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Oil Technician forgets to tighten oil plug

I recently to my car in for a routine oil change and the technician did not tighten the plug. It eventually fell out, and shortly after my engine was ruined. They took responsibility, but is it legal for them to replace parts (bearings) to an engine in a lube place and not at an actual mechanic shop? That is what they did. It was returned to me yesterday and I drove it for 80 miles and the horrible knocking began again. What should I do?

Notify the lube place that the engine failed and you are taking it to dealer of your car make and having them replace the engine and that you expect (demand) that they pay for this repair…If they want to argue, contact a lawyer and let HIM argue with them…

Legal isn’t an issue, its not like being a doctor where you have to have a medical license to practice as a physician. Yet, an oil change shop (Jiffy Lube) usually doesn’t do general car repairs and mechanical work. You don’t say the kind of place where all this happened. I have oil changes done by the same shop that did a timing belt job on my car. It is a “full service” mechanical shop. It would be OK for them to fix a motor on a botched oil change because they rebuild motors frequently.

I sense from your post that your shop doesn’t do major jobs, and you don’t have confidence in this repair. How the motor was to be repaired should have been discussed prior to now. At this point you aren’t confident that all is well, so you must go back to the shop. This time be specific and if you want the motor repaired by a shop you have confidence in, name that shop and negotiate from there.

And if the car is making horrible knocking noises - STOP DRIVING NOW! If you keep running the motor and it locks up the shop might just say you killed the motor beyond repair and it isn’t their fault.

I’m afraid they just replaced the rod bearings in the hope that it would work. It won’t and didn’t. I hope you have something in writing when they admitted fault and the paperwork from the engine work they did. Park the car as was mentioned earlier.

The lube place has the responsibility of making you whole after damaging your property. They’ve already admitted fault and tried (but failed) to correct the problem. It is legal for them to try to repair it themselves, but that was an attempt at a cheap band-aid fix for damage that is much more extensive. Now, it is time to get estimates for repair at places you trust and challenge them to make you whole by paying for a proper repair. If they refuse, then it is time for the lawyers. I would not give the lube place another crack at this repair. They will only try another band-aid fix.

How did you get them to admit they made this mistake?
Did the car die shortly after driving out of their shop?

Yep. You had to give them the opportunity to correct the problem but now that they failed, you can get an estimate to have a new or rebuilt short block installed by a reputable shop or dealer. Present the estimate to them and if they balk, you can go ahead and have the work done and use the small claims court to collect the money. Of course you’ll have to pay for the engine first if you go that route but I wouldn’t let them touch it again.

You should first contact them tell them the fix did not work. Since they have already tried the quick fix that did not work give them the opportunity to do or have done the complete fix. Escalate after that if needed.

There are only two suitable solutions…Your engine is removed from the car, completely dissembled, inspected for damaged parts, those parts replaced, and the engine re-installed. This work must be performed by qualified technicians…OR, a factory short-block or long-block, depending on how bad your engine was damaged…You need to get written payment approval for these repairs BEFORE the work is begun so YOU don’t wind up paying for it…

Resist having a “used engine” (from a salvage yard) installed because you just don’t know what shape that engine is in…In your case, you should not have to take that gamble…

What make make/model/year/mileage? It will help us give a better answer on what to do.

What’s the year/make/model/mileage of your car?

As far as I know it’s legal for any shop to repair a car in any way they see fit.

It appears the lube shop is taking responsibility for their error. In that case, they owe it you to return your car to the condition it was immediately before the drain plug fell out. In most cases, that means the supply and installation of a used engine of same/similar age and mileage with some sort of warranty. Any towing costs and rental vehicles should be covered as well. They don’t owe you a new or rebuilt engine unless you are willing to pay the difference in cost. No lawyer or insurance agent would agree to more.

Alternately, the shop could offer to buy the car from you for fair market value before the damage occurred.

If this doesn’t satisfy you, contact your insurance agent and let him work for you.

I agree with their owing you a used engine with a warranty but if the car is a near new one with very low miles then I’d settle for nothing less than a new engine.
It’s not uncommon for salvage yard engines and transmissions to be problematic; in spite of the boneyard guarantee of known to be good. Note the boneyards state this on engines and transmissions that they’ve never heard run or shift.

The picture of a fast lube facility guy who has ruined an engine due to a careless mistake like this and then dropping a pan to slap a set of bearings on what is likely a ruined crankshaft is almost comical.
The fast lube was hoping that set of bearings would hold up long enough so they could deny responsibility later and I’m sure they were hoping for much further than 80 miles.

Some stonewalling is normal and don’t let them touch your car again. This may take some pushing and shoving on your part but I don’t see any way they could win this battle legally.

My car is a 2006 Nissan Sentra with about 114,000 miles.

The mechanic also refuses to give me the number/name of his direct supervisor. When I refused to have it towed their again so they could “fix” it, he asked to come to my house so that he could “inspect” it. He only brought a flashlight and checked the oil, which looked like black sludge. He states that they will replace the engine, but wants to use a mechanic shop that is two cities away. Everything about it sounds so sketchy. Thanks for all the great advice everyone! Keep it coming.

My car’s engine messed up the very next day after I got the oil change. Then when I allowed him to fix the engine and it was returned to me, it messed up again the very next day.

Go to the shop and ask questions of other employees to find out who the owner/manager is. If they refuse to give you information inform the police of the problem and get them involved, they should help you get a resolution. If this is a national lube chain and you can’t get anything accomplished through the facility manager take it to the next step and get the district or regional manager involved. I would have insisted on speaking to the manager when the incident happened. The mechanic can’t assure you the problem will be taken care of if management isn’t aware of the problem. If the manager finds out about the incident now and hasn’t already been made aware of it it’s likely to cost the mechanic/oil changer his job for trying to hide it. I suspect this garage the mechanic wants you to take the car to in another city/town is that of a friend of relative that he thinks will keep the whole incident under their hat. If the manager doesn’t know about the incident I wonder if there was ever anything done to the car the first time or if the service worker just told you he repaired it?

I had an incident several years ago where a tire/auto parts chain damaged a wheel. The store manager denied any wrong doing and wasn’t willing to do anything so I got the district managers name and number and contacted him, I was paid the price of a new wheel.