2001 Honda Civic oil mystery

2001 civic ex. i did an oil change on my car and did it correctly like i have done in the past. but now its not showing on the dipstick. i ended up driving it anyways. then bout a mouth later the CEL came on. when and got it checked and code p1259 came up. they said it was the Variable Valve Timing (VVT) Solenoid but i replaced that a year ago, so ive checked at another place and they said it low oil or low oil pressure. it does burn oil but not 3.6 quarts in a month. plus the dip stick didnt read when i changed it. i can see oil in there when i open the cap to add more oil in but dry as a bone when i check the dipstick. dont want to add too much more oil , any ideas what to do? could there be a clog somewhere? TIA

Drain the oil out of the engine and see how much, if any, comes out.

I always cringe a little when I read about low oil and driving it anyway. I hope you’re lucky, friend.


No oil showing on dipstick and this person drove the car anyway ? Something had to be done wrong or there should be a large puddle of oil under the car.
It should be interesting if there is a final update to this problem.

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Maybe the oil drain holes in the cylinder head are sludged up and preventing oil from returning to the oil pan.That’s why no oil on the stick and the valve cover/valve galley full of oil?
Might need to remove the valve cover and see what’s going on.

Driving it anyways is never a proper answer and that can wipe out the lower end and cylinder walls.


I think @ok4450 might be on to something.

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If oil is pooling up by the rocker arm area you must have a severe sludge problem inside the engine.


If there’s no oil on the dipstick you’re at least two quarts low, probably closer to three. I’d add a couple of quarts and see what happens.

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Before anything, take off the valve cover and make sure all the holes down to the crankcase are open.

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That is the worst case of sludge I have ever seen. Incredible.

Some Euro cars (hello BMW!) spec 15K mile oil changes.
Combine that with owners who don’t understand the “or xx months, whichever comes first” part, then take several years of short tripping to reach those 15K miles.
Thus, you end up with what db4690 pictured.


There’s lot of pictures on the internet that are just as bad . . . I just picked one that looked dramatic

hopefully op’s engine doesn’t have this problem . . .

Some of my personal vehicles have those “extended oil change intervals” . . . I don’t adhere to them

I change the engine oil and filter every 5K and sleep well at night . . . full synthetic

Looks like a BBQ cook off in Texas


What does it look like? The picture posted above? Just a light sheen of oil on the metal? Somewhere in between?

I have a feeling you have destroyed your engine. Driving it anyway when no oil is indicated on the dipstick is a universally bad idea and requires an overabundance of luck to get away with.


As stated – oil is not draining down into pan due to oil drain holes in the head being plugged up due to sludge – or your dipstick is not reaching into the oil pan. The former will cause engine damage if driven.

I will just add to the quality answers that have been given already that VVT is very sensitive to a lack of lubrication, so it’s probably not a coincidence that you seem to be going through VVT solenoids.

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sorry for the late response, went camping just got back. but thats what i ended up doing, i redid the oil change and very little came out. added 3.6 of 5w30(i do 5w30 because i heard it will burn less oil) and poof it shows on the dipstick. i checked the last time i did the oil change ( i write it down so i know when to do the next one) and it was 217xxx. its at 218xxx now. so i guess it burning though like crazy. no drips and i dont see any smoke coming out the tail pipe. any suggestions. BTW the CEL is still on but im hopeful it will go away soon as i just added the oil. thanks everyone for the replies

Perhaps take it to a decent independent mechanic to sort it out, rather than wild guesses over the internet.

Ive forgot to put drain plug back before adding new oil and this resulted. I didnt run engine though until corrected. Advice here is to check oil level after oil change even if done st shop.

You have stated that you can see oil in there when you remove the cap to add more oil and you are going to continue operating the car in this condition? You might see a faint oil film but should not see raw, pooled motor oil at all.

Is there any particular reason why you do not want to investigate this problem a bit further? If oil is pooling in the valve train area due to drain hole being plugged you are just making a bad situation worse every time you start the engine. If the valve guide bosses and valve seals are submerged in oil then oil consumption is going to be bad.