Possible oil leak

After checking my oil I found it was down about a quart (at the low end of the H/L on the dipstick). And knowing that this was likely a result of either the engine burning oil or a slow leak (it’s been about 2000 miles / 5 months since the last oil chance) I checked around the engine particularly around the nozzle on top of the engine next to the oil fill point (whatever it’s called) and noticed it was a little moist with oil. (I had wiped it down with a paper towel a day or so ago since I knew it could be a possible leak point, and I noticed this when I was adding the oil.)

Anyway, this indicates that it may be a leak site to me. My initial thoughts were that my car was burning oil, but some research on this site indicated that it doesn’t have the kind of mileage on it that would go along with such a problem. (FYI, my car has about 98000 miles on it.)

Any information/thoughts on how to verify this or correct the problem myself? Or is this something I should get a mechanic to look at?

I should also note that when I got my last oil change they told me that my oil was low (around a quart I think), which mean it’s been losing oil like this for at least 9 months. Unfortunately, I don’t regularly check my oil level myself, but I suppose that’s going to have change.

“Unfortunately, I don’t regularly check my oil level myself, but I suppose that’s going to have change.”

Only if you want to keep the engine from self-destructing, due to a low oil level !

Seriously, however, one of the first things to check is the condition of the PCV valve.
This inexpensive (probably around $5.00) part can lead to high oil consumption if it is clogged.

A clogged PCV can also lead to oil residue around the oil filler (the “nozzle”???), and can actually lead to leaking gaskets–all due to excess pressure building up in the crankcase.

In addition to having the PCV cleaned/replaced, you REALLY need to get into the habit of checking the oil at least every couple of weeks. And, you need to change the oil on the schedule listed in the Owner’s Manual/Maintenance Schedule.

Five months may be too long for your type of driving. A car that only accumulates 2,000 miles in 5 months should be maintained according to the Severe Service maintenance schedule, simply because that type of driving is considered to be severe service for the car. That usually means changing the oil at least every 3 months.

Thanks for the reply.

So how exactly do I determine if the PCV value should be replaced? Based on my records I got it replaced previously a bit less than 2 years and around 15000 miles ago.

However, if I should have been changing my oil more often, I suppose that might lead to it fouling up quicker?

As for my driving habits, I’m a graduate student, so during school months, I typically only drive once or twice a week to pick up groceries and the like. I put the real mileage on during the summer or when I travel during breaks. (Meaning that about 1600 miles of the previously mentioned 2000 was done on the highway, if it makes any difference.)


one quart low isn’t great, but it’s also not terrible for the engine. It’s quite possible that a quart of oil is simply being consumed in the combustion process (getting past the rings and valve stem seals). To be honest this is not a lot to have lost.

All engines-even only the recently broken in- consume some oil; it’s impossible for there to be no loss at all. Another note: oil also dilutes itself with combustion by-products like acids, hydrocarbons, and moisture; this tends to accumulate on shorter trips, only to be burned off by prolonged heat on a highway drive. This can make oil level a little more difficult to gauge.

Not to make you worry, I think it’s probably fine.

I reiterate from the other posters…just check your oil occasionally (like every 1k) a PCV valve should make a rattling sound when removed from it’s fitting and shaken.

Good luck.