Help! Dad's engine blew up. Whose fault? Everyone's opinion wanted!

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  #1  
Old 05-20-09, 06:44 AM
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Help! Dad's engine blew up. Whose fault? Everyone's opinion wanted!

My dad just spent hundreds of dollars on either a partially or fully new or rebui9lt engine late last year for his Ariens lawn rider. It has a Tecumseh motor in it with key start.

The reason the FIRST motor failed last year, is the oil somehow came out of the engine and it seized. And believe it or not, he can't recall for sure all what the small engines specialty shop did. But I do remember the motor looked clean and new when I saw it last year when he got it back

Anyway, as my dad was driving it down this long driveway from the machine shed to get it to his yard to mow, unbeknownst to him, oil was pouring out the back where he could not see it. He left a trail hundreds of feet long.

Well, the motor blew up. The block completely cracked. Ruined.

Now. Who is responsible? Him, for not routinely making sure 3...plus pipes and other plug fittings even attached to them, it turns out...engine plugs, THAT HE NEVER HAS HAD A REASON TO TOUCH, are tight before using the mower? Or does the fault lie with the mechanic(s) who worked on the engine for making sure they were not really good and snug?

On some lawn mower engines, there is no dipstick; only one of those plugs where you check and ad oil. But on his motor, even though he has those 3 base-of-the-engine plugs, he never has to touch those because he has a dipstick!

He doesn't know anything much about engines the way it is.

If an old lady, non-mechanically inclined, owned such a mower, would she be held responsible for not checking oil plugs if she never touched them?

Is a car owner responsible that say if the engine were rebuilt, that the fan came off and flew into the radiator, that that person be responsible for not periodically checking? or the alternator bolts? Or the wheel nuts? Probably not, right? But oil plugs may be regarded as more a of a maintenance issue requiring the owner to check? But is it?, since as I said, there is a dipstick and the oil plugs do not need to be touched.

Was it sabotaged? No. The mower is kept in a locked machine shed. Not out where kids can monkey with it.

I need answers quick so I can get ahold of my dad, and give hime the consensus here before he calls up the small engine shop to see what they say.

The reason I am posting this here rather than the legal section is I want mechanics, possibly ex-or present shop owners and motorheads, and laypeople alike, to see this post and respond. I don't think as many will see this in the legal section. The more the merrier.

I'm really not sure what the answer is on this. It seems like a real gray area. I wonder what Judge Brown would say.
 
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  #2  
Old 05-20-09, 07:21 AM
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First thing to do is get the repair order and look at the date, what was done, who did it. The shop will most likely claim "user error" because it is the responsablity of the owner/user to "CHECK THE OIL BEFORE EVERY USE!!"
The owners manual says that many times thru the manual.
Was this the first time he used it since being fixed? If no, it is your Dad's screw up. If yes, then it is the shop's screw up.
 
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Old 05-20-09, 07:38 AM
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Originally Posted by indypower1 View Post
First thing to do is get the repair order and look at the date, what was done, who did it. The shop will most likely claim "user error" because it is the responsablity of the owner/user to "CHECK THE OIL BEFORE EVERY USE!!"
The owners manual says that many times thru the manual.
Was this the first time he used it since being fixed? If no, it is your Dad's screw up. If yes, then it is the shop's screw up.
The oil level was checked! It was fine. I had even checked it while it was in the garage a couple days earlier when I was servicing a tractor. It (his rider)has a dipstick! No reason to tamper with bottom of engine plugs. The work was doine last year sometime. More than 90 days ago and less than 1 year ago. What is your opinion now?

I suppose there is some exemption after so much time has passed. I wonder what that time frame would be? Is it simply a warranty time-frame issue in the case some loose part caused damage, where say it could be blamed on time of use/engine or pulleys/belts vibration or something? That after so much time has passed - tough luck?

In the interim here I wil call him up and ask him to dig through his records to find the receipt and see if there is any warranty clause mentioned.

The bottom line is the small engine shop is the one who worked on or replaced(what difference does it matter as to which since they were the ones tearing stuff down and working on it?) that engine, and my dad or me has had no reason to check the oil (drain)plugs, since it has an oil level dipstick. We have never touched or tampered with them. No reason to, as stated.

