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2002 Toyota Corolla dipstick

Hi, Ray.
My wife and I both drive older cars. Mine is a 2000 Dodge Stratus and hers is a 2002 Toyota Corolla. When we have her car serviced for oil change, we are often informed that the oil level was so low that the dip stick shows nothing. My first thoughts are, “Where’s the blue smoke? Where’s the engine knock? Why no oil light?” as would be expected when driving a car with excessively low oil. While at a local autoparts chain, I had them check the oil to get their opinion and was informed that the car was at least 3 quarts low. I reluctantly added a couple more quarts. It appears that the problem is how to properly read the not-so-easy to understand dip stick of the 2002 Toyota Corolla. If I read it one way, the level looks fine. If I look at the stick another way, it’s hard to tell. So, when in doubt, I go to YouTube. I found a post of a man dipping the stick and laying it on a paper towel. By looking at where the oil is on the paper towel while the dip stick lays on it, you’ll get an accurate reading of the oil level. So this tells me that all of these oil service centers do not know how to read the dip stick of the 2002 Toyota Corolla and my wife’s car does not consume oil excessively. I wanted to share this with your readers and also get your opinion. Are you familiar with this dip stick issue?

First of all, there is little chance Ray will see this. Second it appears you are not checking your oil level yourself on a regular basis. You wrote that you were told you might be 3 quarts low but you reluctantly added 2 quarts. I think you should start planning on vehicle shopping or a major engine repair bill.


The pictures of the dipstick look perfectly normal to me. Yes, hash marks between the holes would make it easier to read. Just guessing here but usually the distance between the holes usually is one quart.
As far as your questions:
No blue smoke because of the car has catalytic converter, which if the car is burning oil will eventually be fouled dealing with the oil.
No engine knocking-just barely enough oil left circulating to prevent that. Same thing for the oil pressure light.
“we are often informed that the oil level was so low that the dip stick shows nothing.”
The very FIRST time you were told this you should have been checking the oil at least weekly, if not more often.
Why were you reluctant to add the correct amount of oil?
I totally agree with Volvo, you will soon have an engine that will require either rebuilding or replacing.

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Check your oil regularly and always check your oil after having your oil changed and look under the car for leaks before leaving the property. Like the old Russian proverb, trust but verify.

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Oil level should be between the 2 notches at the end of the dipstick.I own the same car…mine is an 99.

If you only added 2 quarts, your car is still at least 1 quart low, possibly 2.

a quart every 500 miles is probably not noticeable.

Apparently your car needs to be more than 3 quarts low before it starts knocking

Same reason there is no knocking

Apparently neither way is correct, or you need better lighting when you read it.

Toyota recommends a 5000 mile oil change for this Corolla.
3qt low in 5000 miles = 1qt per 1600 miles.
That’s a manageable rate of consumption with top ups every 1000 miles.

“Where’s the blue smoke?"

1600 miles / 35mpg = 45.7 gallons of fuel
Fuel/oil ratio = 45.7g / 1qt = 183:1.
Compare that to perhaps 50:1 for a 2-stroke engine.

Your car probably is burning oil, this generation of Corolla is notorious for it. If you’re interested, go to the 8th gen forum at toyota nation dot com and there is a sticky that describes the issue.

My car did not have blue smoke despite burning oil similarly to yours, but I did get soot buildup on the rear bumper cover and on the wall in my parking space near where the exhaust came out.

My son has a 2009 I have a 2015 Corolla, both the dip sticks read accurate on one side and sloppy over full on the other side. When I had an oil change I checked the dipstick and now use that as my reference. I know how to read the dip stick. Not rocket science.

If the OP needed 3 quarts and reluctantly added 2 he is abusing his engine. Oil is the cheapest thing you can spend money on to make your engine last a long time. If you are running an engine 3 quarts low you may as well park the car in a field and use it for target practice. The end result will be the same.

All cars burn oil at some point. Neighboor has an 1998 Corolla with 200k miles and engine is not burning oil at all.Mine is an 1999 with 185k miles and not burning oil. Some of them will develop early oil burning issues and some other will not.I switched to synthetic oil when car had only 40k miles.Neighboor still use conventional oil.