‘My motor started smoking’: Consumer blames routine maintenance for new-car damage

POINCIANA, Fla. — Action 9 investigates how a $100 oil change turned into a $13,000 repair bill.

“Was there anything unusual about that oil change?” asked Action 9′s Todd Ulrich.

“Everything seemed great,” Christian Saavedta replied.

Saavedta took his 2021 Honda Civic in for service at Take 5 Oil Change in Poinciana.

He claims he had driven 10 miles after the service when he noticed a red-light warning. “My dashboard started showing my oil levels were low and I was shocked cause I just had my oil changed.”

Saavedta says he stopped the car and called Take 5 Oil Change.

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He said the manager told him to drive it back to the shop. “That’s when everything, all hell broke loose, and my motor started smoking.” Saavedta said he heard a loud bang and realized his engine had died.

Saavedta showed Ulrich video he had taken of Take 5 Oil employees examining his broken-down vehicle and then adding oil. He said the employees denied doing anything wrong.

He paid to have his vehicle towed to Coggin Honda of Orlando.

“Did the dealership tell you the oil was gone?” Ulrich asked.

“Yes, they did,” Saavedta replied.

“That caused the failure?” Ulrich asked.

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“Yeah, correct.” According to Saavedta, Honda told him the new-car warranty would not cover the engine replacement since a suspect oil change that was not done by Honda triggered the damage.

The estimate for a new engine is more than $13,000, but Saavedta says Take 5 Oil refused to offer any assistance. “They still don’t want to take the blame for it.”

Take 5 Oil Change has its corporate office in Charlotte, North Carolina. The company is rated F at the Better Business Bureau for failing to respond to customer complaints.

In the past four months, 12 customers of various Take 5 shops claimed an oil change caused damage to their engines. An owner of an F-150 truck said a bad oil change left him facing a $10,000 engine repair.

Ulrich went to the shop in Poinciana for answers.

“He had an oil change with a 2021 Honda Civic, 15 minutes later his engine failed,” Ulrich told a manager.

“OK, I’m the new manager at this store, I’ve only been here for a week. You need to go and contact my district manager,” he replied.

At first, a manager at the corporate office told Ulrich an independent review showed Take 5 did not cause the issue, but now the company says it reopened the case, and based on new information, it will cover the new engine.

Saavedta said that’s not what he heard when he first contacted Action 9. “It’s just to me it’s not fair.”

Consumers in similar situations have options. They can file a small claims case, and with any vehicle repair dispute, they can contact Florida’s Division of Consumer Services, the agency that regulates auto repair shops.

Take 5 Oil Change response:

Customer satisfaction and quality service are of the utmost importance to us at Take 5 Oil Change. We’ve reopened the claim based on new information we’ve received and are pleased to be able to resolve this issue for the customer.

Todd Ulrich

Todd Ulrich, WFTV.com

I am WFTV's Action 9 Reporter.