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Discussion Starter #1
Hi you guys,

I have a 2008 5-speed LX. I got it about 3 months ago with 8500 miles on it. Now it has about 11,500 miles.

Here's my problem:
Both times I've checked the oil near the end of the oil cycle (around 3000 miles), the oil level on the dipstick seems low. Slightly (2-3mm) underneath the lower dot, not between the dots. But there was also some oil splashed up into the "acceptable" range between the dots. Wipe off dipstick and repeat several times, same result each time. So it was confusing to read.

The first time this happened, I panicked and put in some oil. However as the car sat around 5-8 minutes the oil level on the stick came up, resulting in the level now being slightly above the "high" dot. So I took it right in for an oil change, to avoid high oil pressure blowing out the seals. It seemed that the oil took a long time to all drip back down into the pan after I shut the engine off.

Now it's at 3000 miles since that oil change. It showed up low again. I didn't have time to sit for 10 minutes to verify the result. So I put in about 1/3 quart, and will probably do another oil change as soon as it gets out of the shop (from an unfortunate little fender bender resulting in bumper replacement). Oh, the oil life indicator still reads 50%, even at 3000 miles.

Questions:
1. How long does it take the oil to drip back into the pan for an accurate read?
2. Do these engines eat oil? I would think that with such low mileage on my car, it wouldn't be consuming any oil.
3. If I have unknowingly (based on assumption in #2, above) driving around with not quite enough oil in my car, what are the chances that I damaged it internally? (the dipstick has never shown real low oil, just a few millimetres below the lower dot.)
4. Should I maybe just plan to put in a little oil at, say, 2000 miles into the oil change?
5. Does it need an oil change if the oil life indicator says 50%, at 3000 miles?

Thanks everyone!
:) veganskater
 

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ALL engines consume oil during use even ours. now the best thing to do would be to check and see after getting your oil changed where it is in relation to the dipstick lines when you get it back from the oil being changed and see when it falls. oil is supposed to be checked with the engine temp cold, like having been sitting for a while, where trans fluid is supposed to be checked warm. Dont wory you havent hurt that engine, not if you are a hair below that line.
 

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I usually pull the dipstick out and, though it sounds stupid, let it the oil drain out of the dipstick tube for a few minutes for a 'cleaner' reading. Give it 3 or 5 mins before reinserting the dipstick. Try it, I have no problems getting a nice clean line of oil on my stick.
 

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If you want consistent readings that you can use for comparison, be consistent, and keep your dipstick clean.:)

Either always check your oil cold (first thing in the morning before you start the engine), or else always wait at least 10 minutes after shutting down the engine after it has thoroughly warmed up. In the "olden" days of full service gas stations (called service stations) the oil wasn't checked until after the tank was filled and the windows were cleaned. If the oil level was anywhere close to the low mark or above it at that time, it was considered normal. Oil level was checked at every fill-up. Although engines are tighter and more reliable today, a weekly or monthly level check makes more sense than doing it every 3000 miles.

If you do a cold engine measurement the day after you do an oil change, assuming that you measure the amount of oil you put in, you should have a known benchmark.

In any case, avoid overfilling between changes by adding measured amounts of oil a few ounces at a time.
 

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Yup...what they said.

And....remember, your motor is new....it may "use" some oil as it breaks in. dropping 1/2 quart before the first few thousand miles is very normal. Mine doesn't use any (ok, maybe 1/4qt) between 5k-7k mile changes, but used 1/2qt the first several thousand....it has 96k on it now.

Don't be afraid to stretch those oil changes out a bit more now. Let the meter get to 30-25% or so....5k mile oil changes are very reasonable.
 

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5. Does it need an oil change if the oil life indicator says 50%, at 3000 miles?

Thanks everyone!
:) veganskater
Oil talk can start a flame war about as fast as anything can. So, with this risk in mind, I'll chime in my $.02 and experiences.

I'm @ 60K miles on my '05 EX 2WD M/T. I'm of the school of thought to not try to out think the engineers unless I'm certain I have all available pertinent information and conclusive data to contradict factory recommendations. Not believing that I had either of my prerequisites in hand I left my "break-in" oil (itself a controversial subject on this and every other auto forum I've participated) in for the normal driving conditions recommendation of 10K miles. At 10K the oil level had dropped on the dip stick from higher in the range to lower in the range, but not below the minimum mark.

At that time, i.e. 10K miles, I switched to Mobil 1 and either a Purolator Pure 1 filter or the new Mobil 1 Extended Performance filter--both of which use synthetic media (another controversial topic, but one I'm convinced is absolutely legit) and stuck with the 10K oil changes. On this very forum at one time, possibly still now, the Mobil 1 filter current at the time was criticized for having a relatively small amount of surface area of filter media compared to other options. The new Mobil 1 Extended Performance filter relieves this concern for those who had it in the first place.

I can't see my oil level changing on the stick on my 10K oil changes. Because I'm running synthetic from 10K on I doubt I ever will. Unlike the factory recommendation, I do change my oil filter with each oil change.

Please reconsider the 3K oil change regime you hear so much about from retailers. From what I've seen this is not only needlessly expensive, wastefull, and harmfull to the environment, it's also not as good as 5K or more changes for your E. Especially if you opt for synthetics (oil and media type filter), I would suggest you even consider the factory recommended 10K changes.

Much could be (and has been) said about oil, oil filters, & oil change frequency. I'd suggest doing some reading here from prior threads to get comfortable with whatever your final decision is.

