Oil Pan Plug

Have I been taken? During the 50,000 mile check-up the dealer told me that the screw on the oil pan had been replaced by a plug. He (convincingly) told me that driving my car could result in engine damage should the plug fall out. $900 later I was told that the company who last changed my oil should e held liable for the cost of the repair (and pulling the entire engine in order to do so). The oil change company takes issue with the prognosis from Volvo indicating that the use of “plugs” is common and nothing to be fearful of. Who is right – and am I another in a long list of young-loking blondes who have fallen victim to a smooth-talking dealer’s mechanics?

The oil change company takes issue with the prognosis from Volvo indicating that the use of “plugs” is common and nothing to be fearful of

Then why did they hide the fact that they had to install one? Did anyone come to you and say “we buggered up the drain plug and had to install a replacement but there is no need to worry, it will work just fine and is much better than spending $900 to replace the pan”?

$900? They replaced the oil pan?

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the dealer took you for a ride. If the threads to the pan were, in fact, stripped and a plug was put in, the hole could have been tapped oversize and an oversize plug put in.

I also think that the “oil change place” probably really did strip the threads and put in a plug without telling you. We’ve had numerous posts to that effect from patrons of quicky lube places.

For the record, I don’t think being a young looking blond has anything to do with it. I guarantee the dealer would have tried the same thing with any of us. And I have to admit that dealers are far more prone to try to return the vehicle to “new” condition by replacing the entire oil pan rather than repairing it by retapping the hold like an independent shop would.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the dealer took you for a ride. If the threads to the pan were, in fact, stripped and a plug was put in, the hole could have been tapped oversize and an oversize plug put in.

I agree but that is standard practice for a dealer. They automatically think “Return to the same condition as new” While most independent mechanics think “Return to as good or better than new or maybe good enough if it saves enough money.” Neither is the right answer, but the dealer’s version is going to cost more.

I have to respectfully disagree that you were taken here. There is some missing info since the word “plug” is not defined.
If this oil change company (Jiffy Lube, et al) stripped the threads and performed a proper repair by tapping threads to an oversize and installing an oversize drain plug there is no problem with that.

The problem is if they REALLY butchered up the drain plug hole and it has to:

  1. Be drilled out too much, which leads to too much loss of the bung area.
  2. A self-tapping drain plug, which I’m not a fan of.
  3. The worst of all. Drilling it out and installing a rubber expansion plug. Since you use the word “plug” I assume this is what the oil change facility used; and it’s a strict no-no IMHO. It’s just asking for trouble and yes, they can fall out.

Nos. 1 and 3 would mean a new oil pan and No. 2 is debateable.

If this oil change facility used an expansion plug on your car then you should never set foot in that fast lube facility ever again.

I would hope that the dealer would restore it to the correct condition instead of applying some kind of hillbilly engineering. Stay away from those quick-lube places, they are very scary. An independent shop might have recommended a less expensive approach, but I would want the oil pan replaced if it was my car.


You have not been taken by the “dealer’s mechanics”; but by a “slick service writer” who makes his living (commission) selling unneeded, unnecessary repairs, and service which drive up the price of each and every visitor to the repair department.

I have to tell you (in case you haven’t gotten the message from the others); find a good local mechanic (using references from friends, relatives and co- workers.) Go to an independent mechanic, develop a relationship with them, and you will be able to trust them over the long run.

Although you go to a dealership for warranty work, once the warranty runs out, or you need NON warranty work, (since they ALWAYS cost more,) go to an independent mechanic.

Dealerships do more unneeded repairs, and generally are trying to just run up the bill making it worth their while, since you are there for a regular checkup/repair.

Just to let you know about dealerships: (like others have said) they are more expensive, and have a fix EVERYTHING, even if it is not directly related to the problem, add a few other thing in to make it more profitable, and keep the “mystique” of the dealer " service " being worth it .

