Need a 2nd opinion about this engine oil (?) issue

This is my first post since I just joined in, and I am so glad to be here :smile:

My car is a 2008 Honda Accord with 91,000 miles. In late November 2017 it was in for a regular maintenance service at this Honda dealer’s. They told me there was an issue with the car that needed to be fixed. They later charged me for “front axle seal leaking.”

Not long before that they replaced a flat tire on the car (I mentioned this fact, even though I was not sure if this was relevant) :slight_smile:

In early March I took the car back to the dealer’s because the engine light came on and off and because there was loud noise with car, to my big concern.

They checked and gave me this diagnosis (quoted below) -

Found oil level approximately 3 QTS low. Topped off oil.
Also found oil leaks at VTC oil control solenoid and timing chain tensioner cover.
Need to repair oil leaks and start oil consumption test."

What they did was that they added 2.4 Liters of engine oil to the car. They asked me to drive back after about 1k miles for another inspection. But I was too busy to take it back. The engine oil life indicator showed 50% after they added the engine oil, but last week (around April 25, about 8 weeks later) it shows 20%.

My questions are -

(1) Do you think their diagnoses were right? I am concerned about this because they said they couldn’t guarantee it was an issue with the timing chain tensioner cover. So, according to them, if they fix timing cover, it probably won’t fix the issue.
(2) What other factors might make the engine light turn on?
(3) Does the engine oil life indicator going down quickly mean there might be engine oil leaks?
(4) I am sort of concerned about the current issue. But the repair fees will be over $550, so I wanted to proceed with caution. What is the best step I should take at this moment?

Your insights and advice will be greatly appreciated.


Vicki, oil is one of your vehicle’s life-blood. Without an adequate quantity of oil the engine can get very sick and die. Costly repairs (hundreds or thousands of dollars) or engine replacement (dollars in thousands) can result.

Oil leaks need to be addressed ASAP. Meanwhile, very frequent checking of the oil level by using the car’s engine oil dipstick is required, as well as adding oil as required to maintain proper oil volume.

That oil life indicator is only intended to tell a novice driver/owner when to get an oil change. It offers nothing to help you in regard to running an engine low on oil (for whatever reason) and damaging or destroying the engine.
CSA :palm_tree::sunglasses::palm_tree:


My neighboor 2008 Accord had the same oil consumption problem.His dealership evaluated his oil consumption and they rebuilt his engine free of charge due to stuck piston rings.Seems like it very common in these cars. You can read all about this issue here:

“American Honda is extending the warranty coverage on the Piston Rings and Pistons for 2008-11 Accord L4 to 8 years from the original date of purchase or 125,000 miles, whichever comes first.”

I believe that ship has sailed. Besides, this car is apparently leaking oil externally as well.
CSA :palm_tree::sunglasses::palm_tree:

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check your oil! do you know how to pull out the dipstick and look?
you paid for the car. or was it free? do you care about it?

A few suggestions:

  • See if you can get a second opinion from another mechanic. Dealer service departments are generally (but not always) the most expensive place to get repairs. There’s a number of other threads on getting another mechanic.
  • $550 is really not that expensive to do a repair nowadays, even though it’s still a lot of money. A number of factors have caused manufacturers to cram more and more components into a smaller space, so mechanics spend time getting access to what needs to be repaired. $100/hr labor rate is certainly possible, so for a given repair, a mechanic may spend an hour removing stuff to get to the repair and another hour putting all that stuff back and you pay $200 for that mechanic’s time.
  • You really need to check your oil periodically between changes or have someone you trust do it for you. It’s really quite simple. No one should make the assumption that no oil will be consumed. It seems there is a pervasive belief that the car’s hood doesn’t need to be opened at all between regular service appointments. NOT TRUE! The owner’s manual has a number of inspections that the owner can and should do.
  • The engine light can turn on for a number of issues. Mechanics have handheld computers that “talk” to the car’s computer and retrieve the trouble code(s). Retrieving the code is one of the first things done when diagnosing a problem. To make any sort of guess, the posters on this forum will want the trouble codes.
  • I have two newer Hondas and have the Maintenance Minder/oil life indicator. Whoever changes the oil manually resets it at each oil change. My understanding is that it uses algorithms to determine when you should change the oil and filter, but does not know when oil was added and really has nothing to do with oil level. The percent thing is just a way to inform the owner. At 20%, I’d go ahead and change the oil and filter.
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You are losing a little less than a quart per month. You should check the oil level at least every two weeks, and it would be better do do it weekly until the oil leaks are fixed. At 3 quarts low, you are lucky the engine still functions at all. That loud noise may have been due to low oil pressure. Your car can last another 100,000 miles if you take care of it properly. As mentioned above, get evaluations of the issue from other shops. If you aren’t familiar with any, ask everyone you know for a recommendation. Eventually, a couple will be mentioned more than others. Take your Accord to them and tell them it uses oil quickly and ask them to recommend a fix. Make sure it is a detailed evaluation with prices. You seem detail oriented anyway, and this might be your normal procedure.

