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  • Dipstick says no oil, car seems fine.
  • stevextc
    Free Member

    Its also not unknown for the reading end of the dipstick to be a plastic attachment that can fall off (begging the question where has it gone) leaving the dipstick shorter than its supposed to be.

    Almost universal on Renault/Vauxhaul vans…. I take mine in and out like it’s made of glass.

    Cougar
    Full Member

    The manual should tell you what the full level is, and how much represents the difference between the min and max marks – say, half a litre. From that you could roughly extrapolate how much lower it will be off the bottom of the stick.

    That reminds me,

    On some engines, too much oil can be a Bad Thing also. Add like half a litre or a litre at a time and recheck, don’t just wang in an entire 5L bottle.

    molgrips
    Full Member

    On some engines, too much oil can be a Bad Thing also

    It is a bad thing on all engines. How much extra it can safely take will vary though.

    esselgruntfuttock
    Free Member

    I’d wager that the number of drivers who check oil levels at all let alone on anything approaching a regular basis is vanishingly small.

    I check the oil every morning*.

    *in the council minibus I drive. Part of the checklist I sign for.

    Dickyboy
    Full Member

    That’s harsh. I’d wager that the number of drivers who check oil levels at all let alone on anything approaching a regular basis is vanishingly small.

    Just coz most people don’t do something doesn’t make it right, same with checking tyre pressures.

    One of our works cars came back making ‘a bit of noise’ the garage put in 4.5l of oil & it lasted another 20k miles before it gave up on life.

    mert
    Free Member

    I would put some money on that bet too. I have owned my current car since new in 2018 and have never even opened the bonnet since I got it.

    How do you fill the screen cleaner? 😉

    I open mine weekly during the winter and monthly during the summer…

    But, no dipstick, it was decided the incidence of actually losing all the oil and trashing an engine AND the pressure sensor and level calculation software not working was far lower than the incidence of people parking on a slope and then over filling (few dozen trashed engines a year plus a couple of hundred sets of after treatment/exhaust pipes etc) or topping up with an incompatible oil in the engine and making a mess of everything (few hundred engines a year).

    I can now check oil level on the display in the centre stack. And get a warning if anything untoward is detected, and that’s once so far in 7 years since i got my first dipstickless car. And that was after some 8000km in 3 weeks driving across europe. It needed about half a litre.

    twinw4ll
    Free Member

    Some people never check tyre pressures either Inc garages, we bought a second hand nearly new car from a highly regarded garage and when we got home discovered each tyre was 10-12 psi under inflated.
    I check oil/tyres pressures weekly, quick visual inspection of tyres before every journey.
    Your engine has almost certainly sustained some damage unfortunately.

    footflaps
    Full Member

    Just coz most people don’t do something doesn’t make it right, same with checking tyre pressures.

    Don’t most modern cars have pressure sensors in the wheels? Not had a car without them for years now…

    DrP
    Full Member

    My beautiful car (’07 plate Octaia TDI!) was getting a bit ‘chuggy’ (well..more chuggy) and then the orange oil light oppped on…
    Still oil on the dip, so must have just been a low oil light (first time EVER it’s come on..). I topped up the oil (about 500ml) and she runs like a dream again..

    Odd as I frequently check the oil (it’s an old car I wanna keep running..she’s on 120k currently)… maybe it was a long drive to the West country and back with bikes on roof?

    Anyway… check the oil doods..

    DrP

    grimep
    Free Member

    A car can go a long way with no oil… friend of mine did an oil change on a Toyota minivan, but inexplicably forgot to refill it, then drove from London to West Wales. After a couple of days tootling around the coast the engine got increasingly raucous until it went bang and left smoking lumps of piston and conrod embedded in the tarmac.

    maccruiskeen
    Full Member

    That reminds me,

    On some engines, too much oil can be a Bad Thing also.

    Which is why I suggested making sure the dipstick is the correct one and is reading correctly

    butcher
    Full Member

    Depending on engine size you can still have a few litres of oil in there and it not show up on the dipstick. Obviously it’s still not good, so get it topped up before driving anywhere else.

    You probably have a bad oil level sensor if it’s not displayed on the dash.

    thisisnotaspoon
    Full Member

    What is likely is either the sensor is faulty (and your oil pressure is fine) or your oil feed/pump is knackered, and despite having lots of oil, you’ve got no pressure. It would be wise to get to the bottom of which it is.

    If it’s run low enough to trigger the low pressure warning light, the bearings could well be worn. If one of the bearings is worn they let the oil past too quickly so you don’t have enough pressure, which then kills the remainder of the bearings fairly quickly.

    That’s why oil pressure used to be a gauge not just a light, you could judge how worn the engine was by the pressure at idle.

    airvent
    Free Member

    A car can go a long way with no oil… friend of mine did an oil change on a Toyota minivan, but inexplicably forgot to refill it, then drove from London to West Wales. After a couple of days tootling around the coast the engine got increasingly raucous until it went bang and left smoking lumps of piston and conrod embedded in the tarmac.

