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Too much oil (5 qts too much) in car engine

Recently my daughter took her car to an oil change place. When she went to pick it up they had forgotten to get to her car and said they would get right on it, which they did. In less than 10 minutes, per my daughter, they completed the “oil change”. About two weeks later, her engine dies, she has the car towed to a mechanic and he said the engine has about 5 quarts too much oil and the engine is history. It is my feeling if all of the above is accurate that the oil change company should accept liability for the dead engine. Is there any additional evidence that should be gathered to then take to the oil change company to strongly suggest that they made a costly error? My theory is that they did not drain the old oil and never replaced the oil filter and just added 4 1/2 - 5 qts of oil. Is there a sure way to determine if the oil filter was not changed?

It doesn’t matter what exactly happened, as long as it is just oil in the crankcase, the quick change place is to blame.
This is another of thousands of examples why you should change the oil yourself or use an actual real mechanic.

This was a “Quicky-Change” oil place, wasn’t it? You’d be surprised how common this is. Too much oil is just as bad as not enough, and can ruin an engine.

My guess is they drained “something,” it just wasn’t the engine. Better check the transmission fluid.

I wish you and your daughter the best of luck. Yes, they owe her an engine. If the oil filter was replaced it should look new. Old oil filters are dirty, but this doesn’t really matter. It’s the extra 5 qts of oil that did the damage.

And, as I said, I wonder what they drained? Usually it’s the transmission, and if that’s the case they probably owe her a transmission, too.

For future reference, tell your daughter to avoid these places like the swine flu. She should have a mechanic change the oil and perform routine maintenance tasks.

A filter that has been in the car about 2 weeks should look pretty clean. You can see if the current filter is the same brand the lube joint uses.

I’m surprised the car ran for 2 weeks with double the amount of oil it should have. Did the 2nd mechanic keep the oil he drained from the car? What method did he use to determine EXACTLY how much oil he drained from the car? I’d expect the lube joint to question the quantity of oil reportedly drained by the mechanic. To get anything from the lube joint you need to have a “rock solid” case.

Anytime I get an oil change from a mechanic or whoever, I always check the work. I look to see if the filter is different than the one in the car before the change. Then I pull the dipstick, wipe it off, insert it and pull it again to check the oil level and see if the new oil looks “clear and clean”. I also run the car at idle and make sure there is no oil leaking from where the oil filter connects to the motor.

It is too late to do these “checks” now, but be sure to show your daughter how to do this in the future. I can’t tell if you can get any satisfaction from the oil change place, it looks like a long shot to me. I’d persue it, but work to get all the evidence and facts you can to have the best chance of success.

Make sure you have all of the statements from the mechanic in clear writing. You’ll probably need them when you deal with the quick-lube place.

“'m surprised the car ran for 2 weeks with double the amount of oil it should have.”

So am I. Normally it would have lit the warring light in short order.

Hope this overfill really is oil and not fuel from a leaking injector.

We all so quickly believe someone whould not drain the oil AND put 5 more in. This condition is usually associated with another fluid level being empty but here it is not,this gets my attention.

If I was Mr Quicky I would tell you to pound sand as you are trying to scam me into paying for a engine,PROVE it was my guy that overfilled the engine.

Get the engine torn down and lets see if it shows signs off lubrication failure.

After two weeks of driving and no solid evidence of wrongdoing, you will be hard pressed to get anything out of the Quick Lube place…As bad as these places are, they usually have procedures where a supervisor checks the dipstick before every car leaves. I suspect there is more to this story…

Not proud to admit but one summer in Kalispel MT. I worked quickie lube. The owner was a ex-Marine officer and when this guy gave orders everyone listened. Orders were to call out drain plug, CHECK,Filter,CHECK,Diff plug,CHECK Dipstick ,CHECK you even had to call out how many zerk fittings you lubed,and he knew how many each car had.

Honestly, the car would not have lasted this long being five quarts overfilled. In very short order (as in, within minutes), warning lights should’ve come on, smoke shouild’ve started pouring from the tailpipe (and perhaps elsewhere), and the engine should’ve started to make some very unpleasant noises.

Is there any chance that (as oldschool suggested) a fuel injector blew and filled the crankcase with fuel, or perhaps the head gasket blew or the head cracked, thus filling the crankcase with coolant?? I just can’t see two weeks passing with no problem when an engine is overfilled this severely.

I want to echo mcparadise’s statement, and to emphasize what he said regarding, “My guess is they drained “something,” it just wasn’t the engine. Better check the transmission fluid”.

That is probably the most frequent type of mistake made at quick lube joints. The inexperienced, poorly trained lube tech loosens a drain plug, some fluid comes out, he tightens that plug, and he fills the engine with oil. The problem in so many cases is that this boob has mistaken the transmission drain plug for the engine oil drain plug. And, of course, the result is damage to the overfilled engine and to the dry (or almost dry) transmission.

Check the transmission fluid NOW!

Thinking about this a little. I can’t imagine being able to put that much additional oil into a car. I would expect there to be a big puddle of oil under the car befor it was off the lift.

A crankshaft half submerged in oil makes quite a commotion…There will be a great loss of power, tailpipe smoking, oil leaks…The car would be barely drivable…

I know that overfilling an engine that much will cause a lot of problems, but will it ruin an engine?

I think there’s a lot of missing info about this problem so I won’t go dumping on the fast lube place just yet. A trip to a quick lube does not automatically mean death to 10% of the cars that roll through the door.

Some things I’d like to know include:
Did this mechanic save this oil, if drained?
Has the mechanic torn the engine down and exactly what did he say is the reason for this engine being history?
What were the symptoms of the engine before it quit on the daughter?

Overfill symptoms can vary. Some engines run fine with no problem, others run fine and puke oil, and some hydrolock and seize up. In the case of seizure, sometimes major engine damage occurs and sometimes it doesn’t.
I’ve seen several engines that were locked solid due to a reason like this and once cleared out there was never a problem with the motor.

Something to ponder. If this engine actually hydrolocked due to an oil overfill that does not mean the engine is junk. Remove the spark plugs, cover the plug holes with rags, and crank it over a few rounds to blow out the oil in the cylinders.
Clean up the mess, reinstall the plugs, and odds are it will be fine.

If this scenario is what happened then maybe this mechanic, intentionally or not, is misinterpreting a hydrolocked motor as a junk motor.
This 2 week delay in a problem surfacing is also why the daughter may not have a case.