Sludge in Dodge Intrepid 2.7 l

This engine has had a long time reputation for getting sludged up.

I have a 1999 Dodge Intrepid with 109,000 miles. I have changed the oil devotedly every 3000 to 5000 miles to avoid a sludge situation.

The other day I lifted my dipstick and it was bone dry! I immediately put 3 quarts in where it topped off. There have been no visible signs of oil in the driveway and no oil light flashed on the instrument panel.

A couple of days later I had the oil changed at WalMart where they indicated that 4 quarts had been drained.

Could there still have been 1 quart lingering in sludge?

Please advise.


When an engine sludges up, it can cause blockage at the drain-back holes in the heads. So the oil that gets pumped to the top of the heads isn’t able to freely drain back into the oil pan. So, pull the valve covers and see if the drain-back holes in the heads are plugged up.


Thanks for your response. Could the fact that my dipstick was bone dry indicate a sludge situation or something else?

Thank you!

Rob, Don’t Assume It’s Sludged. Changing My Own Oil At 5,000 Mile Intervals On A 1999, 2.7L Intrepid, Resulted In A Car With Way More Than Double Your Mileage And No Sludge.

What kind of oil are you using and how often do you check oil ?

I’m just afraid you’ve damaged it now by letting it get several quarts low by neglecting maintenance. All of our cars get all fluids checked weekly.

If a car were ever to run out of oil in a week of driving (750 miles / car at our house) then it’s got some other serious sudden catastrophic issues. I just can’t see it with reguar maintenance, no puddles, and no smoke.


Don’t know how long I was driving it with the bone dry dip stick situation.

So, do you think my engine will inevitably fail?

You didn’t do it any good, but it is hard to tell if you did it any harm either. As long as there was enough oil to generate oil pressure you should be OK. The low oil means the oil in the crankcase was worked very hard and it is good you had it changed right away. Get your next oil change at 3K miles. Monitor your oil use with a weekly check of the dipstick and see what happens. It seems like you caught the low oil situation in the nick of time.

Depending on environmental conditions and driving habits, changing the oil every 3-5k miles may not be often enough. Time also plays a part in this; just like with timing belts.

Sludging is caused by failure to change the oil often enough for the conditions the engine faces although the sludgees may disagree with that.

Thanks for your reassurance. I will probably end up changing it way before 3000 miles from now on.

Thanks again.

Check the oil every few days until you know if you have a leak. For oil to disappear that fast, you’d pretty much have to have a leak.

Consider using a full-synthetic oil in this engine—it will help eliminate the possibility of sludging.