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No oil pressure-sick engine sound

I know that this is bad, but I’d like a better idea of what I am facing. My VW Passat '01 which I have owned for 4 years has lost pressure several times, but in an inconsistent manner. There have been very long gaps between times when I have gotten a warning light & sound out of the car. More often than not the warning will go away overnight or even within the time I am driving. ( that is, if I do not STOP as the car tells me)

There is no apparent leak in the system. I am OK about oil changes, but certainly keep an eye on oil level. Most recently, 20 minutes after adding a precautionary quart of oil, I lost pressure and heard a sick clacking sound coming from the engine, thus it is in the shop. The man behind the counter tells me that this is common with these engines. It needs to be fixed, but I need a better understanding of all things engine.

Any thoughts?

The part I question is “OK about oil changes”. What does that mean???

From a recent post this engine seems to be a candidate for sludge. This can easily be caused if the oil is NOT changed regularly. That is my first thought on the problem. The fix is a new/rebuilt/used engine. Cost - THOUSANDS…depending on what route you take. Even a used engine is going to cost you at least $2k. If the problem is sludge related then I suggest you take better care of your car. Oil changes are critical.

Agreed with Mike. Maybe sludge is caking the oil pump pickup shut. An oil pressure check with an external gauge may help determine this.

To Mike’s excellent advice, I will add that, if this situation had been investigated the first time that you saw a warning light and heard a warning chime, the damage might have been lessened. Just for future reference, when a car’s warning systems give an indication that oil pressure is low, the only appropriate action to take is to immediately steer to the shoulder of the road or some other safe location, shut down the engine, and have the car towed to a competent mechanic.

Ignoring warnings of low oil pressure is the automotive equivalent of the person who loses strength, or vision, or balance temporarily, but ignores this sign of a stroke simply because he/she regains strength/vision/balance in a few minutes. The second stroke will undoubtedly cause more damage than the first one. The third stroke will likely be fatal.

With cars, just as with people, proper care is vital, as is the necessity of NOT ignoring warning signs. Like Mike, I suspect that this car has not had its oil changed as often as it should be, and I also suspect that the type of oil specified by VW might not have been used, with engine sludging being the result.

Engine sludge is the automotive equivalent of serum cholesterol in a person. When cholesterol builds up to a certain point, the flow of blood is interrrupted, leading to stroke, or a coronary incident. In a car, sludge build-up leads to loss of oil pressure, and damage to the main bearings and other friction surfaces in the engine is the result. Both situations are frequently avoidable if proper steps are taken.

However, whether your car’s problems were caused by sludge build-up or not, failure to investigate the problem when you first received a warning was a very expensive mistake on your part.

Engine sludge is the automotive equivalent of serum cholesterol in a person.

With the exception that sludge can be cleaned out BEFORE any major problems occur…

Well, actually, if someone takes statin medications, adjusts his diet, loses weight, exercises regularly, and makes other appropriate lifestyle changes, it is possible to reduce the amount of placque in one’s arteries. And, there are also surgical interventions that can clear certain areas of arterial plaque before a stroke or a coronary event takes place. But, as we all know, it is better to prevent a problem, rather than trying to fix it after symptoms occur.

I will guess you have the 1.8T engine. VW was not strong enough to state the engine requires synthetic motor oil every 5000 miles. Due to a design flaw in the engine due to the oil pan configuration this engine sludges oil very easily especially with lax oil changes(maybe previous owner). Also VW only stated oil meet some # spec and did not directly reveal this engine requires synthetic they extended the warranty against sludging for 8 years, contact your local VW dealer and see what transpires.

NEVER ignore an oil light especially if coupled to engine noises. Do your basic checks, however a mechanic typically will put a mechanical guage on the engine and check pressure. Next they will likely pull your valve cover and may find a sludgy mess plugging up your car.

Good luck…