Q: had car for 5 days, then suddenly stalled leaving me stranded. Engine wont turn over to start

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mechanic says some head valves were loose so he ordered new parts and replaced the head. Then he took the car out for a test ride,15 miles away. He says the valves were still making noise, so this time it must be bad parts from the store. Then he checked the timing belt from beneath the car. Thats when he says he noticed oil all over under the car and a hole in the oil pan. He claimed that I must have hit something that busted a 1/4" hole in the oil pan which is the cause all the engine problems. He suggested that my insurance would cover all repairs since it was a"road hazard"that caused the damages. However I’m uncomfortable accepting blame and claiming on my insurance, since I strongly disagree that I hit anything to cause a hole in my oil pan. It’s very suspicious that a mechanic didn't notice the hole in the oil pan until after his test drive. Would a busted oil cause: low dipstick reading, low oil pressure gauge and lots of oil residue or noticed before initial repair/test drive?

My car has 77787 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

First, let me say I am sorry you are having an auto repair experience like this. This is not the kind of thing I like to hear about.

To answer your question about the hole in the oil pan, the answer is definitely YES! A hole in the oil pan means one of two things, the motor has internal damage that created the hole, which means you need a rebuild or, yes, road debris could cause this, but this would cause a very hard impact that most people would notice when it occurs. But not always. Either way, the noisy lifter is a result of a lack of oil pressure. And this is where I am sad to say, the head work should have never been done.

It is very suspicious that your last service missed the hole in the oil pan and even more suspicious that he didn’t check the oil before he started the job. I am not in the habit of bad mouthing other mechanics because I just don’t know exactly what has happened here. There could simply be a misunderstanding between you and the mechanic. But if what you have described is accurate, the head should have never been replaced.

I recommend this even with myself, if you don’t trust him or her, I suggest finding someone you do trust. Of course, your car is likely sitting in the shop at this moment which complicates things for you. At this point I suspect you need a new motor. Your car is a 28 year old car. Unless you have sentimental value with this car, or money is short, I recommend a newer vehicle. If that is not possible, then I can’t see anything else that will help you besides a new motor. This repair will likely cost more than the value of the car.

How to move forward is a question only you can answer. Replacing the head is a big expense and many shops will have a hard time swallowing that much money. It will often put them under. Of course, I don’t know anything about the shop you are using, but if this is really the mistake that was made, a compromise of some sort should be offered. This is now a customer service issue for the shop. Unfortunately, if they don’t want to be helpful, I recommend taking your car to another shop. Fighting with them will not likely end in a good result. If you haven’t paid the bill and they are insisting, then you may have no choice but to take legal action. Keep in mind, this advice is based off the accuracy of your information. If this information is not completely accurate, then my advice does not apply.

One angle you might try, is making a claim with your insurance company. Their inspector will be able to tell if it was road debris and will help you figure out what is really going on. Sometimes insurance companies will just pay out without an inspection. I think if you request an inspection, they will send an inspector. I am very sorry you are having such a difficulty, and I wish you the best of luck.

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