Edited to add: I just remembered that you have a 2008. I don't. The factory recommendations I note are true for the 2005, but may not be true for your 2008. That said, I doubt the business side of the engine has changed much, but I'm speculating. Also, in the past, Honda changed the recommended oil from 5W-30 to 5W-20 from one model year to the next with no change to the engine on certain models, maybe even the E. Most speculate that was due to CAFE standards. Either way it illustrates that recommendatoins can change without a change in the product.
 

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Edited to add: I just remembered that you have a 2008. I don't. The factory recommendations I note are true for the 2005, but may not be true for your 2008. That said, I doubt the business side of the engine has changed much, but I'm speculating.
Honda has come up with a nifty little computer function that now tells you when the oil needs to be changed based on driving style. I know if you search here you can find information about how it works.

Some will still go with a shorter interval but, there's a thread or two on that already as well.
 

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My 05 LX AWD according to the oil cap uses 5w20. With 88,000 on it now I have put 1200 miles on and not used much if any oil. I would consider this engine just about broken in, maybe slightly past.

In almost all cases the switch to 5w20 was a cafe standard for fuel mileage for the company, its still 5 weight when its cold which is when more of the engine wear takes place anyway. The difference in my mind is minimal, it takes less effort to pump 5W20 vs 5w30 at temp, they are still basically providing the same protection and lubrication. They hydrodynamic forces are pretty much the same, there is little need for EP in an engine, mostly detergents. While working for ford they recommended down to 5w00 in very cold climates(Alaska), I really don't know if I would be that bold.

As for usage of oil, its typical for any engine to use a small amount of oil between changes, esp at the beginning of an engines life. Engineers design the oil dipstick to read slightly conservative, I have run many engines a quart low with little or no effects, 2 quarts well now you are talking a different game.

Checking the oil should be a regular routine just like adding gas, I try and check every other tank on my F150 which is 1000 miles(it uses a quart every 1000 miles since it had 55K on it), the E thats only about 600 so I would probably do it every 4. I was told by my uncle who owns 2 CR-Vs that the dealership will not do oil changes below 50% life with his service plan. It can't hurt to change it earlier unless you put some really cheap crappy oil in something with an api rating of like SD or lower. The second letter indicates the grade many good oils are L and higher nowadays. I believe mobil 1 is around an SM these days, since my oil supply is low I wil have to buy some soon and find out. BTW the first letter indicates that its for a gasoline or Spark induced engine.

I would just keep an eye on it, if you notice it keeps dropping at the next oil change mention it to your dealer and make sure your work order states that you have an oil usage concern.

Chris
 

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Please reconsider the 3K oil change regime you hear so much about from retailers. From what I've seen this is not only needlessly expensive, wastefull, and harmfull to the environment, it's also not as good as 5K or more changes for your E. Especially if you opt for synthetics (oil and media type filter), I would suggest you even consider the factory recommended changes.
FiAsco is correct. The 3K oil change regime is a holdover from the '40s and '50s when crude carb. chokes caused rich mixtures, and dumped raw gas onto cylinder walls and into the crankcase. Poorly fitted rings caused blow-by, and poor tolerances created rapid wear. In the '60s as manufacturing improved, change intervals rose to 6K and now today 10K miles or more, with the ECUs monitoirng engine and environmental operating conditions and calculating the ideal oil change interval.

Oil manufacturers and the oil change industry still chants the 3K oil change mantra for one reason - it benefits their sales numbers.

When is the last time you heard of someone experiencing an engine failure (in normal use) that could be verifiably traced to damage from insufficient lubrication due to infrequent oil changes? Oil never wears out. It can become contaminated and certain additive characteristics can change. But in normal operational use in modern engines, this usually happens quite slowly.

In the mid-80’s, Germany’s leading car magazine Auto, Motor und Sport ran a VW Golf with a 1.6 liter gasoline engine for 100,000 kilometers (62,000 miles) without changing the motor oil or filter. They then tore down the engine completely and examined every single moving part [microscopically] for signs of wear and tear. What little wear they could find was not engine life threatening and fit within normal operating parameters for the given mileage.

These days, it’s common to hear of documented engine life of 500k miles and more. A fleet of Chevy gasoline V8 pickups pulling trailers delivering car parts overnight all over the Midwest has run a number of bow tie bombers to over 600K without failure. A 1987 Saab 900 recently hit the million mile mark without an engine rebuild. Yes, the Saab owner used synthetic oil and changed it regularly in his million mile quest, but even he didn't change it every 3K. His Saab went 7,500 between changes - to one million miles. And when he gave it back to Saab, it was still running fine.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Wow! You guys are so helpful, and I think generally very well informed. And this is such an active forum! Thank you all!

My poor little blue baby is in the body shop now due to a minor fender bender. But I will try out what you all said when I get it back tomorrow.

I guess if I had one follow up question it would be: (well, 2 follow up questions, and here they are:)

So worst case scenario, my oil was 2-3 millimetres below the bottom mark on the dipstick. Probably actually less than that, since I hadn't let it cool all the way. But even that 2-3mm wouldn't be so low as to cause significant increase in internal engine wear?

And I put about 1/3 quart in at the gas station. Now that I know to check the oil COLD (thanks you guys! someone had told me the opposite, long ago!), how far above the top mark on the dipstick, should cause me to drain a little bit of it out? (to avoid excessive pressure on the seals, etc.)

Thanks again! I love my Element and hope to someday paint it a deep purple.

VS
 
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