DIY Dad: if it has things, I'll tinker with it
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: City Different
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If the oil pressure light did not come on, then serious damage was most likely avoided. There are a few videos on YouTube of folks draining oil out of the car and running it until it seizes. For some engines that takes some time, but starts smoking and jerking before locking up. If you noticed no smoke and felt no issue yo are *probably* OK. But -
You took the vehicle to the dealer for them to change the oil and they screwed up. The screw up included you running the engine with a fair amount of oil missing, thanks to their error. That is inexcusable. I noticed your signature - you are a woman, correct? Some of these jerks think they can tell a woman anything and have her buy it. That they would say you "should" be OK and try to get you out the door and not take any more responsibility is poor.
Did you buy it new from them? Do you go to them for service? If so, I would think you have some leverage. I would demand to speak to the GM and the service manager. Sit them both down and very reasonably state they created a situation in which you drove your vehicle with more than a 1/3 of the volume missing. 2.5 quarts low is not the worst (volume is about 6.5 quarts), but I would ask the GM and service manager what they would say to a customer that told them they knowingly ran the thing when down 2.5 quarts. They would say you are probably OK but they can't tell you for certain, and can't guarantee there are no issues that may come up later. So, they can't expect different now. You are in a position that the only way to know better is they remove the engine, tear it down and inspect it. Otherwise they can only guess. Ask if they intend to do that for you? That warranty runs out and you are on your own. What are they willing to do for you? Fixing their own mistake is not doing anything for you. You are now in the position to not know if their error will cost you more money down the line. And that was gross negligence to not secure the bolts.
Heck, see if they will cut you a deal on a new 4Runner. Take what you owe (or if paid off the value plus a bit) and ask them to put you in a new or similar model, within reason, unit. They can take the one they fouled up and do what they think appropriate, you walk away with something you have more confidence in.
'15 4Runner SR5 (1GR-FE)
'09 Camry SE 2.4L (2AZ-FE)
'97 Tacoma XL 4x4 Ext Cab 2.7L (3RZ-FE) - Manual
'97 Ford Explorer XLT V6 SOHC 4.0L 4x4