: Oil missing from pan

08-13-07, 08:26 AM
Over the weekend I changed the oil in my 95,000 mile N* sitting in a 1998 El Dorado. After draining the oil from the pan, changing the oil filter, plugging the pan and refilling the oil, it took ~20 min for the added oil to completely reach the pan and display full on the dipstick.

This morning, after a 30min drive, I turned off the car and let it sit for 15min, then checked the oil... 3qt. I checked again after another 15min and the oil was showing full on the dipstick.

It seems as though there is a clog somewhere, but where and are there any remedies for this that don't involve a mechanic? I have performed a few WOTs, hoping this would clear out the clog, but don't want to continue this if the engine is not getting enough oil.

Thanks in advance.

08-13-07, 08:35 AM
Ooyyyy I'm not positive but I think I've heard of the oil returns in the N* being small and subject to clogging. What weight oil do you use, how long have you owned the car?

My quick answer is when the car is a qt low put in a qt of Marvel Mystery Oil. Run it for a week or so and see if it improves. WOT will NOT clear out oil return lines. They work on gravity and there is no pressure involved.

Maybe someone will chime in with a better solution that that will probably work.

08-13-07, 08:39 AM
I've had the car ~6 months and got it with 87k miles. I currently have Castrol 10w-30 high mileage in there. I cleaned out the Throttle Body a month or so after I got the car and it has been running great. Just happened to notice this slow returning oil issue.

08-13-07, 09:23 AM
Sounds like someone either never changed the oil or ran way to thick of an oil. I think 10W-30 is correct for that vintage

08-13-07, 09:59 AM
The car had balding tires when I got it, so I wouldn't put it past the previous owner to neglect oil changes. Mechanic buddy checked out/picked up the car for me... I probably would have avoided it if I was aware of the bald tires.

After some forum searching, I've seen the general consensus is to leave well enough alone when it comes to neglected oil changes. Would WOTs do any damage in the current condition? Ideally, I'd like to get another 50k miles out of this car :)

08-13-07, 10:03 AM
Well if the oil isn't being returned to the pan fast enough the low oil level warning should come on.

If you're running at hi RPM's and you run the oil sump dry you could do damage. I would seriously try the Marvel Mystery Oil.

Contrary to what other say it's good stuff and it can't hurt anything. Use it as recommended, drive for a week or so and change the oil again.

See if that helps the problem. Keep us posted.

The car had balding tires when I got it, so I wouldn't put it past the previous owner to neglect oil changes. Mechanic buddy checked out/picked up the car for me... I probably would have avoided it if I was aware of the bald tires.

After some forum searching, I've seen the general consensus is to leave well enough alone when it comes to neglected oil changes. Would WOTs do any damage in the current condition? Ideally, I'd like to get another 50k miles out of this car :)

08-13-07, 10:09 AM
Definitely sounds like a drain back problem. I would do what Code suggests. Add some MMO and avoid WOT till you get it cleared up.

08-13-07, 10:14 AM
:eek: Ranger, Codewize, Dkozloski, chime in here if I'm off base.......Your engine has the oil fill cap on the top of the timing chain case, correct? Next time you drive for a while, leave the engine running and pop the hood and carefully pull the oil fill cap. With a good flashlight, look down into the chain case. If there's visible oil frothing around in there, you have a drainback problem. Someone, AJxtc maybe, will see this and offer some insight into how oil drains to the pan from the chaincase.......I have no idea as to how much oil the cam valleys will hold, bur there has to be some drain system there, too.....Hopefully, as you drive the car and exercise the oiling system (more than it has been) the problem will gradually clear up. Curious that you don't get low oil/pressure alarms when this happens.....

08-13-07, 10:23 AM
The only feedback I get is 80-85% of the time starting the car the DIC reads "Check Oil Level," so I get out and check it most of the time and the pan level is just under the "FULL" marker.

I've driven at least 60 miles most days for a little more than 3 months. Will check for frothing on the way home from work.

Harry Yarnell
08-13-07, 11:53 AM
Drainback? Good God, man, the drainback is the chain case, and it's about 2x8"; you could throw a brick thru there. The head (camside) is sloped towards the chaincase, so there's no pooling.

