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  • Unreported Judgment

Lucy v Perry Engine Reconditioning

 

[2016] QCAT 250

CITATION:

Lucy v Perry Engine Reconditioning [2016] QCAT 250

PARTIES:

Kerrie Les Lucy

(Applicant)

v

Wayne Perry and Lorraine Thelma Perry t/as Perry Engine Reconditioning

(Respondent)

APPLICATION NUMBER:

MCDO140-15

MATTER TYPE:

Other minor civil dispute matters

HEARING DATE:

12 February 2016; 8 April 2016

HEARD AT:

Pine Rivers

DECISION OF:

Adjudicator Bertelsen

DELIVERED ON:

25 July 2016

DELIVERED AT:

Brisbane

ORDERS MADE:

  1. Application is dismissed.

CATCHWORDS:

MOTOR VEHICLE REPAIRS – assessment of older motor – extent of repairs required – relevance of breakdown of componentry to repairs made

APPEARANCES:

APPLICANT:

Kerrie Les Lucy represented by Murray McCrea

RESPONDENT:

Wayne Perry and Lorraine Thelma Perry

REASONS FOR DECISION

Application

  1. [1]
    By application filed 27 November 2015, Ms Lucy sought return from Perry Engine Reconditioning of her 2002 SAAB 9.3 Convertible (‘the Vehicle’) in good working order with a 12-month warranty on the repair work performed. In addition she sought recovery of any losses for damage caused to the Vehicle as a result of the Vehicle being left uncovered and exposed. Latterly, by further application she sought ‘an order that the respondent cover all costs associated to rectify the damage to the engine to make it in good running order by a mechanical repairer nominated by the applicant, inclusive of a 12 month warranty’.

