Road Trip Excitement!


August 20, 2005, 05:39 PM
Okay folks, get this.

When I got home from Qatar, I put my car in the shop. I spent $1,100 getting it repaired, including a new oil pan (to fix an oil leak).

My first trip when fine. So, after that, I got an oil change, and started out on my second trip. Upper Michigan to Salt Lake City via Chicago.

In Chicago, I checked my oil. Fine.

In Wyoming....engine started rattling. Power started draining. Then, at last, the oil light came on. Almost NO oil left. Put three quarts in.

Found a bad oil leak. I suspect that my new oil pan was improperly installed and rattled loose.

But, with the oil in, we got back on the road, and were okay for about thirty miles. Engine starts rattling again, badly, and then as I'm pulling over, siezes up and dies.

So my friend and I are stranded on the side of Interstate 80, 35 miles east of Rawlins, Wyoming, at seven PM friday night. Yeah. Fortunately my buddy had a cell phone.

An hour and a half later, the tow truck arrives. $240 to get towed to Rawlins, but my insurance company will reimburse me for that. Got in late on friday, no auto shops open until monday.

Though, it's pointless. I believe my engine siezed up, or I threw a rod. Either way, my engine is kaput, and a 94 Delta 88 with 113,000+ miles on it isn't worth putting a new engine into.

So, I'm hoping the shop will find for sure whether or not that the oil pan installation was faulty; if so, I'm taking the auto shop that did the repairs to court.

I'm also hoping the shop here can give me a few hundred bucks for the car as-is. I'll pull my plates off of it, rent a car, and continue to Salt Lake City.

I'm sending my buddy home via Greyhound, but I can't ride the Greyhound bus. While you can legally check a firearm into your checked luggage on, say, Northwest Airlines, apparently you can't do it on Greyhound bus lines.

But, we did get the whole thing on tape.

Looks like I'll be moving to TN a lot sooner, folks. Needing a new car accelerates my timeline for having to get that job...

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August 20, 2005, 05:56 PM
You are only 285 miles from SLC. If you are looking to buy a car, note that no cars sales are permitted on Sundays in Utah (it's a Mormon thing I guess). Car stores will be open Monday, but the President is coming in to speak at the VFW convention Monday, so traffic may be messed up a bit. I will be totally tied up on Monday, so I can't offer any assistance, but if you are still stuck here on Tuesday (thats the day I usually go to the gun club) post again if you need help. Good luck on your future travel.
The OLD Utahskibum :)

August 20, 2005, 07:56 PM
I'm off on tuesday and might have some time I can offer if you need any help getting around or anything.

August 20, 2005, 08:00 PM
NC - tough situation - and I must say you sound way less pi$$ed about all that than I would have been - it sucks!

So Greyhounds = no carry eh... and not even in baggage. That means make a note - never use Greyhound.!

Hope all pans out OK... but sounds spendy even if insurance helps out.

Standing Wolf
August 20, 2005, 08:28 PM
On the proverbial "bright side," at least your car didn't break down in Chicago. Wyoming is friendly territory.

August 20, 2005, 08:35 PM
Well, it's frustrating, but what can I do? Getting mad certainly won't help. That's not to say I didn't get mad; I booted the fender good. Suprisingly, that didn't help.

I appreciate the thought, but I'll be okay in the SLC area with a rentacar. It's getting home that's going to be pricey; car rental + mileage fees + the gas I would've had to have bought anyway. Ugh.

Might not go home. With my car gone, I'm basically on walkabout now. Been meaning to do that. Might go straight to Tennessee...have a job waiting for me....

Yeah, apparently no guns on Greyhound, period. Good to know.

August 20, 2005, 09:03 PM
You didn't have Jiffy Lube do the work did you?

August 20, 2005, 09:07 PM
Actually, with my last truck, Jiffy Lube always did my changes - including ATF flush and renewal on one occasion - my local depot was grade A1 !

August 20, 2005, 09:11 PM
I didn't think Greyound and the like ran passengers through screening...concealed means concealed ya know... Anyway, I may be wrong.


