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Oil change : Dip stick : Oil Consumption Test

Hope someone can help, getting frustrated with Dealership.

Oil change: should the Oil dip stick show a full dip stick each and ever time a car goes in for an oil change?

What’s the purpose of the oil change? To add more oil or to replace dirty oil.

I have contacted several dealership and private mechanic shops on what the oil dip stick should look like when
I take Van for an oil change. All establishments said the dip stick should be full, and the person taking the car / van in
for an oil change is there to replace the dirty oil not because the car / van is out of oil.

My situation: I have a 2009 Honda Odyssey 102k miles: from the first time I took my car in for an Oil change to current my Oil dip stick
has never been full, 99% of the time my oil line on the dip stick is right above lowest level even though my Oil life gauge says 50-40% life left.

I have brought this up with the dealership in the past but they keep telling me this is normal for the van, so I did some research, since my
mileage between oil changes is getting worse. From my last oil change my van went less than 4k miles and showed almost no oil, Oil life indicator
showed 50%, i had no choice to take it in for another oil change.

I take the Van in for an oil change and explain the Oil situation again, they review the dip stick and state its within specs after reviewing oil dip stick, and not doing any other test.

Dip stick showed oil line right above lowest level.

They want me to do an Oil Consumption test, is this necessary?

What should I do? Is this normal for a Van

Honda TSBs

My Toyota Owners manual says the oil consumption of 600 miles per quart is not excessive. It would certainly seem excessive to me. Most automakers have a standard of how much oil consumption triggers a repair. I don’t think you are going to meet that standard.

Your obligation as an owner is to check and add oil between changes as needed. Oil should be checked at least monthly, more often If car is burning it.

You are clearly not keeping an eye on your oil level. The oil life computation has absolutely nothing to do with the amount of oil in the crankcase. You do NOT have to bring it in for an oil change every time the oil is low but you DO have to add oil to keep it at the proper level.

The purpose of an oil change is to replace old, contaminated oil. YOU should be adding oil as needed to keep it at the proper level.

They are correct in saying you need to do an “oil consumption test” i.e. track how much oil your engine is burning and/or leaking. You do this by keeping track of how many miles it takes for the dipstick to drop from the full mark to the add-a-quart level.

BTW, why are you going to a dealership? Your van is out of warranty, and your are likely paying more for service than you would at an independent shop.

thank you for the feedback:

my Van has an 8yr 120k bumper/bumper warranty.
Plus dealership offers 12kmiles or 1yr warranty on parts/labor for any repair done on vehicle - due private mechanics offer this?

I do not know why the VAN needs oil between oil changes. Between oil changes the oil should be at the top level of the dip stick.
I should not have to add oil.

I did my own consumption test, the Van starts to really use up oil after 1500 miles. This is how I realized my miles between oil changes is getting worse.

I have another vehicle (2001 Honda) the dip stick is always full between oil changes, even after 8k miles.

I should not have to add oil.

Unfortunately, yes, you do. If it takes 1500 miles to use a quart, it is unlikely Honda will do anything for you unless there is a leak that is covered by your warranty. That is because this is generally considered to be an acceptable rate of oil consumption. You and I would probably beg to differ with them on that, but it’s kind of an industry standard.

Any good shop will give you a similar warranty on repairs. You do not have to go to a dealer to maintain your warranty, BTW.

Oil is changed because it picks up contaminants and gets dirty. The oil level should always be kept at the full mark. The oil life indicator shows the condition of the oil but not the quantity. I check the oil in our vehicles on a weekly basis. This comes from habit. I have owned my own cars for 54 years. My first car used a quart of oil every 250-300 miles. It was 15 years old when I bought it. I.needed transportation, so if was mandatory that I keep the oil level maintained. You can buy the correct oil for your car even at WalMart. It takes very little time and effort to lift that hood, pull the dipstick, and add a,quart if necessary. I even check the oil in my lawnmower engine each time before I mow.

again, thank you for the feed back.

I’m really surprised to hear this is normal for a vehicle, adding oil between oil changes.

Then why are ppl telling me the oil dip stick should be full between oil changes, and if its not then the car is burning oil internally.

Could there be a problem with Piston Rings?

How many miles should I go before changing the oil filter.
Since I will be putting a new quart of oil every 3500 miles.

If this is normal, why should I do an Oil Consumption test?

“I should not have to add oil.”

Whoever told you that is clearly not knowledgeable about cars.

“Then why are ppl telling me the oil dip stick should be full between oil changes.”

Because, by allowing oil to fall to a low level, you can do damage to the engine.

“From my last oil change my van went less than 4k miles and showed almost no oil”

Unfortunately, you may already have caused engine damage by failing to monitor the oil level, and to add oil when necessary.

“They want me to do an Oil Consumption test, is this necessary?”

If that test shows an abnormal rate of oil consumption, it is possible that engine repairs will be provided, gratis, under the terms of the warranty,

Ah, some more information. Oil consumption of a quart per 3500 on an engine with over 100K miles on it isn’t too bad at all.

How many miles should I go before changing the oil filter. Since I will be putting a new quart of oil every 3500 miles.
You again seem to be mixing up keeping the oil full and changing the oil. You can rely on the oil life monitor to tell you when to change the oil and filter, or you can use a mileage/ months schedule as per your owners manual.

To reiterate, it is your responsibility to ensure the proper oil level is maintained, and to keep up with required maintenance. Failure to do so WILL void your warranty and you will be on the hook for anything that happens to your van.

