Car died

I bought a 2006 Corolla with 200,000 kilometers on lt. The seller volunteered how he religiously changed the oil every 4,000 kilometers.

The oil was clean, and i drove it about 2,000 kilometers then changed the oil and filter.

After about 100 kilometers at freeway speed the engine died. The mechanic said it threw a rod because the oil had never been changed. The innards of the engine was coated with one half inch of burnt oil. Repair will cost $1,000 USD.

I guess the recent oil change freed up the sludge. And caused the malfunction.

I live in a small town, and the seller is my friend’s neighbor.

I realize caveat emperor, but would like the seller to know what happened. If only that he would avoid misrepresentation in the future. Or should I just move on.

What say yee?

If true, I would be pissed off beyond belief. I would confront the seller, and even consider suing them for misrepresentation – but would first get a second opinion from another mechanic to verify that the oil had indeed never been changed.

While the cost of the repair in question is relatively low, I would expect the engine to be ruined and to have continued problems beyond the thrown rod.

The potential issue of grossly negligent failure to maintain a vehicle by the previous owner is the main reason why I have eschewed buying used cars my entire adult life.

caveat idus Martias !

(me excuso…)


No car could possibly reach 200,000 km (120K miles) with its oil never having been changed.

The owner could have been topping it off but never did an actual “drain and change”.

An improbably short oil change interval.

A remarkably low cost for a new engine - which is the only sensible repair for what you describe.
This story underlines the importance of a thorough pre-purchase inspection. Used cars include warranties only when this is explicitly declared - the default is “as is, where is”, which means the buyer has no legal recourse for any mechanical problem after he takes ownership.

Thank you for your reply.

Suing doesn’t happen in this country. The repair is low, due to lower labor cost here. Obviously the repair is a band aid. But mechanics are quite creative here. With the repairs done, I can hopefully get it home. It is currently two hours away. Then decide what to do.

The seller was the second owner. But he was the owner for the last ten years.

As I stated the only reason for me to contact the seller would be to encourage him to avoid this behavior in the future. I have photos that show the accumulation of burnt oil.

For this specific situation with the oil,would a typical pre-purchase inspection have discovered the problem?

How would unchanged oil show up in an inspection? They don’t dismantle the engine looking for that kind of problem.

This is not necessarily true. In some jurisdictions, if the buyer [del]knew[/del] could prove the seller misrepresented the vehicle in order to sell it and the buyer would not have bought it if they had known the truth, then the seller can be held responsible, regardless if it is a new car, used car, or anything else. I believe harmonicamoon does not live in the US so it would depend on the laws where the car was sold. Regardless, I would confront the seller to let them know about the breakdown and that the mechanic said it was a lack of oil being changed regularly (I wouldn’t say “never been changed” since if the seller changed the oil just once, it would give him a piece of truth to stand on). Ask them if they had the records of the oil changes, since it appears the people who changed his oil were cheating him.

I asked a guy who does PPIs. He said the ease of checking this will - unsurprisingly - depend on the engine.

On some, you can simply remove the oil filler cap and shine a light in there. It may be reasonably easy to remove a valve cover: on many engines, this can be done in just a few minutes, and one look inside tells a lot. A bit more difficult is to remove the oil pan.

His general view is that even when it’s a nuisance, this sort of check is basically mandatory. An engine plated with oil crud is a good candidate for various failures, none of which will be easy or cheap to fix.

Great idea. (Your last sentence). I can confront him without accusing him. Thank you.


But both proving the seller knew and then actually collecting damages can be difficult. Often the cost of doing - or attempting to do - this can be daunting.

Great suggestion. I will perform this inspection on my next car purchase.