Again, what if on a car your wheel lug nuts came loose and say the tire fell off and you crashed the car and the last person to monkey with those nuts was the tire service center? Are you responsible for going out there and making sure your lug nuts are tight, periodically? Or what if your oil drain plug came loose and all the engine oil came out and the engine was destroyed say 2 months after the oil changing garage changed you oil?

Or are the rules different for the mower because it is way easier to check those oil plugs that are sort of out in the open once you see where they are?

I see I have had many 'views'. Please everyone, your opinions are valued even if you are not a pro. If this was your mower, what would you do? You do not want to get confrontational with the garage, or agreeing to something not in your full benefit, without first knowing who is likely legally at fault.
 

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Old 05-20-09, 08:51 AM
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You will have to find out what the shop's warrenty policy is. Many shops only have a 30 day warranty due to the fact they have No control over how the equipment is used. 30 day warranty gives the user time to use it and make sure it is trouble free. I would say you probaly got a 30 day warranty. But call the shop and find out.
 
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Old 05-20-09, 09:38 AM
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More than 90 days? I'd say it's not going to be covered by any warantee. Maybe. I'm anal in personality, but I do periodically check hardware, drain plugs, air filter covers for tightness because these types of engines have a LOT of vibration and stuff gets loose.
 
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Old 05-20-09, 03:57 PM
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He's probably sol. Not unless Tecumseh itself has a heart.

These plugs are typical. Briggs has them also. They must be able to unscrew themselves if not on absolutely tight. I wonder how many other people have gone through this? This could be an expensive learning lesson. Although, I've never had this happen to me.

Looking back now on what happened to the engine the last time, when it needed repair -NOW I wonder if the same thing may have happened then! Maybe. I remember then that he also left a trail of oil. And the presumption was the oil leaked out as a result of the engine going bad. I think the crank was even loose, he said. Maybe the oil leaked out first, causing the damage, rather than failure of the engine allowing oil to leak out!

I never looked at that motor when it went out the last time, as my dad knew I was real busy at work and he did not want to bother me. He had a shop come and get it and so we really never found out what the cause was.

I am going to call up Tecumseh and see what they have to say about this issue. My dad probably has only used the rider now no more than 10 times since he had it rebuilt the last time.
 
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Old 05-20-09, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by ecman51` View Post
He's probably sol. Not unless Tecumseh itself has a heart.

These plugs are typical. Briggs has them also. They must be able to unscrew themselves if not on absolutely tight. I wonder how many other people have gone through this? This could be an expensive learning lesson. Although, I've never had this happen to me.

Looking back now on what happened to the engine the last time, when it needed repair -NOW I wonder if the same thing may have happened then! Maybe. I remember then that he also left a trail of oil. And the presumption was the oil leaked out as a result of the engine going bad. I think the crank was even loose, he said. Maybe the oil leaked out first, causing the damage, rather than failure of the engine allowing oil to leak out!

I never looked at that motor when it went out the last time, as my dad knew I was real busy at work and he did not want to bother me. He had a shop come and get it and so we really never found out what the cause was.

I am going to call up Tecumseh and see what they have to say about this issue. My dad probably has only used the rider now no more than 10 times since he had it rebuilt the last time.
Good luck with calling Tecumseh. They stopped making engines last December. They were bought out by an investment company that only wanted their air conditioning side of the business.
 
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Old 05-20-09, 07:47 PM
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I think you might be out of luck. Tell the mower shop what happened, and that you never touch the drain plugs, and that the oil level was checked before use, and what happened. They may look at it and decide it was their fault and that they should cover it, but probably not. Legally, you may have a legitimate claim, but no proof that you had not ever removed a plug or maintained the oil level, etc... so it may not pan out for you. If it was a new engine from Tecumseh, the fault would probably be theirs more-so than the shops, if the plug was one that came installed in the engine. If that's the case, the company is gone and there is probably no recourse. They (the shop) may decide to meet you halfway or compromise somehow on repair/replacement of another engine if they feel partially to blame. In any case, I don't think it's your dad's fault. I'm not sure if it's the shop's fault or not...depending on if it was a new or rebuilt engine, and if it was a plug that comes pre-installed on the new engine, or it it was removed from the old one and installed on the new.

I'm not a lawyer, (counting my blessings) so take this for whatever it's worth.
 