August 20, 2005, 10:06 PM
You might like SLC so much that you want to stay!

August 20, 2005, 10:22 PM
Nightcrawler, I had a similar thing happen to me. I ended up with a new crate motor in my truck, a lein on the shop that did the original faulty work, and a recommendation from the judge to go to lawschool. You're looking at taking the shop to small claims court. Do it or you'll never see any reimbursement from them.

My truck was in the shop for body work and minor mechanical work from a front end collision (friend driving, rearended me driving the other truck) :rolleyes:

One of the new pieces they installed was an oil cooler, which is mounted there at the radiator. The oil cooler lines run from it to the oil pan/engine. The idiots at the shop did not connect these lines securly and when I test drove the truck, it dumped all the oil. The motor did not sieze, I just happen to see a trail of white smoke behind me and pulled over because it was coming from me. The dipstick was dry, the underside of the truck was slathered in oil. I called the shop and our wrecker from the side of the road.

Needless to say, the shop "fixed" it by just retightening the oil cooler lines and putting more oil in. I took the truck home, had problems with loss of power and overheating for the next several weeks. As it turns out, the engine had spun a mainbearing during it's bone dry test drive. I stopped just early enough that the engine didn't seize, but the damage was done. I finally took the truck to the dealership and had them tear the engine apart and find the dang problem (after several diagnosis of "nothings wrong").

I immediately filed with the JP and got my stuff together for court. It's amazing what detailed records can do :cool:

That's why I only trust me and a couple other people to work on my truck. Jiffy lube? Yeah right! I don't even let my husband do oil changes on our trucks.

August 20, 2005, 10:47 PM
A construction survey company I worked for used to use Jiffy Lube. After 1 truck engine seized up because of not enough oil in it, and after the Boss's wife's Town Car siezed up cause they left the drain plug out, he started having me change the oil in the construction company's shop.

And I know what you mean about fender kicking and punching. Most of my old used cars have a least one dent somewhere on them from my boot or fist, generally delivered to the offending body panel along side the highway somewhere, usually in the rain.

Good Luck!!

August 20, 2005, 11:00 PM
My buddy's classic camaro blew its almost worn-out engine about a mile from J-L. The drain plug fell out. Oops. He got a nice engine for the price of an oil change.

Still, it threw his schedule off for a couple of weeks until they coughed up the money.


Darth Ruger
August 21, 2005, 03:04 AM
I spent four years driving tow trucks. I've heard so many horror stories form people I picked up about how they "just got this car back from the shop".

I've seen people that just had the cooling system flushed and changed, and the mechanic forgot to put the radiator cap back on, or forgot to tighten a hose clamp. Car overheats on the freeway.

Oil change, they didn't tighten the filter enough. Oil trail a mile long behind the car, then the engine seizes.

Oil change, they forgot to put the oil filler cap back on. Oil splashed all over the engine, getting inside alternator and making fan belt slip (and making a helluva mess to clean up).

New headlights installed, they forgot to plug them in. Driver couldn't see when it got dark.

New tires installed, they forgot to completely tighten the lug nuts on one wheel. Wheel started shaking on the freeway and broke off. Wheel continued on it's own road trip and caused a five car pile-up.

You name it, I've seen it. Makes me wonder what goes on in some of these shops. As a tow truck driver, you see this sort of thing happen every day. Call the shop and tell them what happened, but tell them you are having the car evaluated by a different shop, not the one that did the work. Gather all the evidence you can, nothing is too insignificant. Get a full evaluation of the problem in writing, then take your complaint and your car to the other shop. If they refuse to acknowledge the cause and severity of the problem and refuse to pay for a new engine (which you will need, the damage from excess heat/friction has fried those rings, cylinders, con-rods, crankshaft, etc), show them a copy of the evaluation (keep the original for yourself). If they do a Dan Rather and continue stonewalling, then it's time to mention the words "law" and "suit" in the same sentence. I've heard of people having to do that to get the responsible party to pay for the damage they caused.