    Jesus wept, how much of a daze was he in not to notice it before that? 100s of miles without any oil would have given him plenty of warning before it detonated itself like smoke, banging, overheating, loss of power, I’m literally amazed it would make it that far. It must have had some oil still left in it.

    thols2
    Free Member

    On some engines, too much oil can be a Bad Thing also.

    It’s bad for all engines. I worked in a petrol station when I was a teenager. One day a couple of women filled their car’s engine with oil. As in, filled it to the brim, they didn’t know about dipsticks. Then they tried to drive away and the oil just squirted out the engine’s oil seals and splattered everywhere. They stopped when clouds of smoke appeared from oil hitting the exhaust manifold. Luckily didn’t seem to do any permanent hard, we just had to drain the engine and refill it to the correct level and they went on their way. They didn’t stay around for the cleaning up the forecourt aftermath.

    molgrips
    Full Member

    A car can go a long way with no oil… friend of mine did an oil change on a Toyota minivan, but inexplicably forgot to refill it, then drove from London to West Wales.

    No.. a car can go a long way without any oil showing on the dipstick – but there’s still some in there. When the oil is actually gone it will be destroyed in seconds. Things will get very hot, expand, and jam.

    RustyNissanPrairie
    Full Member

    Company Astra with the old school bulletproof 1.7Izusu engine, outside lane ~80mph. Recently fitted at main dealer service oil filter blew apart (bad batch of spot welds apparently), dropped its oil all over the M6 and wrecked the engine before I could shove the clutch in and freewheel to the hardshoulder. FOC new engine.

    My ancient Berlingo has a surprisingly accurate digital oil level gauge when ignition on.

    Cougar
    Full Member

    Just coz most people don’t do something doesn’t make it right, same with checking tyre pressures.

    It doesn’t make it right, but that doesn’t mean it’s worthy of scorn either.

    I check oil/tyres pressures weekly,

    The air line at the garage near me has gone up from 50p to a pound.

    Suppose that’s inflation for you.

    100s of miles without any oil would have given him

    … about 100 yards?

    thols2
    Free Member

    When the oil is actually gone it will be destroyed in seconds.

    Yeah, my brother used to work in an engineering shop next to a scrapyard. They used to have a big Christmas pissup every year and set up an old engine on a stand, drain all the oil, jam the throttle open, and place bets on how long it would run before failure. From memory, about 10 seconds would be a good bet.

    jimw
    Free Member

    Don’t most modern cars have pressure sensors in the wheels? Not had a car without them for years now…

    Some have pressure sensors that provide an individual readout, but most cars that I have had in the past 15 years have tyre pressure monitors, which use the ABS sensors to compare rolling radii rather than actual pressure. They will detect a 10-15% drop of any wheel compared to the ‘pressure’ set, but if the relative ‘pressures’set in the system are wrong….
    You can drive with grossly under or over inflated tyres. I was once loaned a courtesy car that seemed a bit bouncy-the tyres were set at 50psi rather than 35psi but the pressure monitor was happy

    DrP
    Full Member

    Yeah, my brother used to work in an engineering shop next to a scrapyard. They used to have a big Christmas pissup every year and set up an old engine on a stand, drain all the oil, jam the throttle open, and place bets on how long it would run before failure. From memory, about 10 seconds would be a good bet.

    THat’s my you-tube search for the evening sorted…!

    DrP

    thols2
    Free Member


    joelowden
    Full Member

    Mates Fiesta has seized due to lack of oil, no warning light came on …Check your oil!!

    BoardinBob
    Full Member

    THat’s my you-tube search for the evening sorted…!

    DrP

    (a lot longer than 10 seconds btw)

    docrobster
    Full Member

    Puts hand up as previous owner of Mazda RX 8. Needed 500ml of oil a month- less than 1000 miles certainly.
    We currently have 2 cars in the household with different versions of the same engine- 1.5tsi VAG.
    The Skoda has done 68k with oil changes every 9k and never needed any oil in between.
    My seat Leon has done 22k. First service was at 2 years or 20k miles so was done with about 17k on the clock. And I’d needed to add 500ml twice before then. Just had the “check oil level” warning come on again recently and I checked it to find oil up to the max on the dip. The light went out after I closed the bonnet and drove off so there is something in the theory of bonnet catch sensors. It needed /had room for about 300ml a couple of weeks later when I checked it again. Due it’s second service and oil and filter in about 8 weeks. Sats something about the way I drive the seat compared to how my wife drives the Skoda I guess…?

    BearBack
    Free Member

    Running just off the end of the dipstick may not be terminal but could easily lead to intermittent oil starvation and cause damage.
    Rod knock for example. Not terminal but isn’t going to repair itself by filling the oil level back up.

    jamesoz
    Full Member

    No, there isn’t. I can say that with certainty as it’d be f*cking stupid

    I can verify that the oil level warning light switches off when you open and close the bonnet on a 2010 VW caddy.

    I can also verify its a stupid idea and not a great van either.

    Also the dip stick indeed doesn’t go into the bottom of the sump or it’d be too shallow given its usually the bottom couple of cm min/max.

