When you take your car in for an oil change, you trust your mechanic to put in the right amount of oil and probably don't worry about them putting in too much.
But one North Texan found out you can have too much of a good thing.
Jason and Amanda Welch had planned a big anniversary road trip. The two married on July 28, 2012 and vowed to reenact that magical day every year for the next 49 years in every state in the union.
The plan this year was to exchange vows beneath the arches at the Arches National Park in Utah.
“Before we left, we went and got the oil changed on the 24th," said Jason Welch.
Jason said he went to a Wal-Mart Auto Care Center located at 15220 Montfort Drive in Dallas. The trouble started three days later while driving through the mountains of Colorado.
"I hear it [the engine] start to knock. There's no shoulder there. There's a bunch of other cars and everything. I'm starting to lose power," he recalled.
The couple struggled to make it to a gas station.
"Pulled the dipstick to check the oil and way too much oil," he said.
That was the mechanic’s conclusion as well. He believed their having too much oil ruined the engine.
Welch’s receipt from Wal-Mart indicates technicians used six quarts of oil, but his vehicle owner's manual calls for five. The manual warns that if too much oil is added, "your engine could be damaged."
The couple had to have their SUV towed 800 miles to their regular mechanic, Johnny Gentry, owner of Sachse Automotive. Gentry, like the Colorado mechanic, believes the engine is ruined.
"Probably $2,400, $3,000 worth of damage to it at least,” said Gentry.
Gentry said in hilly driving conditions, having too much oil can result in engine failure.
"Up and down those hills, when the crank shaft beats around in the oil, it aerates the oil," said Gentry. And oil with too many air bubbles won't lubricate your engine.
When NBC 5’s Consumer Team shot video of the Dallas Wal-Mart, an employee ordered all the bays to be closed.
The Welch family received a similar response from Wal-Mart's insurance company. An adjuster determined Wal-Mart was not responsible for the damage; "therefore, we are respectfully denying your claim."
The news is devastating for the Welch family. They say they're already spent more than $3,000 for a lost vacation, towing and weeks of car rental costs.
"I haven't been back to Wal-Mart since,” said Welch.
NBC 5’s Consumer Team had a number of questions for Wal-Mart. The retailer answered none of them, responding in writing, "We aim to provide quality automotive services to all of our customers. We take these matters seriously and claims management works closely with our stores to fully review any issues."
Wal-Mart has agreed to send an adjuster by to re-inspect the engine if the couple has it taken apart at their expense.
Before you take your vehicle in for an oil change, read your owner's manual and tell the technician the type of oil and how much oil. Don't trust them to know. Re-check your oil level after an oil change.
And check your oil level every two weeks. It's best when the engine is cold, ideally when the car has been sitting overnight.