Oil Light

My 95 Plymouth Acclaim (2.5L engine) has been losing oil. I had just had some leaks repaired, but I still lose about a couple of quarts a week. It’s not smoking or anything that I can tell.

Yesterday, as I left work, I stopped at a gas station and filled up the tank, and checked the oil, it was full. So I drove home (almost an hour drive). When I got off the freeway, I stopped at a red light, I notice the oil light was flickering and the car was running rough. It stalled, so I pulled over into a parking lot and it stalled again. I checked the dipstick and it was still full. When I restarted the engine, I noticed the the car seemed to be running on three cylinders. So I drove it home like that. I’m planning to change the plugs this weekend, but I expect to find one fouled plug. You think maybe I have a bad ring?

I also notice that my valve cover has a loose bolt and one missing.

Get the oil pressure checked and possibly a compression test for each cylinder. I suspect a failing oil pump, but if you think you are firing on three cylinders, get the compression check and change plugs at the same time.

How many miles are on the car?

A worn out engine couls cause both a cylinder passing oil and low oil pressure. The pressure comes from the pump pushing oil through small channels and orafices creating pressurized oil barriers between surfaces. It the surfaces wear too much (especially the crankshaft bearing surfaces) the oil flows through too easily and the pump can’t maintain pressure. It’s sort of like trying to blow up a balloon that has a pinhole in the end…you can’t maintain any pressure.

Let us know what the plugs look like. I’m curious.

Oh, and blowby pressurizing the crankcase (also a worn out engine) could also cause those oil leaks. The pressure forces oil past long-compressed gaskets and worn/shrunken old seals.

I just replaced the plugs today. They show equal amounts of discoloration (slightly burned), but nothing else. I noticed when pulling off the wires that one of them seemed to not be connected on the plug properly. I also added half a quart of oil. It now runs on all four with no oil light. I didn’t drive it around yet, I just let it run idle in the driveway. There is excess noise, though.

The oil light probably came on due to the rough (and slow) running caused by the plug wire being slightly pulled off. You have to have some RPM for the pump to be able to generate proper pressure. Fear not. You just fixed that part of it. NOW replace the missing cam cover bolt, and give the rest of them a little tightening. That MAY fix your consumption problem.

NOTE: The oil light should never be used as an indicator of oil level. By the time your oil is low enough for it to come on you’ve already dome some damage.

I’m afraid it’s worse than that. I tried to drive it yesterday morning. When I put it in gear, the car ran rough like on 3 cylinders again, and it is noisier than usual. Driving 30 to 40 miles to and from work tha past few times may have taken it’s toll.

I think it’s time for a mechanic engine diagnosis and a compression check. Running rough is not good, and it is still possible you have some internal damage that has now come to light.