Triedaq: Even though my current and previous vehicle use no oil between changes I still check them weekly (Saturday). Like yourself this comes from habit although I have only owned my own cars for 50 years.

If you are only using a quart of oil every 3500 miles, drive on and quit worrying. I realize that I look at life differently than some of the other posters on this board. As long as I don’t have to a,quarf of oil in less,than 1000 miles,and the engine runs o,k. I don’t worry about it. I suppose in a perfect world, an engine would use no oil between changes, but it isn’t a perfect world. The worst case of oil consumption I ever encountered was on a U-HAUL truck. We were moving to attend graduate school 120 miles,away and to save money, I rented the truck on a return basis. The front bumper had stenciled on it “FOR LOCAL USE ONLY”. When I filled the gas tank to return the truck, it was down 2,quarts of oil. After driving the 120 miles back to turn the truck in, the rental dealer filled the tank and again checked the oil and it was again 2 quarts low. He added two quarts, for the oil I added, shrugged his shoulders and said “I guess this truck uses a little oil”. Now that is real oil consumption!.

Great, thank you for all the quick responses.

Now I have a better understanding of what I should expect from my Van, Oil consumption.

Hopefully you now understand that you need to check the oil level on a regular basis, and add oil when the level indicates it is one quart low.

Some people add 1/2 a quart when the dipstick shows it is down 1/2 a quart, ie, halfway between the two lines. This is a somewhat better practice.

To repeat, the amount of oil you add (or don’t add) has nothing to do with the oil change.

@sgtrock21 I grew up in the country and mh parents didn’t have much money. The cars they purchased were used cars and we,were always,careful to check the oil. We were careful on small engines to monitor the oil level. Even when I was working and had a car from my institution’s fleet, I checked the oil at each gas stop. I didn’t want to be left stranded. However, many in the younger generations don’t think about checking oil. Cars are so troublefree today,that all,rhey do is start the engine and,drive away

I grew up in a similar environment. Not really out in the country but surrounded by it. My small town (which was not technically a town as it was unincorporated) had a population of about 3,000. There was 1 paved street (only because it was a 2 lane blacktop state highway). My parent’s 1/2 acre property which was the equivalent of a city block from “city” center was surrounded on 2 sides by 22 acres of fields. From the age of 4, I “helped” my Father check the oil and other fluids + tire pressure in the family cars every Saturday. I guess that’s why I continue the ritual. I consider myself very fortunate to have been taught financial and even more important personal responsibility.

Our family motto was if my dad could not fix it with his red screwdriver, call a professional. I became fairly handy, If I had an oil usage issue, I would check it more often, bet at 170k miles on the current vehicle the oil is always full. 5k or so on last oil change, no oil life monitor warning, getting it changed next week. Checked it 3 weeks ago befor 500 mile road trip, dirty but full. It is easy to get complacent.

You MUST check your oil periodically, add a quart when it gets to the ‘add’ level. Change the oil when the oil change indicator says to change it. They have nothing to do with each other. If the oil is a half (or 3/4, or whatever) quart low from the ‘full’ mark when you take it in to get the oil changed, no problem.

Oil changes are done to totally replace the oil in the engine with new oil, and to change the oil filter. This should be done somewhere between every 3,000 and 6,000 miles in my opinion, even if the owners manual says you can go longer than that. As long as it done correctly, using the proper oil and filter, changing the oil and filter only helps your car, and never hurts. In fact replacing the oil and filter is probably the single best thing you can do to keep your car running well and lasting a long time.

Immediately after an oil change the dipstick should real “full”. But I think what you are asking is what the oil-fill level should read on the dipstick prior to an oil change. The oil level should never be allowed to go below the “lo” mark on the dipstick. If it gets to the “lo” mark before it is time for an oil change, you must top off the oil by pouring more new oil in, enough to just bring it up to the “full” mark on the dipstick. How often this is required, if ever, between oil and filter changes depends on the specific engine. It’s just the luck of the draw in many cases. Some engines lose a quart of oil every 500 miles, those have to be topped up several times between changes. Some engines use a quart every 7,000 miles and never have to be topped off. There’s no way to predict this as every engine is different, the owner just has to monitor the oil usage by checking the dipstick periodically.

One thing I haven’t seen mentioned , your vehicle needs to be parked in a level area when you check your oil . It’s also easier to get an accurate reading on the dipstick if the vehicle hasn’t been ran for a while . First thing in the morning after it’s sat overnight is a good time .
Pull the dipstick out , wipe it off with a rag , paper towel , etc , put it back in & pull it out again to get a reading of the oil level .

You should get in the habit of checking fluid levels regularly even if it is known for a fact the engine does not use any oil at all between changes.
Many an engine has been damaged or wiped clean out from failure to monitor oil levels.

As for oil consumption, that varies by car and how it is maintained. Engines with extended oil change regimens are more prone to oil consumption than those which are maintained more rigorously.

The oil in my Lincoln gets changed about every 3000 to 3500 miles (yes it also has an oil life monitor…) and even though it just rolled over 265,000 miles I do not have to add oil between changes.
I always carry a spare quart for a just in case situation but that quart of oil has been in the spare tire well for 7 years untouched.

The same goes for my daughter’s 2005 Mustang. She has about 220,000 miles on it and at each oil change the stick always reads FULL before being drained.

I’m in agreement with Sloepoke about the best time to check oil being after the engine has been sitting overnight.