DEAR TOM AND RAY: Is it possible for a 2013 Chevy Impala that has only 7,550 miles on it to malfunction mechanically without operator error? When I got the car back after loaning it out, here’s what I found: (1) Check engine light comes on. (2) Vehicle is slightly jerking. (3) Check oil light comes on. (4) Check windshield washer fluid light comes on. (5) Oil, washer fluid and one other mystery fluid (for now) are all leaking. I asked if they ran over something or hit a bump in the road, and they say they did not. I think they did. So, is it possible that the vehicle could have all those lights on and be leaking fluids with only 7,550 miles without some kind of operator error? – JamieLee
RAY: No. Whoever you lent the car to ran over a buffalo. Or maybe a brontosaurus.
TOM: You don’t say who had the car, JamieLee. My experience suggests it probably was a brother!
RAY : That would be my guess. In any case, at 7,550 miles, nothing should be leaking on this car, and none of the warning lights should be coming on.
TOM: So I’d suggest that you have the car towed to the dealer as soon as possible, and ask them to take a look at it. You really shouldn’t even drive it there if the oil light is on.
RAY: My guess is that the service manager will come find you in the waiting room and say, “What the heck did you run over?”
TOM: And if you get confirmation from the dealer that there was an impact of some kind on the underside of the car, then you can call your insurance company and report that the car was in an accident. Which it was.
RAY: If you lend your car to somebody, your insurance policy still covers the car.
TOM: Then your insurance company can negotiate with the dealer about what can be repaired and what needs to be replaced.
RAY: And then you, personally, can negotiate with the knucklehead who borrowed your car about paying the deductible for you.
TOM: And, obviously, that person will have his or her borrowing privileges summarily revoked. Possibly along with Christmas-card privileges. Good luck, JamieLee. And sorry about what happened to your new car.
Got a question about cars? Email Click and Clack by visiting the Car Talk website at cartalk.com.