Oil issues

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by Privacy, please, Dec 21, 2003.

  1. 1998 SL-2 with about 65,000ish miles.

    I recently noticed that when my oil level gets low (apparently I have to
    keep a closer eye on it from now on... this is new behavior) the oil light
    will flicker when I am moderately braking - from 45 mph to a red light, for
    example - as my speed drops through 10-15 mph and turns back out a couple of
    seconds after I have come to a complete stop. What is happening here?

    Also, when I opened the cap today to add more oil (since car was purchased
    used with 16k miles on her I've never used anything but full synthetic) the
    bottom of the oil cap was coated with a yellowish vaseline-looking
    substance. What is this, where does it come from, and what does it mean?

    Privacy, please, Dec 21, 2003
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  2. Privacy, please

    Joe Agro Guest

    I recently noticed that when my oil level gets low (apparently I have to
    Probably "sloshing" around enough to get low readings on the sensor...
    Uh oh... That's an indication of water. Wipe it off and drive for another
    1000 miles or so. Does it return? If not, assume you had a small amount of
    water in there that foamed the oil and then evaporated from the heat. If it
    DOES return, start looking into where the water comes from. Partially bad
    gaskets, bad oil, etc...

    Joe - VROC #8013 - '86 VN750 - joe @ yunx .com
    Ask me about "The Ride" on July 31, '04:
    Look! My eBay Stuff - http://tinyurl.com/zkyd
    Joe Agro, Dec 21, 2003
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  3. Privacy, please

    clutch Guest

    Moisture. When you burn gasoline you make water and some of that is
    getting by your piston rings. There are other causes that someone
    else addressed.

    My old truck went 100K or more after I noticed the white stuff so
    unless you are adding antifreeze often I wouldn't get excited. Your
    car is aging.

    clutch, Dec 21, 2003
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    Simplstupd Guest

    Normal if you are not getting the engine up to operating temp. Caused by short
    Nothing to worry about.
    Simplstupd, Dec 21, 2003
  5. Do not let the level drop past the halfway mark.
    Jonnie Santos, Dec 21, 2003
  6. Privacy, please

    BANDIT2941 Guest

    Normal if you are not getting the engine up to operating temp. Caused by
    Seems like everyone is addressing his water problem but he has a bigger problem
    with that light coming on!!

    That oil light is NOT an oil level light, it is an oil PRESSURE light. If
    you've been seeing that on a regular basis, you will be very lucky that your
    engine is not hurt. You must have let the oil level get so low that the
    pressure dropped down too........very bad thing...........keep oil in it from
    now on and count your lucky stars....
    BANDIT2941, Dec 21, 2003
  7. I will keep a closer eye on it. Any oil additives that would help?

    Also, why would the pressure be dropping as I brake? And never if I brake
    from 10 mph or so to a stop (as in a parking lot)?
    Privacy, please, Dec 22, 2003
  8. Privacy, please

    C. E. White Guest

    The oil pressure drops on long decelerations because the oil moves
    towards the front of the pan away from the oil pump pick-up. You let
    your oil got so low that so much oil moved away from the oil pump
    pick-up that there is no oil around the pick-up. When this happened, the
    oil pump sucks in air and the pressure output of the pump drops to
    virtually nothing. This is very bad because if means that for those few
    moments, fresh oil is not being pumped to your bearings. If this goes on
    for long, severe wear or worse will occur. You do not see the problem
    when you are braking in parking lots because it is difficult to brake
    hard enough for a long enough period of time to starve the oil pick-up.

    C. E. White, Dec 22, 2003
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    BANDIT2941 Guest

    The oil pressure drops on long decelerations because the oil moves
    Exactly. The little bit of oil you have left sloshes away from the pickup. It
    doesn't have to go on for very long to have bad engine damage.....
    BANDIT2941, Dec 22, 2003
  10. Well, here's hoping that I didn't cause too many problems. Wish I knew
    where the oil was going... but from what I've seen here Saturns seem to have
    a habit of drinking oil. Anything strongly recommended to help with that?
    Privacy, please, Dec 23, 2003
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    Simplstupd Guest

    from what I've seen here Saturns seem to have
    Not that I am aware of. But honestly, how hard is it to pop the hood every 500
    miles and check the level? Takes 30 seconds start to finish.
    Simplstupd, Dec 23, 2003
  12. The time isn't the issue... I'm just interested in keeping costs down
    anywhere I can. If there's an oil additive that costs, say, $2/bottle that
    prevents me from having to add an extra however-many quarts/year then I'd be
    Privacy, please, Dec 23, 2003
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    Guest Guest

