The Truth About Cars » oil change http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 12 Sep 2014 23:54:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » oil change http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Piston Slap: Bennie Bucks on the Winter Beater? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/piston-slap-bennie-bucks-on-the-winter-beater/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/piston-slap-bennie-bucks-on-the-winter-beater/#comments Wed, 27 Nov 2013 13:16:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=662242 TTAC Commentator 28-Cars-Later writes: Sajeev, I’ve got a small conundrum for Piston Slap.  Winter is fast approaching and for those of us in the mid-Atlantic states this is a serious affair. My winter beater has been my trusty (but not rusty) ’98 Saturn SL/auto/164K, which in the spring started showing its age and developed transmission […]

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TTAC Commentator 28-Cars-Later writes:

Sajeev,

I’ve got a small conundrum for Piston Slap.  Winter is fast approaching and for those of us in the mid-Atlantic states this is a serious affair. My winter beater has been my trusty (but not rusty) ’98 Saturn SL/auto/164K, which in the spring started showing its age and developed transmission issues after seven years (and roughly 80K) of ownership. I’ve let her sit most of the summer save starting her up and driving her around the parking lot every 7-12 days but I’ve been trying to put off the inevitable investment of Bennie bucks. This evening I was offered an ’00 Subaru Outback/auto/186K to replace it for $2500 inc four new cheap tires and inspection.

The prospects of an actual [built in Japan] Japanese wagon are intriguing, the Subaru is 7/10 in terms of condition with some dings and several rust spots, it had no issue starting up and is throwing no codes. The catch is I have zero documentation on the car (was a recent trade) and personally I am leery of all AWD systems regardless of make and model, especially without documentation/receipts. Panning over the engine bay I noticed a newer alternator and a battery stickered 3/12 (with old acid all over the cradle) so somebody (sort of) attempted to take care of the car. Oil was a down 1/4 a quart, coolant was dirty but not caked on or anything, but the kicker was the trans fluid is getting to be brown. I figure whomever recently owned this attempted to take care of it to some degree, but neglected all of the fluid changes, which leads to me to suspect none of the Subie specific maint (diff fluid, sensors, etc) has been done either by this owner (and who knows about the head gaskets). I have two days to make up my mind on the Subie before he sends it to auction.

(NOTE: because of my time delay in publishing, this car is already bought or auctioned off – SM)

So I figure my choices are as such:

  1. Spend $1200-1400 to install a used transmission in my Saturn and risk more expensive stuff breaking down the line.
  2. Spend $2500 and buy the Subaru, which for my purposes will probably get me through at least this winter without fireworks, but risk later expensive Subie specific repairs, or total loss if something big breaks.
  3. Not spend any money, junk my Saturn, and just drive one of my other two cars in the winter that I currently baby to some degree.

Sajeev answers:

Well…I guess it kinda depends on your other two vehicles.

#2 is not a sure thing: with zero service history and tired fluids, expecting this Subaru to work all winter is a rather huge leap of faith.  Perhaps if it was something more robust (truck) with less unique parts that are painfully hard to reach, perhaps if it wasn’t a vehicle known for its fragility (bad head gaskets) especially when neglected/abused…

Install a junkyard transmission in the Saturn, coming from a yard that offers a warranty.  Or research to see if a local shop rebuilds these units with quality parts and labor (not always easy to find) for a fair price.  Why?  Because it’s almost always easier to keep the problems you know, not the gigantic rolling question mark that could be even more of a horrid money pit.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Piston Slap: See the USA in your K-I-A? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/piston-slap-see-the-usa-in-your-k-i-a/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/piston-slap-see-the-usa-in-your-k-i-a/#comments Mon, 11 Nov 2013 12:50:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=647330 Phil writes: Hello Sajeev, I have a question related to maintenance on a 2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo. It currently has 45k miles, and I have owned it for only 4 months (had 20k when I took ownership of it). As you can see, it is driven a whole lot, almost exclusively on the great […]

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Phil writes:

Hello Sajeev,

I have a question related to maintenance on a 2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo. It currently has 45k miles, and I have owned it for only 4 months (had 20k when I took ownership of it). As you can see, it is driven a whole lot, almost exclusively on the great interstates of the Southeastern US of A. I average 5-6k per month. I am an outside sales rep. and drive from SC to MS and everywhere in between weekly.