    One advantage of hydraulic tappets, you usually get to hear them rattle before complete failure.

    northshoreniall
    Full Member

    To the sensor/ light naysayers – my T4 has a sensor under bonnet that resets check oil amber light once bonnet has been lifted and clised again.
    It’s same one as door light switch, I know as recently topped up oil after amber light came on and wouldn’t reset despite adequate oil level after top up. Switch had corroded so replaced switch and light reset.

    submarined
    Free Member

    Puts hand up as previous owner of Mazda RX 8. Needed 500ml of oil a month- less than 1000 miles certainly.

    That’s by design though! There’s an oil metering pump that plops it into the inlet to lubricate the streaks.

    jeffl
    Full Member

    I used to get a car tweaking magazine may years ago, Car & Car Conversions for those that care. They had a series (Walkers Workshop) where a guy was running a metro or maybe a rover 216 in a one make race series. This had very limited tuning allowed. One thing they found was that running the lowest amount of oil that registered on the dipstick gained them 4hp. Which for a circa 110 bhp engine was a chunk of additional power.

    So seems like the OP is just maximising his power gains.

    Or you could always use milk instead of oil 🤣

    molgrips
    Full Member

    Some have pressure sensors that provide an individual readout, but most cars that I have had in the past 15 years have tyre pressure monitors, which use the ABS sensors to compare rolling radii rather than actual pressure.

    You can tell the ones with actual pressure sensors – the usual Schraeder valve tube is part of a fairly solid machined component that fits into the rim. Our Hyundai has them. Also, it gives you a readout with PSI for each wheel rather than just a ‘pressure low’ warning like our other car does.

    cvilla
    Full Member

    Zippy…..are you still out buying oil…

    chestercopperpot
    Free Member

    Like most things vehicles have been engineered by clever people for your average idiot to use.

    The dipstick usually only measures a fraction of the sumps capacity (typically 4-5 litres) so idiots are less likely to let them run dry.

    No one goes out of their way to explain this, as said idiots would then use the oil light (there’s still some oil left) as an indicator of when to add oil, such is the nature of people!

    Cougar
    Full Member

    No one goes out of their way to explain this, as said idiots would then use the oil light (there’s still some oil left) as an indicator of when to add oil, such is the nature of people!

    Again,

    If you took a poll of drivers and asked “how do you know when you’re running low on oil?” I reckon the percentage giving the answer “the little light comes on” would be in the high 90s. And that’s probably being generous.

    Cougar
    Full Member

    I just asked my partner, she replied “when the the light flashes to tell you.”

    Granted, that’s a sample pool of L’Oreal’s Marketing standards, but I make that 100% so far.

    thisisnotaspoon
    Full Member

    This had very limited tuning allowed. One thing they found was that running the lowest amount of oil that registered on the dipstick gained them 4hp. Which for a circa 110 bhp engine was a chunk of additional power.

    Doesn’t surprise me, my midget burns oil and you can feel the difference the litre between min and max makes to the engine.

    I suppose it must be down to pumping losses in the crank between 1 and 2 or 3 and 4, lower oil level means more room for the air in the sump to move between cylinders.

    footflaps
    Full Member

    Also, it gives you a readout with PSI for each wheel rather than just a ‘pressure low’ warning like our other car does.

    Our Kia has a PSI readout per tyre.

    Northwind
    Full Member

    grimep
    Free Member

    A car can go a long way with no oil…

    As others have said, no, but some engines can go a long way with not enough oil. But even that’s not always true. Yes some cars are pretty tolerant of it, either they have enough leeway in the system or they’re just very rugged. But others aren’t.

    I bought a super cheap MX5, which was cheap because it came with a custom deathrattle and some aftermarket flakes in the oil. And people say, oh, the duratec’s really bad for that! And it’s not, it’s just that it’s an engine that you can’t run low, and if you do, it’ll die really quickly. So people that are used to neglecting cars and getting away with it, think it’s the car’s fault when they don’t get away with it.

    (kind of like how people say that the rare accurately sized bike tyres “blow up large” when they blow up right, and pretty much everything else blows up small. It’s not just wrong, it’s self-reinforcing, more people will kill their cars because of the people that say “yeah but nobody really checks it” or “yeah that car’s bad for it”

    reluctantjumper
    Full Member

    No one goes out of their way to explain this, as said idiots would then use the oil light (there’s still some oil left) as an indicator of when to add oil, such is the nature of people!

    What a lot of people don’t realise is that while the engine will still be getting decent oil pressure when the level is below the dipstick minimum but high enough to not cause pickup issues (ie the oil is still going everywhere it’s needed) what is missing is the cooling effect the oil has. The oil held in the sump during running actually helps cool the engine and it also allows the oil to cool enough to be fine for another trip round the block. Slightly low oil levels don’t cause oil starvation, they allow the engine to run ‘hot’ and this thins the oil out leading to poorer lubrication. It’s what give that distinctive ‘burning’ smell of an engine running hot due to low oil, an overheating engine due to lack of coolant smells slightly different.

    chestercopperpot
    Free Member

    but I make that 100% so far

    Frightening isn’t it?!?

    Another good example is “I think a headlight bulb is out” all four blubs are blown!

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