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New versus used engine to replace 2008 Camry engine

I have to get a replacement engine for my 2008 Toyota Camry with 78k on it because the person who changed the oil left the cap off, resulting on me running on no oil. Dealer has said it would be 4,700, within 1 year warranty (including service) to replace with a used engine with 73k on it from junkyard/ salvage yard and 6,100 to get a new engine. He also claims they don’t have rebuilt /remanufactured engines. Is this true? Does anyone have any suggestions if better go with with a used engine or new engine? I would like the reliability of a new engine, but don’t necessarily want to have to pay one.

I checked. There are numerous rebuilt Camry engines available over the internet. Try a quick Google. I strongly recommend avoiding the Ebay links.

Since you said “person who changed the oil” and not “mechanic” or “shop”, I’m assuming that holding that “person” responsible for the cost is not realistic?

Well, it was a shop who that did the oil so I am actually considering legal action.

Since a used engine with 73K miles has an unknown history - a new engine is a better option for the long term. But is it worth $1,400 more is the question? A motor with 73K could be just fine, if the previous owner changed the oil regularly. And a 73K motor could be close to junk if it was neglected by the previous owner.

There are quality rebuilt motors, Jasper is one company that does quality rebuilds. Check with some independent garages and price the rebuilt option. I think you could get a Jasper or equivalent rebuild motor for close to the dealer’s quote for a used motor. That could give you a cost savings and you get a motor that should hold up as well as the new one from the dealer.

Be sure you collect evidence and document the mistake by the shop that did the oil change service that caused this mess. Meaning the old engine should not disappear until all your legal options have been explored and the case resolved and closed.

On the surface, this shop should be responsible here, so I think we need more details. Are you saying that the shop is refusing to pay? Are they claiming it’s not their fault? Is this an independent mechanic, a chain shop, or something else? Also, how long (time and mileage) did you drive before the engine died? Was there any smoke or odor while you were driving it?

For future reference, it’s always a good idea to check your oil immediately after an oil change. Shops do make mistakes sometimes.

Did plug fall out? Or was it loose? A drip or oil or did it gush out?

The oil change place was at a BP station. I don’t know what the legal status of ownership with respect to attached shop is. I drove over to get the oil changed and within that 2 miles, the engine started making a terrible sound. (It had been about 2 months and 3k since the last change) The employee at the oil change shop immediately asked me where the last place I got the oil changed was (as if they had screwed up) and I told him it was there. He informed me then engine had no oil in it and that there was oil all over the top of the engine. I spoke to the owner who first claimed engine was “no good” and then backtracked after I told him that the shop had done my oil. When I left, he claimed engine was better and wasn’t making noise, which was clearly not case. He also claimed someone else had been under my hood (which wasn’t the case).

Got my oil changed by the bad shop (not smart) and then went to dealer who informed me that oil was all over the place and that hood insulation and seals are covered in oil and that old shop must have left oil cap off. There was an after market oil cap on at the point so I cannot conclusively determine whether the old shop had simply replaced the cap after discovering their mistake or if it had been put on by a prior shop.

At the prior change of engine oil, they messed up mileage on the sticker (although I took care of it) and failed to adjust the car so check engine light would come on with 500 miles of needing to change (although I am not sure they need to do that). The low oil light was coming on intermittently for a while, but then it would go off; it was off 99% if the time so I thought there was an issue with the indicator. I didn’t smell any burning oil or anything and didn’t hear any funny noises until literally 2 miles before I brought the car in. The light did not come on in solid consistent form until the day before I brought it in. If the oil shop indeed did screw up and left the cap off 2 months ago, is it conceivable that it would take 2 months and 3000 miles for the damage to manifest itself? Is it possible that they could have actually put the cap on, but not secured it, so it eventually just fell off?

I think it is fairly clear that the oil change was botched. One problem is not checking the oil or cap or under the hood for 3000 miles. Had you checked under the hood say once a week you would have noticed the oil and or lack of a cap. So you were to blame for some portion of it. In order to cover your claim though, you need to first provide the opportunity to BP to correct the problem (replace the engine). So you need to demand that in written form. Then after they refuse, you can go ahead and have the work done and take them to small claims court for your damages. You are not going to get everything but you might get something. Its a very important concept though to provide BP with the results of the dealership inspection and provide them the opportunity to correct the problem. In all of these disputes the person causing the problem has to first be given the opportunity to correct the problem.

Myself, I would go for a full rebuild not a short block first, and then the new engine if a rebuilt was not available. I wouldn’t want to spend all that money putting a used engine in to find out it was abused-unless you can verify the engine history. Also, the price for swapping an engine seems very high, so you might want to talk to an independent shop to get a price on the swap.

This story is way to inconsistent. I’m not blaming you, you are repeating what you have been told. The problem I am having is that there is a baffle just under the oil cap that would prevent the total loss of oil in two miles. I have seen cars with the oil cap left off that were driven several days and while it made a big mess under the hood, the engine only lost about a fourth of a quart.

