Q: Overheated after an oil change.

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I had my oil changed and car checked at a local Midas shop. I've had a transmission code for a while, but it's never been a major problem. They also said that I had a thermostat code and that I have to replace it. At first I didn't agree, because I've never had overheating or cooling problems, but it was the cheapest option of all suggestions, so I agreed anyway. The suggested repairs were only things of the suspension system. The check page also said everything is ok. I headed straight to LA and 2-3 hours later I stopped for gas. The car has been parked for not more than 15 mins. I left the gas station and less 8 miles after, the car overheated and started smoking. I stopped and opened the hood. The oil cap was missing and the oil was all over the engine. I checked the dipstick there was no oil on it at all. There was coolant everywhere as well. I had a good running car and 2 hours after the shop it broke down. What do you think was the initial trigger? Thank you for your time!

My car has 230000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

It sounds like the technician did not bleed the cooling system properly allowing an air pocket to remain in the system. When the air pocket settles after sitting it typically raises to the top near the coolant temperature sensor. Since air will heat up and expand more than coolant, once it hits the sensor, it will max out the gauge and create excessive pressure in the cooling system.

Midas is a national franchise and can bill other shops for warranty repairs. You can find the nearest location and call them for a resolution (or the original store).

With the vehicle cold, the radiator needs to be filled with a 50/50 coolant to water solution and then pressure tested for leaks. Chances are you will need to add up to half a gallon or more. The pressure test requires a special tool.

The oil cap obviously was left loose or off. The engine compartment needs to be washed and oil topped off.

It’s more likely that this was two individual problems caused by the same mechanic, rather than one problem that caused both issues. The thermostat code was just likely a computer monitored condition for early detection of a slow operating thermostat. It didn’t necessarily mean it failed, rather that it may have soon.

The company should take care of everything for you. If you are far away, you should request they pay for towing.

The next time your vehicle needs work, you should consider contacting a competent, qualified professional that won’t do this to your car, such as one from YourMechanic.

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