My question is this:

Should I follow standard maintenance routines, such as every 5k oil changes and manufacturer’s recommended filter, plug and fluid changes; or can I extend these intervals. If so, how much can these intervals be safely extended? I plan to keep the car for about 3 years or 200k miles if it continues to run as well as it has. Are there any tips to keep the car in top shape mechanically?

Sajeev answers:

The gray area in these situations might as well be the entire discussion: Black and White analysis goes out the window! Some salient points, no matter the vehicle:

  • You can kinda, sorta judge oil condition yourself because worn out oil has a different look (not golden), feel in your fingertips (sinks into your fingerprints) and smell (like a BBQ gone bad).
  • Turbocharged cars demand more from their motor oil.
  • Turbocharged cars with marginal oiling systems (and cooling?) break oil down faster than similar systems. (see VW/Audi engine sludging)
  • Many wear items are indifferent to the frequency of driving and driving conditions (highway, vs. city) so you cannot significantly deviate from their service intervals.

In the case of a Turbocharged FWD family sedan with limited real estate for intercoolers/oil coolers/etc, I default to the worst case scenario: a sludge magnet like an older Audi.  Stick with 5k oil changes, unless you spend the money for an oil analysis to see exactly how (or at what rate) your driving style breaks down oil. Switching to a full synthetic extends the life of the motor and possibly the service cycle…but I ain’t committin’ to nothin‘ without an oil analysis.

What about other non-engine oil items?  Filters, coolant, spark plugs, should be replaced at the same intervals, unless you switch to a K&N air filter…which actually makes sense in your case! The only wildcard for me is the transmission fluid: one person putting that kinda time on the Interstate drastically alleviates stress on your ATF.  If three years is all you need, you may never need to change the transmission fluid.  BUT…since we aren’t in the business of abusing cars here…assuming there’s no dipstick to check, odds are servicing every 100k-150k is more than adequate.

I hope you enjoy this machine, as the Optima Turbo is on my short list of super cool machines for the average person.  I’d love to own one someday, but perhaps you should visit Steve Lang in ATL when you are ready to sell. He’ll make you the best deal when it’s “Hammer Time.”

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice. 

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Piston Slap: Weathering the Long Winter http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/piston-slap-weathering-the-long-winter/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/piston-slap-weathering-the-long-winter/#comments Wed, 23 Oct 2013 11:28:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=630378 Longtime TTAC commentator mikey writes: Sajeev, In the years since I last wrote to you my personal circumstances took a few turns. When the dust settled, I ended up with three cars. I decided to keep all three cars. The Cobalt is my daily/winter driver, and I will drive it to the ground. My wife […]

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Longtime TTAC commentator mikey writes:

Sajeev,

In the years since I last wrote to you my personal circumstances took a few turns. When the dust settled, I ended up with three cars. I decided to keep all three cars. The Cobalt is my daily/winter driver, and I will drive it to the ground. My wife loves the Mustang: we drop the top and take it on a cruise, she loves it, and it gets us out of the house.

About a year or so ago, I was feeling sorry for myself, traded the Impala in, and bought a new 2011 2SS Camaro with a six speed. It is a very cool car. If I’m having a bad day I pull it out of the garage, detail it and look at it. Once in a while, we may take it for a drive. Those drives are getting more and more rare. Less than 8000 kms on the clock, but I’m not planning on selling it. That may change, but not for a while…

My questions:

  1. Do I need to do more than a yearly oil change on the Camaro? GM recommends synthetic.
  2. How long can I let it sit in my garage before seals and stuff dry out? I use fuel stabilizer for the winter. Do I need to use the stabilizer all the time?
  3. I’d rather not put it into long-term storage. If its been sitting for a month or two,is a short trip around the block enough to prevent seals drying out. Maybe I should consider long-term storage? If opt for long-term storage then what do I have to do?

Sajeev if you use this for Piston Slap, great! I’d love to hear some of the B&B ‘s recommendations.

