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Oil overfill: O.K. or death?


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35 replies to this topic

#1 duane b

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 12:41 PM

I was going through my wife's 96 legacy this past weekend, checking all the fluids and found the oil was about twice the amount needed on the dip-stick! Will this kill the car or will it be O.K. by this weekend when I can empty some out? I also noticed some oil spots in the radiator overflow, would this be caused by too much oil in the engine or should I expect a leaking head gasket? Thanks.

#2 99obw

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 12:48 PM

That is a lot of extra oil, it sounds like enough to cause problems. Either someone has an oil adding compulsion of something goofy is going on with your engine. Did you have your oil changed at a quick lube place? I would drain and replace the oil ASAP. Have the engine looked over ASAP by a good mechanic. You might want to have the coolant tested for exhaust.

#3 cookie

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 01:42 PM

I would think it may be unusal for water to go into the oil without a head gasket being badly blown.
I would start by changing the oil and cleaning out the overflow tank and hope for the best.
Perhaps you will be lucky. (Fingers crossed).

#4 yohy

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 03:03 PM

duane b, go back out and double or triple check your readings. I have two (93 and 97) and I find getting a good reading on the dip stick is tough. Take a good look at the point on the stick where the oil mark is across the entire width of the face, not just where oil is pulled up along the edges. I bet you will find the level to be ok! Certainly is cheaper than the alternatives.

Best of luck

#5 ScoobySchmitty

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 03:27 PM

Originally posted by yohy
duane b, go back out and double or triple check your readings.



Actually, I would hope you are doing this in the first place. Oil from the crankcase will get sloshed around like crazy during driving, and can collect on the stick. My Dad always taught me (you can groan here) that you pull the stick out, wipe it off, replace it, and check it again. If it STILL is way up on the stick, then you should start flop-sweating (no JK, but that would be abnormal)

#6 cookie

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 03:47 PM

I ever checked oil on. I find I get the most consistant readings by warming it up fully. Letting it sit about five minutes and then wiping and checking the stick. This is on a level of course.

#7 duane b

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 04:48 PM

Thanks for all the replies. Unfortunately the oil is twice what it should read on the dipstick. Don't know how it got there except from the boys that did the oil change at Fire-'stoned'. I won't be able to do anything to it until saturday morning, but it doesn't sound like it will be death to the motor (hopefully) until then. I will clean out the overflow and hope for the best. The oil wasn't in the water when I bought the car back in August and the temp gauge doesn't fluxuate at all so I'll keep my fingers crossed about the head gasket.

#8 hawksoob

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 05:04 PM

If there is too much oil, there is a danger that it will get all churned up and get "frothy" like blowing bubbles in a milk carton. Frothy oil does not flow to where it's supposed to flow very well. Not good.

I assume, since it's driving, they didn't accidentally drain your tranny and then overfill your crankcase? Then leave your tranny empty? Could be double bad.

#9 99obw

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 06:16 PM

Taking a sample of the oil and having it analyzed might prove interesting.

#10 duane b

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 06:33 PM

I assume, since it's driving, they didn't accidentally drain your tranny and then overfill your crankcase? Then leave your tranny empty? Could be double bad.



Thanks for the concern. I've heard of that happening so I checked the tranny. It's right where it should be. As long as lasts until saturday with no lasting negative affects I should be alright. I think I will take it in and have a radiator pressure test done just to see if there is a leaking head gasket.
99obw mentioned an exhaust test to check for coolant. I've never heard of that, is it cheaper than a diagnostic test?

#11 99obw

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 06:53 PM

Testing the coolant for combustion gasses is the most conclusive method on the Phase I 2.5l. A leakdown or pressure test probably won't find the failed gasket. The engine usually has to be pushed pretty hard to cause it to leak.

I would baby the car until the oil level is corrected, so do this test after it's fixed. Make sure the cooling system is full and all of the air is bled out. Warm the engine up, then drive it really hard for about 5 miles. Before it cools back down open the hood, open the overflow bottle, and look in the overflow while revving the engine with the throttle body. If you see bubbles and smell exhaust then a coolant test is unnecessary.

#12 cookie

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 07:03 PM

On another board a mechanic claimed that he had seen a number of subies with blown head gaskets that the traditional exhaust gas in the coolant test would not reveal.
I was wondering about that as I have heard of a couple of instances where folks said the coolant test said nothing but all the other symptoms were consistant with type 1 blown gaskets.
I am now speculating that if the gasket is just starting to blow perhaps the residue is not in the coolant at a level the test can detect it.

#13 myles

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 08:16 PM

Originally posted by cookie
On another board a mechanic claimed that he had seen a number of subies with blown head gaskets that the traditional exhaust gas in the coolant test would not reveal.
I was wondering about that as I have heard of a couple of instances where folks said the coolant test said nothing but all the other symptoms were consistant with type 1 blown gaskets.
I am now speculating that if the gasket is just starting to blow perhaps the residue is not in the coolant at a level the test can detect it.



If it's an external leak, you're not going to see combustion products in the coolant.

#14 boxerhummfetish

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 09:44 PM

Don't know how it got there except from the boys that did the oil change at Fire-'stoned'.


I usually like firestone a lot, because they're certified mechanics, and they generally give you a fair deal, but this happened to me once when they filled a MB 240D with 7qts when it takes like 4.5, then charged me for 2 qts extra. It wasn't enough oil to do any damage.

Your case sounds pretty extreme. You should take care of it ASAP before damage is done.

Maybe it's time to change your own oil this time.

