How Eloise ended up in the ICU

While 2 hours away from home yesterday, my husband and I passed an ATU (the German version of an O’Reilly Auto Parts store with the addition of a garage and mechanic).  My husband said, “Oh, we just passed an ATU! Normally you need an appointment for an oil change, but do you want to see if they can do it now? They’re running a special this week.” I agreed it was worth a shot so we turned around and headed back. It was 5:45 and ATU closes at 6:30, but they were finished with all their appointments for the day so they agreed to take the car in right away. They told us we could stick around or go for a walk if we wanted, and since we were hungry, we hopped across the street to the grocery store for a snack. When we returned at 6:20, the car was finished. We paid the excruciatingly painful 50€ for the work and drove away…

Not 1000 feet later, the car made a loud clicking noise. We slowly looked at each other and my husband nervously asked, “What was that?” I knew it was the engine but I didn’t want to believe it. Then we heard it again. The next thing I know, my husband looks in the rearview mirror, shouts “Oh my God!” and yanks the car off the road. I looked back in horror to see white smoke billowing from the exhaust pipe.

He shut off the car and jumped out, and with my mouth full of bread, cheese, and sausage, I yelled, “Call ATU! Call them now before they leave! They’re about to close! Hurry!” He made the call, and while we waited for the brain-damaged, mouth-breathing, good-for-nothing monkey of an oil changer to arrive, my husband checked the oil. He told me it looked extremely dirty and the level was much too high. Finally, about 10 minutes later, the mechanic arrives. I don’t speak German, but I think his reaction was something like, “Well, golly gee willikers! I just ain’t got the slightest idear what happened to the car. It was fine when I gave you the keys after cleanin’ out mah dirty ears with ’em.” My husband says, “But look at the oil. It’s extremely dirty and there’s way too much.” He replies with, “Nahhhhh! It’s a diesel. Diesel oil looks filthy almost instantly. It’s supposed to look like that, but it does look like too much. *head scratch* How strange.”

The mechanic went on to say, “You know… come to think of it, we had this same problem with the exact same Mercedes model a few months ago. The car says it needs 4 1/2 liters of oil, but I think it’s wrong. It really only needs 4. We drained off half a liter of oil and it was fine without any engine problems.” Again, I don’t speak German but I can pinpoint the exact time of the conversation when this happened, because my very calm, very patient, and extremely polite husband slightly raised is voice and changed his tone. He asked, “If you know it’s a problem with this car, WHY DIDN’T YOU CHECK IT FIRST?” The mechanic (and I use that label as loosely as possible) said, “I did check it. It’s our policy to let a car run for 5 minutes before returning it to the owner. It was fine before.”

Ohhhh, if only I spoke German… I would have asked that crap-for-brains idiot to please explain to me how a car can have the right amount of oil one minute and 5 minutes later, be well above the maximum limit. The monkey obviously didn’t follow store policy and check the car before calling us! Unfortunately, at that point, ATU was closed and not surprisingly, the monkey hasn’t been trusted with a key and couldn’t take the car back to drain off some of the excess oil. My husband called the ADAC (the AAA of Germany). He’s a long-time “Plus” member so he knew we’d be in good hands. One hour later, at 8:00 pm, the tow-truck driver/mechanic arrived. He confirmed that diesel oil gets dirty fast, but no longer than we drove it, it was too dirty and definitely too much oil.

A few minutes later, Eloise was driven onto the tow truck ramp with smoke pouring out of her tailpipe, tied down, and hauled to the 24-hour, on-call, emergency Mercedes mechanic that was right around the corner. Thirty minutes and 30 mosquito bites later, the mechanic arrived. We pushed my baby into the garage where she was jacked up and drained of all her oil, and you’ll never believe what we found… not half a liter extra of oil. Not 1 liter extra. After about 10 minutes, that 10 liter oil can was full almost to the top, and the oil finally stopped draining right at the 9 liter mark.

Eloise's Oil

That brain-damaged, pot-smoking moron hadn’t removed the old oil. Instead, he’d just added a bunch of new oil. The Mercedes mechanic was floored! He said, “It’s definitely a mix of old and new oil, and it’s possible the engine is completely shot.” He lowered the car, added the right amount of new oil, and took her for a test drive. My husband and I waited outside and eventually heard the tires come to a screeching halt. The mechanic came back on foot and asked us to help him push Eloise back into the garage so I knew it was bad news. He was obviously shaken and told my husband, “Honestly, if you had tried to drive this home, you likely would have died from one of two things: 1. The engine would have blown up and caused a bad accident. 2. Diesel engines get more and more powerful the more oil you give them. As I drove it, the car got faster and faster and faster until it was out of control and overpowered the brakes. I couldn’t stop it at all. I had to eventually turn off the key because I couldn’t stop the car. If your engine hadn’t blown first, you would’ve flown off the road or into other traffic or something terrible.” He told us the entire engine needs to be cleaned. It’s a lot of work and costs a lot of money, but there’s oil everywhere; in every tube, nook, cranny, and the air-filtration system.

He agreed to be a witness for all this and recommended we get the names of the tow-truck drivers who had picked us up a couple hours before. He also said he’d write everything up in a report because ATU has to pay for all of this. What that ATU mechanic did was life-threatening and that’s unforgiveable. The Mercedes mechanic drove us to the ADAC rental car place where we waited more than 30 minutes for the on-call worker to show up while acquiring more mosquito bites. We got our rental car (a standard which I can’t drive) and arrived home around 12:45 this morning. My husband is ready to sue ATU if they don’t make it right. My perfect engine with only 45,000 miles on it is no longer perfect. He’s worried about future damage that creeps up in 6 months or a year and more fighting with ATU over it. What a nightmare.

So, until sometime next week, Eloise is in the very capable hands of this man…

image1 image2

Cross your fingers (or if you’re German, press your thumbs) with us in hopes that everything turns out ok. In the meantime, I’m going to go downstairs to the neighbor and ask for a roll of toilet paper since we’re out and I don’t have a car to go buy more…


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Amber says:

    Holy moly Sheri, I’m glad you are both okay!! That is so scary!! I hope you get Eloise in tip top shape soon and hopefully without too much drama in the meantime! !

    1. We think we might have to sell her. There’s no telling what kind of damage was done internally and the engine was not dismantled – only cleaned. It’s possible that 6 months or a year from now we could have some problems so we just aren’t sure what to do. We will talk to the Mercedes mechanic and the company responsible for all this nonsense tomorrow. 😩 It’s all just so stressful and heartbreaking. Every car feels a little different. I was finally feeling comfortable driving her and confident on German roads, and now I’m housebound again. So awful.

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