After spending a half day parked in DC so I can run errands, I drove towards Houston hoping to get as far south as I can making up for lost time. I didn’t want to push it too hard because I didn’t want to run into Tropical Storm Cristobal, battering the Gulf coast.
I made it 190 miles to the Walmart in South Hill, VA (330 miles today from Paulsboro NJ) before they shut down for the night. I got some food then noticed that there their parking lot was full of trucks, and the management is amazingly friendly to truckers. So I decided to play it safe and spend the night here. Need to get up bright and early to make up for falling behind schedule.
I rose by 6am and after a nice, warm shower, I was anxious to get on the road. I started the truck, and to my surprise, the engine won’t turn over. I looked under the truck and noticed oil everywhere. I had lost a lot of oil during my drive from DC since everything under the truck was coated with a thick grime, and during the night a noticeable puddle of oil had formed.
I called the TA in Paulsboro NJ who informed me that the work would be covered only if a technician from a TA or Petro can come to verify that oil had leaked from the oil pan. Unfortunately, the closest technician is 90 miles away in Mebane, NC, and a couple of hours later she showed up.
The mobile technician confirmed that there was a missing bolt in the back of the oil pan and the gasket wasn’t properly seated causing massive amount of oil to leak out.
I relayed this information to the TA in Paulsboro, who claimed that two bolts were never there in the first place, and I was made aware of this. Thus there’s no warranty. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
The bolts were not missing when I brought the truck to the shop because I had done an inspection of the oil pan a month ago, and no bolts were missing. Additionally, my instructor from North American Trade Schools, Mr Hyde, confirmed that all the bolts were in place and there was only a slight leak from a couple of bolts that were over-torqued causing the gasket to leak. (I was only losing about a gallon every two weeks – compared to 12 gallons in 2 days).
Before the work was started, I mentioned to the mechanic in TA Paulsboro, NJ that my gasket was leaking (showed her a video of the inspection completed. She confirmed that there was some leak on the bottom of the oil pan, so she recommended changing out the gasket.
The technician claims that only after dropping the oil pan did she realize that 2 (out of 20) bolts were missing. I stayed in the cab of the truck most of the time and also around the truck, so there was plenty of opportunity for the techs to inform me of this discovery. But instead of notifying me, they decided to reinstall the oil pan with the two missing bolts, and thus the gasket wasn’t properly seated.
From the video above, the mobile technician stated that the bolts were on there before because the metal is shiny under the bolt, and that the gasket sticks out and isn’t properly seated.
Then they decided to pull a fast one on me by sneaking a note to the bottom of the invoice that the 2 bolts were missing and that their work is not under “warrenty” [sic]. The manager never went over this issue with me – she was hoping I wouldn’t catch it. The invoice and inspection report were 3 pages so there was a lot of fine print and they assured me that everything was ok.
In reality, I would have never left the shop knowing I had 2 missing bolts especially after I just spent $1,145 for Mobile Delvac synthetic oil and gasket. In fact the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act provides an implied warranty for consumers. Both goods and services are protected – when a reasonable customer purchases a service, he/she should expect a certain result. If not the company should remedy the situation.
Likewise, the TA should have never let me go on the road with the missing bolts. All they had to do was wait till the following morning and purchase the bolts from the International dealership for a couple bucks a piece and install them. I would have easily approved this delay, especially since it was past 8pm when the work was done , and I didn’t need to leave until the next day.
As an owner operator, I would never authorize incomplete work and would never get on the road knowing that I have missing bolts. Doing so not only guarantees leaking oil all over the roadway but also put the lives of many others at risk.
Very disappointed at the TA to not take responsibility for their mistake, not assist with my tow, and shifting the blame on me.
Latest Update as of June 24th: TA has agreed to reimburse me for both the tow and the oil and gasket change that I paid to Smiley’s in South Hill, VA