Mechanic incorrectly installed valve cover gasket in my Benz. Lost 4+ quarts of oil. - Survivalist Forum
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Old 01-05-2017, 04:19 PM
subvetssn subvetssn is offline
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Default Mechanic incorrectly installed valve cover gasket in my Benz. Lost 4+ quarts of oil.



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I adjusted valves and retimed the injection pump on my diesel Benz. Both were unnecessary as everything was in spec.

Upon start up, I had a miss. After double checking everything and not finding the source of my problems, I drove it 90 minutes away to an independent Euro mechanic with a solid reputation. He's done good work for me in the past and I respect his abilities. He's also the only independent Benz mechanic in the state. So it's not like I have many options.

They find that one cylinder has 100 psi compression less than the other three. (350/350/350/250 wet). New is 400 psi. Not too bad for a 43 year old car.

We both acknowledge that it needed a rebuild, but probably not right now.

I picked it up and drove it home, with my wife following.

As soon as I pulled out, there was a copious amount of smoke coming out the back. Since I knew they had the valve cover off double checking valve clearance, I wrote it off as oil spilled on the exhaust manifold.

10 minutes later, I started noticing a drop in oil pressure. I wrote this off as oil getting up to temp and thinning out.

After another ten minutes, it had dropped from 40 psi to 30 psi. Since warm idle is about 30 psi, I still wasn't alarmed.

However, it quickly dropped to 20 psi at which time I pulled off the road and immediately shut it off.

When I popped the hood, oil was everywhere. A quick check revealed a dog earred valve cover gasket on the rear passenger side of the engine.

All I needed was a 14mm socket and some oil to rectify the problem and get back on the road. Fortunately, I carry a gallon or Rotella as a "just in case" measure. It took every drop to get back to full, which leads me to think that I only had 1 quart or less circulating in the engine.

I called the next day and we discussed what happened. He accepted my story and offered an apology. However, since the oil pressure light didn't come on and there were no unusual sounds (at least unusual for a 40+ year old diesel), he didn't think there was any damage.

I didn't press the issue because I mostly concurred. Any parts that could have been damaged would have to be replaced (cam and crank bearings, resurfacing the crank, etc.), anyway.

Fast forward to this week. I've finally set aside the money for an engine overhaul and made plans to get the car back to him next week. He mentioned that he doesn't have any help and that it might take a while. I submit this because he was implying that the assistant who botched the valve cover gasket is no longer there.

So, here's my problem. The engine needed rebuilt. Additional engine damage could have occurred due to their negligence. Even though the most likely failed components would have been replaced during a rebuild, I still feel as though I should be made whole. Any suggestions for how to deal with this?

I don't mean a complete rebuild at his expense, mind you. But something would help make it fair, to my mind. Also, keep in mind that I don't want to burn any bridges.

Too bad I'm too attentive to the instrument cluster when I drive. Otherwise I could have kept on going until the motor seized. The matter of who pays would have taken care of itself.
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Old 01-05-2017, 04:35 PM
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Good luck, don't know where you are ,but here the mechanic would only be liable to repair the leak. Not any additional damage due to your continued operation with low pressure,of which you just admitted to here.
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Old 01-05-2017, 04:37 PM
subvetssn subvetssn is offline
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Originally Posted by Rustynuts View Post
Good luck, don't know where you are ,but here the mechanic would only be liable to repair the leak. Not any additional damage due to your continued operation with low pressure,of which you just admitted to here.
Hmm. Never though of willful damage on my part. As far as I was concerned, it was just normal driving until I noticed that it was abnormally low at which time I pulled to the side.
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Old 01-05-2017, 04:45 PM
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Ive beem a mechanic for 15 years, the good thing is your car is old, made with good parts, you would have to run the engine completely empty then you would still probably have about 5 min more run time to do any real damage, i wouldn't sweat it, it was an honest mistake, the one thing about being a mechanic is that one never wants to cause damage, if you had any real damage it would habe shown itself pretty quickly in a severe misfire, or very loud knocking
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Old 01-05-2017, 04:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Juts89mj View Post
Ive beem a mechanic for 15 years, the good thing is your car is old, made with good parts, you would have to run the engine completely empty then you would still probably have about 5 min more run time to do any real damage, i wouldn't sweat it, it was an honest mistake, the one thing about being a mechanic is that one never wants to cause damage, if you had any real damage it would habe shown itself pretty quickly in a severe misfire, or very loud knocking
Yeah. I'm not particularly concerned about damage. I don't think the low oil pressure light comes on until 5 psi.

That being said, the oil pressure gauge is original. The fuel level dances around and isn't very trustworthy. I have to hope the oil is reading correctly.