August 21, 2005, 05:13 AM
Wish I could help but take the SOB's to court. How is a gun in the luggage compartment any different from a set of steak knives someone buys for a gift? Either used improperly could be dangerous. Even a gun without ammo or a rock is dangerous. I'm not using greyhound!!!

August 21, 2005, 05:15 AM
I'm sending my buddy home via Greyhound, but I can't ride the Greyhound bus. While you can legally check a firearm into your checked luggage on, say, Northwest Airlines, apparently you can't do it on Greyhound bus lines.

How about offering to disassemble it so that it isn't in working order? I realize, that's succombing to the antis, but if it gets you home soon and cheap, try it.

August 21, 2005, 11:57 AM
There are some problems to consider here. I won't actually get to read any of your advice until after I've had to figure this out, because with my buddy leaving so too goes his laptop, but here goes.

I'm in Rawlins friggin' Wyoming right now. 1,300 miles from the shop that did the repairs on my car. My car's engine is toast, and the vehicle isn't going anywhere. I'm not paying for a new engine in such an old car.j

I don't have any way of getting my car back to Michigan. I don't know if the shop here even has an engine that my car can use, or how long it'd take for them to get one. And a new engine isn't going to be cheap.

No. I'm hoping that the shop or a junkyard can give me a few hundred for the car as-is. Then I'll rent a car and continue on my trip. I'm going to get the mechanics here to give me a write-up if this oil leak is in any way due to either the $1,100 in repairs or the oil change I got right before I left.

If it's the former, I'm going to take the write-up and my receipts and tell that guy I want my $1,100 back. I don't think the car is worth much more than that, so that'd be acceptable.

If it's the latter, well, I'll figure it out.

But making the shop pay for repairs might be difficult when the offending shop is in MI, you know? At least, right now.

So I'm not really sure what else to do, other than to find out exactly what's wrong with my car, get it in writing, scrap the heap, and bill the offending shop later on.

August 21, 2005, 12:59 PM
Might be worth looking in the mini-paper, or asking around, for a cheap beater car to buy to drive. May be cheaper than renting, and you could recoup part of your money when you get something better. If it dies on the way, then just sell it to the local wrecking yard, and rent something then.

If you can get the local GM dealer (rather than an independant shop) to give you an assesment of the problem, you may have fair grounds for a legal proceding on the shop that did the work.

August 22, 2005, 10:54 AM
Last time I used Greyhound, they "wanded" passengers and carry-on bags, but didn't do any inspection of checked baggage (which means they didn't ever know about the rifle and pistol I had in my suitcase). That was in a big city, too - if you pick up the bus at a small-town stop, I wouldn't be surprised if they did no checking at all.

August 22, 2005, 10:58 AM
Come to Ames, and buy a Nissan :D . I'll hook you up!!!

August 22, 2005, 08:33 PM
Hello Nightcrawler,
From someone in the automitive business (machine shop end),
my recomendation would be to find out where it was leaking,and if it was something the original shop had disconnected (probably),then call them and see what they offer.
If you can get a refund of the labor money,less parts,one possibility woud be a used engine installed in you car. While the used engine may not be a prize,it may be cost effective for you.
But hang around a few days and drive the heck out of it about 50 miles out of where you are in different directions to give it a chance to see how good an engine it is.
Or if you can get a refund from the original shop,plus what you can get for the car,may be enough to get you some wheels to continue on your trip.

Darth Ruger,

I can tell you exactly what the problem is:
Everyone gets in too big of a hurry,and something slips by.
I've done it myself when I used to work on cars in addition to the machie shop end.
I left a heater hose clamp slightly loose once,and didn't tighten the lug nuts up on a brake job when I had a customer waiting and looking over my shoulder the whole time.

Sometimes it is the shop owner pushing them to work faster and clear the bay for the next job,sometimes it is the mechanic worrying about hitting his "mark" so he gets bonus pay.

And I think all the quick oil change places are well known all over the world for forgetting little details like putting the plug back in tight,or overtightening it so that it strips and falls out later,or not making sure the gasket from the old oil filter isn't still on the engine (I did that once too).

