Edmunds Answers



  • morin2 11/13/10 3:17 pm PST

    Its hard to say for sure what happened here. If the car was 2 qts low, nothing would show on the dipstick. That engine only holds 3.9 qts. How far or for how long did you drive after this service? I have no idea what "flushed the crankcase" means. Did they just refill? It would have been better to have watched to see if they pulled the drain plug and what if anything drained out. Its possible, even likely, that they failed to put any oil in the car, but can you prove that? Proving engine damage will be extremely difficult.

    At this point, my concern would be the coverage of the 1 year warranty. Will they replace the engine if an oil-related problem arises? Who would make that determination and what criteria will be used?

    I'd be inclined to do my own oil changes from now on and examine the bottom of the drain pan closely for metal particles. We have one of these in the family and it is one of the easiest cars on which to do an oil change - as well as other routine service. Use the correct Toyota filters for this engine as it is a re-badged Corolla.

  • bayes 11/13/10 3:29 pm PST

    I drove perhaps 6 miles, and I find it difficult to imagine that there was no oil at all in the engine. It was a bright day so it took awhile to notice the dashboard warnings. Upon returning to my garage I found no oil at all on the dipstick.

    The mechanic very quickly poured new oil before he could be stopped, and drained it into his dirty catch basin, so any possibility of checking for metal was gone. This was deceptive and dishonest, which both the service manager and garage owner agree with.

    My concern is the unseen damage that may go without a breakdown for years, but may deliver an earlier death to the engine than it might have had, and also make for more noisy engine than it was.


  • autorepairs 11/13/10 10:11 pm PST

    I had the same before at wal-mart. So, what i started to do is watch the mechanics as they change my oil. I found a good autorepair guy near my home and he does a excellent job

  • morin2 11/13/10 11:17 pm PST

    Unfortunately, this may become one of those situations in which you'll never know for sure (or be able to prove) if a future event was caused by this screw-up by the mechanic. If it does take several years for something to fail, then I really don't see how you'll be able to make the connection stand up in court.

    I'd focus on what you have in writing now. It sounds as though they have made an attempt to be honorable with a 1 year warranty. Let's face it, you're not going to get a new engine out of them.

    There is always a risk when you have others work on your car. Unfortunately, this is not a rare occurrence, and yes, you always have to check before driving off. I personally know of two cases in which the oil was added without draining the old oil. The Prizm is an easy car to maintain yourself. When you do it yourself, you know the job was done correctly with quality parts of your own choosing.

    How is the car driving now? If it seems off, or has loss of power, then I'd want a compression test. If the compression test is ok, then you'll probably be ok.

  • bayes 11/14/10 12:56 pm PST

    Thanks for your replies. I surely will keep the ideas in mind as I negotiate with the owner of the garage. Being 75 yrs. old, I no longer do my own oil change, but did for many years, and always had peace of mind that it was done correctly.

    I might insist on a longer warranty, after all I don't put that much mileage on the car so it should not cost him for some extra time.

    By the way, this car has been completely trouble-free for eleven years, and I do still enjoy the positive feel of the clutch and gearbox, especially in the mountains.


  • morin2 11/14/10 2:06 pm PST

    I hope there was no damage and that it all works out for you. Even if there was no damage - you still have the worry about the uncertainty for the future.

    Those cars were very rugged. I loved my 02 and promised my daughter that it would be her's if she got all As in high school. And it survived that teenager test, although with a few scratches and minor dings. Its got 107K on it now and has also been perfectly trouble free.

    You would enjoy an article I read this summer (maybe in the Washington Post) about a country or province where nearly every car is a Corolla-Prizm. If I can find that article, I'll post it here. Aha, here it is: (Afghanistan)



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