Oil Change and possible damage to engine - Your input is appreciated

Yesterday I took my 2006 Toyota Corolla for an oil change at this small shop. As I drove away I heard a different slight sound coming from the engine, but I thought it could not be possible, since I had just left the mechanic and I had no previous issues with my car.
I stopped at a store for about 15 minutes, then I drove a couple more miles when, suddenly, all of the engine lights turned on, the car felt weak and died. I checked the oil and it was totally dry, not even a drop to wet the napkin I used.
I called the mechanic, he came over and added oil and an oil filter. He claimed that the filter burst, is that even possible? Since I hear a strange sound the moment I left his shop, I tend to believe that he failed to put it in. What do you think?
The main problem now is that my car engine is making this kind of click clack sound. I called the owner of the shop, who is the brother of the mechanic that worked on my car and I told him that I am taking my car to be diagnosed at Toyota today.
If there is damage to the engine, which it sounds like, how can I get these guys to pay for it?
Is it safe to drive my car like this?
I am very dismayed at the whole situation and really stressed. I need this car to last me another good 5 to 6 years. I am the original owner.
Any guidance is certainly appreciated on how to handle this case and the possible mechanical issues at hand now and down the road.

Thank you all!

It sounds like they didn’t add oil. The line about the filter bursting…It’s extremely rare…and good filter manufacturers will cover anyt engine damage if that happens.

The mechanic better have held onto that filter (if it actually did burst). They should be responsible for any and all damage done to your engine. If the filter did burst.,…then they can fight it out with the filter manufacturer.

You need to contact a lawyer…sooner then later.

Yes, this is the beginning of a nightmare and I cannot wait to end it. Thank you MikeInNH for taking the time to respond. Have a great day! I’ll keep you posted so we can an learn something from this issue.

Agreed with MikeinNH.

Your engine is damaged goods and should not even be started at this point. As to the burst filter claim I suspect that may be a tale designed to deflect blame. Insist that allegedly burst filter be put into a plastic bag and placed into your possession right now.

Even if a filter did burst (extremely unlikely and I’ve never seen or heard of one in my mechanic career…) they’re responsible for any damages.

If what you say is correct…why is it that you didn’t notice the oil light? If you have an oil pressure gauge then it would have been at (zero) 0.

This is why I do a visual double check before leaving the lot whenever someone else works on my car.

I just checked Google Maps and I drove a total of 3.5 miles before the car broke down - All the lights from the panel went on and it just died shortly after. I wonder if the mechanic did not put any oil in the car, since I was at the shop for at least 15 minutes after they supposedly changed the oil/filter and no one notice any oil leakage I would imagine it should be noticeable it they had indeed put any oil in my car. Maybe they just drained it. Does anyone know if a car can run with residual oil for 3.5 miles.

Your car has some damage however how much is unknown. The engine dying is the key issue here. A motor without enough oil pressure does not die unless something mechanical is up.

From the time the car left the shop until the warning lights began to illuminate I must assume that there was adequate oil pressure and therefore enough oil to fill the filter and cover the pickup tube. Was there a trail of oil behind the car the last few yards before it stalled?

Oil filters do occasionally burst but more often than that the old filter’s gasket gets stuck to the block and the new filter installed over it and soon after the engine starts the old gasket blows out and the oil gets dumped quickly.

Rod Knox, yes there were 3 spots of about 6 inches each, approximately 50 inches apart (to my best recollection, since I did not focus on that) right in the area where I pulled off the road (fortunately was enough when I felt the engine get so weak, all of a sudden). The mechanic came to the scene and got under the car and just screwed in a white oil filter, and added, I believe, 3 quarts jugs (3 of them). He had to send his friend back in his car to pick up one more quart because the oil he had brought with him was not enough.

Ask to SEE the burst filter…You paid for it, it is your property…If they can not produce one, file a damage claim…Your “OIL” light should have been on from the very beginning if there was no oil or filter installed…

Several comments point out a very important fact, let me repeat it. There was oil in the car when you left the shop or the lights would have come on immediately. Rod Knox’s theory is probably what happened. Second possibility is this burst filter.

In any case the shop is responsible. You may need a new engine, or major repairs to the one you have.

And yes, contact a lawyer, document everything.

good luck. Remember shops have insurance to cover this kind of event (we hope).


In that case the mechanic should have noticed if the light was on. After he allegedly changed the oil/filter, he gave my keys back and told me that the engine light was on and that I told me that he would check it when I came for the next appointment (to work on the front breaks). I asked him to please check it right then because I would have the possible issue resolved on my next appointment. He said that he connected the car to the computer and that he had found a lose hose near the air filter and that he had fixed that. he said that the computer diagnostics was too much air coming into the engine. Ooops, maybe here is the answer - too much air - after he changed the oil/replaced the filter??? Maybe that’s it. Could it be that he never placed the filter and that is what the computer detected right after. uhm

I’ve seen one busted oil filter in my life, and it was on a 2006 F150 with a 5.4 V8. The serpentine belt came apart and started to shred, and the oil filter happened to be in the line of fire. The belt whipped the filter until it burst, and the belt commenced to sling oil all over the engine.

