Jiffy Lube Engine Doom
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This is a discussion on Jiffy Lube Engine Doom within the General Maintenance, Troubleshooting & Accidents. forums, part of the Tech & Modifying & General Repairs category; Hello, I am currently dealing with a very serious issue that happened to my 2007 STi. I usually get all ...

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    Registered User dopameen's Avatar
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    Question Jiffy Lube Engine Doom

    Hello,

    I am currently dealing with a very serious issue that happened to my 2007 STi.

    I usually get all of my service done at the dealership, but this past weekend I had to make an unplanned trip from Denver to Utah due to a family emergency. I was coming up due for an oil change, and because I needed to get out of town ASAP, I stopped at Jiffy Lube in Evergreen. I'll admit that I have taken my wife's car there several times and had no complaints. They have always seemed a little better than your 'average' Jiffy Lube.

    We left directly from Jiffy Lube and headed toward Utah on I70. We stopped for gas twice, noticed no issues, and the car showed absolutely no symptoms of a problem. About six hours later and 20-30 miles north of Green River on US-6, there was a quick "bang" from the engine and we begin to trail more blue smoke than a frickin' paratrooper. I didn't need to be a mechanical expert to know that I had lost oil pressure and subsequently pulled to the shoulder and turned off the car as quickly as safely possible (~30 seconds or less).

    There was an oil slick behind the vehicle that I would estimate to be a few hundred yards long, perhaps. I witnessed the rest of the oil drain out with my own eyes.

    I called Subaru Roadside Assistance, who dispatched a tow from Moab (WTF!?), which ended up costing me $500 to get my car to my mom's place in Price, UT.

    During the ride, the tow truck driver told me of many other instances of the same problem and suggested it was due to Jiffy Lube neglecting to properly secure the oil drain plug. A few calls to friends who know more than I about mechanical stuff all yielded the same answer.

    After dealing with said family emergency (my mom was in the hospital, terminally ill, whole other story), I slid under the car to see if I could get a look at where the oil had come from. Immediately, I see the drain plug is completely missing, yet the threads look as if they were brand new. The entire undercarriage of the car is coated in oil from front to back.

    After speaking with several different service department people at various dealerships, they all told me the same thing. I mean come on, it's pretty much a no-brainer.

    Jiffy Lube either failed to use the proper crush gasket, or simply finger tightened the plug and did not properly torque it down, causing it to rattle loose and I actually heard it come out of the car and bounce off the skid plate right as we began trailing smoke.

    I have full coverage insurance and I also purchased a full-coverage 80k warranty when I bought the vehicle new. However, I don't think any of that really applies to this situation (with the exception of possibly voiding my extended warranty if I were to allow unapproved parts to be used in the repairs, etc...)?

    I have receipts and other various documentation that basically chronicle a timeline of everything that happened during the times before and after the incident. I have a Starbucks receipt that I got on the way to Jiffy Lube, I have all of the receipts and paperwork from JiffyLube, I have the receipts for the two times we stopped for gas (again, with timestamps), and I have receipts and documentation for the exact time we called for the tow truck, and all information regarding the tow and when it was dropped off. I was sure to get the tow driver's personal contact information. He also assured me that he would be glad to sign a legal statement describing the scene he saw when he arrived (oil slick, dripping, etc).

    I also have a fairly good set of picture that I took once my mom was stable that show the missing oil plug. I did send the images to Jiffy Lube. I will try to attach it to this post as well.

    My main questions are:

    1) I shut it off quick. Less than 30 seconds. Is it likely that my engine is still totally grenaded?

    2) I attempted to deal with the Jiffy Lube manager and even the owner of the franchise, but they are jacking me around and wanted to have a local mechanic (that THEY came up with) look at it first, refusing to pay to have it towed to a dealership to be assessed by a qualified Subaru shop, and generally not being nice. Do I really need to get an attorney? I am broke, but I can shift some things around if I must. I still owe a good bit on the car, and there is no way I'm letting these guys jack me.

    3) I would much appreciate ANY other advice, evidence to get/emphasize, etc from you guys, who know much more than me about the costs involved and what type of thing I am likely to encounter.

    My apologies for the long post, but I am totally freaking out over this and it has already taken up SO much of my time, caused me time off work, expenses to get back home from Utah, etc.

    I read this forum quite often, but have never posted. There is some really wonderful information on here, and any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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    Registered User SamXp's Avatar
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    I don't think it is lawyer time just yet. Push Jiffy Lube harder and mention that you'll get a lawyer the moment it appears they are being unreasonable. And yes, it is unreasonable to expect you to have the car towed back to their location to have their buddy inspect it. They are a large corporations with locations all over the US. They need to come up with a shop that can do their inspection that is local to you. The moment someone isn't willing to reason with you, ask to speak to their manager or direct report. Until you are speaking to Jiffy Lube President Rick Altizer, there is always someone up higher that is qualified to respond to your request.

