Catastrophic Engine Failure, Recourse?

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stats99
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Catastrophic Engine Failure, Recourse?

Post by stats99 »

The day before taking a 5 hour road trip I had my car serviced at the dealership which included an oil change. The next day, 4 hours into the trip, the oil light came on and the engine seized. I incurred a $400 tow charge (AAA) to get the car to the nearest dealership. That dealership determined that the oil pan plug was not put on correctly and came off while I was driving resulting in the engine failure. They coordinated with the original dealership and agreed to replace the engine with same or less miles at no charge. (which, of course, is good news)

However, in addition to the tow charge I also incurred expenses for flying back home and eventually flying back to pick up the vehicle. All total about $900. This does not include any "loss of use" issues. I used my other car in the 2 week period.

Any thoughts about recovering the $900 in additional expenses?

Thanks.
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Sandtrap
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Re: Catastrophic Engine Failure, Recourse?

Post by Sandtrap »

You should be fully reimbursed for every expense and inconvenience that took place and is currently taking place as a result of dealership negligence. IE: the difference between if it had never happened and after it happened, and ongoing.

Start building a file that includes:

Conversational recaps, emails, texts, between you and the dealer that did the oil change, and also the dealer after that.
All receipts for towing, rental car, air fare, etc.
All current and ongoing expenses such as rental car, taxi, etc.
Especially, Keep a record of the diagnosis by the second dealership that stated that the oil plug was not installed correctly.
If you have photos, then great.
If you have the original stripped oil plug that was replaced and/or the oil pan had to be replaced because of stripped threads. Then terrific!

Contact your car insurance agent as well and give then records as needed, etc. Let them help guide you through what needs to be done.
Keep in mind to contact legal counsel for additional advice as needed, especially if you hit speed bumps. Their advice is golden.
(asking legal counsel for advice does not mean litigation or "don't go there" as a stigma. It simply means getting professional advice from someone who has been through your car issues, fault, etc). (sometimes a demand letter from legal counsel is all that is needed when hitting road blocks).

Be sure the replacement engine has a warranty.

Will the dealership give you a "loaner car"? (they should, at no charge).

I have been through this. Sears auto did a complete oil change including axle and transmission and transfer case. The oil plug on the rear axle was not installed correctly and loose. Over time, the rear axle gears and bearings burned out and froze. It ran $3000 to repair. Sears did not admit to fault.
In another instance, a dealership failed to put back the oil filler cap after an oil change "on a new car" and the results were a disaster.
j :D
Last edited by Sandtrap on Fri Jan 14, 2022 8:56 am, edited 5 times in total.
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bob60014
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Re: Catastrophic Engine Failure, Recourse?

Post by bob60014 »

I would be more worried about the used replacement engine. Warranty, was it a certified rebuild, from the junk yard, etc??
2Scoops
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Re: Catastrophic Engine Failure, Recourse?

Post by 2Scoops »

Do you mind saying who the manufacturer of the vehicle is?

I’ve had a lot of success working directly with the corporate office of vehicle manufacturers over the years. I don’t do it often but when a major repair happens that I feel is not normal relative to the age of the vehicle I usually give them a call and they work through the details with me and the dealership. It’s a slow moving process unfortunately but I generally find them willing to help.

One specific example - truck was out of warranty and the repair was going to be $3000+ after obtaining multiple quotes. By working with corporate they covered the entire expense and even did a few other minor repairs on their dime. I doubt the dealership will care about your flight expenses but HQ might.

Good luck!
valleyrock
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Re: Catastrophic Engine Failure, Recourse?

Post by valleyrock »

bob60014 wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 8:51 am I would be more worried about the used replacement engine. Warranty, was it a certified rebuild, from the junk yard, etc??
Ditto. Might have been best if they'd given you a full replacement car.

On the $900, I usually take the written approach. Send (fax it if possible) a polite business letter to the owner of the dealership responsible for all this, include copies of the receipts, and ask them to please compensate you for this additional expense. If that's not helpful, then send (fax if possible) another letter to include a copy of the first letter, to the dealer but cc it to the manufacturer's regional and national offices. When the dealer responsible sees who else has received a copy, that should help. Remember that for every person who asks politely, they get many more who yell and demand. Who would you rather help?
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Sandtrap
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Re: Catastrophic Engine Failure, Recourse?

Post by Sandtrap »

2Scoops wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 8:58 am Do you mind saying who the manufacturer of the vehicle is?

I’ve had a lot of success working directly with the corporate office of vehicle manufacturers over the years. I don’t do it often but when a major repair happens that I feel is not normal relative to the age of the vehicle I usually give them a call and they work through the details with me and the dealership. It’s a slow moving process unfortunately but I generally find them willing to help.

