Automotive

Engine Overheated and Coolant blew after Mr. Lube Radiator service

  • Last Updated:
  • Nov 15th, 2020 6:49 pm
[OP]
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Oct 1, 2011
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Engine Overheated and Coolant blew after Mr. Lube Radiator service

So my wife just pulled into the driveway and said her check engine light came on about 3 minutes from home. I go to check it out, pop the hood and there's a little smoke coming out. Not a ton, but enough that it's visible obviously. I look around and see the radiator cap is blown off and coolant everywhere.

She just had a coolant flush at Mr. Lube on October 15th... hmmm..... Yes, I know, I know... never get Mr. Lube to do the extras on your car. She said they convinced her to do it because apparently the coolant was "almost empty".

I'm not a car guy, so wondering next steps. Should I get it checked out at a mechanic before calling Mr. Lube back and blaming them? I have no idea why it would overheat or the cap would blow, never had issues before so it's strange this happened right after a coolant flush at Mr. Lube. I also don't want to call them, get a refund and then find out other stuff is jacked up because of it. Photo attached is right after I popped the hood, everything as it was.
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Jun 12, 2007
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Lube guy forgot to tighten rad cap
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l69norm wrote: Lube guy forgot to tighten rad cap
+1
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mikerfd wrote: So my wife just pulled into the driveway and said her check engine light came on about 3 minutes from home. I go to check it out, pop the hood and there's a little smoke coming out. Not a ton, but enough that it's visible obviously. I look around and see the radiator cap is blown off and coolant everywhere.

She just had a coolant flush at Mr. Lube on October 15th... hmmm..... Yes, I know, I know... never get Mr. Lube to do the extras on your car. She said they convinced her to do it because apparently the coolant was "almost empty".

I'm not a car guy, so wondering next steps. Should I get it checked out at a mechanic before calling Mr. Lube back and blaming them? I have no idea why it would overheat or the cap would blow, never had issues before so it's strange this happened right after a coolant flush at Mr. Lube. I also don't want to call them, get a refund and then find out other stuff is jacked up because of it. Photo attached is right after I popped the hood, everything as it was.
Of course it's almost empty when they also unscrew the coolant rad nut at the same time they do the oil nut. Win win for them.

Really, NEVER GO TO ANY FAST OIL CHANGE PLACES! or Canadian Tire. If you don't want to spend 30 minutes to do your own oil change that involves unscrewing and tightening a bolt and unscrewing/screwing back on a filter that works on the same principle as your water bottle cap, then at least go to an actual mechanic that you "think" you trust.

Heck, go to stealerships before going to a fast lube joint!!
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It would bother me that they used universal green coolant instead of the blue Subaru formula.

Since you're "not a car guy", I would suggest you have it towed to a mechanic, have them flush the universal coolant out of system, refill with the correct coolant, and check whether it was overheating or just a loose cap that caused the problem.

Then get reimbursed for everything from Mr. Lube. You should probably get in touch with them before doing anything, but I wouldn't allow them to work on it any further.
[OP]
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Oct 1, 2011
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derass wrote: It would bother me that they used universal green coolant instead of the blue Subaru formula.

Since you're "not a car guy", I would suggest you have it towed to a mechanic, have them flush the universal coolant out of system, refill with the correct coolant, and check whether it was overheating or just a loose cap that caused the problem.

Then get reimbursed for everything from Mr. Lube. You should probably get in touch with them before doing anything, but I wouldn't allow them to work on it any further.
Thanks this is helpful advice. I'm about 5 mins from a shop... is there a cheap coolant or alternative (water/antifreeze?) I can pick up from crappy tire or something just to get me over there without having to get a tow?

Good eye... I was wondering about the green fluid as well.
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Not to be a debbie downer but Oct 15 and today being Nov 5th, 3 weeks later, good luck getting anything from mr lube. I'd tell you to fly a kite. If you try, please keep the thread updated.
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hopefully head gasket is still good
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mikerfd wrote: Thanks this is helpful advice. I'm about 5 mins from a shop... is there a cheap coolant or alternative (water/antifreeze?) I can pick up from crappy tire or something just to get me over there without having to get a tow?

Good eye... I was wondering about the green fluid as well.
I don't own a Subaru so I'm not 100% sure but CT carries the OEM line made by Rayochem that I use for my Toyota. $20 premixed or $30 concentrated 3.78L blue Subaru coolant. You can buy a 4L distilled water from a grocery store for $1 to mix with the concentrate.
https://www.canadiantire.ca/en/pdp/oem- ... 3080p.html
https://www.canadiantire.ca/en/pdp/oem- ... 3073p.html
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mikerfd wrote: Thanks this is helpful advice. I'm about 5 mins from a shop... is there a cheap coolant or alternative (water/antifreeze?) I can pick up from crappy tire or something just to get me over there without having to get a tow?

Good eye... I was wondering about the green fluid as well.
Since there was an erruption of coolant from the radiator, you now have air pockets in the cooling system. These need to be bled out in addition to refilling the coolant. On some cars that pretty easy, on other cars it's more difficult. I'm not familiar with Subaru's. Check your owner's manual, there might be section on bleeding the cooling system. Do not drive the car without bleeding the system, you could overheat the engine and damage it.

