Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Plug Not Tightened After Oil Change

On Nov. 11 I took my 2010 Honda Fit in for a routine oil change & transmission fluid change to the Express Lube associated with my local dealership. This past Saturday, the exhaust began smoking. I pulled over and turned off the car. There was oil all over the back of the car. A man pulled over to help me who was a mechanic and said they probably left the plug off or not tightened when changing the oil. I check the dip stick and there was NO OIL. I called the dealer and they told me to keep the car off and they would tow. I got a loaner and asked them NOT to put any oil in the car until I called them back Monday. Yesterday, the Service Mgr. called to say they had done the diagnosis (contrary to my request) bore scoped it, did a compression check, listened for noises and gave it a serious test drive. He also put a verbatim on the rapid order receipt that says if I have any internal failures in the engine that are lubricated by oil, all repairs will be covered 100% at their dealership. He also mentioned that there is a kill switch on all Honda models after 2008 where if you break the oil pan or lose pressure, the car automatically shuts off. Is that true?
QUESTION: Am I good to go??? Thank you.

Do you know how much oil they had to add? Did the oil pressure light come on while you were driving?

1 Like

It sounds like the dealership is taking responsibility and did a reasonable check of the engine. Also you should have had some warning before you ran completely out of oil. I think the answer is Yes, you are good to go. You should now have one day a week that is " check the oil level before starting car day".

1 Like

I agree. I’d frankly be delighted if a dealership put that in writing after they messed up without me having to sue it out of them.

Mistakes happen. It’s sad that it’s so refreshing when we see places taking full responsibility for mistakes when they do happen, but at the same time it’s a really good sign when they do.

No I don’t. But I could ask the question. No, the oil light did not come on. Thank you for responding.

Thank you for your comments. It sounds like they are taking responsibility AND I was concerned that they moved forward w/o my OK which makes me suspect. I did involve corporate who is asking me what I want but not sure what to ask for. Any suggestions??? Thanks.

Bear in mind that just because there in no oil showing on the dip stick doesn’t necessarily mean there is no oil. There will generally be two or three quarts remaining in the oil pan. They’re just below the tip of the dip stick. Was it verified that the drain plug was actually missing or just loose?

If the oil pressure light never came on there is surely no damage.

1 Like

Thank you. The Service Mgr. is texting me now. He said they drained the remaining quart out and put in new oil and filter. Should I ask him anything else?

I appreciate your input.

Damsel in distress :slight_smile:

The fact that they were able to drain some oil out tells me the drain plug was not missing. Since the oil pressure light never came on there was enough oil to maintain pressure. You are to be commended for shutting down the engine immediately. I think you are good to go.

You can probably get your next oil change for free.

1 Like

That assumes she would actually take it to the dealer recommended lube shop again. I don’t think I would.


I’ve seen this trend at dealerships, this handing off lube changes to an in-house Jiffy Lube, and it bothers me. There are simply too many problems with these lube joints for my taste. Their business model almost guarantees problems.

This is clearly in no way your fault, but I always check the work before paying when anybody else touches my car. I double check my own work too. In this case it would mean checking the fluid levels and colors and checking for leaks with the engine running. It reduces the chance of having problems go from oversights to serious damage.

This is a common problem related in the forums here. Always a good idea for the car owner to check the dipstick immediately after any oil change, and again the next AM, and also for the next week or two, to check for signs of leaks, oil dripping on the driveway under the car etc.

The oil pump functions sort of like how you drink a soda out of a glass w/a straw. You get the same size gulp irrespective of how much soda is in the glass, as long as the end of the straw is still in some soda. Apparently your car’s “straw” was still in the “soda” so you are probably ok. Your car’s engine was receiving its full complement of oil flow. So everything got lubed like it is supposed to.

Be aware though that the oil does more than just lube the engine. It also cools the internal parts. And since you were running the engine without as much oil, you didn’t get as good of cooling as you would normally have. There is some chance the engine indeed did get damaged. More likely if you were doing a lot of high speed accelerations ,going up hills, long periods of fast freeway driving. If so, any damage done will show up eventually as unusual noises, poor performance, overheating, loss of coolant, etc. So keep on eye on things, but remain optimistic as there’s a good chance no damage was done.

1 Like

For all practical purposes, you are good to go. You did the right thing by stopping when you did and the dealer did the right thing standing by their work.

You did not lose lubrication so damage to the engine is minimal. As George pointed out, as the oil level dropped, the remaining oil had to circulate through the engine more often with less time to cool down. Since this was fresh oil, most of the damage was done to the oil, not the engine.

For this reason, the dealer did the right thing by draining the remaining oil, replacing the filter and starting fresh instead of just tightening the bolt and adding oil.

I don’t think it is practical to expect you to crawl under the car to inspect the drain bolt every time you get your oil changed. Checking the dipstick right after and at the next gas fillup is a good idea and you can do that.

I would recommend that you continue to use this dealer for oil changes as long as it is convenient for you. At least you know they stand by their work. Switching to another place may be jumping from the pan to the fire.

If you feel the desire to ask the service manager any questions at all, the question I would ask is what measures have they put in place to insure this doesn’t happen again. The answer I would look for is that either someone else goes behind the service tech and checks critical areas or that the service tech has an extra step that insures that he double checks his work, i.e., a checklist or using a paint pen on the edge of the drain bolt after double checking it with a torque wrench and the same technique on the oil filter and oil cap.

Thank you everyone for responding to my situation with the plug loosening and eventually falling off the oil pan on my 2010 Honda Fit. The dealership evaluated the engine by inserting magnet into oil pan and no metal was found. Also did a compression test 150 to 180 psi & inserted a camera into the cylinders and found no problems and said there was no damage. They put in writing that they will be responsible for any failure of an internal engine lubricated part and all repairs will be covered at 100% for as long as I own the card. In addition, I called corporate and reported the incident and they have offered me a $100 loyalty card.

I very much appreciate this forum and you are all MY HEROS!!!
Happy Holidays!

Two problems you have.
One is that the 150 compressoin means there is a wear problem; likely in the piston rings and which could have been damaged by lack of oil.
Two is that a 30 PSI differential in pressures is not acceptable. That means a problem. See above.

What SHOULD have been done is that a wet compression test should have followed the dry one. One would likely see that 150ish reading take a substantial jump upwards. That would point to a ring problem.

Obviously the people at the dealer don’t understand compression readings.

It would have been nice to have that left over oil to send in for an oil analysis but too late now. Another reason I do my own oil changes.

1 Like

+1 @ok4450. Shouldn’t be a 30lb difference. Damage was done.

Ken you elaborate on that knfenimore. I don’t understand. Thanks.

If the OP never lost oil pressure I seriously doubt the compression test differences were caused by this event. It could be simply that it needs to have the valves adjusted. Hondas require this periodically since they don’t have hydraulic lifters. Tight valve lash will cause low compression.