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Old 05-21-09, 05:44 AM
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Originally Posted by indypower1 View Post
Good luck with calling Tecumseh. They stopped making engines last December. They were bought out by an investment company that only wanted their air conditioning side of the business.
Oh for crum sakes. This country of ours is headed to you know where in a hand basket. I think our situation this country is in is worse than we are even led to believe.
 
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Old 05-21-09, 05:57 AM
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cheese,

Thanks for your response. I guess that is all we can hope for. I will try the Tecumseh line today if I ever get a break from work and see if I get through to anyone. And then after that it comes down to the receipt and that repair shop. I still have not heard from my dad, if he found the receipt from later last year yet, since he was gone to see doctor yesterday.

BTW, I've never seen an engine with so many of these like 1/2 inch plastic drain plugs on the bottom of it, like this. That just seems like a recipe for disaster. They are coarser threaded also, and coarse threads can unscrew easier than fine threads since fine threads have more leverage to them when tightening, for one thing. A coarse thread can go from instantly tight, to instantly loose in 1/16th of a turn.
 
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Old 05-21-09, 04:18 PM
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I did more thinking on this while I worked today.

From the standpoint that if a warranty expired, we probably have no case. That be like if you bought a new engine and they guaranteed it for 6 months and it blew up in 183 days. And other engines of that year and model were known to last 10 years or more. You'd be madder than heck. Mad at them and mad at your bad luck. But you could not do anything about it except smear that company's name if they did not show some sympathy.

But from the standpoint that we should be responsible to check those plugs? I don't think so, the more I think about it. Those plugs are in no way part of the maintenance of the engine until say you get due for an oil change. -since the engine has a dipstick. This case in point here will make my point unarguable:

What if a radiator shop worked on your radiator. You drove the car for only 10 times (say 100 total miles) and the motor overheated and blew up. You later learned the radiator drainplug came loose and the coolant ran out. There is no way people are expected, as any part of routine maintenance, to go around making sure the radiator drain plug or any other plug on that engine or transmission or whatever is and stays intact, every so many weeks or whatever.

And this is where someone is going to get an earful if they do not cooperate and somehow either make good on this or at least make some compromise in costs at the least -warranty or no warranty. Somebody goofed or bad design goof.

The repair shop should actually carry insurance to cover such cases as this where something came apart prematurely on a piece of equipment that saw little use since getting the equipment back. Don't forget, the rider is not used in our long winters up here. Therefore a time-only warranty is sort of silly. What if my dad only mowed it just this one time only, and expired the warranty simply by having it garaged 6 months over the winter?
 
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Old 05-21-09, 04:27 PM
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What comes around goes around...if its a fluke or whatever it is what it is...best to ask with the best intentions and accept whatever outcome and move on with it.

best of luck
 
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Old 05-21-09, 05:13 PM
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Shops should carry insurance to cover this type of repair? So you want to pay $200/hr to have your lawn mower fixed? Get real. It cost me $1500/year just for liability and fire & theft. Now add the cost to insure every repair.
You said the mower was used last fall when you got it back from the shop. There was nothing wrong with it then. But now all the oil leaked out? Me thinks you or your dad unscrewed the plugs and forgot to re-tighten them. It happens.
 
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Old 05-22-09, 12:23 AM
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It can happen Indy. I see loose drains on engines straight from the factory all the time. I saw 2 this week alone I believe. He got the mower and it was fine then because the loose drain plug had not had time enough to rattle out yet.

It doesn't sound like the shop is the one to blame, however, since I'm sure the engine came with these plugs installed. It isn't something that should have to be checked by you or the shop. Just like you shouldn't have to check head bolt tightness, or open the engine to make sure it was assembled correctly. You buy the engine and install it on the assumption that the engine manufacturer knows how to put one together. Quite possibly a big reason Tecumseh went out of business. The engines they built were so bad that no commercial companies would use them and even the consumer product companies quit using them. When Sears decided to quit using them, they had no one left to buy from them.
 
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Old 05-22-09, 03:58 AM
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the shop may very well have left the plugs not fully tightened but try proving it. it's pretty much up the the shop. if they feel it may be their fault they might make good on it but considering the time that's past i don't know how i would of handled it. insurance for these situations ? never heard of it. you'll have a better case to plead if the engine was rebuilt as opposed to new or shortblocked as the mechanic would not have taken the plug out of a new block assy. still, it's a tough call. good luck.
 