An independent mechanic strives to keep you coming back based on satisfaction, and doing exactly what the car needs for repair (no more, no less) to keep you happy, and returning as a customer. (I don’t know of ANY mechanic (at least any who are still in business) who employ the ‘dealership/service writer’ technique of over charging, unnecessary repairs, and unethical recommendations for the intentional misleading of customers)

On the other hand: Quick oil change places usually have about 6 month retention of help, have a guaranteed 30 minute in/out policy (haste makes waste), and generally have no professionalism to speak of. So depending on them to “take care” of your car is hit or miss at best. Unfortunately you got the “miss” this time. As others have said, the Quicky places generally have a worse reputation than any other places.

Good luck with the “new oil pan.”

So how does anyone here know the OP did not need a new oil pan since none of us know the details behind just how bad it was butchered.

They don’t, they just assume that anyone who goes to a dealer is going to get ripped off; not a clue.

I agree with OK on this one…She may NOT have been ripped off. I’ve seen those funky rubber plugs before…and they leak and do fall out. Anyone who uses them is NOT to be trusted.

It’s a very expensive to learn. And I doubt there is anything you can do to get the $900 reimbursed. In the future…just stay away from the fast lube places…They are a complete rip-off.

Of course none of us know the condition of the oil pan, or the threads. BUT, simply taking it to a dealer for a NON warranty issue, the dealer is going to be the MOST expensive way to go. bar NONE.

I know YOU may be a top flight mechanic, and have an excellent sense of mechanical aptitude. However, the typical dealership service writer has only the dealerships hours billable and whether the mechanic has follow up jobs scheduled that particular day in mind. And this in not even taking into account the aptitude/ honesty/ and problem solving skills of the mechanic who is in turn advising the service writer.

Since the OP has NO clue about either the oil pan, plug, threads, the service writers honesty, or validity/ necessity of this repair it is disgusting when a dealership takes such advantage of customers.

I’ve been there, seen it, heard it, and KNOW it happens. SO, Yes this is an assumption (re craigs statement) but one which i have found to be proved true numerous times at several dealerships.

I’m not a huge fan of most dealer service departments (not because of the cost), I actually use an independent specialty shop that is probably more expensive than the dealership, and probably more insistent on doing things correctly. My guy would probably fire me as a client if I asked him to do something as half-ass as plugging an oil pan, regardless of it’s condition (not really, but he would call me an idiot).

If I was advising someone who didn’t know anything about cars, I would probably send them to the dealer unless I know of a specific independent shop that they could trust. The worst thing that the dealer will do is cost you a little extra money. My 75 year old mom (who drives some kind of buick and lives 2000 miles away) always goes to her dealer because she trusts them. I’m sure she has spent a few $100s (or maybe $1000s) extra over the years, big deal.

From the dealer perspective one has to look at it like this. The quick lube botched the oil pan and did not say a word to the vehicle owner.
What happens if the dealer changes the oil and this “plug”, whatever it may be, falls out 2 days later?
Whose fingerprints are on it last? The dealer.
The dealer will get the blame along with a potential lawsuit and will probably lose the lawsuit based on the fact they serviced it last and “chose to ignore a lousy plug instead of repairing it properly”.

I’ve worked for dealers and have seen them sued for far less than this; and generally they had to pay up.

Maybe Cyndi could give us more info- we’re all kind of groping in the dark. I would think that if replaceing this pan necessitates engine removal, it really would have beeen better to try some type of re-tapping w/oversized threaded plug, especially if maybe owner isn’t gonna keep car a real long time, but there’s still questions. Maybe Cyndi could call the oil change place and ask for a nice detailed

desription- were the threads on pan ruined during removal or installation of the original plug? Was the plug that oil change place ended up using a threaded metal plug or just a rubber plug that squeezes into oil pan hole? Here’s a shot in the dark- could the place that did the last oil change before the oil change place in question have maybe overtightened or crossthreaded plug/female pan threads, causing oil change place to kind of be between a rock and a hard place when they did Cyndi’s oil change?

It really doesn’t matter how, why, or when; if the oil pan was not correct it needed to be replaced. Maybe she could have had it done cheaper, but it’s too late now.

If she didn’t find the problem until some time after the quick-lube place messed it up (or some previous place messed it up), she really doesn’t have a chance of collecting for it. The real lesson is to stay away from those places.