One specific example - truck was out of warranty and the repair was going to be $3000+ after obtaining multiple quotes. By working with corporate they covered the entire expense and even did a few other minor repairs on their dime. I doubt the dealership will care about your flight expenses but HQ might.

Good luck!
+1
Great advice!

I have always had better results with involving everyone and every entity above/higher up. Hard copy letters and in the CC, also enter everyone else up and down the chain that the letter gets sent to. Look online and try to get each specific person, ie: ATTN: Don Corleone: Corporate such and such. Then, CYA mode gears start turning as well, from the dealer General manager, service manager, all the way up the chain as high as you can get.
Be polite but business like.
Ask for their help in the matter and suggestions.

j :D
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galawdawg
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Re: Catastrophic Engine Failure, Recourse?

Post by galawdawg »

I agree that a letter to the original dealership that performed the oil change is the best way to seek compensation. Whether they are willing to compensate you, in part or in whole, is another issue. You may have signed an agreement as part of the oil change work order that limits their liability.

Did you happen to discuss retrieval of your vehicle with the original dealership before purchasing a one-way airline ticket and flying to get it? In particular, I can forsee the dealership balking at that portion of the reimbursement if they weren't provided the opportunity to have your vehicle transported via car carrier back to your city.

Hiring an attorney to chase after $900 is unlikely to be cost-effective. If you run into issues, you may ultimately want to file a claim in small claims court in the county where the dealership is located.

Good luck! Of course, IANYL...
Kagord
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Re: Catastrophic Engine Failure, Recourse?

Post by Kagord »

If the engine oil light/pressure was working, there is some shared responsibility for the operator to stop running the vehicle as soon as possible to prevent engine damage. I know when I worked in a oil lube shop in the early 80s, even if our fault (like an oil filter double gasket), we never paid for an engine replacement when this happened. Don't know if dealers are different, or maybe today it's different has there is a lot of detachment on what's actually happening under the hood and how an engine actually works.

Anyways, good luck.
alfaspider
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Re: Catastrophic Engine Failure, Recourse?

Post by alfaspider »

I wouldn't be happy with a random junkyard replacement engine. You have no idea whether it was properly maintained or treated.
sureshoe
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Re: Catastrophic Engine Failure, Recourse?

Post by sureshoe »

I think getting things in writing is key as others have said. The thing I'm unclear on in your post is what you have agreed to. For example, if they are actively doing the engine (or its done) have you signed anything (assuming not) that indicates the repair is payment to make you whole? If they have paid for the engine - that is really an admission of responsibility, so it works to your advantage unless there is some document or agreement where it is implied this "made you whole".

This is where things get complicated. What you WANT and what you think you're entitled to are only as good as your ability to enforce it in a court of law. I'd definitely document what you think you're entitled to and submit it to the offending party. Then, it really becomes a negotiation. Flights, loss of value, etc. Let's say you think you're entitled to $900 or $2000 - what are they willing to pay for? And beyond that, what are you willing to sue them for if they tell you to bugger off.

The fact they're paying for the engine without a fight surprises me.
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Watty
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Re: Catastrophic Engine Failure, Recourse?

Post by Watty »

bob60014 wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 8:51 am I would be more worried about the used replacement engine. Warranty, was it a certified rebuild, from the junk yard, etc??
One important fact you did not mention was the age and milage of the car. What is reasonable for a 7+ year old car with 100k+ miles might be different than for a two year old car with low miles.

If the car was older and the replacement engine comes with a good warranty then you could actually end up with a better car than before.

If the car was only a few years old then with that much work being done I would be concerned about possible future problems. With used car prices being so high I would be tempted to shop for a new car to see what sort of overall deal you could get if you replace it now.

You might have to wait a few months to get a replacement car but if the car is not in too short of supply and you get lucky then it might make sense to replace the car if you can get a real high price for your current car once it is fixed.
stats99 wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 8:40 am Any thoughts about recovering the $900 in additional expenses?
That is reasonable. You are very lucky that they are taking responsibility for it and not making you sue them since it would be real hard to prove that it was their fault if they denied it.

The first thing to do is to document the expenses and ask nicely for them to be covered.
Last edited by Watty on Fri Jan 14, 2022 9:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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jabberwockOG
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Re: Catastrophic Engine Failure, Recourse?

Post by jabberwockOG »

Hope you get a far reimbursement of your actual expenses and a loaner.

