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Old 31-12-08
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Oil is black on the Dipstick ??

I just bought my GTV 2-3 weeks ago and I noticed the oil is black on the dipstick and overfilled past the maximum line. The service records say the car had an oil / filter change 1,500 Km ago or 932 Miles ago.

Shouldnt the oil still be realtively clear and not black? and I guess filling it up past the max line is to account for the excessive oil usage of that car? (The oil was checked while the car was hot).

Is this normal and acceptable ?
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Old 31-12-08
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Re: Oil is black on the Dipstick ??

Originally Posted by Freds GTV 2001 View Post
I just bought my GTV 2-3 weeks ago and I noticed the oil is black on the dipstick and overfilled past the maximum line. The service records say the car had an oil / filter change 1,500 Km ago or 932 Miles ago.

Shouldnt the oil still be realtively clear and not black? and I guess filling it up past the max line is to account for the excessive oil usage of that car? (The oil was checked while the car was hot).

Is this normal and acceptable ?
No it should'nt be black.... better to change the oil and filter yourself so as you know the right oil is in there.

Some garages do over fill the oil on the basis that the TS use's oil but if you change it and check it regularly and top it up it shouldnt need to be filled past the top mark
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Old 31-12-08
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Re: Oil is black on the Dipstick ??

Why would it be black ?? Has the oil not been changed ? The alfa specialist seems to be fairly reputable in Sydney.
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Old 31-12-08
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Re: Oil is black on the Dipstick ??

IMO the oil will be very dark in a short period of time, mine doesnt stay new looking for very long.

An oil and filter change is pretty cheap and straight forward on a TS
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Old 31-12-08
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Re: Oil is black on the Dipstick ??

Ok thanks Pascs might ask my mechanic next time I see him and ask him what he thinks and change it also if it needs it.
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Old 31-12-08
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Re: Oil is black on the Dipstick ??

Oil goes black not when it "wears out" but because it accumulates dirt and rubbish from within the engine and as the by-product of combustion.

So, black oil could be new or it could be ancient.. though normally you would expect old oil to be black and new oil to be clear for obvious reasons.

I can think of three scenarios;

1) The car was filled with new oil. It could have been synthetic or a type with high detergent content and that has cleaned a lot of crud that was in the engine, going black in the process. That could suggest the previous owner may have neglected the beast in the past or run the oil to 12,000m/20,000kms as the book says. This is rather too long in my experience and you do get rubbish (carbon/gum/varnish) building up.. New oil would clean that off.

2) The beast is contaminating the oil. If it's burning oil, that could suggest a dubious valve seat or seal or at least one worn ring. That would let combustion gas into the oil and that would account for the black (carbon) oil. So.. check that there is good compression on the cylinders and that the car stops burning oil when the oil level is corrected.

3) The oil wasn't changed, though I find this hard to believe as it's the easiest part of a "service" to do and the first thing a client would check when they get home (clean oil on the dipstick). Get some oil on your fingers and squeeze it between thumb and forefinger. It should feel "thick" like cream, not "thin" like water. If it feels thick then it's new oil.

The over-fill should be corrected as it will be puffing excess into the inlet manifold and burning it off. This is enviromentally nice but it's likely to foul up your cylinders and potentially some sensors with gloop and crud. It also makes it difficult for you to work out if it is losing oil (see 2 above) or if it is just puffing out the excess...

Check the oil when it is cold.. forget the new fangled nonsense. Cold engine, flat surface.. first thing in the morning when it's been sitting there all night. Take the stick out, wipe it, put it back in, withdraw it again and that's the oil level (on the side facing the engine).

Ralf S.


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Old 31-12-08
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Re: Oil is black on the Dipstick ??

Thanks Ralf thats amazingly detailed information.

I will check the oil when cold on a flat surface. From memory it looked like the oil was thick on the dipstick and didnt run off it or drip off it in a hurry. However I will feel it with my thumb and finger as you suggest.

The car had a oil/filter change recently at 60,000km and another at 50,000km by the same Alfa specialist. He seems to be fairly reputable but I wouldnt personally go to him as I know someone closer.

When you mention in point 2 that the beast is contaminating oil, this could tie into some other issues I am having; namely that the car has a tinkling / rattling sound under load or up a hill that sounds like it could be valves or tappets or so?

Also I have noticed occasional flat spots in the enging revs down low from 2-3,000rpm and also today on the freeway a definite flat spot in the revs around 5-6,000 rpm. This happened 2 or 3 times around this rev range. I wonder if its related to the valves or rings as you say. If this is the case is it expensive to fix ? (Ill also get a compression test done too)

Thanks
Cheers
Fred
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Old 01-01-09
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Re: Oil is black on the Dipstick ??

i don't mean to hijack the thread, but i've just bought a new gtv, i'm unsure of it's last service date so i want to give it an oil change. should i flush the engine first?

ta.
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Old 01-01-09
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Re: Oil is black on the Dipstick ??

No thats alright Ku$t we can discuss anything here we like !

Are you going to change the oil yourself ? Im not a mechanic but if your going to do it yourself you would have to empty the old oil out first. Is that what you mean?
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Old 01-01-09
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Re: Oil is black on the Dipstick ??

Originally Posted by ku$t View Post
should i flush the engine first?
There are different opinions on this. The danger is that if you flush you may lift oily crud that otherwise would have stayed put. You don't want blobs floating around the galleries.
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Old 01-01-09
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Re: Oil is black on the Dipstick ??

If the oil in the engine that you are draining out is very black then I would flush. If it looks reasonably clean then just get the engine hot and drain it out.


If the oil is changed on a car every 6000 miles or so then it shouldn't go completely black.

The easiest way to tell how black the oil is is to wipe the dipstick on some white tissue. Unless t is very dirty it will be a browny black.

Diesels make their oil exceptionally black BTW due to soot from the combustion.
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Old 01-01-09
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Re: Oil is black on the Dipstick ??

yeah fred, i was going to do the oil myself...it's about the limit of my mech skills!

thanks for the info chaps. it's not really black so i won't flush.
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Old 01-01-09
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Re: Oil is black on the Dipstick ??

Oil that has been changed 1500 kms ago should not be black IMHO.
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Old 01-01-09
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Re: Oil is black on the Dipstick ??

Another reason why not to flush is that you may end up with an oil leak if you have old or worn seals. Crud build-up on the seals can often keep them intact when otherwise they'd leak. However, getting crud out of your engine is usually a good thing to do. I flushed my JTD on every service. On my V6 I'm still un-decided what to do..
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Re: Oil is black on the Dipstick ??

I haven't flushed a car for years. I would rather the deposits stayed where they were, rather than be lifted off so that they can float around the engine.

The oil should stay fairly clean as long as you change it every 6k or so. If the new oil gets dirty quickly, IMO either:-

The old oil had been in there far too long, and could no longer clean deposits,
The old oil was poor quality and wouldn't clean deposits.
There was still some old oil left in there when it was changed.

I have seen inside a few engines that have been serviced according to Alfa's scedule (12k, 12 month changes) and the insides have been heavily coated with deposits.

So I think that 12k changes are far too long. Rather like 72k cambelt changes. Although it looks good on paper to prospective buyers as servicing costs appear less.


If I do get a new car and the oil in the engine is very dirty, I usually change the oil and filter and use a cheapish oil, run the car for a few days then change it again with a better oil and another new filter.
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