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Oil dip stick

my daughter has a 2004 nissian altima w/a3.5 V-6 engine,when you try to check the engine oil level one side of the dip stick shows it full and the otherside shows it almost empty[crosshiar side does anybody know any thing about this could it be the wrong dipstick for the engine . She just bought this car in the fall

Has the engine been off for a few minutes, the car parked on a flat area and the dipstick removed and checked then wiped replacing it and removing it again? (Note: it you are checking it first thing in the morning you can just remove it and will likely get the most accurate reading. How often has the oil been checked?

It would seem improbable it was the wrong dipstick. The engine should not be running when checking the oil and it should be done on a relatively level surface. To be sure wipe it clean and try again, if the first reading is unclear.

I’m glad I’m not the only one who has this problem. I have a Subaru that has the hardest-to-read dipstick I’ve ever encountered.

It’s not the wrong dipstick. Mine or yours.

All I can say is keep wiping, keep checking, and be patient. Pull the dipstick, wipe it clean, and push it back in. WAIT a few seconds, then pull it out and see what it says.

I know, one side says one thing, and the other side says something else. Annoying, isn’t it? I wish I could explain why this happens, but I can’t. Seems to me the dipstick should read the same on both sides, and every dipstick I’ve ever looked at, until this one, has done just that.

Eventually you, or your daughter, will learn to interpret the dipstick reading(s).

What helped me was checking the dipstick MULTIPLE times after I had recently done an oil change and filled the engine with the correct amount of oil.

Have you looked in your owner’s manual for clarification?

Please clarify: is the oil “level” vastly different on the two sides, or is the oil level/mark the same, but the engravings are much different? In the first case, the “full” side probably picked up some oil while you slid it into its tube, and the “true” reading is the low one. If the dipstick is a “V” cross section, read the inside of the “V” – it’s less likely to have scraped some oil off the side of the tube. In the second case, wipe the dipstick clean and flip it over and over until you understand what the markings on each side correspond to. The crosshatching generally covers the range between “down a quart” and “full”, so go by that. Finally, fresh oil can be very difficult to see against the dipstick – try different lighting conditions. Older oil will darken and be easy to see.

While I know some people can’t stand to go to a dealer for anything, they really can be a great source of information. Just swing by the local dealer and ask the service manager. They have probably run across it with this model before and can give an accurate answer. They like people that care for their cars and could be potential customers. I had an Olds that still showed a quart low after adding the correct oil capacity. A quick stop at the dealer took care of it.

My wife drives a 2002 Mazda MPV and I have a similar problem when checking the oil in her car. When you pull the dip stick out, it is the same on both sides, but it’s never clear where the oil level is. Usually, you will see a diagonal line of oil across the dipstick. Very frustrating.

This is common on many different vehicles, why? maybe the angle the stick goes in,the why is not my point, What I want to comment on is how many people go ballastic when the stick reads like the OP describes,or when the oil level is not exactly where they think it should be,not fair to the tech,we work with what we are given.

We have a 2006 Impreza Outback Sport, and I know the dipstick readability issue all too well. One side (the right side) of the dipstick almost always reads overfull. The left side has a U-shaped residue of oil. As suggested I drained the oil, refilled w/a known quantity of oil, ran the car, and finally checked the level the next morning. I noted the level of the U-shaped residue on the left side of the dipstick and accepted the lower portion of the U as the calibrated actual oil level. It usually takes about 4 insertions to get a repeatable reading. Problem is, now that the car has 70K miles, when I take out the dipstick, the right side reads overfull and the left side scares me, because it doesn’t look like there’s any oil there at all. So do I add more oil and risk overfilling the engine? Or figure the reading is wacko and risk running low on oil?

After Datsuns & Nissans, Corvairs, Chevy vans, a Ford Bronco II, various Triumphs and a Hillman Husky or two, I’ve never had a car where it was so difficult to determine the oil level!!

Subaru engineers, are you listening?