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No oil after oil change

Got my oil changed on my 2009 Honda Odyssey at one of those cheap places. They also changed the air filter. Four miles later my engine seized up and the car stopped dead. I called them and they came right out. My mistake, I did not watch them check the oil. They claimed it was full of oil and tried to start the poor thing about 20 more times–each time with my engine jumping and sounding terrible. I had it towed to their shop where they told me this morning that the van is running fine and “there must have been an air pocket in the throttle body”. Is this BS? What do I do now? I have two kids and I can’t afford to have another roadside drama. Is the engine going to blow up on me in a month? I have not yet picked up the van from the shop.

“there must have been an air pocket in the throttle body”.

Holy cow. Can you ask them to put that in writing? That is a complete doozy. Yes, it is B.S.

So the fact is that you don’t actually know for sure whether there was any oil in the engine or not, right? You said you didn’t watch them check and they said it was full? What makes you say that the engine “seized up?” If it truly had seized up then it probably wouldn’t have been cranking over when they came for it. But that is fuzzy too. So be more descriptive - about sounds and what things felt like.

My guess is that they did mess something up badly - perhaps a failure to add oil. I would have it taken to a Honda dealership where a real mechanic has to check the engine for damage. If it turns out the engine has been destroyed then that shop should be on the hook for a new Honda replacement. They would deserve it after the air in the throttle body thing.

You might end up needing a lawyer.

Yikes, thanks for that advice. I say “seized up” because it felt like something had grabbed hold of the front of my van all of a sudden, and it stopped moving. I could not even get it completely off the road. When they tried to start it it briefly turned over and then the engine would jump a lot and then shudder and die.

Perhaps the air cleaner hose was loose and became disconnected. This would allow air to bypass the mass air flow sensor and the engine would stall.

Did you check the oil level while you were waiting for assistance on the side of the road?

I think Cig “nailed it”.

Then when you had it towed back to their shop, they checked the oil and said “oh ****”, hoping that by adding the correct amount of oil and lying they could cover up their mistake.

Follow Cig’s advice regarding getting the engine checked out. And even of they can’t find anything wrong, know that you’ve very probably sustained internal damage that will cause premature engine problems.

Document everything. And if the dealer cannot verify damage, go after the quickie lube for a free extended warranty as an absolute minimum. As Cig said, you may end up needing a lawyer.

I’m sincerely sorry to hear your story. Sincere best.

Nevada_545’s guess is not out of the question - and would be a really nice way for the story to end in that it would go down as a mostly harmless mistake.

I once left my brake booster line disconnected just by oversight. That’s a pretty big air leak and the engine wouldn’t run. The main air intake coming off wouldn’t create a vacuum leak - but as noted it would make a complete mess of the air flow readings and the computer wouldn’t know which end is up.

I’m sorry but you should just be going to a dealer on an 09 if you don’t really understand vehicles. At this point, pick the car up and take it to the dealer to be checked out for damage. Is it still under warranty? If it runs OK, may have to do an oil analysis for damage or have the oil pan pulled to inspect the bearings. For a a dealer oil change for $25 with a coupon its just not worth it to let a moron work on a fairly new car.

Did you notice the oil light on, on your dash?? Did you hear anything out of the ordinary when you were driving (a motor with no oil should make alot of clicking, tapping, and banging sounds)… The Air pocket theory is compleate and utter BS…

The van drove completely normal until it seized up and stopped. There were no lights on the dash–I checked, because there is an orange wrench that lights up when an oil change is necessary. That was out and they had reset my “oil life” to 100%. The dealer is 45 miles away in Washington, D.C traffic and I have two young children–I’m not about to make that a routine trip. I’m tempted to pick it up from the Mr. Tire and take it right over to the Toyota dealership down the road and try to trade it…but I’ve been advised they can get you for doing that, and it’s not the right thing to do, anyway. Thanks for the sympathy, though, the same mountainbike.

For the record, I sincerely hope Nevada is right. That whole “air pocket in the throttle body” fable immediately pegged my “coverup meter”. If a simple hose had gotten knocvked off I’d expect them to admit it.

Then take it to a good independent mechanic. Those cheapie shops hire kids who may or may not know anything about cars. They aren’t real mechanics (hence the “air pocket in the throttle body” crap - when kids in no-skill jobs don’t know the answer, they make crap up in the hopes that the customer will go away) and they’re not getting paid very much so they don’t particularly give a crap about whether or not they do the job well. They’re more interested in convincing you that your air filter is magnetized and so you need a new one for $100.

If there had been an oil level problem it should have lit up the red oil light on the dash. So I’m now more inclined to believe it was a harmless mistake.

When you go to pick up the van, please ask them to show you exactly what the problem was - hood open, names of parts, stuff like that. Then with more clarity you can post that.

But better safe than sorry. I’d still have it checked out. Given that the dealership is a hassle for you, you could ask around among people you know for a trustworthy, independent local mechanic to have a look. They can do pretty much anything a dealer can do.

Pardon my ignorance. I just talked to an independent mechanic and he said that I would not have been able to drive even 1 mile without oil, and likely that was not the problem. What do you think? He said the engine would have been knocking and the oil light would have come on long before 4 miles passed.

He’s approximately correct. Its been looking less and less like an oil issue. Ask them to show you exactly what it was.

Just talked to another mechanic–this one recommended by many of my husband’s coworkers–who said that if I used synthetic oil–which I did–that would help the engine last longer without oil. He also said what Nevada 545 said about a hose getting knocked loose. But he cautioned me that even diagnostic testing won’t tell true damage to the engine; the only way to know for sure is to take it apart.

WagonLover,…After it “Seized Up” by the side of the road, did YOU check the oil level yourself by checking the dip stick??? If not, WHY not???

If it was lack of oil that seized the engine, then in a week or two, it will start making a LOT of noise and that will be that…

I didn’t check the oil because I was heading back home to get my kids from the babysitter and I was focused on them. It’s a woman thing: now you know why we are so “stupid”–we’ve simply got more important things to think about than cars, even when the car is our lifeline and not working properly. I sincerely regret my egregious oversight.

I don’t mean to be rude; I’m mad at myself for not checking as well.

Just chalk it up to a life lesson: You can’t get to the kids if your car isn’t running. Might as well take the 30 seconds to check the oil before you pull away from the shop.

On the few occasions where I’ve had no choice but to use a Jiffy Lube-type place, I’ve stood over them and watched the whole time. They didn’t like it, but I didn’t much care. :wink:

Don’t sweat it. These kinds of things are upsetting - even when you don’t have the truly important other things to worry about. And if you don’t spend a lot of time worried about cars, it all tends to become one big blur of confusion.