 1/2 quarts in the engine, it doesn’t reach the bottom of the oil pan. It may appear that there is twice the normal amount of oil in the engine but there probably isn’t.

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There’s no way you can tell by the level on the dipstick how far over full the oil is. It’s not a linear progression. You’re going to have to have the drained out oil measured to find out just how much came out.

I can tell you that if the car was filled to twice the capacity you would have known right away and not a month later. What you’re describing is a typical misfire and I would finish diagnosing that before blaming it on the oil level. Do the testing you need to do on the misfiring cylinder(s) to determine the cause of the misfire.