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Old 05-23-09, 05:14 PM
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Ecman,, It's been 3 days now,, Have you called the shop??? Give them a chance first,,,See what they say & maybe than you will know what the situation is & won't have to guess any more... I do wish you good luck tho... When I worked @ a garage,,, I replaced a Cylinder head on a Pick-up & when I started it,, Oil was leaking bad,, There was a plug missing from the head.. The manufacturer told us it's our responsibility to check everything before installation as they have no control after that.. I hope you have better luck.. Call them,,,,Roger
 
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Old 05-24-09, 06:52 AM
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Originally Posted by indypower1 View Post
Me thinks you or your dad unscrewed the plugs and forgot to re-tighten them. It happens.
I doubt it, becasue it has an oil dipstick and has much wider hole to pour fresh oil in that is up and away from the engine more.
 
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Old 05-24-09, 06:56 AM
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Originally Posted by indypower1 View Post
Shops should carry insurance to cover this type of repair? So you want to pay $200/hr to have your lawn mower fixed? Get real. It cost me $1500/year just for liability and fire & theft. Now add the cost to insure every repair.
You said the mower was used last fall when you got it back from the shop. There was nothing wrong with it then. But now all the oil leaked out? Me thinks you or your dad unscrewed the plugs and forgot to re-tighten them. It happens.
I had it wrong then. I already presumed shops had such insurance.

Yes, the mower was repaired last August. My dad found the check. We were able to mow through October last year.

Just because there was nothing wrong then -what does that mean? What if the motor plug was to be torked to 65 inches let's say and someone only had it on there 15 inch pounds worth, let's say?
 
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Old 05-24-09, 06:59 AM
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Interesting read, Cheese.

..................................
 
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Old 05-24-09, 07:02 AM
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Originally Posted by flopshot View Post
the shop may very well have left the plugs not fully tightened but try proving it. it's pretty much up the the shop. if they feel it may be their fault they might make good on it but considering the time that's past i don't know how i would of handled it. insurance for these situations ? never heard of it. you'll have a better case to plead if the engine was rebuilt as opposed to new or shortblocked as the mechanic would not have taken the plug out of a new block assy. still, it's a tough call. good luck.
This is why I mentioned about Judge Brown. I wonder how he'd handle such a case. And believe me, there are lot's of such cases out there were you can't really prove whose fault it is. Yet there was some fault. But where to lay the blame and to what extent does the owner have to 'eat it', chaulking it up to bad luck?
 
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Old 05-24-09, 07:05 AM
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Originally Posted by hopkinsr2 View Post
Ecman,, It's been 3 days now,, Have you called the shop??? Give them a chance first,,,See what they say & maybe than you will know what the situation is & won't have to guess any more... I do wish you good luck tho... When I worked @ a garage,,, I replaced a Cylinder head on a Pick-up & when I started it,, Oil was leaking bad,, There was a plug missing from the head.. The manufacturer told us it's our responsibility to check everything before installation as they have no control after that.. I hope you have better luck.. Call them,,,,Roger
No. My dad has been hard at work, golfing with out of town relatives lately. . He did find the check, but not the actual receipt that may have more info on it. He is going to look more for it. THEN, we will contact the shop.

Sorry to hear about your bad luck with a plug.
 
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Old 05-24-09, 08:35 AM
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"Yes, the mower was repaired last August. My dad found the check. We were able to mow through October last year. "

So you used it for 3 months after it was repaired with no problem. You take it out this spring and "oil was pouring out the back where he could not see it. He left a trail hundreds of feet long".
Now you want the shop tp pay for a new engine?
If you came into my shop, I would tell you that the 60 day warranty had expired and you have to pay for a new engine.
Some one did something to that between the time you put it away for the winter and when you took it out for the summer. Sounds like someone started to change the oil, got interupted, and forgot to finish tightening the drain plug.
Soemthing like this did NOT happen from just sitting over the winter.
 
  #23  
Old 05-24-09, 08:48 AM
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I'd have to say that it was your Dads fault. It is a good idea to check things out on a mower before using it since it had been sitting for some spell of time. I use a check list on everything I have before I use it. Kinda like looking at the gas gage when you get in your car. Mowers that I have don't have gages on them, so it's necessary to check everything out before and after starting it up. Then if there is a problem, it should stick out like a sore thumb.
 
