Sometimes Things Just Happen…

Sometimes, when you take your vehicle in for service things happen that you don’t expect but, can result in serious damage.  The following are two examples of recent investigations where serious problems were caused.  The first claim involved a 2016 Toyota Tacoma that was taken to a Toyota dealership for an oil change.  Upon completion of the work, the vehicle was returned to its owner.  After arriving back at home, the owner noticed that his vehicle was leaking oil.  The owner promptly returned to the dealership.  However, unbeknownst to him, the oil drain plug fell out of the oil pan.  As a result, the engine was damaged to the extent that metal flakes were found in the oil drain pan indicating the need for an engine replacement.  Although the dealership denied any wrongdoing, a trail of oil was found and could be followed from the owner’s home to the dealership.  The photos below show the metal flakes found in the oil pan and the oil trail leading back to the dealership. 

Metal flakes found in oil pan indicating damage to engine
Oil trail leading from owner’s home to dealership

In this next claim, a lady was involved in a five vehicle accident when she couldn’t stop her 2011 Ford Escape and rear-ended a vehicle.  That impact started a chain reaction that involved four other vehicles.  Upon investigating it was learned that the vehicle’s front brakes had been replaced approximately two weeks before the accident.  It was also learned that the work had been done by a nationally recognized tire and auto service center.  The vehicle was later returned to the service center in order to perform an examination of the brakes and the work that had been done in the presence of service center personnel.  Upon removing both front wheels and inspecting the brake pads, it was noted that the pads on the interior sides of the rotors on both sides were missing.  It was clear that for whatever reason, the technician doing the work had only installed one brake pad on each wheel!  The photos below show the condition of the brakes on each wheel with one missing pad.

Missing brake pad on driver’s side front wheel
Missing brake pad on passenger’s side front wheel
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About R.J. Hill, P.E.
R. J. Hill is the author of two blogs: R.J. Hill Consulting and the Descendants of James Alexander Hill. Mr. Hill is a registered professional (mechanical) engineer with over 39 years of experience, 34 years in private practice. Please visit www.rjhill.com to see the kinds of forensic investigations that Mr. Hill performs.

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