    When one drives 100 to 350 miles per day, that becomes "check the oil
    daily". Which is a pain in winter with outside parking. But thankfully
    most do not have it this rough.
    Guest, Dec 23, 2003
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    C. E. White Guest

    There are seven obvious places you could be losing oil - past the rings, past
    the valve guides, leaks past static gaskets, leaks past crankshaft seals, head
    gasket leaks, a crack in the block or head, or through the PCV system. Verify
    you don't have any significant external leaks from static gaskets or crankshaft
    seals. Make sure you don't have any oil in the coolant. Make sure your PCV
    valve is in good shape. If you aren't losing oil from any of these obvious
    places, then the oil is most likely being drawn into the cylinders and burned.
    You might consider having the valve guide seals checked and replaced as
    necessary. Beyond this, any fix is going to be very expensive. If you are
    looking for a miracle, go down to Pep Boys and cruise the additives aisle. There
    are plenty of products that claim to reduce oil consumption. Some claim to work
    by swelling seals - this might help with worn valve guide seals. Some claim to
    work by dissolving carbon deposits that are sticking oil control rings. These
    supposedly free the rings so that they work better and reduce the amount of oil
    escaping past the rings into the combustion chamber. Some claim to work by
    increasing the viscosity of the oil (STP). I'd stay away from these. They might
    slow down the rate of oil consumption but they do it by slowing down the
    movement of the oil and this might actually increase engine wear in the long

    I'd suggest you make sure the PCV Valve is in good shape, and keep a check on
    your oil. Change the oil regularly and use a good quality oil. You might
    consider one of the new "older vehicle" oils (Valvoline Max Life is an example).

    C. E. White, Dec 23, 2003
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    C. E. White Guest

    How about checking your oil when you buy gas? You are already outside.

    C. E. White, Dec 23, 2003
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    Steve S. Guest

    There are things you can do to improve the oil consumption.

    Saturns have a known issue where carbon builds up in the ring land
    area causing the rings to stick. Saturn has a (TSB) procedure where a
    strong solvent (GM top engine cleaner or GM piston and ring cleaner)
    is poured into each cylinder and let sit for 8 hours. Then the
    solvent is sucked out (whatever is left), the oil changed, and the car
    put back into service. This seems to cut the oil consumption in 1/2
    or better in most cases. Sometimes it virtually eliminates

    Another common source of oil consumption is through an aftermarket or
    stuck PCV valve. Try a new Saturn valve.

    Also on some older Saturns the valve seals have been known to go bad.
    These have to be physically replaced, but isn't an enormous task (as
    long as the guides are still OK).

    Finally if you want to save a little money, you could switch to
    non-synthetic oil. If it's above 20°F or -7°C run 10w30. In hotter
    climates you can run 10w40 without problems. The thicker the oil
    viscosity, the less it will burn (or leak).

    As far as the deposit on the base of the oil cap - as others mentioned
    it is water/moisture. The more blowby an engine has and the colder
    the ambient temperature the more prone to moisture building up in the
    oil (and depositing on the cap). Short drives, where the engine
    doesn't fully reach operating temperatures can make even a new engine
    see lots of water in the oil (water by the way is a byproduct of
    combustion). There's not much you can do about it other than changing
    the oil more regularly and driving longer distances (which might not
    be practical). Performing the solvent soak procedure also should help
    as the primary source for blowby is stuck rings (with Saturns).
    Steve S., Dec 23, 2003
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    Steve S. Guest

    BTW, the GM piston and ring cleaner is part number 123785489. I don't
    have the TSB number handy (it's also different between Canada and US).
    Steve S., Dec 23, 2003
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    Dan Duncan Guest

    I drive 140 miles a day in my 1998 SW2, and I just check the oil
    every time I buy gas. If I do it while the gas is pumping,
    it takes ZERO extra time since I'd otherwise be standing
    there waiting for it to fill. I am aware it will read a little
    lower if the engine has just been running, but if it's always
    in the same spot then I'm not burning oil.

    Dan Duncan, Dec 23, 2003
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    BANDIT2941 Guest

    Well, here's hoping that I didn't cause too many problems. Wish I knew
    Change the piston rings. Saturn used Hastings rings at the factory and they are

    You can try the top end soak and see what happens, several have reported good
    BANDIT2941, Dec 24, 2003
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    Guest Guest

    This could be done, but then I'd need to allow for different pitch on the
    car since not getting gas at the same place most of the time. It is just a
    problem I have to live with.

    Have a good day.
    Guest, Dec 24, 2003
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