Bottom line is that people make mistakes,and should expect to stand behind their little "lessons",no matter how expensive they are to the mechanic.

August 22, 2005, 11:29 PM
I for one have had better experiences, tho not all good, with quick lube places rather than Wal-Mart for oil changes.

My "saving" a couple or $10 on an oil change cost me a transfer case overhaul and several days grief away from home. About $900 and me pulling the transfer case and putting it back in. It seems that Wal-Mart DOES NOT add fluid to a transfer case in 4wd's. After my truck was back together, I went to the local Wal-Mart to get oil for the transfer case, and asked the service manager what type it took by make/model. He replied "I don't know, we don't add oil or fluid to transfer cases". Uh, OK, the light just went on. They "check" the level, but do not add anything. A year of wal-Mart oil changes and I had a cooked transfer case, with no apparent bad leak. They always marked it as full or OK on the tickets. It doesn't just go low suddenly with no big leak noted.

BTW, I always stand and watch them do oil changes at the quick lube places. They politely say I can wait in their waiting room, and I will politely say I like to watch. If they push the issue, I will stand just outside the bay watching. . Never had any problem with that. The local guys don't seem to mind. I also politely ask if they wipe the grease fittings off before greasing, (dirt pumped into a U-joint helps them go bad real fast) Have watched them botch stuff and just shrug their shoulders and go on...... Have had the minimum wage lube guys argue with me how many grease fittings are on my vehicle when they make the pit call. I ask them to look at the U-joints, as I use ones with fittings when they need to be replaced. But what do I know, I don't work at ________lube?

Rant mode off.......

August 22, 2005, 11:39 PM
Malamute, your post is exactly why only I and few others are trusted to work on my truck. Little things don't always seem to matter to some mechs :banghead:

August 22, 2005, 11:52 PM
Malamutes post reminded me of something else.
On early Super Duty Ford trucks with the parking brake mounted on the rear of the manual tranmission,
Those use a seperate oil filler plug and are not refilled from the main transmission,however the oil will drain out into the main transmission due to a faulty seal never showing a leak to the outside.
So if you own one of these trucks,
Check the fluid in the parking brake extension!

August 25, 2005, 07:22 PM
Well, folks, here's the thrilling conclusion.

My car's engine was shot. I gave it to a junkyard. Looked like the oil pan screw was over-torqued, stressing the oil gasket, causing it to blow.

I talked to the shop that did the work on my car. Now, mind you, I can't PROVE that it was their fault, especially on a car as old as mine, and after I'd put six thousand miles on it since the work.

Nonetheless, the shop agreed to reimburse me for hotel costs, car shop costs, and a bus ticket home. Seven hundred something dollars.

I'm car-less now, but no matter. I'm going straight to Tennessee from here in Utah. Buddy is going to loan me a car until I get back on my feet, and can get financing to get my own.


If there are any guys in the overseas defense contracting business, drop me a PM, will you? I'm getting pretty interested in going back overseas. Living in the US is a big pain in the butt! LOL

August 25, 2005, 07:48 PM
NC- I'd look at a plane ticket- It would probably be cheaper in the long run. AND you could check the offending piece :D

August 25, 2005, 09:01 PM
Good that the shop was willing to make some restitition to you for your troubles. Perhaps not as much as most of us would like, but to not have to fight it out with them, you didn't do too bad I think.

August 25, 2005, 10:04 PM
We mechanics are human beings, too. We can and do make mistakes. True, there are a whole lot of hacks out there. But there are plenty of us who really take pride in our work and do the very best we can. But things happen. In my 8 years as a professional technician ( I am 23 now), I have had my share of oopses. I have been at the same shop for my entire career and have worked on slightly more than 12,300 cars (often the same car more than once over the years, but that is the number of invoices with my name on them). That is not as astronomical an amount as it sounds. That is 5-7 cars per day, 5 days per week. In that time, I have had one wheel fall off, three times a loose caliper bolt, a few other bolts that did not get tightened on water pumps, diff. covers, etc. and 2 times had oil caps off. All total, maybe a couple dozen major problems that were my fault. That is an error rate of ~ 0.2%. Yes, the stakes are much higher than the office clerk who forgets to fax a copy. That is the nature of the beast. Find me a career where mistakes are never made.

