Fiasco at auto mechanic shop: Inspection -> oil leak/change gone wrong

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by RogueRose, Sep 14, 2015.

  1. RogueRose

    Thread Starter Member

    Oct 10, 2014
    So my car was running fine and I needed to get it inspected. I drove the ~1 mile and dropped the car off the night before (late like 11PM) in the lot and left keys in drop box. Early the next morning I get a call from the manager telling me that I had a major oil leak - the lot was "covered" under the car. When they moved the car they saw all the oil and they stated that it leaked almost a couple litres of oil and the engine had almost no oil left in it (it holds 6.2L). ??? They had gone ahead and given me the premium synthetic oil change (I guess regular wasn't alright on a 10+ yr old, 185,000 mile car) and it was $$$. I got off the phone quickly as the car was done.

    Well this was a shock to me. I looked outside where I park my car and other than a little pink radiator fluid drops & an oil spot about the size of a small cookie, there was nothing else to be seen. As I retraced my route to the shop there was no place where I could have scraped or hit something and I know I didn't hear anything on the way over.

    At the shop I looked at the spot where I parked my car (moderate incline) and it was clean dry pavement - looked absolutely the same as the surrounding lot pavement. Now I'm confused and a little worried/ticked off but maybe there's a logical answer. I asked again about the leak and heard the same story. I said I thought it was a little odd that there was no oil on the parking lot, especially if it had leaked that much oil. The response was that it was cleaned up. OK. I'd really like to know what they use to get those kinds of results and have no trace of oil, soap or water in 90 mins time (from the time they opened till I arrived).

    All of the sudden the manager says "well we won't charge for the oil change". Huh? Didn't I just get the premium stiff that was going to be expensive? What's going on here??

    Anyway, I know how I feel about it but I don't want to call anyone out over this but I' wondering what you all would do if something like that happened to you and what your thoughts would have been about what happened. I'm guessing the manager didn't do the work and his employees did, so maybe he's in a tough spot, IDK how this stuff works.

    How would you guys handle this and what would you think?
  2. jpanhalt

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 18, 2008
    This sounds like a variation of the old "leaking fuel pump" scam that was popular in the US. I ran into it twice while driving across the SW in the late 50's and early 1960's.

    I would accept the "free"oil change and find another repair station. Then crawl under the car and check the oil pan. There may be no evidence of any work at all. Also get a small amount of oil from the dip stick. Even synthetic shows signs of use. In all likelihood, nothing was done to your car. None of that will prove anything in any court, which is really not an option anyway. But if your suspicions are confirmed, you might feel more justified bad mouthing that repair station. You should also get a real oil change at the recommended interval.

    Hypatia's Protege, #12 and RogueRose like this.
  3. wayneh


    Sep 9, 2010
    So, they claimed you had a big leak which they did not diagnose and repair, but they gave you a free oil change? Total BS and likely a scam attempt. Chalk it up to education and move on. As suggested, I'd assume nothing was done and look to getting a genuine oil change soon.
  4. tcmtech

    Distinguished Member

    Nov 4, 2013
    This is why I typically do as much of my own work as possible and what I can't do goes to a place that will let me stand right in their shop and watch the work being done if I want to.

    Personally if someone tells me I need work done I say no problem just make sure you have before and after pictures plus actual parts from my vehicle otherwise it didn't happen and I don't pay for things that didn't happen.
  5. nsaspook

    AAC Fanatic!

    Aug 27, 2009
    This is why I always get the 'Trunk Monkey' option. You don't try to scam when the Trunk Monkey is watching you work.

    #12, RogueRose and Wendy like this.
  6. wayneh


    Sep 9, 2010
    Ditto. I have a shop I completely trust and sometimes in the depth of winter I might have them do an oil change for me, but I still feel much better doing it myself. I feel pretty much the same way about brake jobs and most other chores. I've replaced power steering pumps, water pumps, starters, even a fuel pump. None of that stuff is all that hard once you know how and have tools. I don't do exhaust system work because I never learned to weld and it's such a mess to work on.
    #12 likes this.
  7. strantor

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 3, 2010
    Me too, historically.
    I haven't done as much DIY mechanic-ing in the past couple years as I used to, because I've been driving newer model vehicles.
    I feel a little "out of the loop" or "off my game" lately, but I learned recently that even my dulled skills are above and beyond what can be had at a (reputable) general repair shop.
    I recently bought a 2005 pickup for a fairly good price. I thought the price was a little "too good to be true" but I could not find anything major wrong with it.
    I researched, read reviews, and picked out what was apparently the straightest-shooting "honest" shop, and had them inspect it. I took their list of findings and used it to get the price down another little smidge, and bought the truck. Took it home and started disassembling it to find that some of the problems they identified weren't really problems at all, and they had missed some more important problems.
    • They told me my rear brake cylinders were leaking, they weren't. (although I did find their fingerprints inside the brake drum; I know they actually took it off and looked)
    • They said my belts were cracked, and they were
    • They said my front brake rotor was warped, they were right, but they missed the root cause, that the floating brake assembly was rusted in place and no longer floating.
    • They said my shocks were shot, and they were.
    • They said nothing about my transmission fluid, power steering fluid, or differential fluid, yet all of them were dangerously low, and the P.S. and Diff fluid was black and burnt.
    • They said my tie rods were bent and I needed to replace them and get an alignment, which was total B.S.
    • They said I had an oil leak, but there is no leak. There was some oil around from poor filling, but it doesn't leak a drop.
    I don't think that shop actively tried to "rip me off." I think they gave me a well-intentioned but incorrect, and probably rushed assessment. That is the problem that mechanic shops face; they don't drive the car everyday and have no good clues as to what they should be looking for. This leads to the tired old routine phone call "hey, we fixed what we needed to fix but we found something else" - that may go back and forth several times, usually resulting in the customer feeling they are being bled dry by an unscrupulous shop (which is definitely an understandable suspicion in a lot of cases). And then the matter is made worse by an unacceptably high percentage of rip-off shops that really do actively engage in intentional false diagnosis and bogus repairs. Their actions cast a shadow over the whole industry.

    The best solution is for the car owner to be informed and "in tune" with his/her own vehicle. Not everybody is, or can be, or has time to be a shadetree mechanic on the weekends, but if at all possible they should try to perform what maintenance that they can on their own. Crawling under your own car to change your own oil, you can find other problems that you wouldn't otherwise know about. Then you have the opportunity to fix them before they escalate, or at least call BS on an unscrupulous mechanic who tried to tell you that your pan gasket is leaking after you just inspected it.

    Try that next time your car needs service. You don't even need to buy the Haynes or Chilton's manual. There is a youtube video for just about every maintenance operation for every car on the road.
    #12 and shortbus like this.
  8. #12


    Nov 30, 2010
    Some repair shops have actively tried to cheat me, and I'm a white man. (Nobody here said anything about that, but it irritates me so much that I mentioned it.) Mark me down for what wayneh said in post #6.

    Today's prices are so high that it feels like being cheated, even when every part of the transaction is done well and honestly. I spent more than a week looking up known issues and, DIY videos on the Internet for my recent purchase. (Thank Dog for the Internet!) I recommend that to Rogue Rose. The more you know, the less you get cheated, and surfing the Net is as convenient and (close to) free as you can get.
  9. JoeJester

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 26, 2005
    Scammers are equal opportunity thieves. Their color of choice is money.
    nsaspook likes this.