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Old 05-24-09, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by indypower1 View Post
. Sounds like someone started to change the oil, got interupted, and forgot to finish tightening the drain plug.
Soemthing like this did NOT happen from just sitting over the winter.
My dad turns 80 next week. Hmmm. I'll tell him what you said and ask him if by chance, out of paranoia, that he would not be low on oil (like the last time) - that he didn't indeed check by looking in a plug, and forgot about the dipstick - just to clear this up.
And then when he says no, I'll say, "Are you sure?!" And see what he says and how he reacts.
 
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Old 05-24-09, 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by hikapath View Post
I'd have to say that it was your Dads fault. It is a good idea to check things out on a mower before using it since it had been sitting for some spell of time. I use a check list on everything I have before I use it. Kinda like looking at the gas gage when you get in your car. Mowers that I have don't have gages on them, so it's necessary to check everything out before and after starting it up. Then if there is a problem, it should stick out like a sore thumb.
Have you followed the thread from the beginning? I said the engine has a dipstick and is the most likely place to fill oil as the hole is bigger and easier to get to.

Other opinions that took my side also said it is impractical if one wanted to use similar analogies, to check fluid plugs and nuts/bolts on cars to see if they are coming loose. One just shoud not have to do that on an assembled engine if you yourself have not tampered.

But in all honesty, weighing out what everyone is saying here, I think my dad's case is hopeless as nobody can actually prove anything and it's probably unlikely a service center is not going to want to eat having to redo a rebuild or replacement on some speculation.

This thread has probably played out it's course, and I thank everyone for their opinion. We can probably move on to helping others. I will let you all know what comes of this story.
 
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Old 05-24-09, 06:47 PM
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Well, you asked for everyones opinion, and you sure got a varied responce. I can't say it's anyone's fault, sometimes crap just happens. I bought a used tractor a few years ago with no warantee, but paid a pretty good price for it from a dealer and the motor blew up about 6 months after I bought it. Hey stuff happens, i repowered it and went on with life. Good luck with your machine.
 
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Old 05-28-09, 04:37 PM
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The thing is the mower was run only a handful of times after - I learned from my dad who finally found the receipt that the shop replaced the short block, which cost $500, and the total bill was about $650.

The plug was found in the garage next to where the mower was idling while getting it choked and all that. There was no way the driver would ever notice the oil pouring out (the back) of the machine.

I called the shop up, for my dad, yesterday, and the owner was nice and professional sounding and he said those plugs should not require a homeowner to check them for looseness. He claimed no responsiblility on his end, saying they installed it as is and had no reason to unscrew those plugs. He said they are supposed to be secure from the factory. But he agreed that course cut threads are more easy to start unscrewing if they are at all loose.

He said he was going to e-mail the company that took over Tecumseh, and see if they might not make good on it. He said he is not too optimistic - but he ended the conversation by saying that "you never know". He said it will probably be a couple weeks before he learns anything. I will post back the verdict when that time comes.
 
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Old 05-28-09, 07:57 PM
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"The plug was found in the garage next to where the mower was idling while getting it choked and all that. There was no way the driver would ever notice the oil pouring out (the back) of the machine."
Where in the garage was the plug found? on the floor, on the bench?
 
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Old 05-28-09, 09:22 PM
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On the floor obviously....how would it get on the bench? I don't think you can blame this one on the owner indy.

The threads are coarse, but they are generally pipe threads, meaning they are tapered threads that get tighter the farther in the plug is tightened, so if you back it up 1/2 turn, it's still tight to turn. You generally have to turn it out a turn or two to get it loose enough to turn by hand.
 
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Old 05-29-09, 06:07 AM
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Originally Posted by indypower1 View Post
"The plug was found in the garage next to where the mower was idling while getting it choked and all that. There was no way the driver would ever notice the oil pouring out (the back) of the machine."
Where in the garage was the plug found? on the floor, on the bench?
Yes, per cheese's response. Can you imagine telling the shop that it unscrewed itself on the bench?

Pipe thread? Hmmm. I'm making note in my notebook and tonight I am going to screw/unscrew plug. I always though I remember these things just easily screwing in the whole way. Now you got me wondering, cheese.
 