Engine swap these days is major surgery with lots of opportunity for mistakes and frayed pinched cables, hoses, connectors, etc. If it were me, unless I was convinced that the work was performed at a very high level of competence, and that the "new" engine was actually new or quality rebuilt, I'd consider selling or trading the repaired car for another car. If it is a junkyard used engine, insist that they replace timing belt (if applicable), and water pump in addition to the swap.
Last edited by jabberwockOG on Fri Jan 14, 2022 9:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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stats99
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Re: Catastrophic Engine Failure, Recourse?

Post by stats99 »

Thanks for comments. The vehicle is a 2017 with 55,000 miles. The replacement engine is from LKQ, apparently a big auto parts distributor. Engine has 20,000 miles and comes with 12/12 warranty. The work is done and I have vehicle back. I have sent an e mail with my costs and receipts to the dealership but have not heard back.
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Doom&Gloom
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Re: Catastrophic Engine Failure, Recourse?

Post by Doom&Gloom »

Kagord wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 9:10 am If the engine oil light/pressure was working, there is some shared responsibility for the operator to stop running the vehicle as soon as possible to prevent engine damage. I know when I worked in a oil lube shop in the early 80s, even if our fault (like an oil filter double gasket), we never paid for an engine replacement when this happened. Don't know if dealers are different, or maybe today it's different has there is a lot of detachment on what's actually happening under the hood and how an engine actually works.

Anyways, good luck.
Agree with this. OP doesn't give much detail on the timing of the light coming on and the engine seizing. Years ago an Infiniti dealer changed my oil the day before a 200 mile trip. On my return a couple of days later the oil pressure light came on, and I pulled over to check it only to find oil sprayed over my engine bay. I refilled the oil at that point and a couple of more places as I limped back to the dealership to discover they had failed to tighten the oil filter properly.

Had I kept driving after seeing the light come on without checking for a problem, I would not have felt justified in asking for expenses for my inconvenience but certainly would have sought compensation for damages. If OP's engine seized almost immediately after the light came on, I feel they are justified in seeking reimbursement. Not optimistic about the chances though.
wilked
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Re: Catastrophic Engine Failure, Recourse?

Post by wilked »

Kagord wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 9:10 am If the engine oil light/pressure was working, there is some shared responsibility for the operator to stop running the vehicle as soon as possible to prevent engine damage. I know when I worked in a oil lube shop in the early 80s, even if our fault (like an oil filter double gasket), we never paid for an engine replacement when this happened. Don't know if dealers are different, or maybe today it's different has there is a lot of detachment on what's actually happening under the hood and how an engine actually works.

Anyways, good luck.
I think this ones a little different. The light is intended for low oil, gives the operator an alert and allows them to get the vehicle to a safe location and take action. This was a drain plug that came off, not low oil but no oil condition. I imagine the sequence including seizure happened fairly rapidly.
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Re: Catastrophic Engine Failure, Recourse?

Post by sport »

One other suggestion: In the future, stop going to the dealer for oil changes. They give that job to the least experienced tech they have. They also charge more then other places. Find a good independent mechanic for such things. That goes for routine repair work as well.
SouthernInvestor
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Re: Catastrophic Engine Failure, Recourse?

Post by SouthernInvestor »

In theory you are entitled to incidentals, but I would be happy they stood behind their mistake with the replacement.

YMMV.
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8foot7
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Re: Catastrophic Engine Failure, Recourse?

Post by 8foot7 »

I second the recommendation to work with the automaker's corporate folks who will often reimburse for reasonable things due to dealer mistakes.
I see the work is already one but in the future I would have demanded a longer warranty at the dealer's expense for the LKQ engine. It is probably fine but there is no reason they can't be on the hook for a couple of years for a 55,000 mile engine you had to have due to their error.
gator15
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Re: Catastrophic Engine Failure, Recourse?

Post by gator15 »

Doesn’t hurt to ask. If you really want the reimbursement be prepared to go to court. I had a situation similar to yours a few years back, except my issue was with a jiffy lube. It’s great they agreed to fix their mistake. I had to go to court to resolve my issue.
JDave
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Re: Catastrophic Engine Failure, Recourse?

Post by JDave »

The exact same thing happened to my niece on a cross-country trip. The negligent garage paid for everything - engine replacement and all her extra car-rental and travel costs.
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Re: Catastrophic Engine Failure, Recourse?