Thank you all so much for the prompt and very helpful replies! I really appreciate it!

Just went to check the engine oil level and found it extremely low, almost nothing shown on the stick. I will have to stop driving it this weekend. Wait until Monday to talk to a mechanic.

I am hoping that I can talk to a manager of that Honda dealership about the possibility of using warranty coverage. Fingers crossed.

Again, many thanks and have a great weekend!

Your car is ten years old. My experience with Honda’s is that they have a 3 year/36,000 mile warranty. If yours has a ten year warranty on the drive train, you may have recourse. Good luck.

they added 2.4qts of oil in early march? and none has checked or added any oil since that time? and you just checked today? woohoo. add 1 qt and drive on. if they are doing an oil consumption monitoring test than tell them you added 1qt today because you want to DRIVE the car.

Is there some reason you think you can’t drive it at all? I wouldn’t think you’d have to stop driving it entirely unless there’s a massive leak. You can refill the oil; the correct weight, 5W-20 or whatever, is specified in the owner’s manual and usually stamped on the cap where you fill it. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, go to an auto parts store to buy the oil. My guess is that they can show you how.

Leave an extra 5 or 10 minutes in the morning so that you can check it each morning. And make sure you leave a quart in the car until you get the problem resolved.

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The problem with running the engine oil level down 3 quarts low (or even 2 quarts) is that the remaining motor oil will overheat and break down faster. This in turn leads to oil coking, seized oil control rings on the pistons, etc any oil consumption issue will be exacerbated.

This often means a problem that cannot be solved easily or cheaply.

I’d have the repairs done and pray that it slows the consumption down. What would I do in a shop setting? Perform both a dry and wet compression test to try and get an idea of what’s going on with the piston rings.
This is not entirely definitive as the compression rings may be good but the oil wiper rings stuck.
If the test shows a compression issue then it’s time to start thinking about other options such as a new engine or another car. Or drive the current one to its end.

Do not attempt to drive it until you add some oil. Probably at least 3 quarts. Or tow it to the mechanic.

“Just went to check the engine oil level and found it extremely low, almost nothing shown on the stick”. this morning.
add 1/2 qt. check level after a few minutes. the oil does not instantly appear on dipstick. it has to drain down into pan. add oil. go in house. have a cup of coffee. than check it. does it show more on dipstick now? that means you have 4 qts approx in oilpan. you are not “empty”. you are just a little bit low
they sell oil at gas station. you buy gas? buy a qt. you can drive to gas station even if you are 1 qt low. you drove last month when you were 2.4 qts low.

Vicki G, please define " extremely low, almost nothing shown on the stick."

Is it possible to post a photo of that?

There should be markings on the stick or a shaded area that indicates oil level. Where on the stick is the level? Below all the markings? Between markings?

Do you have the car’s Owner Manual? That booklet should have a section that instructs and illustrates oil checking and will possibly tell the amount of oil necessary to bring the level to “Full” based on the dipstick indication.
CSA :palm_tree::sunglasses::palm_tree:

Sorry I forgot to take a picture :frowning:

There seemed to be only a very tiny bit on the tip, but I was not even sure if that was engine oil or just some something greasy that stuck on the dip stick.

I did buy a bottle of 5w-30 motor oil this afternoon at a local auto store and added some to the engine. And I looked at the manual and found information (pic attached).

Hope this temporary solution will help and hold out until I see a mechanic :slight_smile:

Thank you very much for all your help! You all have been amazingly helpful.

I just checked the manual again and found it recommends “5W-20 detergent oil,” but I have added 5W-30 motor oil (see the picture attached). Is that all right or will 5W-30 do any harm to the engine of my Honda Accord?

This may be a silly question, but please help! I will really appreciate it.

It’s fine for now

Continue to use that 5w30 to top off, until it’s used up

But next time you buy oil, get the correct viscosity

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Thank you very much for your advice!

The first post says you were 3 qts low and they added 2.4 qts? You have a 2.4 L motor? If you were 3 qts low, why didn’t they add 3 Qts? Was that a typo? You never specifically said if you added the 1 full quart of 5-30 oil. If you did, is oil level between upper-lower marks on dipstick now?