Background and evidence

  1. [2]
    Mr Murray McCrea was given leave to represent Ms Lucy at hearing, which initially took place on 12 February 2016.
  2. [3]
    Mr McCrea filed an affidavit sworn 26 November 2015. He stated that Ms Lucy’s vehicle was ‘running rough’; that he sourced mechanical workshops then took the Vehicle to Saab Automotive Services (‘SAS’) at Everton Park to ‘get professional advice on the problem’. An inspection revealed a possible cracked head gasket; that the motor would have to be pulled out and sent to a head reconditioning company. Mr McCrea contacted Perry Engine Reconditioning in the person of Wayne Perry who requested he bring the Vehicle to his Petrie workshop ‘for him to do his own professional diagnosis’.
  3. [4]
    An inspection took place on 5 May 2015 at Wayne and Lorraine Perry’s Petrie workshop. According to Mr McCrea, Mr Perry ‘gave a very clear indication that the engine was in good working order and fixable stating that the problem was more than likely a blown head gasket. He said that by him reconditioning the head and replacing all parts associated with the engine, the engine will be in good working order. His estimation was around $2,500 to $3,000’. Mr McCrea ‘clearly stated that we were not prepared to pay to have the head reconditioned and the head gasket replaced if the rest of the engine was not in good working order’.
  4. [5]
    On 1 June 2015, the Vehicle was placed with Perry Engine Reconditioning for repair. On 12 June 2015, Mr McCrea stated that after stripping the engine down Mr Perry was ‘pleasantly surprised with how good of condition the engine was in. So much so that he didn’t need to replace any of the timing gear or associated parts’. Mr McCrea stated he specifically asked Mr Perry about the oil pump and the oil pickup due to SAAB Automotive Services recommendations and was told there was no need.
  5. [6]
    Mr McCrea stated in his affidavit that he phoned Mr Perry on 3 August 2015 and was told ‘the SAAB is running beautifully and it was ready for collection. The invoice was $3,200’. He said immediately after collection on 4 August 2015 when the Vehicle was being driven by Ms Lucy that smoke was bellowing out from under the bonnet. With the Vehicle stopped there was oil pouring out of the top of the engine all over the ground under the Vehicle.
  6. [7]
    The Vehicle was returned immediately to Mr Perry who stated, according to Mr McCrea, a few weeks later that ‘something had blocked the oil causing a massive amount of oil pressure pushing the oil out the top of the engine’. Mr McCrea stated ‘he said he had fixed it. We went for a drive, it seemed fine’ and Ms Lucy drove home without incident on 20 August 2015.
  7. [8]
    On 22 August 2015, the Vehicle broke down. RACQ Roadside Assist was called and its mechanic one Jason said ‘that there was a lot of oil blowing out the top of the engine and that the oil pressure had even blown some of the hoses off their connections’. Jason checked the oil level and stated it was way overfilled. The Vehicle was taken back to Perry’s workshop. According to Mr McCrea, Mr Perry sent a text stating that something had happened in the bottom end. Mr McCrea enquired as to why Mr Perry was looking at the bottom end of the engine when right from the start Mr Perry had assured him that it was in very good condition and that he had given clear instructions to Mr Perry that he was not to go ahead with repairs if there were suspicions of any bottom end engine problems.
  8. [9]
    On 27 August 2015, Mr McCrea was notified that the Vehicle was ready for RACQ inspection. However because the engine was apart or pulled down RACQ would not inspect.
  9. [10]
    On 3 September 2015, Mr McCrea received a text message claiming it was an oil pump failure and not the responsibility of Perry Engine Reconditioning. Mr McCrea however thought it was excess oil in the motor.
  10. [11]
    On 21 September 2015, Mr Perry notified Mr McCrea that he had organised for an ‘independent assessment and report of SAAB’.
  11. [12]
    SAS at the outset had given a written quote for repairs to the Vehicle dated 28 April 2015 based on its check over of the Vehicle. It included:
  • Suspect head gasket blown (combustion gases in cooling system) ($2000+);
  • Suspect thermostat stuck closed ($68+);
  • Oil leaks dripping to exhaust;
  • Timing chain/balance chains noisy ($2000+);
  • Possible oil pickup blocked/sump sludged up ($550);
  • Cost to repair this Vehicle on the list so far could amount to over $6000 and that does not include any other issues such as brakes/engine mounts/suspension joints and bushes.
  • All prices quoted are approximate and are subject to strip down and inspection.
  1. [13]
    At hearing on 12 February 2016, Mr McCrea asserted that upon initial inspection Mr Perry said it was the best engine he had ever seen and there were no problems whatsoever. Mr Perry confirmed that he had never seen a motor so clean; that it was in excellent condition.
  2. [14]
    Mr McCrea suggested that to make such a diagnosis that ‘the sump would’ve had to have been dropped, the oil pickup filter would’ve had to have been examined …’. He referred to literature by SAAB that the manufactured 2.3L turbo charged motors were susceptible to sludging which blocked the oil filter which in turn dropped the oil pressure which he said was what had happened here; that SAAB as manufacturer had recalled or extended warranties on these motors due to this faulty oil pickup. Mr McCrea felt Mr Perry was negligent in that he did not ‘drop the sump and he didn’t examine the oil pickup’ initially. He said the oil pickup sits in the sump, picks up the oil into the oil pump that feeds the engine; that if the oil pick up is faulty or clogged or fails then there is inadequate oil pressure in the bottom end of the motor. But for all that Mr McCrea said the real concern was that ‘we are not prepared under any circumstances just to put a reconditioned head on this motor or replace the gasket if the motor is not in very very good working condition’. He said also that damaged or stretched timing chain/balance chain and tensioners were symptomatic of an engine having been overheated and that ‘this motor had definitely been overheated’.
  3. [15]
    Ms Perry for Mr Perry referred to his 53 years’ experience as an engine reconditioner; to their business partnership since 1974 and to long-term membership of trades associations. She said that:

Initially Wayne was asked to diagnose problems with their SAAB. And at the time he reported that the cylinder head repairs were needed but as there were no noises or other signs that there were any other problems, and he told Mr McCrea that his engine was otherwise in very good condition apart from the need for the cylinder head repairs and replacement engine mountings.

