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Who is liable for mechanical failure of a part installed for oil change?

Local fast change oil service company performed 10,000 mile oil change on Toyota Prius. 5,000 miles later, oil filter blew off while accelerating on highway resulting in loss of oil and destruction of engine. Service company refered claim to their insurance company. Insurance company declined to pay claim stating that cause was due to mechanical failure of oil filter. Who is liable for the damage?

I think you should be asking your lawyer this question.

Most of these quick-lube joints use house brand oil filters that may or may not meet the standards set by Toyota or anyone else…It is the responsibility of the shop owner (whoever that may be) to install filters that meet the requirements of the vehicles they install them on. Take them to court…

Oh, by the way, YOU destroyed your engine by not pulling over and shutting off the engine the moment that oil pressure warning light came on…I’m somewhat surprised the Prius didn’t turn itself off…

You can chalk the problem up to the typical quicky lube practice of using ultra-cheap “white box” filters made in China. In the future, I would suggest that you avoid these places.

Although anyone can make a mistake when servicing a car, the error rate at quicky lube places is far higher than at other facilities. When you couple that high error rate with the cheap, inferior parts that they use, the chance of a major problem is significiant.

As Mcparadise stated, legal advice is best sought from an attorney, and I would strongly suggest that you contact one. And, as Caddyman stated, pulling to the side of the road and shutting down the engine immediately after the oil pressure warning light started glowing could likely have saved the engine.

You’re out of luck in my opinion and especially after 5k miles.

Provide some detail on this. You say the oil filter blew off and this led to total destruction of the engine. So I ask you:
How far did you drive with the oil light on?
Did the filter stay with the car or did you walk back down the highway for X miles before finding it?
Who has the filter now?
What brand of filter is it? (I ask this because the ony way I could see a filter even having a potential of being at fault would be if it were a white or yellow box generic Chinese knock-off brand.)

I think you have to file a claim in small claims court and name the insurance company, quicky place and the filter manufacturer in the claim. Let the judge sort it out. I would think though that if the lube place is using house brand filters, they would be acting as the agent for the manufacturer and would be on the hook. It might be kind of hard to get any money out of the Chinese though since they don’t seem to recognize US law. Lesson learned though, use OEM parts and inspect them first. No Walmart, fast lube, Autozone, etc.

Small claims typically limits to $5,000. That doesn’t really come close to covering a Prius with 15k on it. He’d have to lawyer up for full court, I think.

In most states, small claims is far less that $5,000. Still, the part failed after 5,000 miles? That’s an expensive lesson and nothing more. Sorry. You’re probably still making payments on the car. Do you have comprehensive insurance, and would it cover this?

$5000 small claims limit. The limit is irrelevant since no way a failed part is going to give you anywhere near that. Maybe a couple new filters. Thing is the person has the obligation to mitigate losses which would mean monitoring the warning lights and shutting the car down before catastrophic losses. Same principle as losing your roof from a storm and not covering it to protect your house from rain. You have an obligation to tarp the roof ASAP to minimize losses.

Filter blowing off means many things. Even if the filter manufacturer was going to pay for this they would want to inspect the filter. They could claim damage during installation. I agree that filing small claims court, with as much documentation as you can is probably the only way to see if you can re-coop some of the damage.

I don’t think I have ever seen an insurance company not deny a liability claim on the first go around. I think they do that just to see if your serious. Was the denial in writing? In my experience, they call and make a verbal denial, then when you tell them that they are responsible, they throw out a very lowball offer, after that they start to get serious.

If they made the denial in writing, then they are probably thinking that after 5000 miles, you will have a tough time winning in court.