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Upside down dirty air filter

I took my 2010 Mazda CX 9 in for an oil change last weekend at the dealership we purchased the vehicle. Of course they did their inspection to find areas where they could make some additional money. They wanted to replace the air filter and cabin filter for about $100. Having some knowledge of simple auto maintenance, I opted to replace both filters myself. When I went to replace the air filter I found that they had put the old, dirty air filter in upside down-crammed and wrinkled in the compartment. My wife has been driving the car for about a week. Is there any chance the engine could be damaged? Thanks.

What direction does the air flow? In my car, the air flows up through the filter and into the engine. I just want to make sure that the filter really was upside down. No offense, but I don’t know you and your level of knowledge. As far as the condition of the filter, that is uncalled for. But as long ans there are no tears, it should be OK.

Through the air filter and into the engine. It was very evident it had been placed back in upside down without regard for fit. And when I put the new one in it fit perfectly-it’s easy to see how it’s supposed to go, so I now have little faith in their work. My concern is that by being placed in there backwards for about a week everything that had been caught previously was blown into engine.

Putting the filter in upside down is not backward. I would find another dealership or a good independent mechanic to do the work on my vehicle in the future.

There’s a couple dealers I know that would have done that purposely.

Missleman-you’re right, i interchanged backwards and upside down. It was upside down. We had an oil change coupon, otherwise I’d taken it elsewhere. Lesson learned. Mike-my thoughts exactly, I’m calling them out on the mistake on Monday.

Mike, I too agree with your comment. I wish I did not, but there are lot of vindictive people out there. If this were a forum on restaurant food the site would explode.

JP, did you take photos? Did you keep the crumpled remains of the old filter?

Unless you’re driving on dirt roads there is not likely any damage over a week’s time. Yes, you should say something about this to the service manager at the facility.

You also state they did an inspection to find other areas where money could be made. True enough, and certainly nothing wrong with the practice.

In this case they told you about an air filter which you describe as old and dirty. You also state that you do your own basics so that begs the questions of why did you allow the filters to get into that condition, why they were not replaced before taking advantage of the oil change special, and notifying the service writer at the desk you want the oil change only, nothing more?

The car is also 5 years old. What has not been stated is whether anyone else in that time frame has had their hands on that air filter, the mileage on the car, whether the air filter is the original, and so on. There could be some extenuating circumstances.

Thanks ok4450. We’d had a 60K service recently and I thought it had been taken care of. Looking back it had not. I hope if they had checked the filter last weekend that they would have noticed it was upside down, maybe not. It was definitely in need of replacement. Cars running fine. I’ll let them know of my displeasure. Thanks for everyone’s responses.

I hope if they had checked the filter last weekend that they would have noticed it was upside down

Perhaps they did notice it was installed incorrectly and this is the reason they recommended replacement. Did you find the dirty side toward the engine? I wonder how long it has been upside down.

I’d be right there in their face first thing in the am over something like this. So I turn down your suggested service and this is how I get treated? The dept manager would be out looking at it or I’d be in the main building hunting down the general manager. If they were concerned at all about retaining me as a customer there would need to be serious apologies going on…

Did you report this to the dealership? If you don’t let them know that this happened, then two things are wrong. First, if it was their fault, them may continue to make this mistake in the future, or they may need to counsel or retrain one of their employees and second, they may not be responsible if anyone else has worked on the engine and you are not giving them a chance to defend themselves.

As for doing damage, yes it could but you will not likely see the affects of this damage until the engine approaches the end of its service life. To say that it would do no damage would then make me wonder why they put the filter there in the first place.

I’m still curious about mileage and any history of service before this event. The point being that the filter may have been botched by someone a year, two, or who knows when ago.
The fact that the tech at the dealer sees the dirty, upside down filter and recommends replacement does not mean that tech is the one who fiipped the filter.

I certainly don’t know how that dealer does things but when I worked at dealers we notated on the repair order every single thing that was out of the norm even if it was not related to the job at hand. Even then, there were often disputes and problems.

Yes, this should be mentioned to the dealer. The tech when questioned will surely remember a filter being upside down and could have adopted the attitude that “you no want, out the door it goes as it sits”.
All the more reason for notating things.

JPAugusta There are a couple of very bad things that could have happened but first I have a question. Where were you when the vehicle was being serviced? Recently I had to have work done at the dealership. They offered to take me somewhere else and pick me up later if I wanted. The work was less than 1 hour so I said I would wait. They discovered my cabin air filter was very dirty. They removed the filter and brought it to the waiting area to show me. I authorized replacement and there were no problems. I’m guessing you were not present, they called and you chose to replace the filters yourself. There is absolutely nothing wrong with your decision but… Due to the flat rate pay system the mechanic had the “pleasure” of performing the labor regarding the air filters and not being paid for it. This happens fairly often and may have pushed the mechanic over the edge so they decided to punish you. The other possible bad thing is that the mechanic is completely incompetent. Either way the dealership needs to know.

As was pointed out previously here how do you know the dealership put the air filter in wrong? It’s possible the place that had the car before installed it incorrectly. In which case you declined a recommended service from the dealership and had your car returned to you in the same condition in which it came in. No harm, no foul.

Well, the OP says the only reason they took the car to the dealer was because they had an oil change coupon or otherwise, they would have gone somewhere else.

This brings up who the “somewhere else” is before this oil change coupon came along…

OK, I guess its just a slow day or something but as a general rule, I don’t bring problems to the attention of the vendor. I just don’t go there anymore if I’m that dissatisfied. It’s two schools of management and I believe that it is management’s responsibility to know what is going on and not mine to tell them. If they don’t know they have a problem, its their fault not mine. So I rarely fill out or respond to those comment cards or suggestion boxes and so on. I learned at an early early age that the difference between good management and poor management is taking an active part in your operation. Now if I’m sitting in the waiting room and the owner comes by for a chit chat, then I might say, “well you know that air filter was put in upside down” or “I had grease on my steering wheel, you musta run outta gloves or something”.

Maybe I’m not clear, but if the management is there, they will know about the problems because they are connecting with their customers. If not they won’t know and its not my job to tell them unless I just want to blow off steam and make an *&% of myself. I’m writing off a pizza place because the last two times it hasn’t been as good as the last 20 years and Subway is down a nothch because of their poor inventory control and all the guys have tatoos all over their arms. Not my job to tell them unless they want to pay my management fee, I’ll just go somewhere else. Now I’d be happy give the small engine guy a free lesson in cash flow managment, scheduling, and customer satisfaction if he would ask, but lo, his head is stuck someplace else.

So throw out the suggestion box and the comment cards because we really really value your opinion and get out and talk to the customers and the employees and you’ll find out Billy over there is really a dufus or is really vindictive and know what he did? He put an air filter in upside down while eating a donut.

Bing Thank you for reminding me how things actually work at a dealership. I worked for a GM (Buick, Opel, Saab) dealer in the mid 1970s It was disgusting and shameful as it was the low point for the US auto manufacturers. The owner had inherited the business as opposed to building it himself. He did not care as long as it gave the a**hole an income that he could have lived well without. He only stopped by once in a long while. Management sucked as there was no real accountability. The service manager was a drunken relative of the owner with no automotive knowledge who was also the service writer. He at least sort of wrote up the customer’s description of the problem which may or may not have given a clue as to the actual problem. The mechanics had to diagnose the problem for no pay. There is much more to tell but I will quit for now.

The dirty incorrectly installed filter should have been noted on the dealer’s checklist.

It should be easy to tell how long ago it was put in upside down by which side the dirt was on.