#15 intrigueing

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Posted 14 January 2004 - 08:37 AM

Did the oil look normal? I've seen head gaskets go, allowing large quantities of coolant to get into the oil, making the level extremely high. If this was the case your coolant would be low and your oil would look chocolate-milky. Why drive it? It would take like 5 minutes to drain the excess out and feel more confident that the headgaskets are ok, and the car will not die on the side of the road requiring a tow possibly causing a dangerous situation - or irreversable damage to your car? No flame intended - just better to be safe than sorry.

#16 cookie

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Posted 14 January 2004 - 11:02 AM

I am wondering if these tests are not as infallible as they were sold to us as a few years ago.
I am sure that if you have a signifigant leak they can identify it.

#17 ShawnW

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Posted 14 January 2004 - 12:31 PM

I suspect they removed the wrong drain plug. Previous incidents show that they have drained the front differential oil and put none back in there but instead put oil into the engine.

The only way to know for sure is to drain the oil and measure the amount of oil in the catch pan. When its 7 quarts or more take it to firestone and demand new oil and a refund on the previous service. (thats what I would do at least). They have contaminated the new oil by mixing it with the old and now you dont have any clean oil and thats what you paid to have changed.

Driving a car that is overfilled is twice as hard on an engine as driving it with a quart low.

If you have a Subaru dealer in the area use them instead. They use an OEM filter, drain plug crush ring, and oil that is appropriate for the car. They also know where the drain plug is. :D

Good luck!

#18 99obw

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Posted 14 January 2004 - 12:40 PM

Originally posted by cookie
I am wondering if these tests are not as infallible as they were sold to us as a few years ago.
I am sure that if you have a signifigant leak they can identify it.



No test is infallable. IMHO if the gasket leak is bad enough to cause symptoms, a properly performed combustion gas test should will show the gasses to be present in the coolant.

EDIT: I am talking only about the Phase I 2.5.

#19 duane b

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Posted 14 January 2004 - 03:58 PM

Originally posted by intrigueing
Did the oil look normal? I've seen head gaskets go, allowing large quantities of coolant to get into the oil, making the level extremely high. If this was the case your coolant would be low and your oil would look chocolate-milky.



The oil looks fine , it's the coolant that has a few specs of oil floating in it.
Firestone usually has done fine by me in the past. But I'm sure it can be a revolving door of mechanics. I probably just got a rookie. I am concerned about the front diff now however. How many plugs does this car have anyway?
The reason I can't do it until sauturday is because I my wife drives it for work during the day and I don't get home until after dark. I would hate to fumble around in the dark and pull the wrong plug myself, thereby making the problem worse. Plus measuring hot draining oil out of a drain plug sounds more difficult than waiting until saturday when I can change the oil and filter. It sounds like from all of your appreciated posts that the car will probably survive until then.
My bro-in-law works on quite a few 2.2L sub motors and he said he'd help me fix the gasket if it's bad. Figuring out which side might prove challenging though. It seems pretty minor at this point and we may just drive it until it really blows which hopefully will be in warmer days.

#20 intrigueing

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Posted 14 January 2004 - 04:31 PM

Your last post really made me think there is a huge possibility that firestone drained the differential fluid and then added oil to your already full motor. The front differential (if an auto) has a dipstick to check the level (passanger side opposite of the trans stick). Check the diff fluid-quick, as running it dry will cause serious damage in a hurry, you better let firestone know what is going on too, in case their mistake causes your car damage. The 2.2 is far less likely to have blown a HG than if you had a 2.5. Keep us posted.

#21 Dr Farco

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Posted 14 January 2004 - 05:08 PM

If at all possible I'd send the wife with the car to Firestoned to be fixed. You paid money for the service. A good dose
of a woman's scorn will get' em moving on it real fast. My wife would tell 'em to get the book out to do it right if they had to.

#22 intrigueing

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Posted 14 January 2004 - 05:17 PM

I'd take it to another mechanic, because if they screwed it up you will likely end up in court. They are likely to cover their blunder if you take it there, and do you really want them working on your car anymore? If the diff was drained, how can they compensate you for unknown damage down the road......definately not by just correcting the fluids

#23 nathan

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Posted 14 January 2004 - 07:38 PM

Just as a side note. I Don't think firestone is the only one doing the incorrect oil changes. I usually change oil myself on all my vehicles but every once in a while my wife will take her car an have the oil changed. It has happened more than once that the oil is way above normal afterwards. I think what happens is that the techs think that the notch on the legacy dipstick is the correct fill mark instead of the upper line, so they just keep adding oil until it is to the wrong mark. I have never had it cause a problem but I do usually get the excess out as quickly as possible.

#24 CROSSTBOLT

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Posted 15 January 2004 - 05:54 AM

DO NOT WAIT UNTIL SATURDAY!! DO THIS RIGHT NOWW!! You now know why we drive our Subaru instead of fly commercial.

Another reason why the oil is so high is the tech did not wait for the real slow drain-down so typical of Subaru. Put in 4.2 quarts and check it 20 minutes later. It can be WAY overfilled if this is not done.

#25 oregonloyale

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Posted 15 January 2004 - 11:56 AM

Not wanting to replacve your oil, just because it is dark outside just seems lazy.
You must be well of financially to not want to change your own oil and wait for saturday to come around.
I've always believed if you want something done right , do it yourself, at least then you know how much and how many.
Oil is alot cheaper than a new engine and i would definitly let firestone know of the situation as if there are problems they should be held liable.




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