• dave posted an update 4 months, 1 week ago

    Wheres all my cars oil gone? I had my car serviced in October, did a couple of thousand miles before then driving to Chamonix in February. Less than half an hour after I got off the ferry (and after I’d decided against European breakdown insurance – typical) my car started complaining of low oil. It’s a smarty-pants new car (2013 Volvo V60 D3) that only allows you to check the oil level electronically – there’s no dipstick. I topped up the oil at a service station and continued on with no complaints.

    The question is, where’d my oil go? There were no signs of a leak on the driveway or anywhere I’ve parked, and there are no clouds of blue smoke coming out of the exhaust. I’m going to get it looked at by a garage when I recover it from France next week, but I’m curious as to what could cause the problem.

    When it was serviced the garage fixed a small oil leak at the PTC valve and noted that the supporting brackets for a hose were broken and needed replacing; they secured it with cable ties pending the arrival of the correct part, which was never fitted as I moved to the other end of the country before it arrived. I’d have thought that either of those would have resulted in there being oil on the drive?

    I also considered maybe it hadn’t liked being sloshed around on the ferry, but the low oil message persisted over quite a while after it first came up, and it didn’t complain about having too much oil at any point over the next 10 hours after I’d topped it up.

    • Maybe the service wasn’t very good, and they didn’t replace enough oil?

      Engines burn oil, at various rates, without generating blue smoke. A mate has a Nissan Primera that uses it fairly quickly; this seems to be a regular problem. I’d check with google to see if this is a regular ‘feature’ with your engine.



      • I did consider that, and so I figure the best port of call is to take it to a garage to get a full oil change and have them take a look to make sure nothing is amiss, and then monitor it.

        I’m aware that all engines consume oil to some degree, however I’ve never had the problem with a modern diesel consuming enough to complain about low oil, and hadn’t had any issues with this car from when I bought it in spring last year up until then despite an actual minor leak and having done a lot of miles in it. It made me a bit suspicious (and concerned, in northern France a long way from both destination and home!)

        • I bet your suspicion of the ferry sloshing also had something to do with it. Warning lights often don’t clear immediately the fault is fixed.

    • I suspect this is the most likely, that the garage accidentally didn’t put much in. It’s happened to me in the past.

    • I definitely don’t like the idea of no dip stick. Electronics fail but a stick never lies. Lots of diesels use oil. My van does 20k between services but the oil runs low at 18k every time.

      My guess if you only did a few k would be the garage not filling it properly in the first place.

      • I agree. I didn’t discover this until I pulled off the Autoroute and tried to check the level. Very upsetting. An added insult to injury is that you can’t check the level immediately after the engine has been running, so whilst I knew it thought it had less oil than it should, I couldn’t find out exactly how little. 15 minutes of sitting in the car park hadn’t resolved the situation so I got bored, topped it up by 500ml as recommended in the manual and drove off.

    • My car, made in the fatherland, did the same thing recently after I parked on, then pulled off of a particularly steep road. I put a tiny amount of oil in and all was OK again. I suspect the gradient, like your ferry, just upset the clever vurspruning technology!

      • I think it must have been low (or certainly nowhere near maximum) to begin with as well though, as after adding 500ml it didn’t bring up the ‘too much oil’ message at any point in my journey.

        I thought I’d driven it long enough to clear any ferry-related sloshing after the warning initially came up too – it didn’t appear until probably about 30 minutes into my journey, and I did at least another 30 minutes afterwards (with a couple of stops to try and check the level and buy oil – first two services didn’t have the right oil).

    • Check your water – is it oily? any mayonaise like stuff (don’t eat it)?

      • I’ll have a look when I’m reacquainted.
        There weren’t any deposits on the oil filler cap when I took a look at the time, which I hoped ruled out head gasket failure when combined with the lack of oil-burning smoke coming out of the back end. I’ll check the coolant as well next time I see the vehicle though.