No major damage was done. New belt, new filter, new oil… about 5 cans of engine degreaser, and he was back on the road.

The guy told me that he smelled burned oil for the next 6 months.

I am not in the auto biz, but I suspect that the shop, like most businesses, has a liability insurance policy of some kind that would cover their mistakes. I’m sure they wouldn’t want to use it, but in that case, they should pay out of pocket. It’s either that they can tack on court cost and attorney fees as well… their choice.

Also, I’d have Toyota do ALL my work from here on out, including the repair.

From the time the car left the shop until the warning lights began to illuminate I must assume that there was adequate oil pressure and therefore enough oil to fill the filter and cover the pickup tube.

I think you assume too much for a typical motorist. They “should” examine all qauges while driving; they typically don’t. Just because OP failed to mention an oil light being on–is not sufficient proof that it was out.

There’s a difference between the Check Engine Light and the too low/zero oil pressure light with the latter being red.

The latter can illuminate while all others are off. It’s also quite common for someone to just flat overlook that red oil pressure light or a rising temperature gauge. A driver should be alert for those kind of things at all times but it doesn’t always happen.
How many complaints on this board about a ruined engine due to no oil or overheating and it was claimed that the oil pressure light never came on or the temp gauge was fine…a lot.

If oil was not added I agree with your point that the mechanic should have noticed. By the same token so should you. Please don’t get upset with me but a car owner has at least a molecule of responsibility for understanding what a red oil pressure lamp and a rising temp gauge is all about and then doing the right thing; which is stopping immediately.

That being said, if the shop forgot to add the oil, double gasketed the oil filter, left a drain plug loose, or even if the 1 in a million chance the filter failed was true the shop is still on the hook for an engine.

I’ll assume that you have more interesting things to do than take an on line correspondence course in automobile engines @AthenaFL, but with such a costly predicament facing you investigating the causes is worthwhile and hopefully some of the greasy fingers that post here can reduce your angst while protecting your vast fortunes. Soooooo.

As mentioned, if there were no warning lights when the car left the shop(there is an OIL light, I’m sure) then there was a filter and adequate oil in the engine when it pulled away. But then at the moment that the engine was shut off due to the warning lights and power loss(which was likely caused by the hydraulic lifters failing to fully open the valves), there was virtually no oil in the engine since 4 quarts were needed. When you add to that situation the trail of oil patches behind the car it is somewhat certain that something ‘burst’ to leak the oil and it was almost certainly the oil filter, but was it a faulty filter or faulty installation of the filter? That is the question.

If all is precisely as stated here with no “Oh yeah, by the way” addendums it would be the shop’s responsibility to make you ‘whole’ again and it would be their responsibility to deal with the filter manufacturer if that is necessary. And if the engine is pecking/clicking/knocking mysteriously subsequent to this occurence it is somewhat certain that there is internal damage to the engine. And the damage is beyond nickel and dime patches in my greasy fingered opinion.

Good luck.

You do not need to get the burst filter, you do not need it. Your claim is against the shop. The shop needs this “burst filter” so they can submit a claim against the filter manufacturer. Personally, I think they more likely left the old gasket in place or they simply didn’t finish the job, but if the engine had no oil in it, the oil light should have come on immediately.

Give the shop a chance to fix the situation, such as overhauling your engine, replacing it with a certified used engine of lesser miles or a reman. If they don’t agree, then you need to get a lawyer and go after them.

The OP said noise from the beginning so it could be assumed that oil was not put into the engine or there was a filter issue. I’d be inclined to think that any filter issue was more than likely due to a double gasket problem with the old seal remaining in place and someone just did not catch it rather than a filter splitting open.
The burst filter diagnosis sounds more like a CYA story; it’s the filter, not us.

As Caddyman said, they need to produce this burst filter. If the filter has now disappeared never to be seen again then the burst filter is a flat out lie in my opinion.
If a burst filter was really the cause of the problem the shop would need that not only as proof to you but also as some kind of evidence to use when dealing with the filter manufacturer; a separate battle altogether.

If the filter had burst, you would have oil all over the bottom of your engine and really, saturating the bottom of your car. (depending on where the filter is located) To dump 4 or 5 quarts of oil in as little as 3.5 miles would make an enormous mess. You would also have smelled oil burning, I think, and probably there would have been some smoke as oil contacted the hot exhaust system components. Also, you should be able to see a stream of oil starting in the repair shop’s lot and ending with a puddle at your destination most likely. If none of these is true, I would expect the shop is lying and they forgot to put in fresh oil.

If you need to gather evidence, perhaps taking some pictures of the filter, the area surrounding it on your car, the pavement at the shop where the car was parked, etc. would help.