A friend at work has a early 2000s chrysler minivan with 3.8 engine. His wife was driving and the oil light began flickering. Naturally she drove on and mentioned it to him a few days later. He checked the dipstick and it was dry. Someone told him those engines are prone to having the “rings stick” once in a while and he should add marvel mystery oil to the crankcase and some in the gas. Anyone had any experience with this.
Some Marvel Mystery Oil added to the regular crankcase oil is a good idea, but…this particular engine may be far beyond needing additives at this point. The crankcase was almost surely very low on oil for some time before the oil pressure dropped low enough to turn on the warning light. Driving this vehicle for…weeks…or possibly even months…with a low oil level could have resulted in excessive wear, and some actual damage.
My suggestion is to have the engine’s compression checked. If the test indicates low compression, then it is time for the owner to start looking for a replacement vehicle–and possibly for a replacement wife.
An early 2000’s car with a lot of miles might just burn some oil. In this case I’d suggest the owner check the oil more frequently. When the oil level drops the remaining oil in the oil pan circulates faster, gets hotter, and burns off quicker.
If this is a “ring” issue there will be a lot of blue smoke from the tailpipe, especially on start up, and pulling away from stop lights. If there isn’t obvious blue smoke I think the owner simply needs to keep the oil level at least at the 1/2 full mark on the dipstick and monitor the amount of oil needed to maintain that level.
2 quarts added between 5000 mile oil changes won’t be all that surprising in an older vehicle. Those mini vans are heavy and work a motor pretty hard.
How much oil was needed to get the car back to the correct level? When was the last time he checked the oil before that happened?
Rings can stick and cause oil consumption with any engine ever made for any make of car and in most cases this problem is caused by overheating and/or an oil change regimen not being regular enough.
This sounds like an owner inflicted problem due to a root cause of never raising the hood for an oil level check and not aided any by driving on with a blinking oil light.
VDCdriver is correct about running a compression test; both dry and wet.
Odds are there will be bad news assuming the readings are interpreted correctly.
When rings and cylinder walls are damaged due to lack of oil MMO is not going to be the answer.
He says he’s good on checking oil and it was good shortly before the day the light came on. I have no reason to doubt him. The car had no history of burning oil in large amounts. He said he added about 4 quarts. And since that time it has used very little (his words) oil. The guy who told him about those engines and sticky rings is a tech at a dodge dealer.
At this point just keep driving it. I don’t think the “sticky rings” is anything more than a good story to explain a puzzle. Once a car gets low on oil, the remaining oil can burn off much faster and that is a more plausible explanation than sticky rings which are now just fine and dandy.
Four quarts is a lot of oil. Permanent damage is pretty likely here, I’m afraid.
Since he checks his oil and it didn’t burn much before or after this incident, the only explaination I can come up with is someone changed the oil and didn’t put enough back in.
Now if it was my wife I would think she had been driving in low gear on the expressway- again.
The original post is 3rd party hearsay at this point and the comments about being good on checking the oil and it being good shortly before the oil light came on could be very subjective.
Four quarts down, oil light flickering, the vehicle continues on, and the wife waits several days to even mention it?
This Chrysler dealer tech should have told him that those habits alone will ruin an engine.