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

Oil level rising suddenly?

The dealer changed my oil last time and I checked it a few months ago and it was right at the top dot in the dipstick. I checked it again now and it is at a higher level, above the top dot by maybe about a quarter inch. The car is a 2011 honda accord with 15,000 miles on it. What’s going on?

Did you check it both times when the oil was hot? Or one time cold and the other hot? Checking while cold will show a bit lower than hot. Same for checking on a flat surface. It doesn’t take much slope to change oil level 1/4 inch. Check it a few more times both cold and hot in the same spot over a week or so.

If it keeps rising, you may have a gasket failing letting coolant into the oil pan… and that is bad. Caught early, you can save the engine. Let go and it may destroy the bearings.

( I checked it a few months ago )

Not good. Oil should be checked at the very least twice a month. The manual will probably say every fill up of fuel. Going to long is just asking for trouble.

Sounds like you’re putting very few miles on the car. This could result in the engine not fully warming up, and condensation/gasoline (from blowby) collecting in the oil. I’d take it out for a one hour drive on the free way, then check it again.

1 Like

Agree; condensation and raw gasoline will raise the dipstick level over a period of short trips where the engine does not warm up.

After a vigorous long drive OP may find the level back to normal, There are many posts in the past about the “mysteriously disappearing oil” that these drivers experienced, especially when cars had carburetors with chokes.

If a gasket failed would I see coolant on the driveway or a lower coolant level in the radiator?

Not likely you’d see coolant in the driveway as the leak would be into the oil. You would see a drop in coolant level in the radiator but it would be slower than the buildup in the oil. More coolant than oil… Enough coolant in the oil and it looks like chocolate milkshake complete with foam. You are well and truly knackered if you get to that point.

1 Like

Pull the dip stick and smell it. If you smell gasoline do not start the engine until the oil is changed.

Would the gasket be in the engine or the radiator? Would it be covered by honda’s 5 yr powertrain warranty? I was planning on changing the oil myself this time but maybe I should go to the dealer and have him change the oil to see if there is a problem. As part of the warranty can the dealer charge me to see if there is a gasket leak if I change my own oil?

It would be the head gasket, in the engine, and would be covered by the warranty. I will be very surprised if that is the problem, though. Your engine is almost new.

Perhaps the easiest way to confirm it’s not the head gasket is to take it to the dealer and have them drain and catch the old oil. Any leaked coolant would be in there, it would be obvious.

I bought my car in march of 2011, so wouldn’t it be out of warranty by a few months or would they honor it anyway?

Oh, sounds like it is just out of warranty. They might honor it, just depends. But I REALLY doubt you have a bad head gasket.

Besides catching and examining the oil, a pressure test on the cooling system would also show if there’s a coolant leak.

Yup, you are past the 5 years. Stop wondering and start checking all the stuff we’ve suggested here yourself as a start.

No sense worrying about warranty coverage, or a “good faith” repair for a blown head gaskets or the like until you determine 1) Is the oil level rising? and 2) Is coolant being lost and 3) Does the oil look like a milkshake.

“Suddenly” is hard to determine when you only check the oil every “few months.”

You have some good advice in here. start there, and for now anyway- stop worrying so much until you get some facts.

I just checked the oil again now, it has a burnt odor to it but not strong like gasoline. When I remove the cap and stick my finger in the oil it is a light brown but not milkshake color and doesn’t look milky to me. When I check the dipstick it is a dark brown or light black.

I checked the coolant and it is below the min mark. There is just a little left at the bottom on the clear tank.

When did you last check? What was the level?

To be honest I never checked it before. I just got into fixing cars recently and before that the dealer claimed to check all my fluid at every oil change.

If the coolant level is low does that mean for sure it is leaking into the oil? I haven’t seen any on my driveway. Can it evaporate?

Stop messing around and guessing. Find an independent shop and pay them $100 to $125 for cooling system pressure test and looking at oil and all other fluids and you will have your answers.