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Van engine failure,van regularly controlled by a mechanic, what is his responsibility?

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Hi everybody,

I have a van Toyota Hiace from 2004.

I bought it this summer (July) and from the beginning I regularly bring it to my garage. I spent around £700 in 7 months for maintenance. Initially I did a general service, i changed some mechanical parts, tyres, and recently I did the MOT.


A couple of months ago the orange light of the oil turned on, i checked the oil and it was full. I spoked with my mechanic about it and about the fact that the van was doing some smoke at the start. The mechanic cleaned the filters and told me that the light was probably caused by an electric malfunction and that there was no risk in driving the van.


On the 21 of December my colleague was driving the van when it stopped in the middle of the road and started to do a weird sound. After several trial the van started and he manage to reach home. When we went to the closest garage (which is not my usual) they say that we were running without oil and the engine failed and need to be replaced.


I went to my garage and they confirmed that i need to replace the engine.


The cost of my van is £2200 + the work done that are around £700. Replacing the engine with a second hand one is going to be around £600 work and £500 cost of engine.


I would like to understand if my garage has some responsibilities on what happened. If I bring my van regularly there, I asked about the specific issue with the oil lights and they tell me that i can run without problems and after few weeks the engine get damage so badly that I have to replace it do they have any legal responsibility?


Thank you.



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If he dipped the oil and it was on the correct mark then he would more than likely have been correct in letting carry you on driving. However, there are more reasons for an oil pressure light to come on than low oil. The sump strainer could be blocked, the oil pump not working as it should or the oil relief valve stuck open.


And a second however. To take the oil below the safe level which would bring it on going around corners etc there would have been quite a lot of smoke coming out the exhaust, more than would have allowed a pass certificate to be issued in a MoT.


As he is a mechanic and checked the filters etc we can only assume that the very first thing he did was check the oil level. We must also assume that the correct dipstick is installed.


If he didn't dip the oil, which would be negligence, it would be up to you to prove that negligence and your word against his.


Vehicle fluids ie oil, water, hydraulic fluid, steering fluid and washer lever are all weekly check items, (as are lights), so if you just drove it without checking and leaving that up to him every few months, I would say you are more than part responsible.

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