  1. [16]
    Mr Perry said when he took the cylinder head off there was no sludge in the motor at all; that somebody had looked after this Vehicle. He said ‘if that motor was sludged up I would’ve told him straight away this motor has got to be pulled apart. There was no sludge in it at all’.
  2. [17]
    Mr Perry continued ‘there was no sludge in the motor and there’s no sludge in the sump. I’ve pulled the pickup out. There’s nothing wrong with it’. Rather Mr Perry said that having pulled the sump off after the Vehicle had been returned on the second occasion he saw there had been a bearing failure/seizure due to lack of oil; that the oil pump had failed; that the motor failed through lack of oil pressure. He said it was never a case of too much or too little oil present.
  3. [18]
    Mr McCrea produced a statement by Brad McKenzie of Petrie Mechanical Repairs who inspected the Vehicle at Perry’s workshop after the second breakdown. He stated:

After having inspected the above vehicle including the big end bearing shell and cap and also looking at the video of the vehicle running it is our opinion that the compression rings were collapsed, allowing the compression to bypass piston rings causing excessive sump pressure or blow by. This blow by escapes up through the cylinder head through the oil drain back holes, causing the cylinder head rocker box to fill with oil, draining the sump of oil. This causes the engine to lose oil pressure and causes excessive bearing wear in a very short time, less than a minute. The phone video shows oil coming out of the oil cap, also supporting this theory.

  1. [19]
    Mr McCrea asserted that the bearing had failed due to low oil pressure caused by blow by.
  2. [20]
    Ms Perry affirmed:

The cylinder head repairs were made and the new engine mounts were fitted the first time around. The SAAB was picked up as Ms Lucy satisfied us that payment had been made … the car returned soon after, as stated, with the smoke problem. We found the breathing hoses at the bottom of the motor were perished and they were replaced at no charge.

  1. [21]
    Mr Perry and Ms Perry said they had four witnesses to refute Mr McCrea’s assertions. Firstly, an affidavit by Bertrand John Adshead was produced in which he stated:

I have inspected a bearing shell and crankshaft from a SAAB motor vehicle rego no 894-RFO. Upon close inspection of these components, I believe that a lack of lubricating oil in the engine has caused the damage to these components. I base my belief upon my personal experience as a fully qualified motor mechanic of 45 years. Alleged overfilling would not cause this problem.

  1. [22]
    Secondly, a report from Scott Thompson workshop supervisor at Auster Engine Centre in which he stated:

This vehicle, as listed above was inspected by myself Scott Thompson, workshop supervisor, at the premises of Perry Engine Reconditioning. I believe the cause of the engine failure is due to lack of lubrication. Photos of the bearings as attached show the matching wear patterns of oil starvation as per ACL engine bearing analysis guide. Oil starvation is caused by a failure of the lubrication system or simply a lack of oil present. In my opinion with 25 years experience as an engine reconditioner, the process of removal and replacement of a cylinder head could not cause such damage.

  1. [23]
    Thirdly, an affidavit of John Harvey Lloyd, retired motor mechanic, in which he stated:
  1. Mr Wayne Perry owner of Perry’s Engine Services at Petrie has asked for my opinion on a case regarding bearing failure caused by the alleged overfilling of a vehicle sump.
  1. I have inspected the damage and it is my considered opinion after 50 years as a qualified motor mechanic and fitter and a Tafe teacher of automotive apprentices, that such a claim is based on a misunderstanding of the workings of the internal combustion engine.
  1. It is not possible to cause damage if a sump were to be overfilled.
  1. The damage is totally consistent with an engine being run short of oil.
  1. I trust that this may clear up the issue.
  1. [24]
    Fourthly, an affidavit by Peter Harrold Lyne in which he chronicled his extensive experience as a mechanic and numerous roles in the automotive industry. He went on to say:

Mr Perry did a Cylinder Head and Turbo repair on the vehicle. Several weeks after the repair the vehicle experienced engine failure. The engine suffered a Connecting Rod (Big End) failure. The Owner the owner claims That Mr. Perry overfilled the engine with oil by 600mls. And this is the sole reason the bearing failed. That the Owner is therefore holding Mr Perry accountable for subsequent repairs.

