Q: Engine damage after oil change

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I had a routine oil change at a major car dealership. When I left the driveway, my dashboard lit up with an indication there is an engine problem. I drove directly back to the dealership. A few days later they told me there was engine damage during the oil change. They said that an employee was let go and they will do whatever it takes to fix the engine. I told them that I do not want the car back. They replaced the engine block after I told them multiple times that I do not want the car back. I'm worried there will be issues down the road. They are telling me that my car is only worth 11,000 and I owe 15,500 on the car. They admitted that they are at fault and not charging me for engine replacement, however I don't want the car back. What are my rights?

My car has 77000 miles.
My car has a manual transmission.

Your question poses two general issues, the first relating to auto mechanics and vehicle reliability and the second to your legal rights. Let me first deal with the first issue inasmuch as a resolution of that may make the second issue irrelevant for you. If I could guess, the engine damage was caused by the failure of the Mechanic to add engine oil to the engine after all the oil was drained out and/or the engine oil filter was not reinstalled or leaked at the gasket. IF the foregoing is the fact circumstance (you should confirm the CAUSE of the damage with the dealership), then the engine on your car was frankly destroyed upon re-start of the vehicle. Engines simply cannot be run safely without adequate engine oil even momentarily. Indeed, when an engine is rebuilt, ideally the oiling system is pressurized with oil using external tools prior to even attempting to start the engine for the first time. However, in your circumstance, you have to keep foremost in mind that just because an engine is essentially ruined does NOT mean that it cannot subsequently be replaced with a NEW engine or otherwise repaired to like new condition. In fact, IF the dealership installed a new short or long block engine assembly, and IF that installation was done properly, you are now quite literally better off than you were when you appeared for the oil change, simply because now you have a new engine. So, if they indeed replaced the entire engine, and the replacement was performed according to the instructions (admittedly, the weak link here in your issue inasmuch as nobody follows instructions these days) you are probably perfectly fine and may indeed now be in a better position than you were before. If you want to confirm what your present position is with regard to the engine, you could request a vehicle inspection and for nominal cost YourMechanic will dispatch a certified mechanic to your location, get your first hand account, review the paperwork to determine what exactly was replaced, and INSPECT the work that was done. The ultimate result is you would have more information from which you could determine if the dealership has made you whole which of course is your concern and your objective. The foregoing is how I would recommend you handle this because it will create less hassle and inconvenience for you and most importantly accounts for the very real possibility that all the damage has in fact been repaired and you have been restored to better than your original position. With regard to legal advice, it is blatantly illegal in my locale for non-Attorneys to offer legal advice. This is generally the rule across the country. However, as a mechanic, I can tell you that if you have credible and documentable (provable) evidence that your vehicle remains in a damaged condition and/or you have suffered any losses on account of the mistake that the dealership made, you have the right to file complaints with the Attorney General’s office in your state, the state licensing agency(ies) for the dealership, the BBB, and any and all other entities that may have jurisdiction over that business. You also have the right to institute a Small Claims action and/or contact an Attorney who could serve as your advocate in any needed negotiations with the dealership. To conclude, though, based on the information that you have provided, if you are able to confirm that the damage was fully repaired, and no new damage was introduced, you needn’t worry at all about future impacts on the reliability of the vehicle. If you have doubts, simply get it inspected by a certified mechanic. If you have additional or follow up questions to the end of resolving this, please do not hesitate to re-contact us.

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