Edmonton man's engine destroyed after oil change

An Edmonton man is trying to find someone to take responsibility after the engine seized on his 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander.

Search to find someone responsible for damage has hit a bump in the road

Lethbridge Mitsubishi says Mr. Lube should have used the filter on the right but instead used the one on the left.

An Edmonton man is trying to find someone to take responsibility after his vehicle's engine seized.

Tim Slocombe needed an oil change on his 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander before heading to Lethbridge for Christmas. 

He wasn't able to book an appointment at his dealership. So he went to Mr. Lube near the corner of Parsons and Ellerslie roads in Edmonton.

"I've been there before with other vehicles and never had a problem," he said.

According to Slocombe, everything was fine for about a week after he got the oil change, until a couple of warning indicators suddenly lit up on his dash and the vehicle ground to a halt.

The Outlander was towed to Lethbridge Mitsubishi, where service adviser Jessica MacQuarrie said her technician noticed a problem right away.

Oil filter 'improperly' installed?

"After we realized that the oil filter was improperly installed, we also came to the conclusion that it was altogether the wrong filter for that particular vehicle," MacQuarrie said.

The CBC cannot independently verify that diagnosis.

Mr. Lube said it has investigated and stands by its claim that it did use the correct filter. 

The CBC also contacted two different parts stores in Edmonton to ask for the correct part number for the oil filter on Slocombe's Mitsubishi. Both gave the same part number that Mr. Lube used.

Mr. Lube spokesperson David Waterfall said the company also verified the part number with the supplier and confirmed it's an original equipment manufacturer part.

"That means this is not a copy of the part that Mitsubishi would have in their cars," said Waterfall. "This is the actual part that Mitsubishi themselves would install."

Waterfall said he isn't sure what caused the engine to fail.

"But I can tell you with a great deal of certainty that the part we installed was not the problem," he said.

He could not say if improper installation may have been to blame, adding "anything is possible but I think that's unlikely."

Still, the dealership wrote a letter to Mr. Lube on Slocombe's behalf outlining the problem. It pointed out that the Mr. Lube technician could have obtained what it said is the correct part number from the filter that was removed rather than looking it up.

But the damage is done, and it's extensive. 

Tim Slocombe sent CBC this photo of the oil pan from his 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander.

An independent mechanic who is not connected to the story confirmed to CBC that it is possible for a vehicle's warning indicators to start flashing just before the engine seizes. Kent Asselstine with Legend Auto also confirmed that an incorrect oil filter can cause a catastrophic engine failure, but believes most filter problems are caused by installation errors.

The dealership said the engine will have to be replaced, at a cost of about $15,000. MacQuarrie thinks Mr. Lube should foot the bill.

"I believe they should absolutely be responsible for the damage."

Mr. Lube disagrees.

Mr. Lube says it used correct filter

A Mr. Lube representative responded to Slocombe with a letter indicating the dealership was wrong and that Mr. Lube did use the correct filter. 

Link provided by Mr. Lube showing they did follow the manufacturer's specifications.

Mr. Lube even provided a link to a Mitsubishi website indicating technicians did in fact use the manufacturer's suggested part.

MacQuarrie thinks it may be an American Mitsubishi website.

"We base everything that we service here in Canada off of the Mitsubishi Canada website," MacQuarrie said. "By the looks of this information that I've been sent, that is not the website that he visited. It seems to me that that looks like an American site." 

Meanwhile, Slocombe has returned to Edmonton without his vehicle; it's still sitting at the dealership's lot in Lethbridge, and he's still making payments on it.

Engine 'totally seized'

"So my engine is now totally seized, I've approached Mr. Lube and they've basically written two letters telling me to go away and that it's not their fault," said Slocombe. "That they're right, that their recommendations that they use told them to use the filter that they did, and not the filter that was already on the car.

"Whether it's the wrong filter or the right filter, their technicians touched my vehicle and eight days later it suffered catastrophic engine failure." 

Mitsubishi Canada stands by its statement that the wrong part was used. 

Spokesperson John Arnone said they've checked the numbers, and the one for the filter used by Mr. Lube doesn't even come up in their catalogue.

"We can certainly rule out that it was meant for a Mitsubishi vehicle in Canada," Arnone said.

CBC contacted another Mitsubishi dealership not connected to this story, which also gave the part number for the oil filter that Lethbridge Mitsubishi said should have been used. 

While it remains uncertain where the problem originated, Slocombe said he may have to go to court to try to hold someone responsible for the damage.