Sajeev answers:

After giving us such insight in the months leading up to GM’s bankruptcy, how could we say no to you? And if I recall, that Impala was part of your buyout from GM…we are a part of your life, no matter what!

The twists and turns we experience in our personal lives are quite amazing. Someone or something can change you forever.  Except that it does not: continually managing the negativity and focusing on a continuous stream of positive experiences is the best path to overcoming any problem. Like trading the Impala for a Camaro SS: you gotta do it, to it!

Rambling aside, my life on Texas’ Gulf coast gives me zero first hand knowledge. So put up with my drivel and get the scoop from the B&B afterwards.

  1. Annual oil changes (synthetic or no) are perfect, especially if you do run the motor up to normal operating temperature a few times every year.  Water contamination is a valid problem with any automotive lubricant, but yearly oil changes and regular exercise will make this issue a non-starter.
  2. Fuel stabilizer in the winter is a great idea, probably not necessary all year for a car this new and not stored in a museum. I wouldn’t even start worrying about seals and other rubber bits until 5-10 years of natural aging.  Dry rotted tires will be your biggest problem, but that’s at least 4 years away…probably more like 6-7 years away. And the other bits?  Well, if you can run the motor once a month in the garage (again, up to operating temperature) this will definitely help everything as the years go by.  More importantly, don’t worry about these failures until a visual inspection (i.e. cracks from dry rot or an actual leak) tells you otherwise.
  3. Long term storage sounds like a waste for a dude like you.  Just give it a little monthly exercise, change the oil annually, add fuel stabilizer when it gets cold and be a happy camper.

Best and Brightest?

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Gettin’ Lubed: I Was A Minit Lube Minuteman http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/gettin-lubed-i-was-a-minit-lube-minuteman/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/gettin-lubed-i-was-a-minit-lube-minuteman/#comments Wed, 12 Jun 2013 22:06:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=491628 I still remember them. Tall and clear eyed, their square jaws clenched tightly as a sign of their strict discipline and inherent resolve, they dressed in perfectly pressed brown shirts and marched in straight, ordered ranks before the camera. For them there was only duty and their duty was their honor. Nothing would sway them […]

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oil light

I still remember them. Tall and clear eyed, their square jaws clenched tightly as a sign of their strict discipline and inherent resolve, they dressed in perfectly pressed brown shirts and marched in straight, ordered ranks before the camera. For them there was only duty and their duty was their honor. Nothing would sway them from their purpose. As they marched they sang, and their song was a call to action. “We’re the Minit Lube Minutemen, trained to do the job and do it right.” God help us, we loved them for it.

They are gone now – so gone that not even their commercials exist anymore. Other companies purchased their shops and changed their names, but they helped start it all and, like some other things started by some resolute men in pressed brown shirts, the reality ended up being somewhat different than the idealized image that appeared on film. It was hot, sweaty and more than a little greasy. Still, I was proud to be among them, selected to be a leader and made a “Management Trainee” by the powers that be, and I was determined to lead from the front. Despite the fact that I had been hired primarily because of my sales experience, something that should have had me close to the register, working with customers and encouraging them to buy add-on services like air filters and optional fluid changes, I knew that as a leader I must earn their respect and so I too did my time in the trenches.

Anyone who has ever taken their car to a Quick Lube has a pretty good idea of what happens. Part of that is by design, the bays are open and the waiting areas are often simple alcoves where a customer can enjoy a cup of coffee while they watch the show. The techs call out their every movement to one another, partially because safety (no one wants to be under a car when oil gets spilled) and partially because the more activity and noise the generate the more it seems like something important is going on. It gives the customer confidence in the work being done and to also allows them to feel that they are getting value for their money. And, like it is for every business that sells a service, money is what this is really all about.

JL customer service

The experience always begins outside of the shop when the customer pulls up and a customer service representative rushes out to speak to them about the kind of service they want. The truth is many customers don’t really know what they want, so this person’s job is simply to help them along but suggesting products or services here is a part of the game and often a simple phrase like, “Would you like synthetic oil?” can add real dollars to the company’s bottom line.

