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Prius needed 4 quarts of oil

Where does the oil go? No evidence anywhere on the ground.

Your car’s engine is either leaking oil or burning it. Running an engine that low on oil WILL cause some damage. You can run an oil pressure test and a compression test. That’s the only options for checking anything that do not require tearing into the engine.

You MUST get into the habit of checking the motor oil level on a regular basis instead of relying on the Automotive Gods to keep everything constant.

You need to avoid that dealer. What the service writer or manager told you about the light being a catchall is bunk. When the oil pressure light comes on that means there is Zero or near Zero oil pressure and damage is present to some degree.
Considering this has been going on for a while I wouldn’t be too optimistic.
Most service writers or manager know little to nothing about automotive mechanical things. Do not rely on anything they ever tell you.


You need to check the engine oil level periodically . . . perhaps every 2 weeks, or at least once a month

It sounds like you don’t do that

It sounds like the hood stays closed in between visits to the dealership and/or shop

And before you start accusing me of having a bad attitude . . .

Car owner manuals clearly state that you need to check the engine oil level, and top off as needed

Having said all that, somebody needs to connect a mechanical oil pressure gauge to the engine

Please report back with the measurements, both at idle and at, say, 2000rpm


Oil pressure light? Tire pressure light? Dome light? Porch light?

I suspect that you saw the red triangle illuminated, that is a general warning to get your attention to a specific warning light that is on. The red triangle might be considered a “catch all”.

I am curious as to what the repair order read, if one was written up. If the drive way attendant saw no warning lights on, perhaps he thought you were experiencing a low washer fluid light or tire pressure light and you could return when it was more convenient for you.

There is a known oil consumption issue on certain model year Prius vehicles that involves replacing the pistons and rings but no warranty extension that I can see at this time.

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It still runs.

Is your Prius still under warranty? we don’t know the year and milage of your vehicule.

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NO, it’s your job to check the oil.

You should have checked the dipstick after each quart.

Yes it is, it means HEY DUMMY CHECK YOUR OIL

You still haven’t checked it?

You really need to be checking your oil more often to keep the HEY DUMMY light from coming on.

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And none of them were asked why the light ( what ever light this may be ) came on during turns or told you to check oil level on a regular basis ?

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I’ve never heard of a “dummy light” on a Prius. Which light, exactly, was the one that lit?

How many miles since the oil change?

And what year and how many miles are on your Prius.

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So, to sum up, you ignored your car until it screamed at you there was something wrong, you then apparently threw a whole bunch of oil in it without checking whether it rally needed that much, then you want to pin the whole thing on the dealer?

Sorry, but no. Just no.


This is a known problem with certain Prius cars of certain years. This story posted to CarTalk may be of help to you. Unlike some models, the Prius had this issue with a relatiely narrow number of years. The advice offered by the other respondents seems pretty good to me. Begin to be a bit more involved and pay closer attention to the issue and it may resolve in a way that isn’t painful. Good luck!

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That means you probably should’ve stopped as soon as practical and checked the oil



Possible, but unlikely.

Yes, either burning it, but more likely leaking it. If it were burning that much, the resulting blue/black smoke out the tailpipe would be telling.

The more import question would be why didn’t you check your dipstick when you noticed the low oil pressure light come ? You had more than ample time. It could be that your dealership is incompetent or you talked to service advisor and not an actual mechanic.

Very possible, you would probably want a compression test done.

LOL, no the owner is responsible. As the low oil pressure light had been coming on for literally weeks before you did anything about it. I’d see about finding a leak if there is one, if the engine is consuming the oil, then the engine is likely on the way out, and you’ll have to make the call on what to do next.


While several people are taking the OP to task for overfilling the oil, that’s not how I’m reading it. They bought more oil than they needed and stopped filling at four quarts, presumably because they were checking the level while they filled it. If it took four quarts then the level was likely lower than the bottom of the dipstick at the start.

Yes, the oil should have been checked regularly. Not much to do now but monitor the oil level and hope the engine wear isn’t extreme yet. It might be.

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To try to put this into human terms, the OP should ask herself this question:
If a man ignored chest pains and shortness of breath for a few weeks, and then died of a coronary shortly after finally going to his doctor’s office, would the doctor be responsible for the man’s death?
Hopefully the OP knows the correct answer…


Your owner’s manual has a section on “owner’s responsibility” and checking oil regularly is one of them, not the dealer’s responsibility.

So any damage incurred by letting the oil drop 4 quarts is one of them; NOT the dealer’s responsibility!

If you bring it in with the light on, however, the dealer should investigate the problem, and not just send you away.

If the oil light comes on when turning a corner the level is so low that the oil pump is picking up air.

If the engine still runs well after replenishing the oil, you have about 50% wear incurred, which on a Toyota may be 100,000+ miles or so. If it does not run well serious engine damage has been done and an engine tear down is needed. Budget at least $4000 for that.

Toyota is very strict with its dealers, and you should report it to them that the dealer gave you the “sunshine” treatment, if that is actually the case as you told us.

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Here’s what I would do.

Go get the oil changed today. That way you know it’s right, there’s enough in there, etc.

Then go to another mechanic, get them to check for any leaks and check/verify the oil pressure is correct.

Then, at that point… you’ll have some facts with which to proceed forward.

I check my oil in the mechanic’s lot, probably within his view, right before I leave after a service visit. Stuff happens, and it’s my responsibility as the car owner.

Just my two cents. Good luck.


tech at dealer left the oil cap off of valve cover and i drove home. smelled oily odor at home. motor was somewhat oily now. dealer came and towed/flat bedded car back to shop and put cap back on. all is well. car is gone. it was leased car and i had 1 oil change done at dealer. i did the rest

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There are a dozen different warning lights, which one is the “dummy light”? Is there a silhouette of a dummy?

The driveway assistants fill tires and add washer fluid for customers with warning lights on, maybe if you or your husband were more specific about which light that had illuminated someone would have shown you where the engine oil dipstick is located.


Being as the engine was near out of oil and the lamp was illuminating while cornering that points to a lack of oil pressure light due to oil sloshing away from the oil pump pickup tube.

You don’t have a case against the dealer. However, the person at the dealer (presumably a service writer) is a moron and which is not unheard of for that particular species of creature.

If you catch a problem like this and handle it promptly quite often there will be no serious damage. Hopefully.
Seeing a show this seemed to be a chronic problem that went on for a while the odds of engine damage are high.
The engine may run fine, It may sound fine. For now…


My question is one that has been asked earlier and I don’t see an answer. It is a critical question in helping you get the answer you need. _Exactly which light came on?___ Was it the red oil lamp or the yellow oil lamp with the wavy lines below it? The red one is the oil pressure light and it is the most important of the two. The yellow light is the oil level light and it is just a warning that the oil is a quart or two low.

The dealer does not hold responsibility, that is on you. However, the person at the dealer who gave you bad advice did you a disservice. If you don’t report this to the general manager or owner of the dealership, then you are doing them a disservice as well. I would recommend that you go into the front door of the dealership, not the service department and ask to speak with the general manager or owner. Without making demands for anything, tell him/her what happened and that you are disappointed that you didn’t get better service.

This will give them feedback and the manager/owner may want to hold someone accountable. You probably won’t get any recourse other than maybe a free oil change or something. See what happens.