Returning home from a recent oil change, my wife’s car sat in the garage slowly dripping oil from the drain plug. This could be the sign of something very minor (tighten the plug) or a big deal (stripped out oil pan).
Under further investigation, the head of the drain plug snapped off when attempting to loosen it. The good news was that the additional repair was limited to simply replacing the drain plug and crush washer (less than $10). Why did the drain plug break? The crush washer is designed to compact as a mechanic tightens the drain plug. It actually makes the seal with the oil pan to stop drips. Once the washer is fully “crashed” it not longer stops the drip and causes too much turque to be placed on the drain plug. The crush washer costs less than a dollar and should be replaced every oil change. You can see from the photo that this crush washer is way over crushed and should never have been re-installed (penny wise and dollar foolish). I like to wonder what the mechanic was thinking when they put this washer back in and what the leadership message was at the shop was that allowed him to think it was ok.
It is easy to blame the mechanic. Leaders must realize that everything they do sends a message to the team. Did the shop owner rush the mechanic or say that they should save money on parts? Was quality or volume the primary shop philosophy?
Do your leadership messages tell your people to go fast and install bad crush washers or slow down and put in a good one?