Once the customer signs the consent form, the car goes into the bay and over the pit where the action begins in earnest. Since most cars look a lot alike from the bottom, the customer service rep will tell the pit man the type and year of the car as well as the kind of service requested. The pit man always repeats this back in a loud voice, looks-up and stages the oil filter and begins to drain the oil. While the oil is draining, he will move back along the car, checking the various gear boxes he has access to and putting small samples of their oils on a plate that he will eventually pass to the customer service rep. If needed, he will lube the chassis and once the oil has fully drained he will change the filter, being careful to wipe the engine plate to ensure the gasket comes off with the old filter and re-install the drain plug.

JL pit

The pit man’s job It is a simple job, really, but it is also one of the most important. It is hot, dirty and more than a little dangerous working around extremely hot exhaust parts. Also, out of sight of the supervisor, the pit man is the most independently working guy in the shop, his attention to detail is critical and any mistakes he make can get really expensive really quickly. Personally, I liked this job best, but bouncing from car to car kept me busy and the truth is that my mechanical skills were not as good as my selling skills. The manager knew this and left me down there long enough to get the hang of it, but pulled me up on top where I could help make the shop money.

Up on top the hood man will begin by checking the automatic transmission fluid before the driver shuts off the engine. Then he will then move around the car, checking lights asking for signals to be switched on and off etc and finally make a big show of working under the engine. For the most part, with the exception of windshield washer fluid, only tiny amounts of any fluid are actually required if the car doesn’t have some type of real mechanical problem. The hood man will also pull the air filter and, unless it is brand new, will pass it to the customer service rep who, by this time, has also gathered the sample plate from the pit man.

JL hood man

A smart customer service rep will pull a new air filter and have samples of clean fluids with him when he approaches a customer. He will find them in the waiting room and explain what the condition of the filter and fluids are and, hopefully, up-sell the customer on an additional part or service and add even more to the company’s bottom line. My own approach here, total honesty, actually worked well. There are always several customers waiting in the room and they are all watching as you make your sales pitch. If you tell a customer that his obviously clean looking fluids look fine, you have just made a dozen friends. When you come back later and tell others that their dirty fluids are “border line” or worse, you will get their buy-in almost every time.

Back out at the car, the customer service rep will tell the service techs what additional services, if any, are required and the service will start to approach completion. The hood man will verify verbally with the pit man that the oil plug is in and that it is OK to add oil. That completed, he will verify the engine oil is in and that it is OK to start the car. While he does so, the pit man will stand by to make sure there are no leaks on the bottom side. That done, the hood man will shut off the engine and go to the front of the car where he will physically get down on his knees and watch while the pit man verifies that every drain plug is tight with a pull of his wrench. The service is completed, the hood goes down and the customer settles up.

For the most part the technicians who work at Quick Lubes are young people at the beginning of their working lives. Most are not professional mechanics, but everyone I worked with went through a fairly rigorous in-house training program and all were skilled at what they did. Each of us, of course, had varying degrees of experience and ability but for the most part the way the shop was run, with a constant communication between the techs and actual cross checks prior to the completion of a car’s service ensured that the work was done to an acceptable standard.

It was the 80s and this was the kind of thing we worked on.

It was the 80s and this was the kind of thing we worked on.

I won’t lie and say we never had a problem. Sometimes things got broken under the hood and our company paid to have them fixed. One time a drain plug on a differential wasn’t tightened sufficiently and our company replaced it and agreed to handle any problems when the customer brought it to our attention. The vast majority of our customers, however, came in, received their service without any problems and went on happily with their lives. That’s a good thing.

Looking back today I can see that the work we were doing was not terribly difficult and despite the searing pain of burned hands and wrists, the constant grit and grime under our fingernails, our oil stained uniforms and the constant smell of Dexron that wafted about us, we had an enjoyable job. Today when I roll into a Quick Lube I spend as much time watching the people as I do watching their performance and for the most part they are like I was back then, young, hardworking people who are trying to get ahead. I hope they go on to as much success in life as I have.

