Nissan Pathfinder low on oil

I have a 2002 Nissan Pathfinder, with about 110K miles on it. I noticed that my oil lamp was a bit slow in going out when I started up the car and decided to check the oil level. Sure enough, it was down about 2 quarts. It does not seem to be burning oil(I actually put my hand at the exhaust and looked for any oily deposits - nothing) and also don’t have any oil spots in my driveway where I park the vehicle. I usually have my oil changed at a quick change place(to protect the innocent I won’t name them) and they show me the oil level each time I get it changed and it looks good. The car has been maintained quite well with oil changes between 3000 and 5000 miles with a mix of highway and city driving. Any clues as to what might be happening? I would like to think that the oil change place is the culprit, or the worst is an engine issue?

I would go through a verification process to know that the oil fill is full and then check weekly or during/after extended trip to see by how much or if the oil level goes down. Then I would consider my options. Right now, if you aren’t 100% sure the oil change guys gave you the right amount of oil, you could be seeing some “phantom” oil consumption.

In these cases, personal verification works best, to figure out your next step.

Given the two quarts low, I would also change my oil sooner, rather than later, because the remaining oil works that much harder.

How long did you wait after shutting off the engine when you noticed the oil lamp slow in going out and then checking the oil? I always wait a while after shutting off the engine to give the oil time to drain back into the crankcase. I don’t think that this would account for 2 quarts of oil, but it might account for as much as a quart. I check the oil in my vehicles after the car has sat overnight to get a reading.

Also, be certain that your oil change place is putting in oil of the viscosity specified in the owner’s manual for the engine. The other question is whether the oil change establishment switched brands of oil. Theoretically, this shouldn’t make a difference. However, I once had a Ford Maverick that would go about 1000-1200 miles a quart when I used Sunoco oil. I bought Valvoline on sale of the same viscosity and the Maverick would go 1300-1500 miles a quart.

It’s time to get in the habit of checking the oil level more frequently. Perhaps the oil change place (I shudder every time I type those words) didn’t fill the engine completely, but you said they showed you the level, so I’m assuming it was full.

You need to monitor the oil usage, if there is any. I’d recommend weekly checks. If the oil level is going down and there are no leaks, then the oil is being burned.

You won’t see any oily deposits around the tail pipe because the catalytic converter will burn any oil that comes through it. The engine would have to be burning large quantities of oil before you’d see any smoke or residue.

I usually have my oil changed at a quick change place

  I believe that explains a lot.  We get a huge number of people who have had problems with all brands of quick change places. Their business model insures that they can not make money and provide what I would call good service.  Most hire inexperienced staff and then don't allow enough time for even a competent experienced professional to do a good job.

Don’t be so quick to blame the oil change facility here.
You state you have 3-5k mile oil change intervals. Does this mean you are NEVER checking the oil level and simply relying on the oil level to remain at the FULL mark between oil changes? If so, your car, or any other, is an accident waiting to happen.
You should be in the habit of checking the oil level every 2-3 tanks of gas.

The car is almost 8 years old now with 110k miles and at some point a vehicle may start to actually use a bit of oil. Maybe your car is one of them.
The extent of any engine issue would depend on if it’s leaking oil or burning it.
In your case, how much you have to worry about depends on how many miles it took to burn those quarts; if it burned it at all.

It’s also possible the oil change facility may have simply erred and not added enough oil. All the more reason to get in the habit of actually inspecting the oil level yourself.

There are 3 things in life you should NEVER do.

  1. Never lick a steak knife.

  2. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.

And the number 1 thing you should NEVER do.

Never Ever use one of those Quick Lube places.