5 quarts of oil over-full for 1900 miles, no damage, and at one point had no oil pressure

Ok, I had a weird problem happen. I was driving to wisconsin, and my oil pressure dropped off. So I check the dipstick, bone dry. I put in 5 quarts and continue on. I go to service my front diff recently, and I notice oil all over the filter n frame n whatnot. So when I bring it back to the oil place, they tighten it, and I watch them, it wasn’t loose at all, then they check the dipstick, I was 5 quarts overfilled, for 1900 odd miles. I have no lifter noise, I have no knocking, or even any coolant leaks. The coolant is green as the day i put it in. How the heck do I not have any problems or weird noises or anything, most importantly, what the hell happened to the oil. It came back it seems. No one changed my oil in between then and I didn’t do anything but put gas in it.

318 magnum, not the original LA series.

When you stop the car and check the dipstick, and it shows “DRY”, you probably still have at least 2 quarts of oil in the engine; some in the sump, and the rest hung up and draining down.

So adding 5 quarts probably overfilled it by at least 2-3 quarts.

The crankcase is not connected to the cooling system, and unless you have a breached head gasket, no oil will show up in the coolant, and vice versa.

I think the oil place may have added oil without draining all the the old oil, and your crankshaft has whipped up all that oil, and oil is forced out through the seals. In any case, I don’t believe we have the complete story here. Your oil pressure gage would read zero if the oil was whipped up by the crankshaft due to overfilling. Oil pressure reading has little relationship to the amount of oil in the sump as long as there is some that the intake pipe can pick up.

When you stopped the car you should have waited twenty minutes or so before checking the oil, at which time it (the foam and oil) would have all drained back into the sump and the true reading would have told you how much you actually had there.

The oil place will not likely admit that they overfilled you sump. But you probably have some blown seals.

I know for a fact I have a notorious blown intake gasket problem that dodges of the 90s have, Which it is possible for the oil to get into the coolant and vice versa, but also the possibility of a cracked head gasket or head was something i wanted to consider. I also did not know that i had to wait 20 minutes for it to drain down. but i didn’t eat more than half a quart between each oil changes with the plenum being blown out… IT doesn’t eat that much oil even when it is at an advanced level of being blown out. I looked at the dipstick as it was pulled out of the engine, it had FAR more than would have ever been put in by even a drunk incompetent mechanic. but what i don’t get is, I drove it like this for over 1900 miles, it would have done something else at some point, wouldn’t it have?

" I was driving to wisconsin, and my oil pressure dropped off. So I check the dipstick, bone dry. I put in 5 quarts and continue on."

What do you mean by “dropped off”? Did it fall to zero? Did you dump 5 quarts in without checking after each quart? This truck is 20 years old…How many miles on it?

The gage has 3 section, low, when its hot, middle pressure, when coasting around town, and high when im on the freeway, or high load. And all of a sudden it dropped to zero. I just dumped in 5 quarts because it was totally empty. this stick isn’t broken or anything.

“I know for a fact I have a notorious blown intake gasket problem”

I advise you to take care of that

Crankcase bearings do not like antifreeze for lubrication. Neither do lifters, for that matter

You probably had a very high dipstick reading, because of all the coolant that is now in the crankcase

“I just dumped in 5 quarts becaue it was totally empty.”

That is false logic

What you do is pour in a small amount, and check again. Keep repeating this until the oil level is within the crosshatched area on the stick

But the main thing is . . . fix that intake gasket problem

all that happens with that is i eat oil, not coolant.

The stick does not reach to the bottom of the pan…When you are about 2.5 or 3 quarts low, the stick will no longer reach the oil level and will check 'dry"…But your crankcase is not empty. There was probably at least 2 or maybe 3 quarts of oil remaining in the engine…The zero oil pressure reading was probably a malfunction of the gauge itself…Even if you only had 5 or 10 pounds of oil pressure, that would keep the engine alive for a while…When you allow the oil to get that low, the remaining oil gets VERY hot and thin causing the big drop in oil pressure…

When you overfilled the crankcase, the crankshaft could dip into the oil, foaming it into a froth…This also leads to a loss of oil pressure as the oil pump can not pump foam…Fortunately for you, those 318’s can take a tremendous amount of abuse…

but 1900 miles ontop of this? This doesnt make any sense how im seeing in, im not a terribly good mechanic, but if it still came up overfull by 5 quarts why didnt it foam up before i even got to my destination in the first place. And yes, thats why i bought a 318…

“all that happens with that is i eat oil, not coolant.”

For all I know, the 318 is one tough beast . . . I’ve never owned one, though

But my advice is still to fix the intake gasket problem

Sorry if that’s not the advice you want to hear, but that’s what I’m giving

Did YOU actually measure the amount of oil drained? Or was this someones guesswork?

A 318 with 10 quarts of oil in it (or 12!) is going to have MAJOR driveability problems, overheating, oil blowing out everywhere…

Yes, I saw it all drain out when i went to the oil place, i thought it was because of the oil filter they didn’t tighten. so i watched them do everything.

I do plan to have it fixed when i get the funds, but people have driven it for 20-30k miles with it like that and it just gets less power and mileage, never really kills anything. And, no thats actually what i want to hear, an honest answer.

That’s the thing, I never did, not once, not a single misfire, lifter tap or anything. I didnt know it was at all any different in ANY aspect. still cranked over no problem.


"And, no thats actually what i want to hear, an honest answer. "

You’re welcome


This just boggles my mind, Thanks though, When i get the intake gasket fixed, ill see what else is leaking. I bought a 318 cause i heard all the stuff you guys are saying about its legendary durability, and holy crap is it turning out to be true and then some.

From what you describe? The first thing I would do is remove the valve covers to see how badly the heads are sludged up.


one person suggested that it gets stuck in the cyl head and drains back out slowly through the failed gasket, which is also what caused the oil sender unit to read no oil pressure. this would make sense as to where the oil got stuck, but again, not how it didn’t foam up when it all drained back down when i got home and i let it sit overnight. when you see the setup, you will know why this makes sense. and that’s where it is all coming from.

@Tester That’s what i’m going to do, and if its bad enough, ill get some motor flush then run it through a few times.

Overfilling with oil will eventually result in oil blowing out the dipstick tube and possibly damaging the engine. First off it is almost certain that the engine was never running dry of oil or it would have locked up. Second, pulling the stick when the gauge indicated low pressure and dumping in 5 quarts without checking the dipstick after each quart resulted in overfilling but there is no way of knowing how overfilled it was for the 1900 miles. I would suggest removing the valve covers and inspecting for sludge in the holes that drain the heads back to the pan.

After you added 5 quarts, did you look at the dipstick again? If not, and you assumed that amount was the correct amount to reach the “full” line on the dipstick, what I think happened is the 5 quarts you added actually caused it to be overfilled by 1 or 2 or maybe 3 quarts for the reasons explained by the posters above. But you didn’t notice. Then the oil place you went to, they told you the oil was too high on the dipstick and said it was 5 quarts overfilled. But I doubt it was that much overfilled. There’s no reason to believe the dipstick would be accurate when it is overfilled; i.e. from the dipstick level it probably looked like it was a lot more overfilled than it was. Did they drain all the oil out and measure it? If not, I think it was actually more like 1-2 quarts overfilled.

I don’t thing there’s anything for you to do at this point, other than check the dipstick once in a while. No harm, no foul.

Yes i did look at the dipstick and it read what i put in. atleast thats what i remember seeing.