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He writes for any car website that will have him and enjoys public speaking. According to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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Piston Slap: Seeing the Forester for the Trees? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/piston-slap/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/piston-slap/#comments Wed, 07 Mar 2012 12:48:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=433620   Jim writes: Hi, I hope you are well. I have several questions regarding my 2011 Forester (5 speed): a) I drive 8 to 10K annually and change the 5w-20 every 6 months.  Is this sufficient? b) Subaru keeps sending me extended warranty offers.   This tells me that I likely don’t need it.  What […]

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Jim writes:

Hi,

I hope you are well. I have several questions regarding my 2011 Forester (5 speed):

a) I drive 8 to 10K annually and change the 5w-20 every 6 months.  Is this sufficient?

b) Subaru keeps sending me extended warranty offers.   This tells me that I likely don’t need it.  What do you think?    My favorite moment when purchasing the Forester: The F & I rep mentioning “If people want to drive around without the extended warranty, it is not my problem.”

I have been surprisingly happy with this car.  It handles well, is quick and I’ve been getting 23mpg city and 28 to 30 on the highway. I found this to be a much more enjoyable drive than a CR-V, RAV4 (not great at all) or the old Escape.

Best wishes,

Jim

Sajeev answers:

I am well, thank you so much for asking!  If my googling is correct, Subaru has a somewhat complicated service schedule for 2011 models. To wit:

  • 2011 Outback, Legacy, Tribeca, Impreza, (exc turbos): Some owner’s manuals will recommend using synthetic but not require it. Owners manuals printed around March 2011 presumably indicate all Subarus require synthetic oil.
  • All 2011 models use 5w-30 except the Forester X which uses 0w-20

Oops. This leads me to believe you are using the wrong oil (20 weight), and indirectly justy-fies (get it?) the North American Subaru Impreza Owner’s Club’s sub-forum for warranty problems. That said, I think your oil change interval is acceptable, based on your letter and my first hyperlink.  You could extend your oil change intervals to whatever the dashboard may tell you, but I don’t see the utility in it.

On to your warranty question:  most Subies fare quite well if they receive regular maintenance and are NOT owned by the stereotypical clutch-murdering, turbo-overboosting WRX owner. The mere fact that you wrote a nice letter with good detail implies you will take good care of this vehicle and will love it.  As such, no need for the warranty.

And go back and hug that F&I person for “not caring”, reminding them that this level of indifference is precisely what the automotive retailing industry needs to restore its regularly-tarnished image. Or not.

My last point: if you didn’t ask me how I was doing and wrote about owning (not leasing) damn near anything from Europe made in the last decade, well, that would be a different story.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com . Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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Piston Slap: Always Trust, But Verify http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/piston-slap-always-trust-but-verify/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/piston-slap-always-trust-but-verify/#comments Mon, 05 Mar 2012 12:35:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=433614   Patrick writes: Okay, I have a question. Strictly follow the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance schedule, or only perform demand maintenance? Of course I love buying cars where the previous owners were diligent and could prove it. I do a hybrid, I change fluids regularly but do the rest as demand (with exceptions.) Timing belts on interference engines an example of an exception. […]

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Patrick writes:

Okay, I have a question. Strictly follow the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance schedule, or only perform demand maintenance?

Of course I love buying cars where the previous owners were diligent and could prove it. I do a hybrid, I change fluids regularly but do the rest as demand (with exceptions.) Timing belts on interference engines an example of an exception.

Sajeev answers:

As much as I’d like to say you always–without question–follow the owner’s manual, Toyota and VW/Audi ruined that delusional notion with their engine sludging problems a few years back. It doesn’t matter if its your significant other, ex-significant other, someone you wish was your significant other, mother, co-workers, best friend, or the dude that bags up your grocery: always trust, but verify.

The people behind the words in your owner’s manual have the best intentions, but nobody knows how every subsystem in every powertrain fares after 3-10 years of use.  It’s completely impossible to know without never-happening powertrain changes (i.e. Panther Love) so I shall say it again: always trust, but verify.

So let’s pretend that you, dear reader, actually give a crap about your ride. But you don’t have the time/money/interest to ship fluid samples off to see when exactly your oil, coolant or brake fluid isn’t 100% functional. So perhaps you should flush out the brake system on every 2nd brake job, just because you live in an area of high humidity and you feel the pedal in your car is too spongy. I mean, the mechanic is already working in front of every bleeder valve: why not spend a few more bucks for another bottle of brake fluid? Or change transmission fluid annually because you tow a lot of heavy things in your line of work. Sounds fair.

