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Oil low....but isn't?

5570 Views 23 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  Georgew221
I noticed my oil level ignition warning was showing I was low on oil today (for the first time ever) so dipped it to see how low I was only to find it was spot on the max as it has been since my last oil change.

Is this a common problem because in my experience the oil level shows accurately?

159 1.9d Lusso SW by the way.

Thanks
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the replies but I don't think I explained my issue very clearly. I'm not getting a warning, its the oil level light 'blocks' that come on when you insert the key fob in the ignition that's telling me I'm low, only 4 of the 6 blocks lit up. I've checked it on the level in places I've checked it many times before so pretty level ground. I suppose I'm concerned it could be telling me I have a pressure issue if the oil level is OK, not sure how the level system works? If anyone has any info on this it would be appreciated.:)
 

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Thanks gents, I will relax for now! I was surprised with the reading because I have never needed to top up between oil changes in over 2 years thankfully. I wish I hadn't bothered to pop out to buy a litre of Selenia yesterday now before I dipped!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
You need to be very careful with this.

If you misread the dipstick you can be in a whole world of trouble........

In my experience the on dash oil level indicator is vague and one missing bar (of the 6) can be over a litre in the sump (or maybe more!)

and the dipstick can read wrong if you don't know what you are looking at.

The stick goes through (IIRC) 2 bends before it hits the oil, the oil level when at max (and a fair bit below that) sits in contact with the bottom of the dipstick tube.

If you let the car sit overnight and pull the dipstick out you can have a reading of about 3 or 4 inches over max even if the level is low. (due to the oil being drawn up the tube)

If you clean the dipstick and re-insert it then pull it out again you might get an over full reading in one side of the stick and a midway between full and empty reading on the other side if the stick.

Always go with the low reading.....

When inserting the dipstick do not twist it round (as is the norm in some cars!) This will simply cause the stick to rub against the inside of the tube which has been covered in oil overnight whilst the stick was almost but not quite touching the inside of the tube.

Don't know if this makes a lot of sense, (it's late o'clock on Friday and I've been out all night!) but the physics of fluids in tight spaces basically means you should always believe the low reading on the dipstick (without rotating it in the tube) I trusted the on dash oil level and it cost me a turbo (which is still knackered so will cost me another rebuild soon, or no doubt a protracted and painful warranty claim against the original rebuild company)

Anyway,

If you check your oil on a reasonably level surface, with the engine stone cold, and you remove the dipstick and clean it before dipping it again without twisting it and both sides of the dipstick show you have a good (full) level of oil in then you have nothing to worry about.

any deviation from that and I'd worry...


Axe.
Thanks Axe that was great advice. I checked the dipped level again and one side of the dipstick was lower than the other. I topped up the level gradually until the level was the same on both sides (approx half a litre altogether) and now the level is on max on the stick and also reading full (all 6 blocks lit) on the dash.

Hopefully no damage done with that quantity but relieved to have this sorted. Thanks again. :thumbs:
 
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