Too Low Oil

My 2004 6"i" started rattling when cold but stopped after warmup, so I didn’t think much of it for a few K’s of miles until I took it in for an oil change. The mechanic stated that the oil filer “shroud” had cracked, it began leakng and there was less than a half quart in the car, although the “check oil light” did not come on. Upon fill-up, the rattling stopped but the mechanic also stated that there was no way to know if the engine had been damaged. This has been a great car with only 75K miles on it; half my friends say “keep driving and don’t worry about” and the other says “SELL!” before the next noise I hear which might mean the engine’s shot. Thoughts?

You can have the oil pressure checked to see if it’s within limits. I would just drive the car until something happens…if it ever does. If you sell the vehicle…the right thing to do is to tell the potential buyer about the low oil problem which will impact the value of your Mazda. I’m sure some damage occurred but just how much is anyone’s guess at this point. Get the oil pressure tested though which may give you some peace of mind. Checking your oil every couple of weeks is a simple task and it would have alerted you to the low oil condition.

What “Filer Shroud ? Cracked”

Are you talking about the actual oil filter ? What brand was it ?


If it’s still in good shape otherwise, as you seem to be saying, drive it until it dies and then put a used or rebuilt engine in.

As missileman says, it would be unethical to sell the car without disclosing that you’re dumping damaged goods, so financially that wouldn’t make as much sense.

I guess you don’t need us to point out that choosing not to check your oil regularly can be a very expensive decision.

I suggest checking the oil every day or two until you get a handle on the oil consumption. After that, check weekly.

Ed B.

Started to rattle. Never did that before. Maybe CHECK oil level? Next car.

I’d keep her, but I’d also be checking that oil level at every gas fill up from now on and I would not ignore any strange sounds. I’d also find out what that mechanic means by “oil shroud” and have a “for real” mechanic check it out.

Check the oil every 1,000 miles, at least, always.

“Shroud” was the local Mazda shop service advisor’s term, oil filter “cover” was listed on the repair ticket; think I’ll be looking elsewhere for a mechanic either way. Agree with all --duh-- that I should’ve checked the oil more regularly and, hey, how about that tire pressure sometime too? And I would never think of selling without disclosing, Thanks all for the comments and I’ll stick with my first hunch and keep it since it’s such a good driver.

An engine that has been run out of or seriously low on engine oil and has a rattle upon startup can often point to a crankshaft bearing rattle.

If a rattle is present upon startup after the car has been sitting for a while then there is always concern about crankshaft bearing material being scrubbed away due to lack of oil.
Sometimes the only way of knowing this is to drop the oil pan and remove a few bearing caps for a visual inspection; usually caps located the fartherest away from the oil pump.

Buy a few quarts of oil and keep them at home, as well as one quart to keep in the car. Make a point to check the oil at home at least once a week, when the engine is cooled off. Check the coolant at the same time. Making it one of your regular home chores will be much easier than checking oil at the gas station.

In your case, you probably should check every day or two at first until you have certainty about the rate of oil use.

’ “Shroud” was the local Mazda shop service advisor’s term, oil filter “cover” was listed on the repair ticket; think I’ll be looking elsewhere for a mechanic either way. ’

So, this was a part of the filter ?
Does the car use regular disposable, spin-on filters ?
What brand filter was it ?
Who furnished/installed the filter ?
Was the shop that replaced it, the shop that originally installed it ?
How long had it been on the engine ?
Did you save the filter ?
Did the mechanic speculate why the filter failed ?

I ask because filters usually don’t fail and had this happened to me I’d want to know why the filter failed.
Also, I’d want to see if anybody had any responsibility in any way to help you with your situation and I’m sure you don’t want this to happen again.


Have the oil pressure checked and also check the compression of the engine and have these compared to factory spec. If you start burning oil that wasn’t burning before, some damage was obviously done.

The fact the rattle noise went away points to possibly lifters that weren’t getting enough oil. While this isn’t the best for them, one episode shouldn’t destroy the valvetrain. I would be most worried about crankshaft bearings and rings.

Keep driving it for a while and see how it does. If you like the car and it in good shape otherwise, a new engine might be a good idea. You can buy rebuilt units from many parts stores but I would personally spend a few extra hundred dollars and get a Jasper, especially if you want to keep it a while.

I don’t really think you should do anything drastic right now, such as selling the car or getting a new engine. The first step is to determine how much if any oil consumption you are having and if you are having a problem with that, what is the source? I only say if because the problem might have been due to a defective filter and it should have been fixed with the last oil change.

You may have shortened the life of the engine some, but that does not mean that the engine is dead already, it could still have a few more years and 10’s of thousands of miles left, maybe even a 100k.

Filter shroud? I know some cars do have a filter shroud, my Saturn has one, but all it does is direct the oil away from the exhaust and driveshaft when removing the filter. It in no way would be responsible for a leak. Filter cover? That could be a different story. If you have a cartridge type filter, then if the cover was leaking, it would be because someone didn’t replace a gasket as they should.

I kinda suspect that the filter is a spin on and the oil service person did not lubricate the gasket and over tightened the filter when they installed it. That could have torn the gasket and caused a small leak, which would have dripped from the shroud.