I often do an oil change when it smells a little smoky and has 8-10,000 miles on it. Or just do whatever the dash light says, as it considers your driving habits.  I have yet to hear that a maintenance minder came on when it was too late: they err on being conservative.

Your “Hybrid” notion can be a good choice, as long as it doesn’t justify something ludicrous like the 3000-mile oil change on damn near any car running modern oil.

Bonus! A Piston Slap Nugget of Wisdom:

Perhaps “trust but verify” is a dark way to live your life. But maybe it’s the best way to believe in yourself, making yourself accountable for the actions around you. Because we do have control over many aspects of our lives, whether we choose to exercise control is always a delicate balancing act of time/money/interest.

Example: I recently spent a ton of bread getting the Terrazzo floors in my new home wet sanded, chemically cleaned and then epoxy-coated like a race garage.  Turns out they couldn’t get the stains out, for a fairly good reason. Instead of getting pissy and demanding a lower price, I paid them and was on my merry way. I had no interest in fighting that battle. But I did trust them, and they let me down. I had no way to verify their process/conclusion at the time, so I gave up. I got bigger fish to fry.

And perhaps you do too.  So maybe you should just read the manual and listen to your dashboard.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com . Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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Piston Slap: Karma, Idiot Lights and the 100k Warranty http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/11/piston-slap-karma-idiot-lights-and-the-100k-warranty/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/11/piston-slap-karma-idiot-lights-and-the-100k-warranty/#comments Mon, 30 Nov 2009 17:36:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=337358 Anonymous writes: I have a 2008 Kia Sorento with the 3.3L, about 11k miles.  The other day, I took it to my local mechanic for an oil change. Drove it all over town during the course of the following couple days.  Then, last night, as I am about 3/4 mile from home, my low oil […]

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Anonymous writes:

I have a 2008 Kia Sorento with the 3.3L, about 11k miles.  The other day, I took it to my local mechanic for an oil change. Drove it all over town during the course of the following couple days.  Then, last night, as I am about 3/4 mile from home, my low oil pressure light goes on.  At that point, I roll down my window to listen to the car and can hear a grinding type noise (valves sticking?) on acceleration.  I limp the rest of the way home and turn off the engine.  This morning, I call the mechanic and they send the service manager right over.  No oil on the dipstick whatsoever.  He adds oil to the engine and drives it down the street to the shop.  They inspect, and tell me it is a bad o-ring on the cone filter that caused all the oil to leak out over the course of 2 days, and that it is possible that they had not tightened it sufficiently when the changed the oil.    They said no other damage had been done, replaced the o-ring, changed the oil and filter and sent me on my way.

So my question is this…what is the possibility that other (long term) damage could have been done?  Should I have the vehicle checked out by another mechanic, or even the Kia dealership?  Should I not even inform the dealership, as they may use it as a way to deny future warranty claims?  The vehicle is no longer making the grinding type noise, and seems to be fine.  I may drive it lightly the next few days just to be sure.

Sajeev replies:

Piston Slap’s mission is to look out for our contributor’s best interests, but Karmic forces may beg to differ this time ‘round.  Put another way: you should see no evil, hear no evil. And hope for the best.

Here’s why: running with low oil pressure is a recipe for top-end engine damage, even more so on top-heavy overhead camshaft designs.  And that’s if you’re lucky, more serious engine component failures is likely.  I suspect that at some point oil consumption, noise, or performance will be a concern. I’d start by monitoring the oil level on your dipstick on a monthly basis, and continue until you’re ready to sell the car.

Then again, you have a properly serviced machine (according to your paperwork) with a 100k warranty, right?  You can stick it to da (Kia) man when the bad news arrives, but feel guilty about it.  When an oil light comes on, a Pistonhead gets off the road and stops dead in their tracks.

There’s no limping home.  Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

Consider yourself lucky you have a warranty and the motor isn’t damaged to the point of obvious negligence on your mechanic’s part:  that shop owes you big time, otherwise you’d be suing them while Kia washes their hands of it. Things coulda been much worse.

(Send your queries to mehta@ttac.com)

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