Also remember this; Eeven the very best mechanic will not find every problem on every car. There are simply too many systems and components on modern automobiles. This is why it is crucial that you be brutally honest about everything that is going on with your car. Withholding information will not save you money, especially in the long run. Would you not tell your doctor about a symptom hoping that it will just go away?

I understand how frustrating and infuriating it can be when your car is one of those that makes that .2%, but try to look at the bigger picture. Forgiveness is divine. MOst decent shops will be more than happy to repair the problem at no charge and reimburse you for additional expenses incurred. We will usually throw in free oil changes and the like as well, depending on what the problem was.

Lastly, keeping in mind what I have said, try to get any major repairs done well before you go on a long trip. Don't put it off till the last minute, where you could be hundreds of miles away when the problem surfaces. I can't count the number people who want to get everything fixed on the friday of a holiday weekend before they head out of town. Bad idea. Oil leaks, coolant leaks, etc., are often no big deal when your still in town. You notice the problem and take it back, the shop fixes it. But when your halfway to BFE it is very inconvenient for you and equally frustrating for the shop. Trust me.

PS.-two things to never say to a mechanic shop when you do not want to do the repair work. Don't say "I'm selling it". We only hear that about 15 times a day. Just be honest and say you can't afford it or don't want ot fix it, or want another opinion.

And the most insulting thing you can say to a shop that has taken the time to inspect your vehicle:

"I'm going to have my mechanic fix it"

That is the biggest slap in the face, and they are not likely to be very helpful in the future.

Oh yeah, "I can get those parts for way less". Duh. Auto shops are a for profit business. We sell parts at list, not retail. Would you go to a restaurant and say " I can buy that steak way cheaper than that"? Don't think so.

OK, rant off. :D

August 25, 2005, 11:19 PM
"Oh yeah, "I can get those parts for way less". Duh. Auto shops are a for profit business. We sell parts at list, not retail."

Did you mean "we sell parts for list (retail) not wholesale?

I for one have no qualms about someone making a living, or a profit. With people that I regularly do business with, they understand this about me, and will often tell me what they actually have in something when I ask if they can deal on price, knowing I feel they are entitled to make a profit on it.

I think the shop in question treated our guy fairly well under the circumstances.

August 26, 2005, 12:18 AM
Did you mean "we sell parts for list (retail) not wholesale?



Water pump
Cost: $34 (what the shop pays)
Retail: $49 (what a consumer pays at the parts store)
List: $64 (what a customer pays at the repair shop)

A shop cannot survive on labor alone. The cost to keep our shop operating and pay the staff is $3,200 per business day. Try doing that on $65/hr. labor rate only.

Also remember that most reputable shops do not use the junk parts from Checker, Autozone, etc. Checker's retail is often less than our cost from Napa or OSU, but there is a definite quality difference. Those DIY parts houses are an absolute last resort for us.

And labor rates may seem high, but remember, tools cost money. I have about $47,000 invested. I still owe $6,500. It takes money to make money, and this concept is exemplified in the automotive business.

Latley, a lot of people have been buying those crappy $89 code readers from Checker and trying to get us to do repairs based on their diagnosis. My code scanner cost $7,200. You can guess what the difference is. That's why it cost $100 to get a MIL-illuminating DTC diagnosed.

August 26, 2005, 12:25 AM
I didn't know about list price. Wholesale and retail were the only prices I am familiar with.

I do understand about using quality parts. In the long run it saves money. A shop wouldn't want to use lower quality parts, then have to eat the labor to replace a failed part.

August 26, 2005, 09:53 PM
I do understand about using quality parts. In the long run it saves money. A shop wouldn't want to use lower quality parts, then have to eat the labor to replace a failed part.


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