My Opinion

As an expert in this matter, I fully and completely reject this claim.

My reasons for rejecting this are as follows.

  1. Maintenance of the Oil Level is an Owner responsibility, and the manner in which this to be done, is outlined in the Owner Handbook, and we have no way of knowing, if the owner at any time added oil prior to the engine failing.
  1. Every vehicle has a tolerance of a +/- value on every specification. The ‘Full mark’ on a dip stick is advisory at best. The more critical mark is the add mark. Both these marks are usually 1000 mls inside the actual tolerance of the vehicle. The reason for high tolerances is dipstick calibration and reading procedures along with operating conditions.
  1. 2.1
    The Dip Stick is not a Calibrated measuring Device so it is general not specific indicator of level. The level read varies depending on the amount of downward pressure applied when taking the reading. Also, as vehicles age, rubber grommets used to seal the dip stick perish and shrink, causing them to read ‘high’. Variations in readings are common and caused by vehicle age, and the person reading. The only way to be absolutely certain as to the actual quantity of oil present, it to drain fully the engine and measure the quantity.
  2. 2.2
    All vehicles are designed to operate in varying terrain, climbing, descending and operating on severe cambers. Because of this the ‘Oil Level’ in relation to the crankshaft and the Oil Pick-up will vary by far more than any amount of over filling could ever produce, even in the moderate conditions experienced in Australia. All Automotive Engines, without exception, are designed to operate on combined lateral and longitudinal inclines of over 40 degrees. No where on paved roads in Australia would an incline or camber exceed 20 degrees.
  1. There are three causes for Engine Bearing Failure. They are:-
  • Fair Wear and Tear.
  • Loss of Lubrication.
  • Operator Abuse.

In the case of Fair Wear and Tear, engine Bearing Failure is may to occur any time after 160,000km. Or 7 years., How far after will vary hugely, based on issues such as manufacturing quality, maintenance and operational conditions. The engine life is effected by the lengths of trips. Frequent cold operation significantly shortens engine life. Loss of Lubrication will occur when there is a blockage or an oil pump failure, either partial or complete. The behaviour of the driver, including things like, failure to stop engine when warning lights are illuminated, over revving, 2 stroke shut downs, labouring the motor, over working the engine when cold and so forth.

I therefore Conclude that, the failure of the engine is either the result of ‘Fair Wear and Tear, and given the age of the vehicle this is quite probable. Or it is the secondary result of an unrelated mechanical issue such as an Oil Pump failure. Because I do not know or have ever observed the Owner’s driving other suggestion would be speculative.

Over filling the Engine cannot be demonstrated, even if it could there is no known or conceivable link to bearing failure.

  1. [25]
    At the conclusion of the part heard hearing on 12 February 2016 arrangements were made for Ms Lucy and Mr McCrea to collect the SAAB from Perry’s workshop. By the time of commencement of the hearing on 8 April 2016 that had been done.
  2. [26]
    Mr Perry stated he checked the oil pressure and that it was perfect. He produced photos indicating an absence of sludge stating:

When I pulled it apart there was no sign of anything – no mud in this vehicle whatsoever. That’s why I told him it was in good condition. I have photos here, I’ve taken of this engine. He’s got photos off the internet. I’ve got the real deal … I wouldn’t have worked on this vehicle if it was full of mud. I wouldn’t have touched it’.