08-13-07, 12:15 PM
Where isn't there a brick-sized path that would allow for pooling/blockage of oil flow to occur?

08-13-07, 12:23 PM
Has it had the lower Case Halves resealed?
TSB to reseal. If not followed you can plug the oil drain back tubes in the block.

08-13-07, 12:44 PM
As far as I know the lower case halves have not been resealed.

If the drain back tubes in the block are clogged, what would unclogging them entail? Using MMO, as suggested above?

Picking up the TSB info after work. Is it something a novice would be able to do?

As if the barrage of questions didn't clue in the whole novice thing.

08-13-07, 04:48 PM
When I popped the cap off I didn't see anything out of the ordinary. It's actually really clean in there. The TSB is 14 pages of pull the engine out of the car, so I'll leave that as a last resort.

Going to try the MMO and see how that works out. Oddly enough, when checking the oil level 5min after parking the car, the dipstick showed the qt before MAX missing.

In case this is of any relevance, there is a thin "film" of oil on the bottom of the pan, under the car. Not enough oil to reach the ground under the car, but enough that it's noticeable when crawling around under there.

08-13-07, 05:24 PM
:confused: You may have one of the N*'s that wants to run a half quart low. No sweat. If there are no real droplets of oil on the pan or surrounding parts, that's not enough seepage to worry about. But now the dipstick is only 1 quart down after 5 minutes engine off? Something's changed since yesterday..........1 quart = the bottom of the hashmark on the dipstick.....

08-13-07, 06:56 PM
Temps have been the same since I got it, 198-206F with 80F outside temp the past two days. I did notice a VERY light amount of smoke when I opened the cap. From time to time I do notice a slight oil burning smell after parking the car and walking past the hood.

I think part of it is I like this '98 so much I want it to run like it's off the lot. :)

08-13-07, 09:43 PM
Something is just not sitting right with me. I recall the Guru once mentioning just how much oil the Northstar pumps at WOT. While the exact number escapes me, it was a LOT, and thus it has to drain back a LOT real fast so as not to oil starve. I cannot imagine todays oils getting so sludged up as to clog those drains, unless the oil has NEVER been changed. If that where the case, the upper heads and cam area would most likely look like pudding and I suspect you'd be having lubrication problems by now. Is it possible that you are misreading the stick? Take a reading before you start the engine and again after shut down. How close are the two readings?

08-13-07, 09:53 PM
It is the red tipped stick, which is a pain to read at times, but I'll upload a few pics in the morning; pre and post start, as well as a pic of inside the cap to see if that helps shed any light.

08-14-07, 06:46 AM
'x' marks the spot :)

This morning before starting the car, oil at max
<ADD| | | | x|MAX|----------------------------

After 30 miles, I parked with the car still running
<ADD|x | | | |MAX|----------------------------

After waiting 10 minutes
<ADD| | | x| |MAX|----------------------------

I was unable to get a good shot of the stick with the point and shoot canon cam, but the inside of the cap and under the car turned out. Again, there has never been oil spots on the ground under the car.

http://img459.imageshack.us/img459/5205/img0441om2.th.jpg (http://img459.imageshack.us/my.php?image=img0441om2.jpg)
http://img516.imageshack.us/img516/3795/img0442dl9.th.jpg (http://img516.imageshack.us/my.php?image=img0442dl9.jpg)

08-14-07, 07:12 AM
It certainly sounds like a block drain is plugged somewhere. But that'd be a lot of pluggage going on for it to retain that much oil.

Where is the oil reading DIRECTLY after you turn it off? You say it's low with the car still running (should be), but then your other check is after 10 minutes. What about 30 seconds after turning it off?

08-14-07, 07:28 AM
After 30 seconds
<ADD| |x | | |MAX|----------------------------

Harry Yarnell
08-14-07, 08:23 AM
Lets get a few things straight. There ARE no 'block drains'. If you're talking about drainback from the cam areas, then the drain back is the chain case. HUGE cave-like structure; right back to the sump.That's it.

Never check oil level (dipstick) with the engine runnig. Splash will give false readings.

Personally I think this is a non-issue.

08-14-07, 08:28 AM
What is the 'normal' time it takes from shutdown to full oil pan?