I suppose what I'm looking for is a mea culpa and an acknowledgement that they messed up and me being attentive bailed them out. Maybe covering the cost of gaskets or free labor to resurface the head. Something.
Old 01-05-2017, 04:58 PM
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It never hurts to ask. The worst he can say is nein. If you can get him to knock off some duetsch marks for a return customer. Hint hint. So much the better.
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Old 01-05-2017, 06:12 PM
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The best you can expect out of him.....would be a new valve cover gasket....4 qts of oil...and clean your engine. Anything else.... I don't think you will get.
Sounds like an honest mistake. And I doubt that it caused any problem on your engine.
Be careful how hard you press the issue..... you already stated he is your only shop you go to
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Old 01-05-2017, 10:54 PM
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L a w y e r
Old 01-06-2017, 04:05 AM
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Unless you had spun a rod bearing, I would say you will be hard pressed to determine 43 years of wear versus a blip in oil pressure.
Did the low compression improve when wet? If not it could just be valves. How many miles ? If a ton, the lower end will need rebuulding anyway. Is an engine swap out of the question?
Old 01-06-2017, 04:06 AM
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Does the oil pressure seem normal after the event? Any odd noises?
Old 01-06-2017, 04:40 AM
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You have a motor that needs an overhaul, you have a shop specializing (the only one in your state) in your brand of vehicle which you have used on an ongoing basis with apparently no other previous issues and the owner's now ex flunky screwed up. You said the owner apologized when you informed him of the oil leak.
I'm a handshake kind of guy. If someone's negligence caused enough of an issue that I want monetary compensation from them, I'm never going back. I won't sue, ask for a discount or threaten with the BBB. I just take my $ elsewhere. If they are a reputable business that I trust, then accept the apology, park your car in his lot and have him call you when the work is done.
Old 01-06-2017, 05:56 AM
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I agree with goodwrench, I think he owes you 4 quarts of oil and a pressure cleaning. If I was the mechanic I would take $100 off the rebuild cost and call it even.
You said he's the guy who normally maintains the car so that means you trust him to not rip you off and he normally does a good job. If no damage was done why would you expect compensation when you weren't damaged?
No way to repay his honesty
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Old 01-06-2017, 06:06 AM
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I would say he owes you the going price for the roadside assistance you provided by yourself. probably in the $100 range.

And a gallon of oil and cleanup of anything affected.

And I don't think I would let him rebuild my engine if he can't even get a valve cover gasket right.
Old 01-06-2017, 07:17 AM
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at most he owes you a gallon of oil.

you drove it with low oil pressure. you should have stopped and called him, but now you own any damage (which is impossible to prove on a worn out motor anyhow)...

if it were my shop, I would have insisted on a new gasket, and if you used your old one at your insistence any leaks would be your responsibility...

not trying to be a jerk, but I deal with people like that all the time, they know just enough to be dangerous and do some work themselves to save money, but when it needs a real mechanic, they don't want to pay for decent work and drive their beater back home, knowing it has issues. then they whine and complain when the next inevitable problem comes along and blame the mechanic.
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Old 01-06-2017, 07:24 AM
TacticalFarmer TacticalFarmer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gungatim View Post
at most he owes you a gallon of oil.

you drove it with low oil pressure.................
.
False. He shut it down as soon as he saw the oil pressure drop below normal.
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Old 01-06-2017, 07:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rustynuts View Post
Good luck, don't know where you are ,but here the mechanic would only be liable to repair the leak. Not any additional damage due to your continued operation with low pressure,of which you just admitted to here.
False. The OP pulled off the road as soon as he noticed oil pressure drop below normal.
Old 01-06-2017, 07:34 AM
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You want to be made whole again

well,what are the damages,I doubt anyone could tell in a 43 year old motor that already needed to be rebuilt.
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Old 01-06-2017, 09:29 AM
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You got out lucky without damage. If you had damage, you wouldn't be driving it around (don't make assumptions). Also, don't try to stiff the only competent mechanic that you have in the area, or you're going to be doing all your own service in the near future. As long as he reimburses you for the oil that you had to put back in there, I would call it even and continue to have a good relationship with him. Cross him, and he'll never do work for you again.
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Old 01-06-2017, 09:34 AM
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So OP....are you getting your engine rebuilt?
Old 01-06-2017, 09:43 AM
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Sounds like a learning experience. Prob a fairly cheap one. With a new engine, I bet you check those valve cover gaskets now

I think it's worth letting go. The fight isn't worth it. Part of the problem with letting other people work on your special toys. You know that car better than they do.

As far as mechanically, I think if you didn't see any temp increases, you are prob fine
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