Mr McCrea in due course produced photos which he asserted indicated the presence of sludge in the motor and attempts to clean away that sludge.

  1. [27]
    Mr Perry reiterated referring to the first breakdown:

When it done the breather hose the car went into limp mode and oil went everywhere. I’m not going to dispute that, but that motor wasn’t dead then, not at all. It came back and I fixed all that, got rid of all the oil off the car and there was no more oil leaks.

  1. [28]
    Referring to the second breakdown he said he took the sump off; that ‘there was nothing blocked in there. It’s all clean’. He identified the motor as having ‘failed because a bearing gave up due to lack of pressure’. He said the cylinder head repairs came with a 12 month warranty.

Witness Peter Harold Lyne

  1. [29]
    Mr Lyne gave evidence. He was shown Brad McKenzie’s statement about which he stated:

Well, I have problems with that letter, in that apart from what Mr McKenzie is describing as being totally impossible to me it seems as though he’s not looked at the vehicle because he’s describing it as having a cylinder head rocker box, and the SAAB engine is a different construction … there is nowhere for the oil to go as he describes it’s just totally wrong for that engine. Even if the engine was as he describes it, which it is not, it still could not have happened that way.

  1. [30]
    Mr Lyne was shown Harvie Lloyd’s affidavit. He said he totally agreed with Mr Lloyd’s statement’ that:

He’s saying in this that it – that the two incidents are unrelated, as I understand this document and I would totally agree with that statement.

  1. [31]
    Mr Lyne was shown Mr Adshead’s affidavit. He said he agreed with Mr Adshead saying it was a lubrication failure.
  2. [32]
    Mr Lyne was shown Scott Thompson’s report. He said what he believed happened to the motor was consistent with Mr Thompson’s report.
  3. [33]
    In cross-examination, Mr Lyne said there was no evidence of blow by in the motor as inspected by him. He said he was aware of problems with SAAB motors.
  4. [34]
    Mr McCrea asked ‘if an oil light comes on in the – if we were to pick up a car that rattling like a chaff cutter, that’s got no power, unable to be driven, but has to be returned due to clogged piping is it a possibility that the piping Is clogged …’. Mr Lyne answered no what you are describing is limp condition.
  5. [35]
    Mr McCrea then suggested ‘I had the car at 60 km at one stage, so it was definitely not limping home’.
  6. [36]
    Mr Lyne answered 60 kms an hour would fit a limp description.
  7. [37]
    Mr McCrea asked that to inspect an oil filter pickup would the sump have to be removed. Mr Lyne answered yes.
  8. [38]
    Mr McCrea asked that by not do so would that leave it open to a possibility of oil pressure problems or flow problem. Mr Lin answered no. It would just mean that that was something that was not done.
  9. [39]
    Mr McCrea asked if the engine was rebuilt and running fine would he have checked the oil pressure. Mr Lyne answered probably not, that after 40 years of listening to an engine you know when there’s oil pressure and when there’s not.
  10. [40]
    Mr Lyne stated that with respect to replacement of parts in the motor he would not do so just because some other entity suggested so but rather he would rely on his own diagnosis. He said ‘I’ve been in the trade long enough to know that I don’t trust other mechanics’. He went on to say that his diagnosis was loss of oil pressure due to normal wear and tear and not sludging or blocking.
  11. [41]
    Mr Lyne then went on to state that he inspected the crankshaft and the lower part of the cylinders. He saw that there was no cylinder wear. Thus he seriously doubted that there had been any significant blow by. He said he also determined that there was wear in the big end bearings which as a major component in preserving pressure meant that as they wear pressure drops more rapidly accelerating wear in turn accelerating drop in pressure; that once wear begins deterioration only take a few weeks or maybe up to a thousand kilometres. He agreed the engine will become progressively more noisy but said also that ‘by the time it becomes apparent the damage is already done’.
  12. [42]
    Mr Lyne stated that oil blowing out the top of the engine through the oil filler cap was not blow by; that the only way oil would come out of the top of the engine was if the filler cap was not properly seated or if the gasket on it had deteriorated.
  13. [43]
    In re-examination Mr Lyne stated that if no sludge was observed in the motor it would not be necessary to take the sump off no matter who told him that such was a necessity. He reiterated that the bearing failure was likely due to fair wear and tear. He said he heard the SAAB motor running at Mr Perry’s premises; that he didn’t inspect the SAAB running; that he was standing some feet away at the time; that he did not hear anything that alarmed him. He confirmed that cylinder head replacement was unrelated to the bearing failure issue.

