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Sherlock Holmes Mystery of the 2014 Chevy Cruze Missing Oil Solved

Greetings Fellow Car Talkers,

Well the mystery of the vanishing oil form the 2014 Chevy Cruze has been solved. Per my earlier post - one day we suddenly had an alarm tone and Low Oil Pressure Warning – Shut Off Engine. We had the car towed to the closest dealer to find out what the problem was. I got a call in about an hour from Jerry the service manager.

The oil pan plug threads were badly damaged - about as bad as they’d ever seen. Jerry said that whoever did this knew what had happened because they tried putting in an after-market plug, and the wrong one at that. He said that there was about 1-1/2 to two threads left on the pan. He said from the look of the plug it appeared as if someone may have had tried to tap/hammer the plug into the pan trying for a better seal.

He said that while they don’t see this issue a lot he said that there are aftermarket plugs made for just that situation. He said the 8 out 10 times they work just fine but in this case the threads were so mutilated that the entire oil pan needed to be replaced. He is going to give us the old pan and plug back when we pick up the car tomorrow. He said if we had a few minutes to spare he wants to explain and show us what happened and why the old pan couldn’t be saved.

We’ve had the car since February of 2014, and aside from the first six months dealer free service program, we have always taken the car to our local Big-O for oil changes. We haven’t taken the car anywhere else as there have been no issues or problems until this. We know most of the guys up there and they’ve been good to us so far. I think very highly of them. I deal with the manager all the time. I plan on going up there in person on Saturday with the pan, plug, and the bill for the repair.

My guess is one of the newer techs ruined the threads and panicked. They grabbed an after-market plug and tried to make it work. When it wouldn’t thread he tried tapping it in until it stuck. I doubt he told the manager and had no conscience about what might happen once the car left the shop. The bill for the repair and tow is right at $575.00 and I think I’m justified in asking that they take care of the bill.

I’m not mad because I understand that stuff happens. I understand that the manager can’t watch over all the techs and that sometimes they’ll hire someone whose ethics fall short. With that in mind if they take care of the bill I’ll consider the matter resolved. A couple of my friends think I’m naïve to think that they’ll take care of it. They think I’ll be asked to leave and that will be the end of it unless I see them again in small claims court.

Just curious as to what you guys think about this and if you’ve have any similar experiences (especially with Big-O) and how they turned out.



I wish you the best luck

Considering you can reasonably prove . . . they could argue that there is no proof that somebody else didn’t have a hand in this . . . that Big O has been the only shop doing oil changes on your Cruze, I’d say you have a fair chance of them reimbursing you, in order to keep you as a customer

On the other hand, they could balk, claiming you didn’t return to them, and give them a chance to repair your oil pan properly.

They might very well blame it on “the new guy” . . . but I know some hacks in their 40s and 50s that are set in their ways :smile: . . . . meaning it could have been one of their seasoned veterans. I believe there are some shops out there that don’t have one single good mechanic working for them :anguished:

Nice to hear you’re not mad at Big O, but it would be understandable, if you were, or if you become mad at them, if they don’t reimburse you

Now if you’re not reimbursed, this is how I would personally proceed. I would not go on a crusade to bad mouth them on yelp, at church, at work, etc. Leaving a negative review is okay, I believe, if you give plenty of details and do it in a sane and rational manner, without name calling. However, if somebody asked what you thought about Big O, perhaps because they’re thinking of giving them their business, then by all means, tell them what your experience(s) have been, good and bad.

Here’s hoping :thumbsup:

Approach them politely but firmly and keep things respectful. The person you will be dealing with is not the person who boogered the drain plug up so don’t rip into them.

If they balk on reimbursement then your only option is a small claims suit so if push comes to shove you might firmly mention as you head out the door that you’re going straight to the courthouse and file one.
Sometimes the filing of a suit or the likely filing of one can nudge someone into caving and paying up.

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Whether they pay or not, I think I’d go to a different shop from now on. Gotta figure the damage spread over the number of oil changes you’ve had probably added the cost of $50-$100 for each oil change. So a $25 oil change turns into no bargain. I realize dealers can have kids doing oil changes too but still . . .

One idea to help prevent this in the future, go to your local dealership and purchase 20 oil drain plug gaskets. The gasket is supposed to be replaced with a new one on every oil change. But generic shops often don’t stock them, so they’ll just use the old gasket, which sometimes will leak, so they tighten the drain plug more. Well, you can see where this is going. If instead you give the shop a new gasket each time, they’ll install it, and less likely to be tempted to tighten the drain plug more than they should.

Hi All,

I appreciate the replies thus far. We did pick up the car and the service manager showed us the old pan and plug and explained it in detail. The aftermarket plug they used to repair the damage was indeed too large. From where they forced it you can see it stressed the metal and the replacement plug itself is in rough shape from the ordeal.

DB4690 and a couple of my friends bring up the fact that what they may try to hang their hat on is the fact that they were not given an opportunity to fix it thus controlling the cost. After speaking with the Dealership service manager that addressed the issue and replaced the oil pan for us, I believe that would be a specious argument.

There was no doubt that the oil pan/and or plug were damaged when they tried putting the OEM plug back in. If that hadn’t been the case then there would have been no need to provide an aftermarket plug. The wrong replacement plug was used which added to the damage that they were trying to repair. The oil pan has at most two threads left on it. At that point the oil pan was fatally compromised. The Service Manager said there is no way that the person doing the work would not have known this was a big problem.

As I mentioned above, I suspect the tech that did it kept quiet about it, forced the bigger plug in, and crossed his fingers. Had he told the manager what happened I have to believe that the manager would have evaluated the situation and determined a course of action to deal with it then and there. That was their opportunity to address it. Unfortunately due to the silence of the tech ( I’m assuming at this point) both the manager and I were denied the opportunity to resolve this before it escalated to where it is now.

I am going up their Saturday morning with the old pan, plug, and all my other documentation and see what they have to say. Please feel free to add any advice or personal stories that would be useful in my formulating my final plan.



If they say they should have been given a chance to do the repair, I think it’s reasonable to say that you don’t trust that you’d end up with a proper repair after what happened here.

Fellow Car Talkers,

Well I went to Big-O this morning with the oil pan, plug, and my documentation and spoke to the manager. The store took full responsibility for what happened, apologized sincerely and profusely. They wrote me a check on the spot for everything that we sought reimbursement for to the tune of $750.00.

Based upon our history with them I felt it more likely than not that they would take care of it but of course you never know. What surprised me though was the ease of the encounter and how sincere they were. It was clear that the manager was embarrassed by what had happened and bent over backwards to make it right.

I appreciate all the feedback and hope that you guys are lucky enough to find a shop that resolves your issues in the same manner.



That’s Big-O Tires? Unfortunately there is none anywhere near me.

Glad you had such a great response from them.

It’s so good to hear about a shop that steps up and does the right thing! I’m sure most do, but we mostly hear about the bad experiences (just the nature of people; more likely to complain than to praise).


I’m glad things worked out so well for you, and that you weren’t met with any resistance whatsoever

I suspect that particular Big-O manager is a good one, and his hands aren’t tied by corporate headquarters. Sadly, some other corporations won’t let their managers do anything

I would imagine that about 5 minutes after you left a lube tech was sitting in the manager’s office getting…
A. reamed.
B. fired.
C. both.

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D. offered the option of having the $750 deducted from his paycheck in installments, in lieu of option B.

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