Post by tibbitts »

sport wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 11:15 am One other suggestion: In the future, stop going to the dealer for oil changes. They give that job to the least experienced tech they have. They also charge more then other places. Find a good independent mechanic for such things. That goes for routine repair work as well.
I don't agree with the conclusion to stop going to the dealer for oil changes. Sometimes it's more expensive, sometimes not when there are deals/coupons/etc. "Good independent mechanics" make mistakes too, and they don't assign their most experienced employees to changing oil. And if you d-i-y that's no help either: everybody has done things like leave lug nuts loose, and other people I know have left out drain plugs so the fluids drain out the bottom as fast as they poured them in.

Besides, "find a good independent mechanic" is easier said than done. By the time you have enough experience with a shop to know if it's a good shop or not, it will be probably be under new ownership, gone out of business, etc.
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Re: Catastrophic Engine Failure, Recourse?

Post by tibbitts »

2Scoops wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 8:58 am I’ve had a lot of success working directly with the corporate office of vehicle manufacturers over the years.
I've had mostly the opposite experience, except for one instance where I did get some assistance from a manufacturer. Usually the corporate office will declare the dealer to be an independent business that's free to operate as it sees fit, establish its own policies, etc. Unless it installs the wrong color carpet in the showroom in which case the manufacturer has total control and will demand the problem be rectified in minutes.
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stats99
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Re: Catastrophic Engine Failure, Recourse?

Post by stats99 »

Some additional clarifying points. The loss of oil happened suddenly and I did need to safely move over 2 lanes on the highway to get to the shoulder before I could shut down the car. Also, all work was done at the dealership since I had an extended warranty on the car.

Thanks for all comments so far. I will probably escalate to their corporate office. I don’t see the value in actual legal action at this point.
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Doom&Gloom
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Re: Catastrophic Engine Failure, Recourse?

Post by Doom&Gloom »

stats99 wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 3:44 pm Some additional clarifying points. The loss of oil happened suddenly and I did need to safely move over 2 lanes on the highway to get to the shoulder before I could shut down the car. Also, all work was done at the dealership since I had an extended warranty on the car.

Thanks for all comments so far. I will probably escalate to their corporate office. I don’t see the value in actual legal action at this point.
Thanks for the additional info. I don't understand how extended warranties work, but I would expect that this failure should have been covered by your dealership rather than under an extended warranty. If covered by the extended warranty, that would seem to bolster your arguments for receiving a new engine. At the very least this should help you in your efforts to receive compensation for your additional expenses.
Kagord
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Re: Catastrophic Engine Failure, Recourse?

Post by Kagord »

wilked wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 10:52 am
Kagord wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 9:10 am If the engine oil light/pressure was working, there is some shared responsibility for the operator to stop running the vehicle as soon as possible to prevent engine damage. I know when I worked in a oil lube shop in the early 80s, even if our fault (like an oil filter double gasket), we never paid for an engine replacement when this happened. Don't know if dealers are different, or maybe today it's different has there is a lot of detachment on what's actually happening under the hood and how an engine actually works.

Anyways, good luck.
I think this ones a little different. The light is intended for low oil, gives the operator an alert and allows them to get the vehicle to a safe location and take action. This was a drain plug that came off, not low oil but no oil condition. I imagine the sequence including seizure happened fairly rapidly.
No, there is no intending here, the light means you don't have enough oil pressure, or the switch is bad, or some other fault in the system, it's a pressure switch not a low oil detector. If that light comes on, you best be getting off the gas and babying the car to the side of the road ASAP, safely of course. If you do this, you will likely not have significant damage. I'm sure there's some scenarios, where maybe you do have to gas it hard after light comes on for safety.

I wish cars had better alerting here, maybe some do, I guess there's reasons they don't.
Last edited by Kagord on Sat Jan 15, 2022 2:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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JoeRetire
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Re: Catastrophic Engine Failure, Recourse?

Post by JoeRetire »

stats99 wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 8:40 am Any thoughts about recovering the $900 in additional expenses?
Slim.

Complain anyway, and see what happens.
This is the kind of day that almost makes you feel good to be alive.
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Re: Catastrophic Engine Failure, Recourse?

Post by Jazzysoon »

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Capsu78
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Re: Catastrophic Engine Failure, Recourse?

Post by Capsu78 »

Back in the 80's, my Toyota PU suffered a CEF...some knucklehead didn't take off the old oil filter gasket before putting on the new oil filter. It failed about a week later.
Been staring at that knuckleheads face in the mirror every morning for the last 35 years.
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StevieG72
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Re: Catastrophic Engine Failure, Recourse?

Post by StevieG72 »

Just curious, was the car due for an oil change? Or did you do it specifically because of planned trip?

My mom tends to do this, I understand the theory but don’t think it is really helpful most of the time. Of course they often check other things too, so that added checkup and peace of mind adds value and could catch an issue that would be of concern.
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