Oil plug fell out; engine shot; servicer won't accept blame!



my kids vue had a female torx oil drain plug. now it has a male hex plug which i did not install. had to be last shop that did oil change. it threads in properly, no extra effort required. i reached under pan with hex torx in my hand and it would not go on? till i crawled further under vue and saw the plug was now different


Didn’t see this in other comments: consider news reporters in your area that take on ‘consumer issues’.
The dealership is not owned by GM and so GM will (and can) only apply so much pressure. The news and society can apply more.


I wish you luck as you take your place in the line of vehicle owners who run their vehicle out of oil and then ask somebody to pay a huge bill to remedy the catastrophe that resulted.

It’s your word against several words and that’s a chunk of change. Even if they feel your pain I can’t imagine there’s enough money in the petty cash jar to make you a happy customer.

People line up every day to sue corporations, doctors, butchers, candle makers, and car repair facilities. I’m pretty sure this won’t be their first rodeo. Again, good luck… stranger things have happened… However, I’d have a back-up plan in case this ends up being an expensive education in The School of Hard Knocks.

CSA :palm_tree::sunglasses::palm_tree:


I saw nothing whatsoever in the post that suggested neglect by the owner.
Exactly what did you see that did?


er… are we on the same topic? Run machine out of oil? The oilpan plug dropped out due to human error last time the car had an oil change. The topic had to do with where responsibility lay!


Apparently not. The OP maintained the vehicle well and the dealer shop left the drain plug loose. When the low pressure light illuminated, the OP immediately pulled off the road and shut the engine down.

What thread are YOU responding to?


I think op is responding to common sense answer . . . ?


You’re right.
My sincerest and humblest apologies to John24.


The OP did nothing wrong. All services were done by the same dealer although not necessariy the same guy.

The plug fell out. Someone in that dealer chain is the culprit. No matter which guy (maybe more than one) did it the dealer should still be held responsible for the negligent actions of their employee; or plural of that word.


Think about it. If you go to court and describe your experience, and the dealer tries to blame you, ask the judge when was the last time they crawled under their own car to check the oil drain plug? You pay someone to do a job you can’t do yourself, and a job you can’t see because it’s underneath a car, and when it fails they blame you? What a bunch of nonsense.

What @ok4450 said is precisely right.


Nor did I. Sorry, for my unintended implication. I’m looking at the situation front the stand-point of a business that provides service to customers. Sometimes they are blamed or accused of making mistakes that cause damage or harm to a customer or his/her property. If a business providing service went along with every customer complaint (and there are plenty of screw-ball customers out there) and took them all at their word they probably wouldn’t stay in business long.

I’m certainly not blaming the car owner and I sincerely do hope that the folks responsible own up and make the owner whole again. I can put myself in this same situation and can only begin to feel the agony of it all.

I guess it’s going to partly come down to the integrity of the servicing business. Again, good luck John!
CSA :palm_tree::sunglasses::palm_tree:


Here’s the way I see this:

There was 4 months between the time of the last service - the one being blamed for the loss of oil drain plug - and its actual loss. Connecting those 2 events is going to be difficult - keeping in mind who it is that needs to be convinced - say a jury or a judge.

While it seems reasonable that oil drain plugs don’t fall out by themselves, it not only is possible, but it could have had help from an outside source. The burden of proof lies with the vehicle owner and proving that no one did anything in 4 months - well, you can’t prove a negative…

If I were the dealership, I would argue the time element alone adds enough doubt. If I were the judge, I would agree - and at best award only 50%.


The good news is that you don’t need to prove absolutes in small claims courts. Just based on preponderance of evidence. If I show up with receipts for every oil change at business X, it stands to reason they are more than likely the only one that has touched my car’s oil drain plug. Now it fell out and destroyed the engine. Seems reasonable to me that it might take 4 months to work it’s way out if only subjected to normal operational vibrations. The OP is not a professional and relies on one to service the car. The onus IMO is on the dealership at this point. What do you have to say about why it is NOT your fault? What measures do you take to ensure oil drain plugs are not overtightened or cross threaded? Have you ever had a similar claim against your business?


That’s true and it depends on the judge, what she/he knows about cars, what kind of experience they have had with cars/car repairs, and whether or not a dealership representative shows up and how prepared they are, the believability and attitude of people involved, and how the judge is feeling that day. Anything goes.

I’ve taken somebody to small claims court in the past, pretty distant pass now. Going the small claims route, a problem could be the maximum award which I’m sure varies by state and I’m sure it’s much higher than the thousand dollars it was when I went.
CSA :palm_tree: :sunglasses::palm_tree:


A customer going up against a professional mechanic sent by the dealership could give the dealership the advantage. However, when I won my case in small claims court I took an affidavit from a professional mechanic that backed up my claim. It was admissible at that time so I assume that’s still true.

Even if I had to tow the car for inspections, I’d find a couple favorable pro mechanics willing to fill out affidavits that could be taken to court. It could just put your argument over the top.
CSA :palm_tree::sunglasses::palm_tree:


Many years ago, when I was a young attorney in a rural area, I agreed to sit in as a small claims judge from time to time. It was a very interesting experience. You won’t believe the number of people, who come to a hearing on a case they filed, with no documents or proof at all except what they say. If you ask about receipts the answer was often, “I have them at home. I didn’t know you would want them.”

The other thing that happened was that the defense never showed up at all. I’d ask, “What would you like me to do now?” hoping they would say to enter a default judgment for the plaintiff. They rarely did.

So the lesson is, bring every piece of proof you have and, if they other guy doesn’t show up, ask for a judgment in your favor if it’s your claim or a dismissal with prejudice if you are the one being sued.

It’s the job of the judge to bring the fight to a close, so be ready to offer suggestions about how to do that in a way you like or can stand.


Good advice. Thx for taking the time to comment!



is it down to a time limit now? oil plug should be tight for 3 months and than the shop is not responsible for months 3-4? dont know anyone who has had a similar issue of plug falling out and no damage to pan threads. does the judge say its the shops fault? that plug came loose? plug is gone. pan threads are ok. none else touched car


Not to disagree with a lawyer but I think I agree with Capri. Simply because the car was worked on four months ago to me doesn’t keep them on the hook for ever. At what point aren’t they responsible? Six months, a year? I can understand if there was a problem a week or two weeks after the oil change but I think four months is a stretch. If they did leave the plug loose, seems to me that there would have been some seepage over that four month period to indicate a problem. It didn’t just fall out in one day after being tight.

I think we have all had problems after having work done on a car and suspect the mechanic, but not after four months. There is no way to determine what happened to the car in those four months and even if the car was taken somewhere else and nothing is being said about it. There are just too many unknowns to be able to connect the plug falling out after four months with the oil change.


Since you shut down so quickly, I don’t think the engine is toast. The dealer may have tested the oil, but unless they repaired the pan and filled it with fresh oil, they have not tested the engine. The engine may have a shorter life because of this, but it may still have a lot of years and miles left in it.

Every time you have an oil change done, your engine runs for a few seconds, up to 10 seconds or more, without any oil pressure. I would put in a new oil plug and oil and start the engine.