Q&A: Answers to your questions about recalls and catastrophic missed oil changes

YOU & YOUR CAR

Special to The Globe and Mail

BLOWN ENGINE

I purchased a 2013 Ford Escape and have put 35,000 km on it since December, 2012. I’m 23 years old, and not being mechanically inclined, I figured a new vehicle would be best, with everything under warranty and computer warnings for little reminders. I regularly check to make sure that it still has oil in it and, as long as it is close to full, I consider that I’m doing my due diligence. I do a lot of highway driving, not a lot of stops and starts, so I believed I could hold out longer for oil changes. On Feb. 4, my truck broke down and when I got it towed in I learned that my engine was shot. The cam shaft seized and caused what they called “catastrophic damage” to my engine. Since I did not get any “regular scheduled maintenance” performed, it was not covered under warranty and would cost $13,000 to get a new engine. I usually get oil changes annually and never had issues with my previous vehicle, a 1996 Ford Ranger. Is it not odd for such a new vehicle to have such severe engine problems this early? – Mike

Lubrication is the single most important issue with the internal combustion engine. Not only does the oil provide a smooth interaction between metal surfaces, it provides a cooling function as well. Manufacturers set oil change interval recommendations based on extensive testing. Failure to follow those recommendations – for whatever reason – is a common cause of engine failure. You do not say how often or by how much you missed the change interval, but I am afraid you don’t have a leg to stand on. Mileage or age has little to do with it, lack of lubrication could cause failure at any point.

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