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It was not like that when I brought it in.


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We recently took in a 2005 golf with a hole in the oil pan. It was a big hole. I made a note on the estimate that we did not know if there was engine damage because the hole was too big to fill with oil and run. When the oil pan was down we saw what looked like a pinch of bearing material squeazed out around the #1 main. We took a picture of this bearing damage then installed the pan. Added oil and car started. No power, Turbo seized. Now customer is accusing us of running the car with no oil and ruining his turbo. How would you guys handle this situation. I really don't feel like having a horrible google review calling us idiots.

 

 

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Honestly I would have stopped once the pan was off, no way that engine was gonna be good, that one gets pushed out of the bay. Note condition of vehicle on the WO when it comes in and have the customer sign it. That's the best way to cover yourself, plus its the law here in NY

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Need more info: was the estimate signed or acknowledged ? Any time we have engine damage I make sure the customer signs off on the potential for a bad engine. I also a bad experience and ended up losing on the job. No win either way.

 

 

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It was sent to him via e mail and he replied to the e mail with approval.

Edited by Handson
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Honestly I would have stopped once the pan was off, no way that engine was gonna be good, that one gets pushed out of the bay. Note condition of vehicle on the WO when it comes in and have the customer sign it. That's the best way to cover yourself, plus its the law here in NY

This is what i should have done.

 

What should I do at the stage i am at now.

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You didn't build, buy it or break it. But luckily for him, you can fix it. You may take a reputation hit, but he can't do anything to you. Running a turbo for a short period of time without oil won't cause a catastrophic failure. If it goes to court your insurance company will back you. The customer is all talk, the situation may be uncomfortable but just keep your head up!

 

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This is what i should have done.

 

What should I do at the stage i am at now.

 

Honestly the customer is just angry that they ruined their own engine and is trying to pass the blame. They don't want to be the idiot so you're stuck being the bad guy. Some people just need to blame someone else for everything. I don't know about the laws in your state but here in NY worst case is a DMV inspector investigates from the consumer protection division, they beat you up about your paperwork and waste your time. Its clear you didn't destroy the engine, doubt even a heavily customer favorable investigator would put that on you.

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This is what i should have done.

 

What should I do at the stage i am at now.

 

 

I think the fact that you put it back together, and started, and ran the thing gives the customer leverage to claim liability on your part. If the rotating assembly is compromised, there will be no oil pressure, or very low oil pressure. Starting and running the engine in this condition can cause additional damage (like the turbo) to engine components that require lubrication to function. Not to mention, you could be pumping shavings, contaminants, etc all through the system. For the next go round, the INSTANT you find something you were not expecting, or something additional relevant to the outcome of the repair, you put everything down, document, and discuss with the customer immediately. Don't get caught up chasing payment for the job which many shops tend to bury themselves in. and end up costing them more in the long run.

 

Now, I would have a sit down with the customer, and try to diffuse the situation. Talk with them, try to find peaceful means. Maybe cut him a discount for the current repair bill, or give him a coupon for a future repair. I would err more on just having the customer remove the vehicle from my shop as peacefully as possible. if it means taking a hit on google so be it. What you don't want is to marry the car/customer.

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Running a turbo for a short period of time without oil won't cause a catastrophic failure.

Whoa what? I disagree wholeheartedly. All it takes is a slight hiccup of oil pressure to grenade a turbo. Especially an old, probably very used turbo. I mean some manufacturers even call for bleeding of the system just to purge the air from the oil feed lines when doing an oil change. That is how important lubrication is to the TC. You also have to figure that the system was compromised to begin with. That is a giant red flag. You don't want to be anywhere near the thing, because it is as fragile as a baby's tooth.

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Whoa what? I disagree wholeheartedly. All it takes is a slight hiccup of oil pressure to grenade a turbo. Especially an old, probably very used turbo. I mean some manufacturers even call for bleeding of the system just to purge the air from the oil feed lines when doing an oil change. That is how important lubrication is to the TC. You also have to figure that the system was compromised to begin with. That is a giant red flag. You don't want to be anywhere near the thing, because it is as fragile as a baby's tooth.

You don't actually work on the cars do you? Lol

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 5 weeks later...

Seems like the job shouldn't have been performed to begin with....unless I'm misunderstanding something. If the car came in with a big hole in oil pan...wouldn't first step be to ask customer what happened? Did they run over something, etc?,bc aside from from running over something, it seems that internal damage is most likely. So before even taking down that pan...you tell the customer and then sell him an engine or roll it out! I mean the hole had to come from somewhere. Seems like maybe you didn't want to pass up the dough so you let the customer choose to proceed. Problem is that the customer is NOT the professional in this case...YOU are.

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Any chance this is a road hazard issue that could have insurance coverage from their personal auto. Had a similar situation a few years ago and their insurance company bought them a used motor and turbo, even though they were two tracking in a low clearance vehicle when they hit that rock and then tried to drive it home.

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Update:

 

The customer rolled with the car without indecent. Grumbled a bit but I have not heard back since. I imagine who ever he took it to explained to him that the damage was done a while ago.

 

To davine4real we typically run at capacity, sometimes we are booked out one or two days in advance, sometimes up to a week. I thought I did my best prior to taking in the job explaining to the customer that he had a good chance of motor damage. It was just one of those situations where the customer tried to forget what we had discussed and had in writing.

Edited by Hands On
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the burden of proof should fall on the customer - call your insurance company they may (my does) call an outside company to inspect. Hopefully you have pictures of the oil pan before you did a teardown.

 

I'm surprised you are not concerned about the spun bearing.

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  • 6 months later...

Seems like the job shouldn't have been performed to begin with....unless I'm misunderstanding something. If the car came in with a big hole in oil pan...wouldn't first step be to ask customer what happened? Did they run over something, etc?,bc aside from from running over something, it seems that internal damage is most likely. So before even taking down that pan...you tell the customer and then sell him an engine or roll it out! I mean the hole had to come from somewhere. Seems like maybe you didn't want to pass up the dough so you let the customer choose to proceed. Problem is that the customer is NOT the professional in this case...YOU are.

 

I agree. When they pay for something it has to be fixed. If it is going to cost more to fix it right they need to know. Every time they are going to blame you for the problems even though they weren't your fault. Try to fix everything you possibly can and they will more often than not be happy to pay the extra money to have it fixed rather than a little money for a broken car.

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