Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

No sign of a leak, & yet no engine oil

Help, please! I own a 2007 Suzuki Grand Vitara, V6, about 104,000 miles. My mechanic recommended the annual oil change in December 2015. My vehicle started making a loud tapping noise July 2016, so I took it to a mechanic. My mechanic discovered my car had no engine oil and there’s no evidence of a leak. I have to replenish the engine oil every three weeks. My mechanic recommends I replace the PVC Valve; I’m unsure if the issue is the PVC Valve or oil compatability issue. Oh I must also mention (not sure if it’s related) when driving or parked and my a/c is running, the a/c intermittently blows out hot air…I can hear the transition like another vent suddenly opens up.

Thanks so much for reviewing this, and I look forward to your response.

If there is no evidence of a leak you may simply be burning oil due to a worn engine which may be due to worn piston rings. It may be time for a compression test.


Let me ask some blunt questions . . .

Did you have the oil changed in December 2015?

Yes or no?

Clearly you are NOT checking the engine oil level at all

That is solely your own fault, every owners manual instructs you to check the oil level periodically, and correct as needed

IMO your engine is already damaged

No offense, but at this point, I would be more worried about the engine, versus the air conditioning

Sorry if you don’t like my abruptness, but you asked for opinions, advice, and input, and you got them

1 Like

How much oil do you have to add in three weeks and how many miles do you drive in that time?

The PCV valve can lead to oil consumption, so replacing that sounds sensible to me. I don’t know what you mean by “oil compatibility”.

As db4690 correctly points out, given the noise that you heard, you’ve done some damage to this engine by not bothering to keep the oil at the proper level. Although the engine might still run for a long time, it might also die soon, so you need to keep that in mind before making any expensive repairs to the car (such as to the A/C).

As for the A/C issue, your best bet is to take that to a good local A/C shop for a diagnosis.

1 Like

Oil level IMHO should be checked at least every 1000 miles.
The Owners Manual is probably more conservative, recommending a check every time you get gas.
Assuming you’ve had this vehicle since new, you drive about 10,000 miles a year. 10,000 miles per annual oil change.
When the engine was young it maybe didn’t use more than a qt of oil in those 10,000 miles.
As the engine aged it used more.
Running substantially low on oil makes the oil hotter, dirtier and less protective, leading to more engine wear and oil consumption. It’s a vicious circle.


+1 to @circuitsmith, you should have been checking the oil on a regular basis. You state that you have to replenish the oil every three weeks, did this start after the tapping noise? If it did you have ruined your engine. The tapping noise was metal to metal noise from the engine because there was no oil to lubricate the parts. The PCV valve is not the problem, oil compatibility is not the problem, lack of oil was the problem.

1 Like

Did your oil light come on? If it did, the damage to the engine will be serious, the longer it was on, the more serious.

If your engine has hydraulic tappets (lifters), the noise could have been one or more of them sticking or collapsing due to very dirty oil or low oil pressure. If adding oil made the sound go away, less damage was done, assuming no oil light on the dashboard.

But, there is a lesson to be learned here. 104k miles in 9 years is almost 12k per year. An annual oil change is not enough. You should have been getting the oil changed semi-annually if using conventional oil, every 9 months if using synthetic.

You have been doing long term damage to the engine. The low oil this year did not do all the damage. It has been building up.

In addition to not changing frequently enough, not checking the oil level periodically has also contributed to the damage. If you checked it monthly, you probably would have see the oil level dropping between oil changes in previous years. Never letting it get more than a quart low previously would have helped this engine last longer.

If you keep checking the oil level weekly from now on and getting semi-annual oil changes could help you get a few more years out of this engine. I would also get a new PCV valve simply because they are cheap and a new one may help reduce pressure in the crankcase which might help reduce the rate of oil loss.

You may also have some oil leakage. Just because you don’t see oil on the ground doesn’t mean that it isn’t leaking. A good mechanic should be able to find any leaks, there are signs besides drops on the ground.

