The case of the missing oil, or, Oils well that ends well

2014 Kia Sorenta. Recall on engine completed in November 2017 with oil change at dealership.
Next oil change 3/29/2018 at ~105,000 miles. Follow up brake replacement and ball joint replacement 4/7/2018. Drove ~900 miles of short local commutes (10 miles, round trip for school drop off and drive to work) mostly, no lights or evident problems. No oil leaking on driveway, No smoking. No smells. Took road trip and drove ~600 miles. Going up a mountain pass the car suddenly spikes RPM to 5000+ and loses power. Pull over, no smoke, engine spikes to reading hot. Let car cool and try to go again, moves 10 feet, spikes RPM, so pull over and call tow truck. Towed to nearest car shop where they report there is 1/2 a qt of oil in engine, thick and sludgy (they show it to us, inspecting carefully for any shavings, etc), they fill it, test drive it, run it for a long time, no signs of problems. Mechanic has a hard time believing we really had the oil changes when we report. Leave the shop and make it 17 miles before the engine seizes and the engine is now ruined.

Any ideas where the oil could have gone? Any idea how long the engine could have possibly run if at the oil change they drained and forgot to fill, or drained and only filled part way?

So you had an oil change March 29 at 105K miles, and then drove 1500 more miles when the engine stalled and discovered the oil is almost all gone? Between March 29 and now, how many times did you check the dipstick, and what did it show each time?

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Alas, the oil was indeed, not checked in that time frame. My copilot had been under the hood before the road trip, I believed to check the oil. However, it was only to fill the windshield washer fluid… which was definitely full.

Both pilot and copilot need to go back to ground school and get a refresher on pre-flight inspections.


I can’t fault the drivers for not checking the oil level in 1500 miles. Yeah, probably should have, but it may not have done any good, as it seems something catastrophic happened in the last few miles. Note that it was running fine, full of oil, when they left the shop and was dead 17 miles later.

If the oil is not leaking then the engine is burning it.

You’ve made 2 mistakes.

  1. Not checking the oil level regularly; an all to common malady.
  2. Continuing to operate the engine with a known serious problem.

If the dealer had not filled the motor oil there is no way the car would have gone 1500 miles. It wouldn’t have gone that far even with 1 quart of oil left in it.

The thick and sludgy oil at 105k miles means the oil is not being changed often enough. That in turn leads to oil consumption problems.

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Anything done besides the oil change?

I’m thinking the problem occurred at the March oil change. Perhaps they didn’t put in enough oil, something like that.