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Sherlock Holmes Mystery II

Greetings Fellow CTs,

Recently I posted about my 2014 Cruze that had a bad oil change where the plug was stripped out and the car lost oil. The Chevy dealer repaired it and the shop that did the original oil change paid for the repair and associated costs right away. All seemed to be good.

This morning when we dropped my daughter off at school my wife and I noticed a smell with the quality of melting or burning plastic. As we were in a long line of cars we thought it was another vehicle. The temp gauge read fine and there were no displays on the console. In the afternoon my wife went back to school to pick my daughter up and smelled the same smell again.

She stopped off at the grocery after picking up our daughter and then went home. When she pulled into the driveway a white mist she says started coming out from under the hood. She turned the car off and opened the hood. There was a slightly larger volume of white mist that came up - more like a fog she said. It dissipated quickly. She noted that she did have the AC on and that some of this mist came through the vents. I did check and the vent mode was set to outside air.

Standing in front of the car with the hood up there is an aluminum plate coming off the engine with a hot “hand” warning on it. She said that it seemed the fog was coming the area to the left of the plate but deeper down. It stopped pretty quickly so she didn’t get a really good look.

My examination revealed the coolant reservoir was at the normal level. However a check of the oil showed nothing on the stick. I repeated the check 3-4 times and still the same result. According to my wife the car sounded fine and ran fine in spite of what happened today. No alarms or displays came up on the console warning of any problems. The temp gauge inside the car read just a bit left of center - where it always operates.

The lack of any warnings/alarms and the temp gauge showing normal has me baffled. Something is obviously wrong but I don’t know what. Is it possible during the repair the dealer somehow disabled the low oil sensor? What about the temp sensor for overheat? At this point I’m hoping we’ll get lucky and it will be something relatively minor but I’m bracing for the worst.

Any thoughts/ideas would be greatly appreciated. You guys are the best.



One of the functions of the oil is engine cooling. If the dipstick showed no oil, there’s a good chance some part or another of the engine overheated and produced steam venting from the cooling system. You’d think it would make the coolant temp gauge on the dash go into overheating mode tho, so that’s curious .

The first thing to do of course is return the oil to the proper level, then figure out where it is going. I expect you monitored for oil on the ground where the car was parked overnight or after a drive, after the oil pan problem was fixed, right? It is possible for there to be no oil on the stick but still enough oil in the engine to prevent major damage. Hopefully, with luck, that’s your situation, and all you have to do is figure where he oil is going. Be forewarned however that you may be looking at an expensive repair if the oil got too low for too many miles. In the meantime suggest to check the dipstick after every time you drive the car, and in the morning before the first drive of the day. If it is more than 1/2 quart low, top it off until you get the problem fixed.

Sounds like there is oil leaking onto the exhaust pipe. If the engine won’t hold oil, have it towed to the shop that replaced the oil pan for inspection.

I’m not familiar with this engine

That said, if an engine oil cooler hose is defective, it can produce what appears to be a mist, and you’ll rapidly lose a large quantity of oil

The best way to verify this is to carefully watch while the engine is idling

I would get this car towed to a shop of your choice, unless the problem is so obvious, that you can fix it yourself

By the way, is this car still under warranty?

I’m pretty sure you don’t have a low oil level sensor, and I don’t know how your low oil pressure sensor can be disabled without turning the warning light on the dash. Check your oil dipstick daily until you know what’s going on.

That appears to be quite likey, but would not be smell of this “mist” be very “oily” ?
I had to invent my own “DIY smoke machine” recently and when using it, oil “mist” was very oily to smell.

Maybe I missed it. Did u add oil?

No oil on the dipstick does not mean the engine is out of oil, it just means that the oil level isn’t high enough to reach the stick. You have to add oil, one quart at a time and check the dipstick after each quart is added.

If your engine holds 4 quarts of oil and nothing shows on the dipstick, you add one quart and see just a little drop on the bottom of the stick, then add another quart and the oil level is just above the add mark, say 1/4th the way up between the add and full mark, then you were down 2 3/4ths quarts. You still had 1 1/4th quart in the pan.

The oil pump picks up from the bottom of the oil pan so your oil pressure would still be good, but the oil is circulating through the engine about 3 times as often as it should. That makes it run much hotter because it doesn’t have much time to cool down in the pan before the oil pump sucks it up again.

If you or your mechanic find and repair the leak and refill the engine with oil, be sure to schedule another oil change sooner than you would normally do. The oil that had to cycle more frequently through the engine ran much hotter and will have broken down much faster than normal.