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Author Topic: A very strange issue with oil level  (Read 307 times)

Offline SirDavidAlhambra

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A very strange issue with oil level
« on: November 01, 2021, 04:22:39 pm »
Hi friends! I hope you've all been keeping well? Isn't it amazing how we are in November already, the time truly does fly by doesn't it.

Now then. Here's a puzzle for you all!

This morning, I started my lovely Alhamb (Mk2, 1.9Tdi with about 150,000 miles on the clock) and the dashboard came up with a message saying "Oil level low"!

Now, I check my car religiously. Whether it's the oil, the tyres, the brakes or whatever, I'm all over it. I check my car a LOT! It's sort of a combination of a hobby and an obsession.

So, this was quite the surprise. The oil level low enough for the car to warn me about it?!! This is not the sort of thing that happens to the cars I maintain. I'm the kind of man who checks that dipstick at least a fortnight!

So, what was going on here, I pondered. There was no oil on the driveway. No obvious leaks. Maybe something has gone wrong in the engine, head gasket or piston rings or whatever. So I gave it a nice good revving up and checked the exhaust. A tiny little hint of black smoke but it was a cold morning and the engine was running rich I expect. So nothing strange going on there. Definitely no blue smoke.

Now, here's the WEIRD bit.

I checked the dipstick. Lo and behold, it was just below the minimum level. Odd, but if it had been using or leaking oil then perhaps not all that odd really.

Where it got really weird was that I then topped it up. I put about a litre in. Then the oil was at the right level again.

I drove about for a while, got back home and checked the oil level. Would you believe it - the darned thing was overfilled!!!

In total, I drained off about 0.75 litres to get it back to the level it should have been at.

So in other words, I drained out pretty much all of the oil I put into the car to top it up, just to get it back to the correct level again, the dipstick having previously shown that it was BELOW the minimum level. WTF!!!!!

Since then, I've kept a close eye on the oil. It's stayed sat at the correct level.

But when I checked it earlier, not only did the engine light say "Low oil level" but the dipstick showed that the level really was low! So then, as described above, I put a litre in and then took it out again and the oil was back at the correct level.

Am I missing something?? I know it's Halloween and everything, but this is WEIRD.

What happened there, do you think? How is it possible to have the oil go about 1 litre below where it should be then magically rise up again to the correct level with a small top-up and drain of equal amounts in between?

Thank you all for your help and I hope you are all keeping well and in good health.
I drive a Seat Alhambra 1.9Tdi which has 115bhp and an automatic gearbox.

I am happy to help you with all your questions. I am not a qualified mechanic but seem to be better at fixing my car than even the most experienced garages.

I have lots of friends here and very much enjoy talking with you all.

Always remember, a motor car is a serious tool and should be treated with respect. Put your safety first, always.

Offline johnnyroper

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Re: A very strange issue with oil level
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2021, 12:11:22 am »
Are you on level ground when checking oil?

Offline SirDavidAlhambra

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Re: A very strange issue with oil level
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2021, 09:14:38 am »
Thank you Johnny, a very good thought... the car was however on level ground each time... well, maybe very very slightly on an incline, but we're talking hardly noticeable, so basically flat level ground. I'm absolutely puzzled by this so did a full oil and filter change yesterday evening just to be on the safe side, in case that makes a difference.
I drive a Seat Alhambra 1.9Tdi which has 115bhp and an automatic gearbox.

I am happy to help you with all your questions. I am not a qualified mechanic but seem to be better at fixing my car than even the most experienced garages.

I have lots of friends here and very much enjoy talking with you all.

Always remember, a motor car is a serious tool and should be treated with respect. Put your safety first, always.

Offline Mirez

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Re: A very strange issue with oil level
« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2021, 09:49:48 am »
I had the same thought as JR and I also assume you checked and topped up with the engine off and not running?

I can think of plenty of reasons for a human 'mis-read' but not one where the level sensor confirms it, tbh I can't think of any reason that could cause such a variation in the level...
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With cream leather interior, Full Bodykit, Remapped at 145bhp, Lowered on 18's
08 Ford Transit 2.2 TDI 115 in Frozen White
With retrofitted everything except another slidey door! :)

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Offline johnnyroper

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Re: A very strange issue with oil level
« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2021, 04:47:30 pm »
Are you checking it when engine is hot or cold? I always find on a cold engine gives the most accurate reading. When it’s hot and oil is thinner dipstick is easier to misread as oil runs off quicker as you pull it out.

Offline brianh

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Re: A very strange issue with oil level
« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2021, 06:30:04 pm »
The only way i could see it happening would be if the sump was gunged up from never being changed - I've seen some that look like black blancmange but only ever in photos, and once seen a van that the oil was that old that it had more in common with CV grease than oil, but thats unlikely to be the case if its been changed as it should be.

What brand of oil filter did you have on previously, and if you still have it does it look like its got the rubber flap inside it blocking the holes where it screws in place? (assuming the diesel has that type of oil filter, not the paper element type)

Offline johnnyroper

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Re: A very strange issue with oil level
« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2021, 06:38:16 pm »
Diesels have element type filters

Offline SirDavidAlhambra

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Re: A very strange issue with oil level
« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2021, 08:04:51 pm »
Thank you everyone. It’s a real mystery!

When I checked the engine oil each time, the engine was slightly warm. Like 40c or thereabouts. Not stone cold but definitely not hot either. Each time I checked the oil, I did so with the engine turned off and left plenty of time for it all to settle (always wait 10 mins after running the engine before checking the oil) and I took multiple readings. I ensured the dip stick was pushed all the way down and wiped it clean between measurements. The car was on level ground each time.

Normally I would have guessed that the oil dropped down the dipstick and gave a low reading… but I took many measurements and the dashboard display was warning me about a low oil level.

The filter I use is a Mann one from Euros. I change my oil and filter every 6 months (about 4000-5000 miles). I use Triple QX oil for PD engines which I get from Euros (not the absolute best, I know, but seems fine and I do change it frequently). The filter is a paper type and was installed the right way up and both the rubber o-rings were intact.

I’ve not had the problem come back since changing the oil.

But how astonishingly weird this all was. Is it possible there was a blockage that caused a build-up in the pipes and the sump to run low?

It all seems ok now but isn’t it weird.

The only other thing I can think of is that I always change my oil using one of those pipe suckers you stick down the dipstick hole. It seems to get out all the oil but maybe leaves some dregs behind (I wouldn’t know)? But I do change it frequently and would expect any sludge to be slurped up or at least mixed in with new oil and caught up in the filter?

Thank You all again for all your kind help with this mystery!
I drive a Seat Alhambra 1.9Tdi which has 115bhp and an automatic gearbox.

I am happy to help you with all your questions. I am not a qualified mechanic but seem to be better at fixing my car than even the most experienced garages.

I have lots of friends here and very much enjoy talking with you all.

Always remember, a motor car is a serious tool and should be treated with respect. Put your safety first, always.

Offline brianh

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Re: A very strange issue with oil level
« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2021, 08:45:28 pm »
I've not used that method to drain the sump, but it would seem to me that whilst it would remove most of the liquid, any solid bits could potentially be left in the sump. I'd consider draining it using the plug next time you do it or if your still seeing problems (you could always catch it in something clean if you wanted to look at what comes out and put it back if your happy its ok afterwards?)

Offline johnnyroper

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Re: A very strange issue with oil level
« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2021, 11:08:49 pm »
Drop the plug out everytime for me,I don’t like the suction pump methods

 

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