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Car overheating/oil light flickering

Well, I was sitting in the drive-thru today and my car started overheating. On the way home the oil light started flickering, so I put in some oil I had as soon as I got home. When I got home I checked my oil and it was half-way between the bottom of the dipstick and add mark. Really low.

I added a half a quart when I got home and drove it. The temp gauge was getting up there 3/4 the way to the red zone, but the oil light didn’t come on. I drove it to a meeting, afterwards I added a quart of oil to the engine and drove it home and it started overheating and the oil light was flickering again. No white smoke, so it’s not burning it. It’s got to be leaking from somewhere, right? to lose that much oil?

Okay, you’re not making much sense here. You say the oil was really low… so you added half a quart and drove it. You mean you didn’t fill it up to the normal range? And it was overheating, but you decided that was perfectly fine and drove it anyway also. Then you added another quart of oil and it was overheating still, but you drove it some more…

At any point was it full of oil? Do you understand that the oil light doesn’t indicate how much oil is in the engine, but how much oil pressure the engine is developing? Do you also understand that you basically ignored two of the most critical warnings that your car can give you–the oil light and the temperature gauge, and drove it anyway? The way you dealt with the situation would be kind of like if you were having severe chest pains, feeling horridly ill, but decided to take an aspirin and go out jogging anyway. When was the last time the oil was checked and/or changed prior to the problems occurring? Was it ever checked to see if it was full after adding oil? Was the coolant level ever checked?

My advice to you would be to not drive it, but have it towed to a mechanic and checked out. You will be lucky at this point if you do not have severe engine damage.

I think that Oblivion covered almost everything that I wanted to say, but I have to wonder about the type of maintenance and care that this car has received over the years, based on the way that the OP reacted to these two very ominous signs of serious engine problems. Essentially, the OP has described how to destroy an engine. Hopefully, it hasn’t been destroyed, despite the way that the OP dealt with the symptoms.

As was already stated, the car needs to be towed to a competent mechanic for evaluation, and the OP needs to be prepared for some very expensive news from the mechanic.

Oil will show low on the stick right after the car has been driving because the oil is not in the pan but up in the engine. It really can only be reliably checked after it has been sitting for a while.
Also, a half quart of oil doesn’t get any oil level up to normal if it was ‘really low’.

In all likelihood, you car was stalling while it was overheating. When an engine stalls or is about to stall, the oil light comes on because the oil pressure is dropping.

Go with Oblivion’s and VDC’s advice. Don’t drive it and get it checked out.
No offense intended but this one is over your head.

Well, the temp gauge never got in the red. I don’t know what you consider overheating, I consider overheating when it’s in the red on the gauge.

I added a half quart of oil after I got home and I drove(it was in normal range and every time before I drove it I checked this), and the temp gauge was fine at it’s usual level and the oil light didn’t come on for awhile.

Are you truly losing oil, though? It really has to sit still for a while before you can determine what the oil level is. Checking your oil while you’re filling up or have been sitting still for a minute or two is just too short. Adding oil when it doesn’t need any can be bad as well.
The oil light is not necessarily an indication of there being too little oil in the crank case. It usually means the oil pressure isn’t what it should be. That could be caused by having too little oil but it could also be because oil isn’t cycling around in the engine - both are equally bad.
Oil pressure also drops when the engine is starting to stall which you mention your car does when it overheats.

If you see the temperature rise, it can be an indication of a stuck thermostat which is relatively simple to fix or a breached head gasket which is an expensive fix. It could be other things as well, like a blocked radiator, etc.
Please get it checked to make sure you’re not doing serious damage to your car.

I had the head gasket replaced in June of this year. Coolants a little low.

If the head gasket was replaced due to overheating it could be that the car is burning oil due to piston ring damage caused by that overheating.

The story is too sketchy as to forming an opinion but I would have a compression test and oil pressure test performed to determine if the engine is on the way out.

Ok, I took it to my mechanic and we got to the bottom of it. The bottom radiator hose had a leak in it, turns out. Also the PCV valve was broken, stuck open, creating a vacuum and drinking oil.

Car seems to be running fine now. I was really freaking out yesterday, but it was my fault me and dad replaced the radiator june of 2011 and we never replaced the hoses. Turns out the bottom hose was OEM one! Bad…pretty bad.

Glad it’s okay. You should get in the habit of checking the oil at every 2-3 fillups though, and not letting it get down more than a quart if you want it to last.

If one hose goes, the others will follow, that includes the heater hoses, especially the one I warned you about earlier.

The heater hoses? is that one of them at the bottom of the radiator near the bottom radiator hose?

The top radiator hose has been replaced before, but I think I’ll replace it this weekend so I can put this fiasco to rest.

The heater hose I told you about back when you had the oil leak from the distributor goes from the firewall to the port underneath the distributor. You have three heater hoses in all. They are about an inch in diameter (OD). They would have been easy to change with the head off, now not so easy. When you had the head rebuilt, the mechanic may have replaced teh hose, or at least trimmed back any damage done by the oil leak.

I think I know what you are talking about mine are 3/8 inch and they look in good shape. Head gaskets been replaced before I think the heater hoses were replaced then, they look brand new.

Weird car problem today. My cars vibrated a little(hardly noticeable almost) at stops for the last 4-5 months, till today it really started shaking a bit. My CEL flashed…(uh oh) I took it to o’reilly’s and I had a cylinder misfire…302 I believe.

Not sure if I should be worried and what would the appropriate action to take next. So far I’ve decided I’m definitely calling my mechanic tomorrow and see what he thinks.

Hey Honda, what is the year and mileage on this car?

1996’, now at about 259,000 something. Due for an oil change soon!

Double check that your radiator fan is working properly. It should turn on as the coolant temp rises while idling. Overheating on long idles is a common symptom when the radiator fan stops working.

Honda, I’ll add some points.

If those 3/8" hoses you’re looking at are coming from the bottom of the radiator, they’re not the heater hoses that Keith is referring to. They’re coolant lines for the transmission fluid.

Also, you commented that the PCV valve was stuck open and the engine was sucking oil. That’s incorrcet. The PCV valve (Positive Crankcase Ventilation) should allow passage in the direction from the space under the valvecover to the intake. It should only close if the pressure from the intake exceeds the pressure from the valvecover space. Its purpose is to prevent a backfire from igniting voletile fumes from the crankcase, which is ventilated via the oil return passages from the valvetrain area. The crankcase fumes vent up from the crankcase into the raeas under the valvecovers and get drawn into the engine via the PCV valve. In short, a stuck open PCV valve will not cause oil to be sucked into the intake if everything else is okay.

The reason we tell people to check the PCV valve ehen they have excessive oil usage is because a PCV valve that’s stuck closed can allow excess pressure to build in the crankcase. That can cause oil to be pushed into areas it should not be in, including being forced through tired valvecover gaskets, oilpan gaskets, and crank seals, and even be pushed out the fill tube in extreme cases.

I think it’s time to follow OK4450’s advice and have the engine checked for the integrity of the cylinders in holding pressure.

Also, I’d want to look ofer the radiator for erratic heat dissipatiuon that might suggest clogged tubes. A simple infrared thermometer scanned over the radiator surface can detect hot spots and cold spots that can help assess the radiator’s condition.