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What would you do, if you saw your mechanic spray oil over your car's engine?

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Dear Tom and Ray:



I went to one of those 10-minute-oil-change places, and I got out of my vehicle to watch the employee work on my car. He began pumping oil into my engine from one of the overhead hoses, and while he pumped the oil, he started talking with his buddy who was servicing the next car over. He wasn't paying any attention to what he was doing, and he didn't realize that the oil hose had slipped out of the hole. He was holding the trigger and spraying oil all over my engine. When he realized his mistake several seconds later, he repositioned the hose back in the hole and continued pumping oil. Once it was full, he tightened the cap and tried to spray off the oil with water and wipe some oil off with a rag. I was amazed and didn't know what to say. He had gotten oil all over the valve cover, on all the wiring, on the spark-plug wires, on the windshield and on all sorts of things that I'm sure I don't know about yet. My question: Is it possible that I will experience problems in the future as the oil seeps into just about everything? And what should I do to resolve the problem? Will an engine detail be enough? -- Alex

TOM: The windshield? Geez, he really painted the thing, huh, Alex?

RAY: Actually, this happens a lot. And while there's no danger of engine parts being ruined by being covered in oil, there is a slight fire danger. If oil were to pool on the hot exhaust manifold, it could ignite. And that would be very exciting, wouldn't it?

TOM: That's why, when my brother squirts oil all over someone's engine, he always cleans it off with a solvent.

RAY: Right. It's a pain in the butt, but if we don't clean it up, the oil will burn off and will smoke and smell bad, and we'll probably lose a customer.

TOM: You mean ANOTHER customer!

RAY: Right. So we clean it off with a solvent rather than water, because a solvent will actually WORK. Then we'll run the engine to burn off anything we missed while my brother stands by with twigs and marshmallows, just in case.

TOM: So, having your engine steam-cleaned would be more than adequate, Alex. And you should ask those guys to pay for it.

RAY: And next time, sit in the waiting room and read a People magazine like you're supposed to, so you won't have to see stuff like this.

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