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 09-15-2003, 10:00 Post: 63919
garynd



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 Lawn Tractor engine dead after dealer does tune up oil change

This is my mother in law's Sears lawn tractor that is five years old and has had yearly tune ups from sears service. However this year they had moved and had a local lawn tractor service dealer do the tune up. When she got the mower back she checked the oil and it looked black. She thought they might have forgotten to change it for the tune up. She looked at the receipt and it indicated that they used diesel oil. She called the service manager and they told her that the diesel oil was a better oil to use than the standard oil. So she went ahead and used it. Within a short time the engine died. They want 800 to fix it and claim no responsibility to the tractors demise. Does anyone have an opinion whether or not the oil is to blame? The gave her a loaner until she decides to get the mower fixed or buy a new one from them, since they are the only local dealer it sounds suspicious to me. Any opinion would be appreciated.






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 09-15-2003, 10:19 Post: 63921
AC5ZO

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 Lawn Tractor engine dead after dealer does tune up oil change

If indeed it was oil rated for diesel engines, it should not have caused a problem like you describe. But, why would they use more expensive diesel oil, and why would it be black? Most small air cooled engines are designed for non-detergent oil. Even if the dealer failed to change the oil, it is unlikely to cause sudden failure like you describe.

The whole story sounds fishy to me. I would not go to that dealer after hearing your story. It is not hard for a dishonest service tech to cause an engine to fail in a variety of ways. A service business is based on trust, but there is nothing wrong with being an informed consumer.

What can you do? You could first check to see if complaints have been placed with your state about the dealer. If the dealer is dishonest, he knows that it will cost you more than $800 to take him to court and you will have to prove your case on a Sears tractor that was several years old.

You could also take your case to Sears. They made the recommendation and should back you up. If the dealer has complaints with the state against him, they should be interested in that. But, remember that Sears has had their own trouble with complaints regarding vehicle service.






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 09-15-2003, 10:29 Post: 63924
DRankin



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 Lawn Tractor engine dead after dealer does tune up oil change

I only know of one motor oil that came out of the can black. It had graphite in it and I have not seen that brand for at least twenty five years.

It would be very interesting to get the oil analyzed.

Maybe it is just my suspicious nature, but it sounds to me like they set up a failure to sell a new mower.






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 09-15-2003, 10:47 Post: 63929
Murf

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 Lawn Tractor engine dead after dealer does tune up oil change

I'm with Mark, there is NO reason freshly changed oil should be black.

The idea of oil analysis is a good one, but unless the repair shop reverses it's position the costs to force them to take action would probably exceed the cost of a new mower, let alone fixing that one.

On the other hand, a competing small engine shop will sometimes do a repair for very little hoping to win a new customer, call around to other shops and dion't be afraid to tell them the story, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Best of luck.






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 09-15-2003, 10:47 Post: 63930
kwschumm



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 Lawn Tractor engine dead after dealer does tune up oil change

I agree that this sounds mighty fishy. I doubt that any new oil would be black unless they had some old ARCO graphite oil in stock that they were trying to get rid of.

Like Mark said, an oil analysis would be useful.

Did they say what they wanted to do for $800?

If nothing else, get a second opinion on the repair.






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 09-15-2003, 14:08 Post: 63953
Art White



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 Lawn Tractor engine dead after dealer does tune up oil change

I don't know of any black oil used today. I don't think diesel oil is a plus for a gas engine but a negative due to the ash in diesel. I do think I feel sorry for you folks as I would be picking up the mower and taking it to another qualified repair facility for evaluation. The one thing I would normally feel safe with saying would exceed 5 years on a sears tractor is the engine! Does the spark plug look new? Did the blade look sharp?






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 09-15-2003, 14:30 Post: 63956
AC5ZO

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 Lawn Tractor engine dead after dealer does tune up oil change

I think that all of us doubt that the service company changed the oil and did a proper service on the Sears mower. The question that remains for me is whether there was just a lack of maintenance or something more criminal.

Running an engine with old oil is not good, but if it has oil, I would not think that it should "die" in a short time. I have seen plenty of engines that were never taken care of and they only wore out prematurely. So, I am focused on the word "die" and how the demise occurred.

An additive in the fuel or oil could cause the engine to quit. Pine tar or something like that in the gas might plug up a carb and cause it to quit and it may only need the carb to be soaked to straighten it out. Solvent in the oil could easily ruin the engine mechanically.

In my opinion, any dealer that would lie about performing routine maintenance would not be above charging $800 to clean a carburetor and steam clean the engine.






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 09-15-2003, 16:56 Post: 63967
Misenplace

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 Lawn Tractor engine dead after dealer does tune up oil change

I know I sure would have the oil tested. You must not believe it either to put the post up and so your first instinct is usually the best one. I would also have it repaired at another shop that will put in writeing what they find. Is it just my imagination or didn't sears have a huge class action law suit against them in Ca several years ago for flat out falsifying repairs ? That mentality is most likely prevalant with those they reccomend. As much as I like craftsman tools I have had a hard time going to that store. You can bet a lot of people got cheated so they could make a extra buck. Dave






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 09-15-2003, 17:29 Post: 63970
DennisCTB

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 Lawn Tractor engine dead after dealer does tune up oil change

Don't know why people would send a riding tractor for a tuneup every year,I guess because I do my own stuff so I am jaded, and what could be simpler to empty the oil and put a new filter on, I have had gas engines that I have run for 20 years with the same plug and points/condenser, if it ain't broke why send it out?

Why was it going to the shop? was it off some how? What did it die of ? Broken Piston rod ruptured cylinder wall? How soon after maintenance? Art is right the engine is probably the best piece of the sears tractor. Some of the Sears tractors have very nice Kohler engines in fact, and Briggs, and Tecumseh or Ok I guess as well.

I had a Pontiac once that broke a timing chain under warranty. When I got it back it ran rough, I took it out on the highway and it broke a couple of valve rods.

On inspection I found the mechanic had put the spark plug wires on the wrong cylinders, ooops that's not good. No question about what casued the failure

Did they do "points" on the engine?

The failure may have nothing to do with the maintenance at all, can't say without more info, but that Diesel Oil thing is spookie I have to say, very strange. Strange also that your mother in law was looking at the oil color, if she was looking at the oil she probably could have changed it herself. Since these engines don't have filters the oil will get dark quickly anyway also, depends on when it was checked right after receipt or how long after?

Dennis
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 09-16-2003, 23:26 Post: 64098
johnfundy



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 Lawn Tractor engine dead after dealer does tune up oil change

garynd.

Just my two cents. The big question is what did the tractor die of? Was it mechanical engine failure, or possibly a fuel or electrical problem. Chances are slim bad or wrong oil will cause a tractor to die from a fuel or electrical problem. Assuming it was engine failure (judging by repair price of $800) I think it's odd that a 5 year old riding mower which has been routinely and professionaly cared for all of a sudden "dies" after an oil change. The "black" oil must have been severely contaminated with something, or maybe it was too thick or thin to provide lubrication. Either way, it was certainly an extreme condition to have been the root cause of engine failure within such a short time. Regarding repair costs. I'd be wary of the $800 quote. Does that include a new engine? You can buy a nice electric start Briggs replacemnent engine, Intek 10 hp for example, for about $700. Also, depending on the Model tractor, $800 might be 80% the cost of a brand new rider, especially now with all the sales. I say get the oil analysis done, If it sends up a red flag go after the service people real hard, but don't spend $800 for repairs. Either find a much lower repair quote, or put the money towards a new rider. Some of those Sears riders are almost fully depreciated after 5 years.

John Fundy






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