    I think you have more than a compelling argument that the drain plug fell out. I'm sure this isn't the first or last time Jiffy has forgotten to tighten it while they changed the oil in a jiffy. They will push back so long as it seems they have a chance at you eating the cost. Make it clear that you won't and they'll cooperate.

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    Registered User nyr8er's Avatar
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    ^ Yep. good advise. don't let them tell you where you have to bring your car. it's your car! do it at your convenience. you definitely seem to have a pretty good case. you shouldn't have to eat any cost.
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    Registered User aleeann's Avatar
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    Sorry to hear this.

    I had a similar experience with a different car a while back. Tread carefully on what you say or agree to and be aware that with even the mention of a lawyer Jiffy Lube will most likely hang up on you. You'll have to deal between the legal teams from there on out.

    Good luck!

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    Gold Member lokey's Avatar
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    Call the Better Business Bureau and file an official complaint. Inform the manager of Jiffy Lube that the complaint has been filed and that all actions taken from this point will now become part of the record.
    Online filing also available:
    http://www.bbb.org/
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    Registered User wo^tron's Avatar
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    I for one wouldnt trust your engine after that. The oil was completely gone and those bearings touched your screwed. Blue smoke = Doom.
    It might run for a while but it will blow up sooner or later.

    I'd push for a new engine from them for sure.

    My friend worked at a valvoline and he had a few times where he was fixing his coworkers screw ups, Loose oil filters, drain plugs. Etc. I rarely trust them
    Last edited by wo^tron; 05-23-2011 at 07:42 AM.
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    Registered User jd92677's Avatar
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    I wouldn't even bother with dealing with the store you had the oil changed. Call their corporate office, they have a standard procedure to deal with these sort of things I'm sure. As far as the engine goes, you need a new one, I wouldn't even entertain the idea of repairing it after it ran out of oil. Don't forget you'll also need a new turbo on top of that.
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    Registered User 06scoobyrex's Avatar
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    Sucks to hear... I remember a thread a while back about another STi breaking down in the same area... I know exactly where you broke down too and that stretch of road is very much BFE from Green River all the way up to Wellington... Sorry to hear about both of your situations, but I'd call corporate as well and collect as much evidence as you can against them and just keep *****ing till they do something... good luck man!
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    Registered User teflon_jones's Avatar
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    All good advice so far. Contact everybody you can. The BBB and their corporate offices are a great place to start. Also contact the local Evergreen chamber of commerce and anybody else you can find.

    This is why I will never ever get my oil changed at a stop and pop oil change place. Their turnover rate is over 33% as a rule. They're grease monkeys and stupid ones at that.

    I doubt you'll have any luck getting them to replace your engine. They're going to require proof something is bad to do that, which would require tearing down the entire engine. Look at their side of the story. There's no proof anything is wrong with the engine so why replace it. At best you can hope to get the oil change for free plus your tow and any related expenses covered.
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    Registered User dopameen's Avatar
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    Thank you for all of the great replies. I am so absolutely bummed over this. I am really kicking myself for ever getting into a situation where this could have occurred in the first place, but I really did have quite an emergency to deal with.

    I received some correspondence from them today. The "District Manager" has been the least helpful and the best way I can describe it, has had the most sketchy vibe about him. I just feel like they are just waiting for me to slip in the slightest way and give me the middle finger.

    I've used Google Voice to record every single verbal correspondence with them (yes, it's legal, it even announces it to the other party every sixty seconds), and this morning, the District Manager who was trying to strong-arm me into taking the car to this little podunk place in a tiny little town and denying my right to have it evaluated at the dealership's service center decided that he was no longer willing to correspond with me if he was going to be recorded. I told him that was fine and demanded to speak with his manager, as well as copied basically the entire executive team of the company that owns several franchise stores in the area.

    Very quickly, I began receiving voicemails and emails from a new guy, who is supposedly the "Regional Manager" and at least seems more pleasant and with less sarcasm in his voice. I was busy catching up with work all day and did not have the time or energy to get back with him today. I will try him tomorrow when my head is more clear and I can be more careful with my words.

    I am not hopeful. It seems that of all the possible routes this situation could take, all of them are fairly expensive and extremely time consuming. It is SO FRUSTRATING.

    I have absolutely no trust or faith in these guys, and I have to assume them to be bottom-feeding scum unless they do one hella good job of proving themselves otherwise. I met with my attorney yesterday morning, and I suppose I am pretty much obligated to give them one more chance tomorrow with their "Regional Manager". If they give me even the slightest bit of unfair or pushy treatment, I have already decided that we do not have anything left to talk about. It's all between the lawyers at that point.

