Pep Boys Complaint

How a simple oil change can go terribly wrong! - oil change

- Plantation, Florida

I find myself in a very helpless position. I got my first oil change at 4416 miles on my 2007 Hyundai Elantra. A little over 5 weeks later my dash lights came on and before I could pull over the car stopped running. I called the dealership where I bought my car and had the car towed. I expected that the problem would be a warranty issue. Within a couple of hours the dealer call and asked where did you get your oil changed. I asked why? They told me that there was no oil plug in the car and all the oil drained out and the engine had seized. The dealer advised me that this was not a Warranty claim since the oil change was performed by Pep Boys. At this point I notified the Service Manager at the Plantation Pep Boys where I had my oil changed. He was very nice and said he would submit a claim to Pep Boys Corporate. At the time I had access to another car so I didn't request a rental while I was waiting for a response from Pep Boys. Over 2 weeks went by and no decision had been made and I was informed that Pep Boys Corporate was sending a second inspector to look at my car. In the mean time my daughter was involved in an accident and the car I was using to get to work was totaled. I notified the Pep Boys Service Manager and he authorized me to get a rental car while we waited for a decision from Pep Boys. Over 3 weeks had passed and I finally got a letter from Pep Boys in the regular mail. They declined my claim based on the following items:
1. I had initially stated there was no oil in my driveway. Upon closer inspection I did find a very small and very light oil stain. My driveway is black and I expected to see a large puddle of oil. My driveway is also on a hill so it would not leak very much sitting on incline. Also it had been raining quite hard and often in the weeks prior to my engine failure. I informed Pep Boys that my original statement was incorrect and asked them on 2 occasions to come and look at my driveway both before and after my initial statement. They declined and made no mention of my amended statement in their declination letter.
2. They said they found no evidence of negligence on the part of Pep Boys or its employees. The Hyundai Service advisor and the mechanic both said that based on the physical oil running from the oil pan to the rear of the car was consistent with a oil plug that was not tight enough.
3. Pep Boys also confirmed in their letter that there was no evidence of any physical damage that might have knocked the oil plug out of the car and the dealer also confirmed this finding.
4. Pep Boys solution to how this occurred was that a vandal may have crawled under my car and loosen the drain plug or took my plug completely out of my car therefore causing the engine failure. I didn't have 4 or 5 quarts of oil on my driveway and no oil plug laying on the driveway so I guess the vandal cleaned it all up and took the plug with him. That makes sense right?
5. They also stated that my car has an oil sensor light that comes on when the oil gets low. As I understand that system only works when the oil gets to a certain point. So if the oil plug fell out before the level got to that point then the light would not come on. Therefore I would not have had any warning there was a problem. The first indication I had of a problem is when all the dash lights came on and the engine stopped running.
6. Finally they said it is my responsibility to prove that the drain plug was left loose by Pep Boys. If I can not show proof that Pep Boys left the drain plug loose they would continue to deny this claim.

After I received the Pep Boys declination letter I sent them a online complaint asking them to reconsider their position. One of the reasons why I asked them to reconsider their decision is their warranty states they stand behind any repair performed by Pep Boys for 90 day or 4,000 miles. My claim was made after 39 days and 1484 miles. I received no response so I contacted the Service Manager at the Plantation Pep Boys store. He called the Corporate Office and informed us that they had made their decision and my only recourse would be to "sue them". Since then I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau of which Pep Boys is a member. I did receive a response that my complaint had been received by the BBB and they were going to forward the complaint to the BBB in DC. I assume that is where the Pep Boys Corporate office is located. I never received any additional response from the DC Better Business Bureau or from Pep Boys concerning my complaint.

I now understand why Pep Boys advised me to "sue them" if I wanted to resolve this claim. There is no one a single consumer can go to to get help. I tried several lawyers but the claim is not big enough for them to be interested. The local Better Business Bureau hands seemed to be tied because this is a out of state company.

At this point our claim is for $7036.04. This includes $6325.58 for the Elantra's new engine (parts, labor and tax), $602.46 for a rental car (Which Pep Boys Management Authorized) and $108.00 in lost wages. We're not looking to make a killing. I'm only asking for Pep Boys to make this right. A mechanic made a mistake. It happens, but I shouldn't have to beg to get Pep Boys to fix this.

Although I think we have a strong case I can't find anyone to take it on. Fighting a huge corporation with unlimited resources is scary at best. The only alternative I can see is to find some one as big as Pep Boys like the media who can call their bluff. I have seen may reports on Ripoff and Better Business Bureau complaints against Pep Boys but none of this seems to compel Pep Boys to do the right thing. Can't anyone get companies like Pep Boys to be responsible and do the right thing without taking them to court?

Although this may not seem like a lot of money to a large company which I'm sure has insurance to cover mistakes like this. But to a small middle income family who put their trust in Pep Boys to do a simple oil this has been financially devastating experience. There is a lot more to this story then just the situation my family has had to endure.

Read Next Complaint >>

Email Story   |   Comment on this Story

Read more consumer reviews from Complaint Catalog -> Auto Repair

Reader Comments:

Posted by 4morebruce on 01/22/2008
Wow I feel for U , I know that it is going to be very hard for u to get that back but know doubt that the plug was not tight enough to stay in long, the idea of some one losing it is crazy you won't have been able to go a mile with out the oil, if it was taken out in your driveway!! There is a slight chance that theres a stain where the car died and the drain plug could be on the road not far from where it stopped.Very few cars can run more than 30 sec w/out any oil!

Posted by linnybb on 01/31/2008

I had this happen at a local Wal-Mart...exact same thing, they forgot to put the oil plug back in, car stops and engine a goner. Praise God, they got me a new (well, used, but still) engine and took care of the problem in a timely manner. I am so sorry this is happening to you and I will pray for full restitution to you.

