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Oil level

I recently took a 700 mile trip in my sonata and I checked the oil after it sitting over night and the oil level is at about Half. Can I make this same journey home with the level like that? Also, I checked it before I left and it was full. Is it normal for it to do this after a long trip like this? Could altitude be a factor? I checked it in Yuma, az (FULL). And I am now in Salt Lake City Utah. (Half full). Thanks in advance!

I assume you mean the oil level is halfway between the low and full marks on the dipstick. That means your about a half quart low, which is OK. If you had truly lost half your oil, it wouldn’t even show on the dipstick and no way would you continue driving until you filled it back up.

If it is only a half quart down, you can return home OK but you will find that it will be a little below the low mark when you get home. If you have a 4 quart capacity, you are now circulating only 3.5 quarts which means the oil circulates more often, picking up more heat from the engine and having less time in the pan to radiate it away, so it will be a little hotter and burn off at a slightly higher rate.

I’d recommend that you check the oil level at each gas stop and when you get down to the low mark, then add a quart. Buy the oil now so you will have the oil with you when you need it, it will be less expensive that way and you will have the oil brand and type you usually use instead of having to use whatever is available when you need it.

Altitude not a factor. Some volatiles can come out of the oil on a long trip after around-town driving…not unusual. Best to top it off before returning.

Go buy a quart of oil and pour half of it in the crankcase. It is not unusual for a car to consume a little oil on a road trip. The car was probably driven around town on short hops with the engine cold. The oil becomes somewhat diluted with unburned gasoline which lowers the viscosity of the oil and causes it to burn off more quickly when the engine gets up to operating temperature on the highway. Add a pint and drive on. Keep the extra pint for the car or use it in your lawnmower.

It really bothers me a little bit because this car is fairly new. Has 17,600 miles. Is this normal with any car? @Triedaq @keith

OP: are you sure the car was on level ground for both measurements?

“Normal” varies with manufacturer and model. Most cars burn a small amount, perhaps 1/2 qt between oil change. But a few are higher, as much as a qt per 500 miles, or even more. Some manufacturers define that as normal and you are stuck. Some will investigate if the car is still in warrantee.

To clarify that, the manufacturing tolerances create a distribution of oil usage, with the greater majority using small amounts, but a few much more.

It was flat when it read full. But it didn’t come to my attention that it is at a very small incline on the drive way. I will park it flat and check it tomorrow morning. @BillRussell

If you have driven the car 17,600 miles and have not had an oil consumption issue, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over this. Go to the nearest discount store, buy a quart of oil of the viscosity specified for your car, pour in half the quart and drive on. Keep tabs on the oil, but I would bet that you don’t have a problem. I had to add a quart of oil to my 2011 Sienna once between changes. It never happened before and it hasn’t happened since. We had had some below zero weather and had made a 700 mile trip.

Let me see if I have this situation understood.

  1. Person checks oil level 2. Level reads below full mark 3. Instead of purchasing a quart of oil and using enough to bring level back to full and putting rest in trunk for future use person goes on line to ask complete strangers what they should do.

OK, I got it.

Pretty sure I didn’t ask anyone what to do. Hahaha @“VOLVO V70”

Well on our 2012 Acura, it hadn’t reached 5000 miles for the first oil change and we had driven to Ohio and then Michigan. I checked the oil and it was 1/2 quart down. I stopped by an Acura dealer and bought a quart and put 1/2 of it in and the other half in the trunk. Never used any oil after that but I didn’t like driving from Michigan to Minnesota with 1/2 quart down on the break in oil. Do what you want, just what I did, and don’t be so quick with the “off topic” button.

As mentioned, you 1st have to make sure you have measured it under similar conditions (cold engine, flat surface, etc). Elevation is not going to affect it much. If it was my car and I was sure I am low half a quart, I would fill up to full and then start my trip back, but I understand this is not what you are asking.
You are probably going to be fine without filling it too, but the key here is the “probably”. You will have to check the oil during the trip to make sure it does not go bellow the low mark, you also need to have some oil to top it off if needed. That means, you still have to go out and buy some engine oil. So unless you don’t have access to the proper engine oil, I do not see why you would not fill it to full before you start the trip.

BTW, while road trips are generally easier on the oil, it is not uncommon for an engine to use a little more oil than normal during sustained high speed driving. Part of it is because the oil runs a little hotter and therefore is a little thinner. But that is not a big concern.

I for one do not generally add a half quart of oil. I usually add oil when it reaches the low mark and I add the whole quart at once. But there is nothing wrong with add a half quart at a time.

I never go very far from home without an extra quart, even with a vehicle that does not use oil. I also like to have a gallon of distilled water, good for any number of emergencies, and a roll of toilet paper. These are things that are better to have and not need than need and not have.

If this were my car, I’d fill it up before the trip home.

Ok so is it normal for a car this new to burn this much oil? I feel like I shouldn’t have to worry about these kinds of things on a newer car. @keith @galant

This is normal for Hyudai/Kia, Subaru and a few others.Owners of these vehicles have been reporting the need for adding oil. Some vehicles consume no measurable amount of oil between oil changes, this doesn’t mean vehicles that need oil added are defective, different engines have different characteristics. I own two cars that consume a quart of oil every 1500 miles and that hasn’t changed on one of them for the last 120,000 miles.

Should your engine consume and amount of oil that is greater than the warrant threshold you may be eligible for a warranty repair but right now you have no real problem.

1400 miles per quart isn’t all that unusual for newer cars. The manufacturers are trying to provide cars with higher and higher mpg ratings, and one way to do that is to reduce friction in the engine. One downside of lower friction can be higher oil consumption. My early 90’s Corolla uses about a quart of oil in 5000 miles, but a quart in 1500 miles for newer cars like yours is probably within the normal range. You know now that you need to check the oil level frequently, at least every 1000 miles, and top it off when needed between oil changes. I doubt your long trip had anything to do with this. Good for you for checking your oil at the midway point in Salt Lake City instead of waiting to do it after you returned to Arizona. If you have time, be sure to take a look at that pipe organ they have there in downtown near to that big temple building.

I’m not gonna top it off. I wanna see how much lower its gonna get. And if it gets to the low line I’m taking it in. I don’t think this should be happening.

My son’s new BMW used a quart on the 800 miles coming home. I had to go to the BMW dealer to get some oil so he could leave again. So some do, some don’t use oil, and some just when they are getting broken in. Either way a quart every 1000 or so is no big thing. The important part is knowing your car so that you check the oil in time.

You can take the car to a dealer for a quart of oil but they will likely charge you for it.

The dealer may offer to begin an oil consumption test but if you know the oil consumption is less than the amount listed as acceptable in your owners manual you are wasting your time.