    Luckily, I am in a 'transitional period' in my life, and in a position where I have the will and [hopefully] the cash to follow through if they want to get litigious about it.

    At this point, it really feels like if they do agree to cooperate on my terms initially, they are going to nickel and dime me every step of the way. I am not prepared to let that happen as long as there is any possible thing I can do about it.

    By no means do I expect to waltz in and demand a brand new engine on a car that was not 100% new, but I have a good idea of what a court of law is willing to award in this state under these circumstances. This was confirmed to me by my attorney.

    We'll see how things go tomorrow. I'm still on the fence of just proceeding with eating the tow, determination of causation, and full repairs on MY terms; then having my attorney send them the bill and see where it goes from there.

    I really appreciate everyone's advice and I will certainly keep updating this thread in the hope that it may help others who face similar situations and do not know what to expect or how to handle it.

    Thanks everyone.
    Last edited by dopameen; 05-24-2011 at 01:39 AM. Reason: speling :)

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    Wow, sorry to hear this happen to you. Had a similar occurrence at a Bridgestone Corporate shop I work at. Customer had a $29.99 oil change, then came back a month later complaining about having no oil in his engine. We did a visual inspection right there and then and it turns out the oil drain plug was missing. We were very skeptical about the customer's claim because there were no signs of oil splattering underneath the vehicle. The whole under body was as clean as it can be. However, neither party can prove whose at fault, so our policy is to always give the customer the benefit of the doubt.

    In the end, the customer got a whole new engine installed no questions asked. Customer then came back a couple weeks later complaining about his fan blower motor malfunctioning intermittently. If it were my shop, I'd tell the customer to go kick rocks, but since it's a corporate store, we have to take care of all the claims he's coming in for now. Anyhow, I italicized the statement above because this is the case you have against Jiffy Lube. If they're a legitimate shop they should own up to the problem whether they're at fault or not.

    Good luck!

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    Registered User dopameen's Avatar
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    Yeah. It's definitely a bummer. I understand that those guys don't get paid much and they are rushed. However, this particular one is never very busy. There was one other person there when we were waiting, but they actually paid and left before my car ever went in. There was nobody waiting after me, so it's kind of hard to give them too much leeway for a "life happens" kind of mistake when I was the only customer.

    The underside of my car is completely covered in oil from the engine to the tailpipe. Basically, the entire underbody looks like the what you see around the image I posted at the top of this thread.

    With regard to proof, I actually have quite a bit of documentation that shows where I was and at what times, as well as the tow I truck driver seeing one big oil slick from it dumping the oil all at once when the plug came out.

    I actually even have a GPS track recorded on my phone of the entire trip, from home to where it crapped out.

    There certainly isn't any incentive for me to do it, as I am completely screwed now. I still have to make payments on a car that is sitting in Utah and completely useless. I'm dealing with my 9th day without transportation and it's definitely screwing me. My boss can attest to that... heh. Also, given the time/location evidence I have, it would require me to have jacked up the car on the side of the road, pulled my oil plug, dented my skid plate where the plug hit, and then jumped back on the road and blew my motor so that my girlfriend and I could get stranded in the middle of the desert right about sundown while my mom was in critical condition in the hospital.

    I also have all of the documentation showing my mother's hospitalization and my handling of her affairs there once I arrived.

    It seems like it's a pretty tough sell for them to try and suggest that I did it, but I wouldn't put it past them.

    After a little research, I came across pictures on social networking sites of these "managers" and they remind me of kids in high school or something. That's nothing against high school kids or whatever, but it does make a lot more sense now why they sounded so amateur trying to play lawyer on the phone. It's pretty much lawsuit time at this point. It's actually cheaper for me than wasting more time on it, as I am an independent contractor and paid by the hour.

    There's no vacation time for this, and the on top of several other pretty serious/devastating life issues I am currently dealing with (which I won't go pity partying for myself about those on here), the added stress of it all really feels like it's sucking some years off my life.


    Quote Originally Posted by narstune View Post
    Wow, sorry to hear this happen to you. Had a similar occurrence at a Bridgestone Corporate shop I work at. Customer had a $29.99 oil change, then came back a month later complaining about having no oil in his engine. We did a visual inspection right there and then and it turns out the oil drain plug was missing. We were very skeptical about the customer's claim because there were no signs of oil splattering underneath the vehicle. The whole under body was as clean as it can be. However, neither party can prove whose at fault, so our policy is to always give the customer the benefit of the doubt.

    In the end, the customer got a whole new engine installed no questions asked. Customer then came back a couple weeks later complaining about his fan blower motor malfunctioning intermittently. If it were my shop, I'd tell the customer to go kick rocks, but since it's a corporate store, we have to take care of all the claims he's coming in for now. Anyhow, I italicized the statement above because this is the case you have against Jiffy Lube. If they're a legitimate shop they should own up to the problem whether they're at fault or not.

