My question involves a consumer law issue in the State of Texas
Car in Question: Hyundai Veloster 2019
Mileage at change: 11925
Mileage at plug falling out: 12321
Oil Changed Fri, May 31st, 2019.
Oil pan plug fell out of the vehicle while driving at highway speeds destroying the engine, June 4.
We had our oil changed at a local oil change place on May 31st. The oil change was uneventful aside from the mechanics having a hard time removing the oil filter. This was the first oil change we had on the vehicle since purchasing it due to my wife not understanding that oil needs to be changed 3-5k (it's the first car that she has had that is hers). We drove the vehicle the next day (Saturday, June 1st) to Denton Texas (75-mile round trip) with no issue. Sunday we did very little driving, just around town, maybe 20-30 miles, had no issues. Monday my wife took the car to work and back, 80 miles round trip, no problem, no lights. Tuesday morning (June 4th) while driving to work the car's engine seized up and the car was towed to the nearest Hyundai dealership. As the car was being placed on the flatbed tow we noted oil dripping from the flatbed. Two days later (June 6th) the car was inspected by the Hyundai dealership. The oil pan plug was found to be missing causing extremely rapid egress of the oil in the engine which then caused the engine to seize up. That evening I contacted a lawyer who informed me that his firm did not handle these sort of cases, but recommended I start gathering any and all evidence possible relating to this incident, specifically looking for indicators that oil may have been leaking from the vehicle prior to the vehicle's failure on the 4th. Upon inspecting my wife's assigned parking spot I found a relatively large patch of fresh oil, enough that I could run my finger over the patch and make out the gold sheen of the oil. I have this on video. I also contacted my mother-in-law and asked her to check where we parked on Saturday in Denton to look for any oil, she found a spot (far smaller than the one at my apartment) of oil. We have photos and video of this. On the 7th we went to the dealership to visually inspect the vehicle and confirm the dealerships findings. The undercarriage of the vehicle was soaked in oil from the oil pan plug all the way to the back of the vehicle confirming the oil pan plug fell out while the vehicle was in motion. (We have video/photos of this as well.)
We have contacted the oil change place who have told us multiple things, from we voided their warranty by not taking the vehicle directly to them when there was an issue, to we voided it when we did not take it directly to them before the 4th as oil was leaking. They have also told us we would need to pay for a tow to their shop in order for them to even look at the vehicle despite myself and the Hyundai dealership having given them permission to inspect the vehicle where it currently is.
At this point, we are unsure of how to proceed. We didn't know the car was leaking oil until after the catastrophic engine failure. We couldn't have noted it ahead of time because it rained in Dallas on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd (I have NOAA Climate Reports from each of these days as well as archival weather radar images proving this), and frankly, we weren't looking for it. There were literally maybe 5 instances of my wife pulling her car into her parking spot in between the time we got the oil changed and when the engine blew, the first of which there would not have been any oil present as it was the day of the oil change, the second of which was Saturday evening past dusk w/ rain, Sunday, similar story, and Monday, once again, with rain. We were also never made aware that their warranty required us to tow the vehicle directly to their shop if there was an issue, we were never given the warranty information.
Based on oil being present where we parked on Saturday (less than 24 hours after the oil change), the pool of oil under our vehicle's assigned parking spot and the vehicles condition when it was towed I think it's safe to draw the conclusion that the oil plug was not properly secure, oil slowly leaked from the engine over the first couple of days, and after sometime normal road conditions/vibrations loosened the plug enough for it to fall out while the vehicle was in transit. But at this point, I have the service provider telling me that not only was their warranty voided by us but that even for them to look at the vehicle I am going to have to pay $150+ to have it towed to their location. I'm lost at this point. So, for my most pressing questions.
Should I pay to have the vehicle towed to their shop? Would not doing so hurt my chances should I need to take legal recourse.
I have a family friend that practices law but is out of country until the first of July. Can I leave this as it is and wait for him to return, or should I hire an attorney before then.
Do I need to send a letter of demand now?
Thank you for reading, I appreciate any and all advice.
Edit: As I did not address this in the above post, but it seems to be a common question in response to posts such as this, at no point did an oil indicator light up on the vehicle until after the vehicle seized on the 4th.