Conclusions

  1. [44]
    Mr McCrea took Ms Lucy’s SAAB Vehicle to Saab Automotive Services a mechanical workshop at Everton Park to get advice because the SAAB was running rough. That workshop (referred to by Mr McCrea as SAAB) in its written quote identified a suspected blown head gasket, noisy timing chain/balance chain and possible oil pickup blocked/sump sludged up indicating that repairs could well exceed $6,000.00; that prices quoted were approximate and subject to strip down and inspection.
  2. [45]
    Clearly, SAAB automotive services only conducted an initial check and identified suspicions and possibilities without stripping down and inspecting the motor. To that, extent the quote if it can be called that was loose and open-ended and nothing more than an initial opinion based on a check.
  3. [46]
    As the possibility of a blown or cracked head gasket would require the motor to be pulled out and to be sent to a head reconditioning company Mr McCrea contacted Mr Perry who requested he bring the Vehicle to his Petrie workshop for him to do his own professional diagnosis.
  4. [47]
    Mr McCrea said he clearly stated that he/Ms Lucy were not prepared to pay to have the head reconditioned and the head gasket replaced if the rest of the engine was not in good working order. Mr Perry stripped the motor down and was pleasantly surprised with how good condition the motor was in. So much so according to Mr McCrea that Mr Perry did not need to replace any of the timing gear or associated parts.
  5. [48]
    Essentially, only the head gasket and engine mounts needed to be repaired or replaced. Mr Perry confirmed that it was the cleanest motor he had ever seen.
  6. [49]
    Mr McCrea asserted that for Mr Perry to make such a diagnosis in the first place required him to remove the sump and examine the oil pickup filter. That assertion seemed to be based on mainly internet research of SAAB 93 motors which indicated a susceptibility to sludging which blocked the oil pickup filter located in the sump; that if the oil pickup was faulty or clogged or failed then that resulted in inadequate oil pressure.
  7. [50]
    Mr Perry was a mechanic of many years’ experience. He was entitled to carry out his own professional diagnosis of repairs necessary to bring the motor back to working order. It was never the case that Mr Perry was obliged to agree absolutely with possibilities and suspicions identified by Saab Automotive Services. Sump removal was never a mandatory component or an imperative to determine the otherwise working order/reliability of a 13-year-old motor.
  8. [51]
    There was clearly a point beyond which Mr Perry could not be expected to go. If the motor functioned correctly and adequately, there was a common sense presumption that parts did not require repair/replacement bar any parts visibly so deteriorated as to raise alarm. The very best that any mechanic in Mr Perry’s position could ever had said was that the motor appeared to be in good repair and therefore worth repairing.
  9. [52]
    His evidence was that somebody had looked after the Vehicle and his words were “if that motor was sludged up I would have told him straight away, this motor has got to be pulled apart. There was no sludge in it at all’.
  10. [53]
    It is clear that Mr Perry considered Cylinder Head reconditioning and head gasket replacement as well as engine mount repair were the areas requiring attention to ensure ongoing operation of the motor.
  11. [54]
    When the Vehicle broke down shortly after collection by Ms Lucy on the first occasion it was returned immediately to Mr Perry who identified the problem as breather hoses perished it appeared through old age. He fixed the breather hoses at no cost so that there were no leaks. Subsequently at the time of collection by Ms Lucy, the SAAB seemed to drive ‘fine’ and she drove the Vehicle home without incident. The SAAB broke down a short time later.
  12. [55]
    The RACQ mechanic, Jason, who attended the roadside breakdown, observed that there was a lot of oil blowing out the top of the motor, that oil pressure had blown some of the hoses off their connections and that the oil level was way overfilled. 
