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Old 04-10-2009, 10:17 AM   #1
smash
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Default Shop forgot to put coolant in my car after 30k mile service..

So, I took my car to a reputable and affordable shop in my local area, because I could not afford the $500+ my dealer wanted to do the 30k mile service.

I get the car back, everything seems fine. I happen to look at the temperature gauge after about 20 minutes of driving it home (roughly ~15 miles) and see the temp gauge is maxed out. I immediately pull over and call the shop.

They have a mechanic come out and meet me and fill it with coolant and run it through a couple times to get the air out or whatever.

Car seems fine today- but I'm very worried. There was almost no coolant in the car when I drove it, the mechanic admitted they forgot to put coolant back in it after they'd drained it because they were waiting on the brake pads i'd ordered to get there so they could replace them.

My question is this - what damages could feasibly now result from this blatant oversight on the auto shop's part? Would they be apparent right away or could problems take a few months to surface?

I am planning on calling the shop this afternoon and ask that they at the very least inspect my engine for damage. I would like to ask that they put something in writing to the effect that they neglected to put coolant in the car and would cover any related damages in the near future, but I realize this may be wishful thinking and the shop might outright refuse to do that. Any advice here? I'm really frustrated right now..
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Old 04-10-2009, 10:32 AM   #2
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15 miles with no coolant is bad, I would be worried about piston skirt damage, you might not see headgasket issues, listen for any odd tapping noises. you might want another shop to look at it, at a minimum, get an oil analysis.
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Old 04-10-2009, 12:30 PM   #3
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Thanks for the heads up. I haven't heard any strange noises, and *fingers crossed* everything still seems okay..

I talked to the shop this morning and they agreed to give me a letter in writing stating they will cover any damages related to their negligence for the next 6 months.

If, for any reason something major does happen, I would of course have the work done at an official Subaru shop (like a dealer) and send the bill to the shop that caused the damage- if they try to get out of it, I'd imagine I have a relatively simple case against them given the statement they wrote me essentially owning up to the negligence.
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Old 04-10-2009, 12:40 PM   #4
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Quote:
I talked to the shop this morning and they agreed to give me a letter in writing stating they will cover any damages related to their negligence for the next 6 months
I'm impressed.

I overheated an engine once and the result was that it started leaking coolant because of block distortion (IIRC).
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Old 04-10-2009, 01:05 PM   #5
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Ugh, wow that sucks.

Yea I was very impressed too.. but this shop does have a very good reputation locally for being honest, so I was glad I didn't have to fight them on anything. I probably shouldn't speak too much until I actually have the letter in hand though lol! But I did speak with the owner and he sounded genuine about his intent, so, let's hope it all works out..
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Old 04-10-2009, 05:54 PM   #6
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I'd venture a guess that it's probably fine, especially since you caught it right away. With a flush and fill or even drain and fill, there's still a little bit of water in the system.

In the past I've had a vehicle overheat so much that the engine stalled. That's a bad scenario and can do lots of damage. No permanent damage was done, but it was a 1960's Chevy engine built like a tank. Since you noticed it before the engine stalled and stopped right away, it's probably fine.

No harm in working with the shop though just to be safe in case something did happen. It's not something you'd want to do every day though. Now running without oil and that's an entirely different story...

Last edited by danmezz; 04-10-2009 at 06:00 PM.
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Old 04-11-2009, 10:55 PM   #7
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i sense someones about to suddenly have "block issues"
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Old 04-11-2009, 10:58 PM   #8
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Wow, what a mistake
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Old 04-12-2009, 10:03 AM   #9
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I would make sure you don't pay for that flush; at the very least they should credit you for that and hopefully all the work you had done.
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Old 04-12-2009, 12:15 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danmezz View Post
I'd venture a guess that it's probably fine, especially since you caught it right away. With a flush and fill or even drain and fill, there's still a little bit of water in the system.

In the past I've had a vehicle overheat so much that the engine stalled. That's a bad scenario and can do lots of damage. No permanent damage was done, but it was a 1960's Chevy engine built like a tank. Since you noticed it before the engine stalled and stopped right away, it's probably fine.

No harm in working with the shop though just to be safe in case something did happen. It's not something you'd want to do every day though. Now running without oil and that's an entirely different story...

