Mazda 3 oil takes a long time to register on dipstick

I drive a 2008 mazda 3 that I’ve only owned for a few months. Recently I noticed the oil takes a long time to register on the dipstick: I take out the dipstick, wipe it off, fully reinsert it, wait 5 seconds, and pull it out again, only to find a small amount of oil on the very bottom of the dipstick (below the “low” line). However, when I cleaned and fully reinserted the dipstick, closed the hood and went about my business, them pulled it out about 5 minutes later, it registered full. Is this concerning? My oil was changed ~1500 miles ago and I have no lights.

I am not sure if this is normal for your car, but could be an indicator of sludge buildup.


How long after running the engine are you pulling the dipstick?
I check it in the morning after sitting overnight.

I let it sit for several hours today. I’ll check it again tomorrow morning

Like Barkydog, I wonder about sludge clogging the passages in your engine. I’m not sure how easy that is to check.

A flashlight and small mirror may let you see under the valve cover, through the oil filler hole. For a better look, remove the valve cover. It’s usually not a very involved job. See if the drain holes in the cylinder head are clear, so oil can get back down into the sump easily.

I had a 2004 3. 2.0 engine. If you pulled the dipstick with a cold engine, it would be dry. But if you immediately reinserted it and checked again it would show the real reading.
When I sold it, I made sure to show the buyer. He looked at me like I was crazy.
Only time I’ve ever seen anything like it.

if the dip stick guide tube was quite long and some oil is sucked in around the stick due to engine vacuum, it would explain it

The dipstick extends into the oil pooled in oil pan. It is not magically wiped clean as it is inserted/retracted. If you try and check oil level with motor off and dipstick indicates no oil, then I believe it, at that time.

Thanks for the tip. This is what the previously clean dipstick looks like after sitting in the cold engine for a few hours.

However, when I wipe it off and check again, there is only dark oil up to the bottom line on the dipstick. How do you think the oil got up so high while the dipstick was sitting?

I have a 2007 Mazda3s. I can believe that the stick can be found dry. There is an O-ring on the handle of the stick. If this ring seals the tube, no oil will be able to rise up the stick. If the ring is not a perfect seal, it could still give odd readings depending on how long you wait after turning the engine off. I also find the readings difficult because the oil seems to get coated on the inside of the tube by surface tension. I think the best reading would be found by sitting for 30 minutes after running, with the dipstick loosened or removed during the 30 minutes. Then, do a couple readings. (The whole problem is probably because the dipstick tube is a narrow diameter.)

Hi guys, thanks for all your tips. I just added half a quart of oil and it solved the problem.