  13. [56]
    Whilst there was never any subsequent RACQ inspection a local mechanic, Brad McKenzie, inspected the motor at Mr Perry’s premises after it had been pulled down subsequent to the return after the second breakdown. He looked at a video and stated in his opinion, compression rings were collapsed ultimately causing blow by. He referred to the cylinder head rocker box filling with oil. This theory, as he put it, was supported by oil coming out of the oil filler cap.
  14. [57]
    Mr Perry said that he pulled the sump of the Vehicle after it came back on the second occasion; that there was no sludge in the sump and nothing wrong with the oil pickup. Rather it was a bearing failure/seizure due to lack of oil; that the oil pump had failed; that the motor failed through lack of oil pressure. He did not consider it to be a case of too much or too little oil.
  15. [58]
    The Tribunal has already found that it was not necessary for Mr Perry to pull the sump off an inspect the oil pick up for the purpose of initially assessing the overall condition of the motor. Even if it could be construed as a necessity to do so it was still the case that there was no sludge in the sump and the oil pick up was operative.
  16. [59]
    Whilst untimely failure of the oil pump may have been unfortunate, it was a component that was operative at the time of repairs being carried out by Mr Perry and particularly at the time the Vehicle was test driven and then driven home by Ms Lucy without incident on 20 August 2015.
  17. [60]
    However if that were not enough evidence of four mechanics particularly the evidence of Mr Lynne at hearing was compelling if not devastating.
  18. [61]
    Firstly, there was Mr Adshead’s affidavit. He inspected the motor after it had been returned to Mr Perry’s premises on the second occasion. He was of the opinion that it was a lack of lubricating oil that caused the damage to components. He stated alleged overfilling would not cause this problem i.e. obviously referring to assertions by others that overfilling of oil would have caused the failure in question.
  19. [62]
    Secondly, Scott Thompson’s report came to the same conclusion, he believing the cause of the engine failure was due to lack of lubrication. Crucially he stated that the process of removal and replacement of the cylinder head could not cause the damage observed.
  20. [63]
    Thirdly, there was an affidavit by Mr Lloyd. He did not consider that bearing failure could be caused by alleged overfilling of a vehicle sump. He went on to say that, such a claim was based on a misunderstanding of the workings of the internal combustion engine. He said that the damage was totally consistent with an engine being run short of oil.
  21. [64]
    Fourthly, Mr Lynne furnished an affidavit. He also gave evidence at hearing. He was a highly credentialed and forthright witness. He said that the motor had suffered a connecting rod (big) failure. He stated that overfilling the engine with oil could not cause bearing failure.
  22. [65]
    He said the only way to be absolutely certain of the actual quantity of oil present in a motor is to fully drain the motor and measure the quantity; that it was not enough to rely on a dipstick measurement.
  23. [66]
    He concluded in his affidavit, that failure was either the result of fair wear and tear and that given the age of the Vehicle in question that was quite probable or that it was the secondary result of an unrelated mechanical issue such as an oil pump failure. He stated overfilling the engine with oil could not be demonstrated even if it could there is no known or conceivable link to bearing failure.
  24. [67]
    At hearing Mr Lynne was shown Brad McKenzie’s statement about which he stated:

what Mr McKenzie is describing as being totally impossible to me it seems as though he has not looked at the vehicle because he is describing it as having a cylinder head rocker box, and the SAAB engine is a different construction … there is nowhere for the oil to go as he describes it’s just totally wrong for that engine. Even if the engine was as he describes it, which it is not, it still could not have happened that way.