    Good luck!

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    Registered User dbya rx's Avatar
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    have you thought about contacting your auto insurance company? your incident may fall under comprehensive coverage. its kind of a shot in the dark, but if your insurance company decides to cover the damages, you would only be on the hook for your deductible and then your insurance company would go after jiffy lube on your behalf so you dont have to.

    im really sorry about what happened and i hope it gets resolved quickly!
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    Registered User dopameen's Avatar
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    Thanks for your suggestion. I am actually trying that this morning and will let you know how it goes.

    A few years ago, I had a WRX wagon that I really liked that met an unfortunate ending in a 70mph collision with a mule deer on the way back from the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. I was less than impressed with the way that was handled, so it pains me to attempt doing this through the insurance company.

    The fundamental problem with the deer issue was really due to the remote area in which it occurred. I suppose they have a rather limited selection of adjusters available to such remote areas, which contributed to the vehicle not being totaled out when it should have been. It was ultimately resolved, but at a loss to me. However, I did come out of it with my shiny new STI, but it was in no way a cost saving situation.

    Please accept my apologies in advance if it's any kind of violation of forum etiquette to post a link here, but I made a rather cheesy video summing up the incident with the wagon. I think it's at least mildly amusing: YouTube - Suicidal deer in the road

    I fear the same root issue of remote areas and sketchy contracted adjusters is likely to plague this situation as well. I suppose one can only hope for the best.

    Thank you again for all of the helpful and supportive responses.


    Quote Originally Posted by dbya rx View Post
    have you thought about contacting your auto insurance company? your incident may fall under comprehensive coverage. its kind of a shot in the dark, but if your insurance company decides to cover the damages, you would only be on the hook for your deductible and then your insurance company would go after jiffy lube on your behalf so you dont have to.

    im really sorry about what happened and i hope it gets resolved quickly!

  16. #15
    Registered User dopameen's Avatar
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    Well, it's been a little while since I've updated this thread. Life has been pretty busy lately.

    So I had the car towed to a Subaru dealership of my choice, and I have to say that these guys at the dealership have done everything right. They are SO nice and have done a wonderful job handling such a delicate situation.

    Immediately upon receiving vehicle, the service manager had it put on a lift and took several digital photos showing the absence of the oil drain plug (with threads in great shape) and the underside completely covered in oil. They said it was definitely concrete proof of the plug coming out at highway speed and blasting oil all over the underside of the car.

    They removed the oil filter JiffyLube installed, which actually had no writing on it, was apparently white with some black marker handwriting on it, ha...

    They replaced the missing oil drain plug, put a Subaru OEM filter on, filled it up with oil, then let it idle up to operating temperature. They said no strange noises were observed.

    They proceeded to test drive it for approximately five miles under both slow conditions and briefly juiced it enough to engage the turbo.

    After returning it to the shop, they drained the oil and removed the brand new oil filter. Upon opening up the filter, they discovered metal schrapnel, some of which was definitely bearing material.

    I allowed JiffyLube (it's actually an operator of several franchises in the area, I don't know if it's alright to name names at this point) to come down and inspect the car and take pictures, etc. This was under explicit instructions that they do not touch the car in any way -- not a finger on that vehicle. The shop manager assured me that nothing was touched and he accommodated their few requests to take a couple of pics.

    The Subaru shop manager's recommendation was a complete engine teardown to inspect for damage, hopefully determining where the metal/bearing material originated from.

    I then received an email from the "regional manager" for this particular JiffyLube franchise owner congratulating me on my car, which he claimed the mechanics at Subaru informed him had no damage whatsoever.

    They are now refusing to pay for anything other than the tow, the diagnostic work that was done (gee, an oil change and a test drive), and attempting to "close the case on their end" (whatever that means).

    I have withheld proceeding with any of the great options that you guys have put forward for me (like BBB, chamber, etc), but now it appears that it's time to get a little more nasty with these guys. However, I suppose that I should withhold the urge to slather the internets with horrible reviews of these guys in case it causes me issues in litigation.

    After receiving the patronizing email from their regional manager about how my car had no damage and offering to fly me out to pick up my car (which the Subaru shop manager says he would not be able to sleep at night knowing I was attempting to drive that car back to Colorado in the shape it's in), I did threaten to lawyer up.

    Their prompt response was to ignore any further communication from me and they stated they turned this over to their legal department.

    If it's appropriate for the forum, I would like to post a few images from the shop's inspection.

    Is there any way to infer what metallic shards and bearing material in that oil filter means? Every single person that I have spoken with says the motor is toast. Does anyone have any advice or opinions on that?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    This sucks so hard. I loved my baby, and I've now been without wheels for like 3 weeks.

    Thanks guys.
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