I wouldn't compare my experiences with a Chevy to this. How can you compare a cast iron cylinder head to an aluminum dual overhead cam head? I have heard these engines are very susceptible to damage from overheating.
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Old 04-12-2009, 07:39 PM   #11
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^^^ yes, I am very aware they are different engines. That's why I mentioned it.
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Old 04-13-2009, 12:12 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danmezz View Post
^^^ yes, I am very aware they are different engines. That's why I mentioned it.
Then what is the basis for this statement
Quote:
Originally Posted by danmezz View Post
I'd venture a guess that it's probably fine,
It certaintly can't be the ~100 threads about head gasket failures on this forum can it?

Also your private shop may not have done this. I think it is to prevent head gaskert leaks.
Quote:
12. To prevent cooling system leaks, always add Genuine Subaru Cooling System Conditioner (Part
no. SOA635071) whenever the coolant is replaced.
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Old 04-14-2009, 01:13 PM   #13
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I had actually asked several people about the requirement for Subaru Genuine Coolant and the resounding response was "it's not required" so just regular coolant was used... I hope that's okay

Certainly the next service needed I will be sure to use the Subaru coolant, I didn't think it was that big of a deal

PS 1 week later and still running strong!! Good sign I hope :0


The shop did refund me the cost of the coolant flush, and I have letter in hand stating they forgot to add coolant and will cover any damages that may occur in the next 6 months.
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Old 04-14-2009, 01:41 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smash View Post
I had actually asked several people about the requirement for Subaru Genuine Coolant and the resounding response was "it's not required" so just regular coolant was used... I hope that's okay
I can only go by what I read here Coolant System FAQ and here https://www.subaru.com/my-subaru/mai...edule2007.html

It only cost like $4
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Old 04-14-2009, 02:31 PM   #15
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Yeah, I'm getting paranoid now. I don't know if they used a conditioner when the coolant was re-filled.. probably not.

Should I take it to the dealer and have them do another flush using the Subaru coolant and conditioner? Or am I freaking out for no reason..
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Old 04-14-2009, 04:43 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smash View Post
Yeah, I'm getting paranoid now. I don't know if they used a conditioner when the coolant was re-filled.. probably not.

Should I take it to the dealer and have them do another flush using the Subaru coolant and conditioner? Or am I freaking out for no reason..
I take it you have the shop's phone number ????

How hard is it to dump a bottle of that in there?
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Old 04-14-2009, 05:12 PM   #17
smash
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Yeah, but me calling them and asking if they did it and them actually doing it are two different things. Who knows if they actually did it or not, even if they claim they did?


I just read somewhere that Subaru can choose not to honor warranty claims if you do not have Subaru Genuine Coolant and Conditioner present in your system. Think I'm just gonna call the dealer tomorrow and have them correct this.
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Old 04-14-2009, 10:13 PM   #18
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The Coolant Conditioner thing is odd, since it is reportedly just re-badged RadWeld. We used that stuff to jury rig old cars and save the money to really fix them. Oh well.
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Old 04-15-2009, 09:48 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smash View Post
Yeah, I'm getting paranoid now. I don't know if they used a conditioner when the coolant was re-filled.. probably not.

Should I take it to the dealer and have them do another flush using the Subaru coolant and conditioner? Or am I freaking out for no reason..
Well I am not a mechanic but I personally would reflush the coolant and change the oil (send the old oil out to be checked) because the high temps probably were not kind to it.....but thats just my .02
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Old 04-16-2009, 12:15 PM   #20
smash
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thanks for the input everyone.

the shop agreed to backflush the old stuff out and put in the Subaru Genuine Coolant + Conditioner that I picked up yesterday. yay!!

Dealer said I'd be fine as far as warranty goes as long as I have my receipts and the receipt from the shop showing the Subaru stuff was used.
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Old 04-16-2009, 09:48 PM   #21
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thats why i do my own work on my STi
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Old 04-17-2009, 10:04 AM   #22
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^^Me too. No matter how good a mechanic is, they always seem to be rushing around and its very easy for them to forget stuff. Always check your car when you pick it up to make sure everything on the invoice was actually done.

Quote:
Originally Posted by danmezz View Post
Now running without oil and that's an entirely different story...
I've done that in an 84 Subie and it survived.
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