Naples, FL

Posted by ericfmaxwell on 05/20/2009
You can sue in small claims court without a
lawyer, but there is a maximum, like $5000 or

You could also contact a local TV station and see
if they'll run with the story. Pepboys might cave
in the face of that kind of publicity.

What happened to you is a good reason to learn
how to change your own oil. It's not that
difficult and doing it yourself means you
always know the job got done right.

Posted by sundaawg on 10/28/2009
An oil drain plug DOES NOT come loose after 5 weeks of driving! Its either loose right after the service or its in tight until the next service! Its called an oil out and over 99% of them happen within the 1st two miles of driving, the other 1% happens within 5 miles! They did the right thing!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by peaty_lfaw on 02/22/2010
Never go back to Pep Boys. I have recenlty had my oil changed purely based on a voucher I received in the mail. Within 5 miles of driving it from the garage the maintainence light came on. I thought it may go off or reset itself. In the morning I backed my car up, and there was a HUGE pile of oil on the floor. I went to Pep Boys and they gave me a free quart of oil and tol dme to come back in 24 hours when they weren't so busy...I was like so what happens if my engine seizes...They looked at me as if to say 'You are a woman, how do you know about that?'' I said I wasn't stupid and I am making them look at my car (2006 Honda Element) tonight...I won't leave until they assure me they have fixed the problem they caused!!

Posted by nicole.miceli on 04/12/2010
This story is chilling because almost the same thing just happened to me. Only difference. My plug was in. My engine seized in the very same way. Lights came on and whammo! Shake, rattle, seize.

My car is a 2003 Subaru WRX. I towed it to a dealer and they asked me, "Where is the oil?" No leaks. Plug secure. Dipstick and undercarriage bone dry. I am only beginning this journey. Have contacted the media. Any other advice?

Posted by almunilla on 05/03/2010
WOW! THe same exact thing just happened to me this past friday. 2500 miles after my last oil change, i saw white smoke coming from my car so i stopped at a local gas station.. no gauges had gone off at this point. There was oil dripping all over the place forming a puddle. i got the car towed to my dealership and the next day the dealership asked me when the last time i got an oil change (about a month ago). they said there was no oil plug in the car and that midas (where i got my oil change) must have not screwed the plug in properly. they said i was looking at $4000 for a new engine! i called midas and they said that was impossible and that the dealership was trying to blame them. the dealership says that this isn't covered by my warranty and midas said they'll inspect the car but it didn't sound like they were about to give me a new engine. i plan on going to both places tomm. (i also planning on sueing them both in small claims court if no one decides to fix the problem). about a week ago, i did notice my car was leaking a little bit from the bottom (i don't know if it was oil), but i didn't think much of it...i initially thought that wouldn't help my case but i think your saying it does?(could that prove that the plug was getting loose) please help

Posted by kzedan on 10/28/2010
Pep boys doesn't even deserve one star. My car stalled on the road a few days ago and I took it to pep boys. They charged me 89 dollars for a diagnostic and then told me after a couple hours that it needed a tune up and fuel filter replaced. I said thats what's wrong with the vehicle? They said that would take care of the problem. But that it also needed hub bearings on the front tires which would be close to a thousand dollars. I said wow lets hold off on the hub bearings right now. I need the car to work and not stall on me and later we can do the hub bearings because I can't afford paying almost 1500 right now.
When I went in to pay them I asked to see the parts and they said "Oh I'm sorry we threw them in the dumpster". So I paid almost $400 dollars for the tune up and fuel filter and I left. As I started to drive it, it felt the same as when I dropped it off if not worse. Well, I go to work today and the car stalls on the highway and I literally almost get into an accident on a major busy highway.
I took it to another mechanic today (Auto Tech) and he looked at it and said I needed a tune up, that the spark-plugs placed in my truck where the incorrect type and could result in damaging my engine/catalytic converters,etc. I said what the heck are you talking about?! I just did a tune up a few days ago with pep boys! The Mechanic (Auto Tech) said, "your kidding?! well they put in the wrong ones - they weren't platinum and they are cheap and not recommended for your Ford truck, also they didn't replace the Boots which are all in very bad shape. So I had to pay Auto Tech $390 dollars to change the spark-plugs AND the Boots to the correct ones. Now while driving it, it seems its driving well after Auto Tech fixed the screw up that pep boys did! So I'm out almost $800 for a tune up AND I lost money from work today too, because I had to call in due to the car stalling on me. By the way, Auto Tech said I didn't need Hub Bearings - that there's nothing wrong with them!
I will NEVER go to Pep boys again and I will NEVER recommend Pep Boys to anyone. SHAME ON THEM for cheating people. In fact - I'm going to contact my local News channel so they can PUBLICLY bring attention to the terrible and dishonest service that pep boys gives. SHAME ON YOU AGAIN.

Posted by ybellavance on 05/07/2011
wow. I feel for you. They say an oil change is very simple but I am always very afraid everytime I have to change my oil. I have seen stupid stuff happen all the time. Last time I went to jiffy lube they over filled with oil and put the wrong mileage on the sticker which would indicate my next oil change to be in 26k miles. Since then I was doing my own oil changes which is what I recommend to most people or perhaps the dealer but even that can be a problem. If you are going to have your oil change then you must at all cost verify the work ie, how much oil is in there and how tight is the oil plug and filter. I just got a nw car that is too low for me to do it myself so I was looking o see if pepboys is god but I see its just another walmart. Thanks for sharing your story and I wil never go to pepboys again.

Related stories:
Copyright 2005-2015 Complaint.TV