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Old 05-29-09, 06:45 AM
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"On the floor obviously....how would it get on the bench? "

Like I stated before someone was in the middle of doing an oil change & got interrupted.
I still believe it is the owner's fault as it was used for 3 months with no problems. I believe the owner pulled the plug for some reason and did not tighten it.
 
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Old 05-29-09, 03:16 PM
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Indy,

I'd sure hate for you to be the judge, in a court of law, if my dad was having his case heard.

Oddly that I'm posting in this forum right now and I just got back from a real large lawnmower shop to buy gasket/diaghram kit for my own lawnmower.
 
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Old 05-29-09, 06:21 PM
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Oddly is this thread is still running.
Geez give it a break already.
Personally after several months since work was done I would not take ANY responsibility for what happened UNLESS I specifically recalled doing the work and thought for some reason there was a possibility of ME being irresponsible by NOT doing what I know needs done.
No doubt it does happen but never intentional and I would bet NEVER with knowledge of being irresponsible.
I would LOVE to see you face Joe Brown and I bet he would teach YOU some humility, just the straight shooter he is :P
Agreed it is a raw deal, but so is life, if this is the worse bump you hit along the way you are doing so much better than most.

Peace be with you
 
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Old 05-29-09, 07:27 PM
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Judge Joe, protecting womanhood and promoting manhood and if you would listen you might learn something.

First engine failed, cause - neglect.
Second engine failed, cause - neglect.

You check your equipment before every use, morning, noon and night. Your equipment is your responsibility no one elses. Have a good one. Geo
 
  #35  
Old 05-29-09, 09:13 PM
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My last post on this subject. If the work had been done in my shop, you used it for 3 months with no problem, put it up for the winter, took it out in the spring and lost the oil, I would say "someone changed the oil & left the plug loose. I will fix it at normal repair rates. No warranty of any kind."
If I fixed every homeowner's screw up for free, I (and every other repair shop) would be out of business.
 
  #36  
Old 05-29-09, 09:19 PM
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I think this is continuing for the sake of conversation and discussion, not to seek legal action. I think that point has passed, so this is no longer about seeking recourse. It's debating who is at fault (an 80 year old man who just bought an engine, a shop that installed it, or the manufacturer). Nothing wrong with that.

So should we crawl under our cars with a wrench before every time we crank them up and make sure our drain plugs are tight? Especially after having a new engine put in just a few months prior? And if we don't, and the plug falls out, it's our fault, not the last guy who messed with the plug? Geo, are you saying you check the tightness of your drain plug before every use?

Yes, you should check your equipment as in look at the tires for signs of low pressure, check the oil, take an occasional glance at the air filter, etc... But... you don't go around with wrenches and screwdrivers and start checking bolt tightness and the like. That is not part of pre-use inspection. If the oil was on the ground prior to starting the engine, then yes, that would have been seen during a visual inspection. It sounded to me like the plug came out while the engine was idling in one of the prior posts.

Indy, why would he be changing oil on a brand new engine? Why would oil be on the floor if he was changing it? Wouldn't it be in a bucket/pan? Do you let oil run out on the ground when you change oil? ecman51 said he or his father did not take it loose. It is not our job to decide whether or not he is a liar or if he has a good enough memory for our satisfaction. If he said he did not take it loose, how can you know better?

In any case, there is nothing you can do about it, and even if there were, it's not worth it. You've done what you can. If you hear back from the shop owner with good news, then it will surprise me, but you never know.
 
  #37  
Old 05-29-09, 09:39 PM
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Originally Posted by cheese View Post
In any case, there is nothing you can do about it, and even if there were, it's not worth it. You've done what you can. If you hear back from the shop owner with good news, then it will surprise me, but you never know.
Basically what I was trying to say. I honestly can not see any one at fault, perhaps someone did make a mistake or failed somewhere but who and where?
Considering all the circumstances and all given credit for truthfull testimony, someone still is going to take the hit and as unfortunate as it may be, the consumer is that someone.
 
  #38  
Old 05-29-09, 11:36 PM
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Exactly...No-one's fault just as much as a tiny bit of everyone's fault. The man who put the plug in is the one who is really at fault, but there is no way to know who that was I suppose. It's just one of those pills you have to swallow once in a while.
 