Learn from this vehicle and don’t make the same mistakes on your next one. Also don’t forget that the cooling system and the transmission need periodic service too. Check your owners manual.


If you went five months without ever checking your oil, and you do this often, and you’re only changing your oil once a year, than your engine is probably prematurely worn out. Keith has given good advice, so I won’t bore you by repeating it.

1 Like

Thanks so much Keith! Since I purchased my car in 2008 and prior to December 2015 “annual oil change” switch, I kept a strict 2-3 months oil change schedule. However, my mechanic convinced me that a high synthetic, annual oil change was better for an aging engine and he had no customer complaints. I won’t do that again for sure!!

Luckily, the engine light never came on, and yes, the tapping noise stopped once I added regular oil. The transmission and cooling were both serviced recently. I will proceed with replacing the PCV valve, finding a new mechanic, and back to my original 2-3 months oil change cycle. I will now begin doing a monthly level check!

I truly appreciate your help, and thanks again Keith!

I don’t understand your response. Why do you believe the oil can’t be checked in between changes?

1 Like

@Kiskya305, if you had shared you maintenance history with us a little sooner, we wouldn’t have been quite so harsh. I personally think that a 2-3 month oil change is a bit of overkill, but it has never hurt an engine as much as annual oil changes have. I do not understand why your mechanic would have recommended that.

I think that you can squeeze some more life out of this engine if you keep a eye on the oil level and go back to what worked for you before. A quart every three weeks is about 15 qts per year. At $3.50-4.00/qt, that is only $50-60 per year, much cheaper than a new car or even an overhaul of the current engine.

I still think that you have a leak as well and if it turns out to be one that can be fixed cheaply, then I’d say do it. If it is a expensive repair, then the oil is cheaper.

BTW, if this vehicle has a timing belt that is coming due for service, many otherwise expensive oil seals can be replaced for only a very small additional cost when included with the timing belt service.

1 Like

@lion9car, Where did you get that from?

I suspect there are communication problems here. I think the mechanic was talking about synthetic High Mileage oil and possibly to the amount of driving suggested once a year changes.

I would advice the OP to check oil at least weekly and keep track of how much oil is added in how many miles.


@VOLVO_V70, I’m sure there is some communication issues here. @Kiskya305, synthetic high mileage oil is synthetic oil formulated for engines with over 75k miles on them.

I believe your owners manual recommends oil changes every 6 months or 5k with conventional oil but may allow a 6 month/7500 mile interval if you use synthetic oil. It does not matter if the synthetic oil is designated high mileage or not. Note: they still recommend 6 months in either case. You will need to check your owners manual to either verify or correct me on this.

I am assuming that you are driving about 11k miles per year and that is why I don’t understand why your mechanic came up with the annual oil change.

If your mechanic has been a pretty good mechanic for you up till now, I think you should have a talk with him before you find another mechanic. He may just need a clearer understanding of what you expect in a mechanic. And of course, if you need additional information or want a second opinion, we are always here.

1 Like

Your mechanic is an idiot. Find a new mechanic.
Sorry to be so blunt.

1 Like


If I had an engine that had been abused as badly as this engine has been, I would be checking the oil every 2 or 3 days until I had a very good idea of just how much oil it is consuming–and how rapidly it is consuming it–at this point.

If you insist on waiting one month to check the oil level, I predict that the engine will be dead before you get to the one month point.


OP already said that would be done.

True. But the point deserves emphasis.

VDC is correct, and that point also needs emphasis.

You need to check the oil level much more frequently than monthly. Do this at least weekly

And, yes, your engine is probably damaged now. Running an engine without oil even for a minute will damage it.

1 Like

When you say no oil, you must mean no oil reaches the dipstick. That’s much different; if it were truly the former, the engine would have seized or otherwise tossed its cookies in a matter of a few minutes, at most. If the low oil pressure light never came on, it should be determined whether the light is working properly. If it is, you have probably dodged a bullet, and the engine may be okay.