  1. [68]
    Mr Lynne was shown Mr Lloyd’s affidavit. He agreed with Mr Lloyd’s statement to the effect that the two incidents were unrelated i.e. overfilling the sump and bearing failure.
  2. [69]
    Mr Lynne was shown Mr Adshead’s affidavit and agreed with Mr Adshead’s stating that it was so that the failure was a lubrication failure.
  3. [70]
    Mr Lynne was shown Scott Thompson’s report. He stated he believed what happened to the motor was consistent with Mr Thompson’s report.
  4. [71]
    In cross-examination, Mr Lynne said there was no evidence of blow by in the motor as inspected by him and that he was aware of problems with SAAB motors. Mr Lynne confirmed the symptoms of failure of the Vehicle on the first occasion as consistent with the limp home condition and confirmed that the Vehicle travelling at 60 kms per hour would fit a limp home description.
  5. [72]
    When asked that to inspect an oil filter pick up the sump would have removed Mr Lynne answered yes. When Mr McCrea suggested that by not doing so, would that leave it open to a possibility of oil pressure problems or flow problems. Mr Lynne answered no that it would just mean that that was something that was not done.
  6. [73]
    When asked if the engine was rebuilt and running fine, would he, Mr Lynne, have checked the oil pressure. Mr Lynne answered probably not but after 40 years of listening to engines that he knew when there is oil pressure and when there is not.
  7. [74]
    Mr Lynne stated that with respect to replacement of parts in a motor he would not do so just because some other entity suggested so but rather he would rely on his own diagnosis. He stated he had been in the trade long enough not to trust other mechanics.
  8. [75]
    He went on to say that, his diagnosis was loss of oil pressure due to normal wear and tear and not sludging or blocking.
  9. [76]
    Additionally Mr Lynne went on to state that he inspected the crankshaft and lower part of the cylinders. He said he saw that there was no cylinder wear, and that thus he seriously doubted that there had been any significant blow by.
  10. [77]
    Mr Lynne also stated that oil blowing out of the top of the engine through the oil filler cap was not blow by; that the only way oil would come out of the top of the engine was if the filler cap was not properly seated or if the gasket on it had deteriorated.
  11. [78]
    Mr Lynne also confirmed that if no sludge was observed in the motor it would not be necessary to take the sump off no matter who told him that such was a necessity. He reiterated that the bearing failure was likely due to fair wear and tear. He confirmed that cylinder head replacement was unrelated to the bearing failure issue.
  12. [79]
    The common thread here is bearing failure due to wear and tear or lack of lubricating oil or both.

Summary

  1. [80]
    The motor was assessed by Mr Perry. He discerned that the motor was in very good condition and that to bring the motor back into proper working order it required a reconditioned cylinder head, replacement gasket and replacement engine mounts. His assessment that the motor was otherwise in good condition was reasonable.
  2. [81]
    The failure on the first breakdown occasion was due to perished breather hoses which he replaced at no charge. The second breakdown was caused by bearing wear and tear or failure of the oil pump or both. Neither were referrable to cylinder head reconditioning/gasket replacement which came with a 12 month warranty. Nor was there any evidence that Mr Perry was obliged to somehow otherwise guarantee operation of a 13 year old motor. The most that any person in Mr Perry’s position could ever have done was to assess the motor as presented. That he did giving his own professional diagnosis. There is no case to answer here. The application is dismissed.
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Editorial Notes

  • Published Case Name:

    Lucy v Perry Engine Reconditioning

  • Shortened Case Name:

    Lucy v Perry Engine Reconditioning

  • MNC:

    [2016] QCAT 250

  • Court:

    QCAT

  • Judge(s):

    Adjudicator Bertelsen

  • Date:

    25 Jul 2016

Appeal Status

Please note, appeal data is presently unavailable for this judgment. This judgment may have been the subject of an appeal.
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