  #39  
Old 06-01-09, 07:30 AM
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Interesting reading all the opinions since I last posted.

This morning, I had cause to go in that garage of infamy. Now I am trying to play detective. Something does not add up here in my mind!

I plan on talking to my dad again within an hour, and also that repair shop. I will keep you abreast of everything.

I looked at those drain plugs. There are **3***!!! of those things at the lower rear of the engine!(WHY in the world!) Plastic. Course thread. Not pipe thread. No o-rings or gaskets on them either. They EASILY screw all the way in with no tightening as you go. They go from being loose to suddenly bottomed out tight.

But I noticed this: When they are tightened, with not that much effort, I might add - they are tight. So much so that for the psi applied to tighten them, it seems like you need MORE psi to loosen them! I have reassessed my opinion about my earlier thread regarding fine and course threads. I now believe they were engineered with real course threads on purpose. The thread pitch is way steeper and this causes the plug to bind better at the very end of tightening. Not less, as I originally opined.

Here is why I am now playing detective:

Let's say dad is honest and the plug vibrated out. How come hardly no oil is seen on the asphalt for the first 25 feet? But at 25-600 feet to where his lawn starts, there are 2 parallel stripes of heaviy oil dotting, that remains of the same density between 25-600 feet. This raises the question that if oil loss was caused by no plug in the engine, upon leaving the garage - then why wasn't there a puddle of oil in the garage and a stream as it exited the garage door? And why not **2** separate paths of oil loss - one from leaving the garage and heading up to the yard, and another path of oil leaving the yard heading back to the garage? There is just an occasional drip bwetween 0 -25 feet from the garage (I suspect the engine oil ran completely out of oil heading back DOWN to the garage, from the yard). Does that mean that very little oil will come shooting out of even a missing plug? And if no oil comes shooting out, nor even dribbling out on it's own separate path heading up to the yard - then what caused the engine to crack open, if not from a sudden loss of oil???

The lowest 2 plugs are on the same line and are mounted so each plug is vertical and 1 1/2 inches off the bottom of the engine at deck mount. The bottom of the dipstick goes all the way down to almost the bottom of the engine. The other plug is located higher at about 2 -2 1/2 inches, and is mounted at center rear and somewhat of an angle...but closer to vertical.

I am thinking ALL the oil track was caused after the block had already cracked, since there is only ONE set of (perfectly parallel) oil dribbles, for the 575 feet (600 minus the 25 of no oil from the garage to 25 feet).

Could it be the plug had nothing to do with it?

Here is more to the puzzle. On the right side and rear of the engine, the short block that was replaced looks clean. But on the left side of the engine, there is oily gook that has been running down from high up on the engine. Now -did the oil shoot up therre from the crack at the base of the engine block? I do not think so. That is not recently-fresh oil. And that engine was spotless when that motor was rebuilt. And the oil filler tube is on the other side of the engine, from the crack ands gooked oil, so that old gooky oil was not caused by poor aim while adding any oil. Besides, I do not believe he has ever had to add oil.

It might be that the engine was plain defective from the factory, OR, with the assembly of the short block at that repair shop with say the engine head, flywheel, etc. - and the loose plug, or the plug out of the engine had nothing to do with it.

Now - just suppose once, for argument sake - suppose the plug had stayed in the engine, but was simply real loose. THEN I could see that perhaps the plug loosened on him up in the yard while mowing, and then all the dribbling down to the garage 600 feet away was from a combination of the loose plug and or cracked block. BUT, since the plug was found laying down on the garage floor, we are back to trying to figure out why there are not TWO seperate tracks of oil loss: One going from the garage up to his yard 600 feet away, and another track of oil from his yard back down to the garage?

??????(hence the mystery)

I have to ask him if it's possible that after the engine blew up, that he unscrewed the plug, to see where the oil went -and then forgot he did that.

But this whole scenario then places the blame either on the repair shop or on a defective engine.

Isn't this intriguing?
 
  #40  
Old 06-01-09, 09:33 AM
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maybe to be on the safeside from now on when any one of us unscrews the drain plugs on cars or lawnmowers to use blue thread locker to prevent it from coming out. DO NOT USE THE RED KIND YOU WILL NEVER GET IT OFF WITHOUT HEATING IT. use the blue one.
 
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