Best (and most accurate) Way To Check Your Oil?

Discussion in 'Maintenance & Upkeep' started by ChevyFan, Sep 20, 2013.

  1. ChevyFan

    ChevyFan The Sheriff Staff Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    I've asked this question before, but I'm going to ask it again.

    What's the best way to check your oil? Is it manufacturer specific, or is there a general "industry standard" method to check your oil level?

    Check it on a flat surface is a given, different engines have pans on either the side or the front and oil will pool in different places.

    • Engine off and cycled down (cold engine)?
    • Engine on and warm?
    • Engine off and warm, as in just shut it off?
    • Engine off and maybe wait 10 minutes?

    What does everyone think? I'm helping someone deal with a problem in a vehicle that should be under powertrain warranty on a Chrysler minivan, it's losing oil internally somewhere but he can't track it and there are no external leaks. He took it to a dealer and they did a full service for him and had him come back at 1,000 miles (this is when it was 100 degrees in texas). His first visit back (1,100 miles) they had to add in a quart of oil! Now, he's right about 1,000 miles again, but when the engine is dead cold the oil level looks like it's WAY below the little hash-marks on the [xxxxxxxx] safe area of the dipstick, but when the engine is warm (and turned off) the oil level actually rises up quite a bit, so it's in the middle of the "safe area". However, when the engine cools off again, it goes back down to well below that safe area.

    I got some pics the other day when he was about 800 miles after they topped it off. I assume that a regular oil change from a dealer would mean that the oil level would be at the top of the safe area.


    - - - Updated - - -

    ... i've been reading several blogs (while I sit in a library with slow internet connection) on this and the all say to wait at least 10 minutes, funny only a few talk about being on really flat ground.

    Since he's only at like 65,000 miles in that Chrysler, I guess they're going to have to tear the engine apart to figure out what's going wrong. That looks like it's losing about 1.5 quarts per 1,000 miles if I'm reading it right. That's a pretty significant issue and I'm guessing he'll get new rings and what else? He should push for a new cat IMHO as if he's burning up that much oil I'll bet that cat has been collecting the smoke for who know how many miles.
  2. stchman

    stchman Active Member 2 Years 1000 Posts

    IMO, the proper way to check your oil level.

    - flat ground
    - engine off
    - if engine running wait about 10 minutes

    The cross hatched area is the safe range. When the engine and oil are cold, the proper level should be about 1/2 way up that cross hatched area, then the engine and oil are hot, the level should be at the top of that area after 10 minutes of the engine being off.
  3. Pikey

    Pikey Moderator Staff Member 5+ Years ROTM Winner 5000 Posts

    LOL! My wife's 2013 caravan has 10,000 miles and burns the same amount of oil in 1,000 miles. When you start it in the morning there is a nice smoke screen from the exhaust. I have a lifetime warranty, just have not had a chance to take it in.
  4. stchman

    stchman Active Member 2 Years 1000 Posts

    So it is considered normal for Chryslers to burn a lot of oil even when new?
  5. Pikey

    Pikey Moderator Staff Member 5+ Years ROTM Winner 5000 Posts

    actually, Yes. If you look around on amsoil's site you will find chyrslers acceptable oil consumption. The acceptable amount is crazy, because they recommend changes every 10,000 miles. If you were to burn the acceptable amount you would have no oil left when you hit 8000.
  6. ChevyFan

    ChevyFan The Sheriff Staff Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    The acceptable rate is about 1 qt per 1000 miles. But this looks like it's about 1.5 qt per 1000 miles.
  7. dpeter

    dpeter Epic Member 5+ Years 500 Posts

    When I first changed oil in my 5.3 Yukon, I refilled with five quarts of oil( five Qt. container which is 5.1Qt.I believe) and marked the dipstick at that level after starting then let sit for five minutes or how ever long it takes me to drink a beverage then add the last quart and mark that level as well. Now I know what full on the dipstick should look like and also when I am a quart down.
  8. ChevyFan

    ChevyFan The Sheriff Staff Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    I was thinking about mentioning that. What did you use to make the dipstick?
  9. dpeter

    dpeter Epic Member 5+ Years 500 Posts

    I used a file to make the mark, just a couple of strokes across, not much more than a heavy scratch.
  10. j cat

    j cat Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    I have always checked the oil after sitting over night on level ground. when the oil level is checked with the engine hot the amount shown on my sticks are very hard to read. oil is too clean.... with an over night sit the level is easy to see. I always keep this at the top of the full mark. when the hot weather comes you need the full amount to properly cool the oil ..lower the oil amount the hotter the oil ..the hotter the oil the more vaporized the oil boils off.

    with a dodge/chrysler I have no idea what is normal. but if my GM vehicles used a qt in 1000 miles I would not be happy...

    I once had a 1983 olds 307 cu engine had 380,ooo miles when I sold it . used a 1/2 qt at the oil change interval of 3500/4000miles when I sold it. when it had 100,000miles it used 1/3 qt at this oil change interval. this is with conventional castrol 5-30wt oil.... sometimes I would use 10-30 wt diff...spun over in winter a little faster ...with the 5-30 wt..

    could be the oil is being vaporized from the crank bearings running too hot..or the crankcase vapor system is messed up .. this is with no visible leaks of oil vapor trails..

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