08-14-07, 09:55 AM
Should be no more than just a minute or two. There will probably be some oil dripping back into the sump for at least 1/2 hour or more, but that will be minimal. Checking the level while running is meaningless as the oil is being pumped throughout the engine. I too am starting to think you are worried about nothing.

08-14-07, 10:01 AM
I'll keep an eye on it and gladly chalk it up to worrying about nothing.

Do the images linked above look concerning at all?

EDIT: Thanks for all the quality feedback :)

08-14-07, 11:37 AM
:eek: One of these days, when you're out shopping for car stuff, pick up a couple of WIX 51522 oil filters. Prefill one with the same oil as is in the engine. REMOVE THAT FRAM FILTER. (You'll need a drain pan to catch the 1/2 quart from the oil cooler) For your education, compare the inlet hole area of the two filters. Install the WIX, screw it up a bit more than healthy hand tight, clean up the mess, and go for a short drive. Then, with the engine off for 5 minutes, top up the oil level to 1/2 way up the hashmark or just a bit more. <ADD| | | X | | |FULL>
:rolleyes:...........Just for grins, clamp the old filter gently in a vise and, using a fine tooth hacksaw (or better, lathe), cut around the case about 1/4" from the tapping plate. (Stuff a rag under the mess.) Remove the tapping plate assembly and pull the filter media out of the case. With a sharp knife cut around the media in order to remove the top and bottom plates. Break off 10-15 fold pieces of the media, and press the accordion firmly in the vise to squeeze most of the remaining oil out. Unfold the accordion and look at the OUTSIDE crease areas (disregard the orange case chips) in order to see any metallic pieces or gasket remnants. Anything other than minimal metallic dust is cause for concern. Bright, shiny flakes are aluminum (piston). Dull gray flakes are bearing metal or timing chain/gear. Dark gray, maybe shiny, is iron (cylinder liner). You could also go online to find an oil analysis laboratory, spend the $25, and get a chemistry report on exactly what's in (or not in) your oil. Fun

08-14-07, 01:01 PM
I still have the old filter from the change this weekend; I appreciate the tip.

This doesn't quite merit a new topic, so I'll fire off the question here. I had my brakes/rotors replaced and for the few hundred miles I've driven with them, I've been getting a light metallic rubbing noise out of the driver side wheel well. The frequency is mutually inclusive to the speed of the car. There has also been a screeching noise when stopping. The screeching occurs until the brake pedal is > 60-70&#37; down.

A friend of mine suggested driving the car in reverse (safely, of course) to "auto adjust" what he suspects to be uneven brake pad height. If this worth attempting and if so, what speed is needed to "trigger" the car to do this. If the lack of search results is any indication... :-P

08-14-07, 03:14 PM
Cam cover Picture looks pretty normal from what I can see. The underside is an obvious leak. Might simply be an oil filter adapter gasket or oil cooler line fitting.

Brake noise might just be the pad composition if it is a squeal. Otherwise an inspection is in order.

Harry Yarnell
08-14-07, 05:42 PM
The backing up to adjust your brakes is from the old days with drum brakes. Modern braking systems are self adjusting; need no input from the driver.

08-14-07, 07:48 PM
Took the cadi 300 miles today with the MMO in the pan and checked the oil level about 30 seconds after parking... sure enough, it's right where it should be.

Just purchased the 3 vol. manual set off ebay. Software Engineering went from hobby to Degrees/Career, so the Eldo is my newest hobby/obsession. :stirpot: If only they came out w/ an Eldo for '08... <insert dead horse gif>

Again, thanks guys.

08-14-07, 11:57 PM
Frothing?? Thay, I never heard of that.

(It's almost midnight.)

08-15-07, 03:17 AM
I had an oil pressure sensor blow up more or less. In 20 miles it lost about a quart of oil and made one hell of a mess with the underside of the car. I had lines of drops of oil on the floor of my garage corresponding with the crossmembers under the car.

08-16-07, 09:43 AM
After driving another ~250 miles this morning... all is well :)

Checked the oil and it is where it was when I left (first 300 miles) and upon checking the oil after parking, it's draining back to the pan as it should.

EDIT: Go MMO, go!

08-17-07, 10:11 AM
It sure sounds like it unclogged SOMETHING. Thanks for reporting back!