If you're confident with filling the system and bleeding it yourself, that's really all that needs to be done. You might not even have to go to a mechanic. Once the job is done and the radiator cap is screwed on tight, just keep an eye on the temperature gauge for any signs of overheating. If it doesn't overheat, then it was just a loose rad cap. If it does start to overheat, turn it off and get it towed to the mechanic.

I'm just being picky about the type of coolant. Most likely your car will be fine with the universal stuff in it. I've just always felt that for how infrequently the coolant needs replacing, it's worth spending a bit extra to get the OEM stuff. Pretty much any mechanic other than the dealer, or a particular DIY'er would use universal/aftermarket instead of OEM.

If you want to try it yourself, either one of these pre-mixed coolants would work. The key work is "pre-mixed" as in already mixed with water. Watch out for anything labelled as "concentrate". You can use that as well, but they need to be mixed with water before you pour it into the system, you cannot add them to the system straight out of the bottle.

https://www.canadiantire.ca/en/pdp/cert ... 3037p.html
https://www.canadiantire.ca/en/pdp/pres ... 3023p.html
Last edited by derass on Nov 5th, 2020 4:55 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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gumby wrote: I don't own a Subaru so I'm not 100% sure but CT carries the OEM line made by Rayochem that I use for my Toyota. $20 premixed or $30 concentrated 3.78L blue Subaru coolant. You can buy a 4L distilled water from a grocery store for $1 to mix with the concentrate.
https://www.canadiantire.ca/en/pdp/oem- ... 3080p.html
https://www.canadiantire.ca/en/pdp/oem- ... 3073p.html
It's too late for that. Mr. Lube already filled the system with universal coolant. If OP wants to go back to the Subaru formula, all of the universal stuff needs to be flushed out.
[OP]
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Oct 1, 2011
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Alright, I appreciate all the info. I'll keep this updated as to what the result is or if I hear anything from Mr. Lube. I wouldn't have let them do it, but I feel like they tricked my wife by telling her if she didn't flush it and refill, the car was going to overheat.
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zx6rj2 wrote: hopefully head gasket is still good
Is it called Mr. Lube because you are going to think they should have used lube for what they do to a customer or was an ad firm that named it?

After 3 weeks as mentioned good luck blaming them. Unless the mileage travelled was less than 40 km or something similar in extremely short hops. It is almost unfathomable how it did not blow the cap off sooner.

Lastly, in a Subaru was the head gasket any good in the first place? LOL Mazda's rust Subaru's have blown headgaskets.... Old man tan Corolla's run on magic dust forever.

https://scanneranswers.com/the-truth-ab ... -problems/
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mikerfd wrote: ...I feel like they tricked my wife by telling her if she didn't flush it and refill, the car was going to overheat.
Yeah probably. Quick-lube places upselling unnecessary services is the oldest trick in the book. Coolant only needs to be replaced in two situations:

1) it has reached the end of its service life (usually 5-10 years)
2) it had to be drained for some sort of repair

Old coolant will not cause an engine to overheat.
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I remember this story about a quick oil change horror story and it has stuck in my mind ever since! Don't forget CBC has some Marketplace stories about the repair shops including dealers upselling unneeded services.
[OP]
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Canuck2fan wrote: After 3 weeks as mentioned good luck blaming them. Unless the mileage travelled was less than 40 km or something similar in extremely short hops. It is almost unfathomable how it did not blow the cap off sooner.
I wondered about this. But at the same time, seems really weird it would happen so soon after getting the coolant service done.
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Canuck2fan wrote: After 3 weeks as mentioned good luck blaming them. Unless the mileage travelled was less than 40 km or something similar in extremely short hops. It is almost unfathomable how it did not blow the cap off sooner.
It's been pretty cold for the past few weeks, and this week it warmed up, so maybe that's it.
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Fill it with water and go to your mechanic and get the Subaru coolant put in the car after removing all the green coolant. Hopefully MR Lube will do something but at this point I think the best you can ask for is a refund on your service. Also while at the mechanic have him check the oil and other stuff mr Lube touched.

At the end of all of this never go to Mr Lube, go to your mechanic and build a relationship with him. A good mechanic that knows you & you become a regular will treat you right and wont rip you off.
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sickcars wrote: Fill it with water and go to your mechanic and get the Subaru coolant put in the car after removing all the green coolant. Hopefully MR Lube will do something but at this point I think the best you can ask for is a refund on your service. Also while at the mechanic have him check the oil and other stuff mr Lube touched.

At the end of all of this never go to Mr Lube, go to your mechanic and build a relationship with him. A good mechanic that knows you & you become a regular will treat you right and wont rip you off.
+1
Fill it with Subaru super blue Coolant and add a bottle of coolant conditioner
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People complain about dealerships being stealerships and that they charge too much. Thankfully in my years of going to the Dealership, I have not had issues like this. I probably paid $30 more for a coolant change but at least it was done right. These days on new cars, coolant can last 160K. Most people will just have to change this 1x over the time they plan of keeping the car. The $30 delta is peanuts. Even when I had my 2002 Camry LE V6, I had to change the coolant every 36K to 48K and never had this problem.

OP, contact Mr. Lube, take pics, get everything checked out and demand your $$ back plus any additional costs incurred. If not, GO PUBLIC
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