I once got a rental car, brand new car, where the servicing company left the oil cap off before delivery. I didn’t get a quarter mile down the road when the car was enveloped in smoke, I though it caught fire. again, oil all over the place under the hood, but very little oil lost and no permanent damage.

In my opinion, the oil change place did not put the oil cap on because the person who did the oil change never put any oil in it in the first place. They drained it, maybe replaced the filter (have another mechanic check to see if the filter looks like it was changed) and were going to put in the oil when they got distracted (or went to lunch) and someone closed the hood and delivered your car to you.

There would be enough residual oil if the place was in a hurry and did not allow time for all the old oil to drain or maybe they added one quart before the distraction, but they weren’t done in any case. anyway, putting the cap back on would be the last step and I don’t think they were done putting the oil in, so that is why the cap was not put back on. It didn’t just fall off because it was loose.

What is the status of the engine now? Has anyone added oil to fill it up? Does it run now with no unusual noises? If it is running now and running good, I would keep the engine in it and drive it for a while, but check the oil level at least at every fill up. It would be better to check the oil level every morning before starting the engine for a week or so in order to establish if the engine is burning oil at a high rate.

If after a week of checking the oil level and it hasn’t dropped, then check at each fill up. If you go 3000 miles without having to add oil, then negotiate with the shop for a loss of use settlement. The engine is good for now, but it will fail prematurely, you can count on that. It is a guess as to how much sooner the engine will fail now, but I’d assume 25% loss of utility for the damage so settle for at least 24% of the cost of a NEW engine.

If the oil consumption is measurable, but tolerable, (at least 1000 mile/qt) then sue for at least 50% loss. If the engine is loosing oil at significantly higher rate, less than 500 miles/qt, then 100% of a used engine or reman engine. Same if the engine is not running now.

BTW, if the Toyota dealer is getting the used engine, they can ask for the VIN number from the vehicle, or get the VIN number off the block and check to see if the doner vehicle has been maintained at a Toyota dealership. The dealers keep records for that.


I am thinking that the oil was actually lost before the final 2 miles. The oil light went solid and I went to get an oil change the next day. The next day, the engine just happened to make all sorts of noise as I drove the 2 miles to the gas station. As I drove back, it continued to make those noises. When I had it towed to the dealer the next day and the rep tested the acceleration, it was still making those noises. I think the they did put in oil in the first place because it was all over the top of the engine and.

Bing, do you mean a rebuilt engine from another source versus actually rebuilding my engine? Pardon my ignorance, but what is a short block?

OK, then the oil change place is not responsible if you drove for two miles with the oil light on. Sorry but this is on you. Now check and see if the Toyota dealer can trace the maintenance history of any used engine the propose to install. If the doner vehicle had been maintained at any Toyota dealer, then any other dealer can access the records.

Have someone show you how to check your oil level and get yourself into the habit of checking it at least once a month or every 1000 miles. It is something you can do while waiting for the gas pump to shut off.

Here is another vote for Jasper engines. I’ve used the company for decades and have never had a problem with their rebuilt engines. I would probably avoid a used engine for several factors…the biggest being the “X Factor.”

I think another factor is how many miles a year you put on the car and how long you plan to drive it. If you think you are going to go 150k miles I would buy new, if you think another 75k miles before you change cars (ie 150 k mikes on the engine) I would go used with a proper analysis of the used engine. I hope BP kicks in for help.


I have a slight problem with your story

I’m a mechanic . . . anyways, from my personal experience, leaving an oil filler cap off will cause a gigantic mess in a very short amount of time. I’m talking days, if not hours or minutes

I’m not perfect. I left the oil filler cap off of my own car once. I could smell the oil burning on the exhaust manifold within minutes of my mistake. In almost no time, there was oil everywhere in the engine bay. There was oil dripping everywhere, and there was no way that I could have missed it

IMO . . . your biggest mistake was letting that hack shop convince you that your engine was fine and that everything was quiet.

It really complicates things that the Toyota dealer also worked on your car after that hack shop buggered everything up

@db4690. Can you think of any other thing that would cause the car to be out of oil but have oil splashed all over the engine with “all hood insulation and seals are covered in oil.”?


Let me clarify . . .

I certainly believe leaving the oil filler cap off made a huge mess

I have a hard time believing it took you 2 months and 3K to notice the oil filler cap was left off

By that time, I would think you would have noticed large oil spills everywhere you parked the car

By that time, I would think you would have smelled the oil burning on the hot exhaust manifold

Did you have the employee at the oil change shop who told you the cap was missing and oil was everywhere to document that on his shop order?

Have you filed a claim with the BP?

Without documentation, and without filing a formal claim, you’re highly unlikely to see a penny. That should not stop you from trying, but in future realize the importance of documentation.

I have to admit to being a bit confused by the post(s), but I also realize that when I’m frazzled I too may not be as articulate as I usually am. I wish you the best.