Have a heart to heart with the repair shop...

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Aug 01, 1991

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a 1987 Plymouth Reliant Recently, I replaced the oil pan because the threads that hold the oil plug were stripped. The repair shop had told me previously on two appointments for lube and oil that they put in a larger plug to temporarily take care of the problem, so that the oil would not leak. But it was a must this time around to replace it. What I want to know is who should be responsible for the charges? If the mechanic in the garage strips the oil pan, shouldn't the garage pay for some or all of it? Or should I consider it just part of the wear and tear of the car like the tires? The car has 62,000 miles on it.

TOM: If the mechanics at this particular service center stripped the oil pan, then they really should be responsible for the costs of replacing it. The problem is proving that they did it.

RAY: If this is the only place that has ever changed your oil, and you've got the receipts to prove it, I'd say you have a very good case. But if you've gone to a number of different places for oil changes, these guys will probably argue that someone else stripped the pan, and it just happened to finally bite the dust while they had it. And it would be hard to prove otherwise.

TOM: And in all fairness to the repair shop, yours is not an isolated incident. We've seen more stripped oil pans in the last three years than we'd seen in the previous twenty years. And the reason is that all manufacturers are using cheaper, thinner metals. They save a few cents on the part, and a few pounds for fuel economy, but the oil pans don't hold up as well. We've even seen one oil pan that rusted out. In the old days, this was unheard of!

RAY: So have a heart to heart with the repair shop, and see if they won't agree to pick up at least part of the cost. But regardless of the outcome, write a letter to Chrysler and let them know how you feel about replacing the oil pan at only 62,000 miles. Good luck, Pat.

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