No oil after oil change

Took my Toyota Camry in for an oil change and other minor work, but wasn’t charged for an oil change, so made another appointment for next week for that. However, when I started the car, the temperature spiked, then went to normal. I drove it all day. When I got home, I checked the oil and found that there was none in the reservoir! The filter was new, so it looks like they drained the old oil, put in a new filter, but then forgot to put oil in. What damage to the engine should I look for? How long into the future might this affect the engine? What should I ask of the garage?

We had a post before on how far you could drive without oil, and the answers were “not very far”. My father-in-law had this happen to his Buick V8 and the car went all of 7 miles before the engine seized up.

I suspect the oil change place put in some oil, maybe a quart or two, and then the guy’s girlfriend called him on his cellphone and he forgot to add the rest. Your engine has likely sustained damage; how much is hard to tell. If your dipstick shows no oil, there could still be about 1-2 quarts in the sump.

You have to confront the garage owner and explain what happened (assuming no oil leaked out). They should redo the job, check out the car for unusualk noises such as loud brearing or knocking connecting rods, let you drive some miles, and if the engine acts abnormally, overheats or uses oil, get should you a new, or at least rebuilt engine. Most garage work has a 30-90 day warrnty.

This type of thing is suitable for settlement in small claims court, should the need arise.

Garage operators carry insurance for this type of event. A few years ago an EXXON station changed my oil and did not screw the filter on tight enough, causing an underhood fire and loss of all oil, except for 1 quart. I immediately stopped the car when the smoke came out from under the hood, called a service station and had the car towed in. Luckily no damage was done, and the EXXON station paid for the new oil change and towing, as well as steamcleaning the engine.

In summary you have to be very firm with the garage, and don’t just accept a new oil change. Keep all your receipts and if they refuse to take responsibility, tell them you will settle this in small claims court, where you will surely win.

If you drove around all day with zero oil pressure, your engine has been trashed. The shop owes you a new one or, if it is an old car with lots of miles, a used one in good condition.

Did you see a red warning light for low oil pressure? If not, I suspect they put in some oil, but not as much as is required. A couple of quarts in the bottom of the oil pan would not show on the dip stick, but would be enough for the oil pump to lubricate the engine. It may only need an additional few quarts to top if off.

I suggest you contact the shop and explain what you have found. They should offer to send out someone with a few quarts of oil or tow the car back to the shop. They should also install a pressure gauge to measure oil pressure directly. If it is lower than it should be, the engine has been damaged and they are obliged to make good on it.

How does the garage know you are not trying to pull something on them.
Driving all day with no oil is not possible.

What quick change chain did this?

How far is all day. It sounds like you already drive it further than you should have been able to without oil. You noted that the temperature spiked, but you said nothing about any warning about low or no oil pressure. That does not sound like it was empty, more like Doc suggested, maybe just low enough that it did not register on the dip stick. If you did not get a low oil or low oil pressure light, then I doubt if any damage was done, but I would not drive the car unit after I had this worked out.

I would contact whoever changed it and an independent mechanic. I would want the independent mechanic to check it out.

With quick change places appointments are not required,the OP said he made a appointment,maybe we are not dealing with a quick change.
Most quick change places have procedures that double check oil level,oil light is out,no leaks,drain plug tight.
Even the quickie lubes will catch on to risk management stratagies.

Did the red oil light illuminate on the dash? If not then you likely did not encounter any significant damage if any to your motor. The level was probably just low not empty.

With most cars, if the oil in the pan is 2 quarts low, it will not show on the dipstick. It is impossible to drive all day with NO oil in the pan. The engine would seize quickly. I would take it back, bitch them out, get the oil topped off, and maybe some money back. If the oil light (red on the dash) never came on, I doubt any damage was done.