Spilled Oil


Hi Guys,

I have a question. I went to one of those 10 minute oil change places, and I got out of my vehicle to watch the employee work on my car. He began pumping oil into my engine from one of the overhead hoses and while he pumped the oil he started talking with his buddy who was servicing the next car over. He wasn’t paying any attention to what he was doing, and he didn’t realize that the oil hose had slipped out of the hole. He was holding the trigger and spraying oil all over my engine. When he realized his mistake several seconds later, he repositioned the hose back into the hole and continued pumping oil. Once it was full he tightened the cap and tried to spray off the oil with water and whip some oil off with a rag. I was amazed, and didn’t know what to say. He had gotten oil all over the valve cover, on all the wiring, on the sparkpulg wires, windshield, and all sorts of things that I’m sure I don’t know about yet. My question is, is it possible that I will experience problems in the future as the oil seeps into just about everything? And what should I do to resolve the problem? Will an engine detail be enough?


uh, you might experience bad running due to oil soaked plugs, did you consult the guy?


That’s amazing. Did the kid say anything about it? …did you say anything to him?


Even if a trained animal can do a job, sometimes it’s better if it is also trained to notice what it is doing. He’s getting his experience by working on your car.


In addition to your concern about the spilled oil, I want to add a potentially more serious concern. Since some of the oil that was intended for your crankcase wound up on the exterior of the engine, he may have not filled the crankcase sufficiently. Or, conversely, after seeing what he did, he may have attempted to compensate by adding more oil–perhaps too much oil.

So, I would strongly suggest that your first order of business is to check the dipstick when the engine is cold in order to determine the oil level. Once you have done that, then it is time to go back to the Quicky Lube and tell the manager that he owes you the cost of a professional engine cleaning. And, of course, if you find that the dipstick shows an incorrect oil level, require them to make good on adding the proper amount of oil or draining and refilling the oil if the level is too high.

As one of the members of this board likes to say:
Never go to a Quick Lube place–Not even for directions!


Well I hope you don’t plan or returning there. Let me suggest that what happened does not surprise anyone around here. Quick change places have a lot of those kind of problems. Stay away from the the quick change places, don’t even turn around in the parking lot.

Check the oil level and remember that too much oil can damage an engine.

VDCdriver (what does VDC stand for??) offered some good advice.


What’s likely to cause you trouble in the future is allowing a “quick change” oil place to work on your car. I wouldn’t go into one of those places to ask directions, and I would certainly NEVER let them near my car.

They should have offered to have the engine and the rest of the car detailed for you.


I can afford to have someone else do it . . . I’m getting older now (50) and crawling on the ground isn’t as much fun as it used to be . . . I still like getting my hands dirty under the hood of any vehicle . . . and I’ll NEVER go to a quickie-lube. The chances of someone making minimum wage at WAL-MART with no accountability for their screw-ups caring for my car? C’mon! Do it yourself! For you folks who can’t do it yourself . . . find a decent mechanic and pay the extra few bucks. Rocketman


I bet he drives a Nissan product. My guess is Vehicle Dynamic Control. AKA (to other companies ESC, ETC, ESP). Am I right?



Actually, it is a Subaru Outback VDC model, which is somewhat rare. This has the same H-6 engine as the L.L. Bean model, with the addition of Vehicle Dynamic Control, Variable Torque Distribution (an upscale version of the regular Subaru AWD system) and a really great McIntosh sound system.

This model was only made for three years, and was probably discontinued as a result of the price. Not many were sold, but I can vouch for the excellence of these combined systems (AWD, traction control, Vehicle Dynamic Control, Variable Torque Distribution).


I think you should talk to the manager,and/or the company headquarters. If nothing else, but to have a record of the instance if problems arise in the future.
As others have said,stay away from those quick oil change places. They are learning using your vehicle.
Many years ago i was a regular at J.L. till i had a parking light out,and caught the mechanic(???)
about to remove my front grill to get to the bulb. That was the last time for me at any of those places.


I want to thank everyone for there advice. I checked the dipstick and the oil level is appropriate. I also contacted the headquarters and let them know about the problem. I wanted to be sure they knew incase anything happens in the future. They then advised me to contact the location where the incident occured. I did and the manager said he would compensate me for an engine detailing. I’ve taken my car to a mechanic and he thinks the vehicle is okay because it appears that they didn’t get oil on critical areas such as my alternator or a/c compressor. He said I got really lucky, but if I notice problems in the near future, we’ll know why they are occurring. I definately won’t take the car back to a quick change oil place. I’ll have my mechanic do it next time! Or may be learn to do it myself…