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Old 09-03-2013, 12:38 PM   #1
screamotaku
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Dipstick not reading correctly?

So, I did my searching with no luck at all on the topic but anyways, here it goes.

Yesterday my oil level light came on, I know that my oil level indicator tricks me quite often (I know how often these things go bad), however I went to check my oil to be safe and it read low... There was also cracks on several spots in the plastic of my dipstick which is new to my knowledge. But anyways, I added half a quart to be safe and checked again- still read below the bottom line. However, I see a small sliver of oil along one side going up to the top line. Could it possible that these cracks are causing my dipstick to not read correctly and that I have a faulty level sensor?

I checked everywhere for leaks- I looked around the drivers side if the block- no oil, none around the VCG or anywhere else on the passenger side, checked my coolant and there was absolutely no signs of oil in there. I also cannot see smoke or smell smoke or burning oil from the exhaust at all. And I also did my CCV only 2k ago so it's not that.

Any help? Could my dipstick tube also be clogged up? I'm planning on taking it out and seeing if there's anything restricting oil flow in it.
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Old 09-03-2013, 12:44 PM   #2
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Simple solution is to either change your oil and filter, put back 7 qts and then verify dipstick is reading correctly.

Other option it so drain oil into a clean pan, see if you have at least 6 qts and put it back in the engine, and see where the oil level shows up.

Just because the CCV was recently replaced does not mean this may not be an issue?

Check the 3rd link below in my signature for info on coolant temp and dipstick tube issues.

Also there have been reports that replacement dipsticks and/or tubes without the complete matched dipstick and tube can cause oil level measurement issues.
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Old 09-03-2013, 12:48 PM   #3
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The level line should create a nice straight, defined line on the dipstick indicator. It's possible that those cracks are wicking oil up onto the stick, but in that case, just use the other side. I'd add oil until it appears on the stick with that uniform line. Worst case is you have to drain the oil out to go back down.
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Old 09-03-2013, 01:14 PM   #4
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Alright some good info, I'll give an oil change a try and see what helps. When I first shut the car off and went to check the oil today the stick was covered in oil which I know to be normal so I am pretty worried that I'm just extremely low. This all happened after I had just topped off a week or two ago (my motor normally burns about a quart every 1k to 2k).
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Old 09-03-2013, 01:14 PM   #5
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Why would you bother to add half a quart? If the oil is at or below the lower mark on the stick, you need to add a full quart.

You don't really know anything at this point with respect to what the dipstick displays or fails to display. What you need to do is change the oil and the filter, and put in 7 full quarts of oil, run the engine for a few minutes, then wait another 10 minutes or so, then check the level on the dipstick. It should be full to the upper mark.

Pull the stick out, wipe it clean, put it back in then pull it out and read it.

Last edited by jdstrickland; 09-03-2013 at 01:16 PM.
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Old 09-03-2013, 01:37 PM   #6
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So I threw the rest of the oil in my car and now it's displaying on the dipstick. So I suppose I was just VERY low. Darn. My question now is, where the eff is the oil going? I know I burn a small amount of oil which I know isn't uncommon for M54's but this is just strange. Any ideas? Once again I have no signs of leaks anywhere not even in the coolant.... everything is running fine. My car idles VERY well, I've never had a misfire, I just cannot think what is causing this much oil to just vanish... what am I not considering?
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Old 09-03-2013, 01:48 PM   #7
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It's probably burning it.

Anyway, it sounds like you checked the dipstick without wiping it off first and then redipping it. Push it all the way into the holder and pull it out. Never use the initial pull for anything.
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Old 09-03-2013, 02:57 PM   #8
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No, I checked it correctly. I'm not a COMPLETE idiot hahah. But I'm looking into the issue right now. What would be causing it to burn so quickly?
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Old 09-03-2013, 04:06 PM   #9
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Dipstick not reading correctly?

What's the rate it's burning per 1000 miles? It may be a fairly normal number.


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Old 09-03-2013, 04:30 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by screamotaku View Post
Alright some good info, I'll give an oil change a try and see what helps. When I first shut the car off and went to check the oil today the stick was covered in oil which I know to be normal so I am pretty worried that I'm just extremely low. This all happened after I had just topped off a week or two ago (my motor normally burns about a quart every 1k to 2k).
You need to check the oil in the morning, before it's been started, to get an accurate reading on the dipstick.
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Old 09-03-2013, 05:21 PM   #11
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Dipstick not reading correctly?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubica View Post
You need to check the oil in the morning, before it's been started, to get an accurate reading on the dipstick.
Incorrect. BMW specifies to check oil 5 minutes after shutting down a fully warm engine. Coolant is to be checked cold in the morning, not oil.


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Old 09-03-2013, 06:03 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by screamotaku View Post
So I threw the rest of the oil in my car and now it's displaying on the dipstick. So I suppose I was just VERY low. Darn. My question now is, where the eff is the oil going? I know I burn a small amount of oil which I know isn't uncommon for M54's but this is just strange. Any ideas? Once again I have no signs of leaks anywhere not even in the coolant.... everything is running fine. My car idles VERY well, I've never had a misfire, I just cannot think what is causing this much oil to just vanish... what am I not considering?
I'm confused. You added a quart, and this is "very low"? Adding a quart is not "very low", it is well within reason that your car will take a quart or two between oil changes.
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Old 09-03-2013, 06:16 PM   #13
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There is no oil flow IN THE DIPSTICK or in the dipstick tube. There is a tube that the dipstick fits into, but once the dipstick passes through the tube and comes out the bottom, it is submerged in oil, assuming there is enough oil to reach to the dipstick's tip.

PROPER READING OF A DIPSTICK
Before engine start, pull the stick and wipe it. Put the stick back in then pull it out and read it. If the oil is anywhere between the high mark and the low mark, the level is okay. If the level is at or below the low mark, add a full quart or liter, depending on your market and how they package the oil.

If you have started the engine and decide you should check the oil, then turn the engine off and give the oil a few minutes to drain to the oil pan. Pull the stick and wipe it clean. Put the stick back in then pull it out and read it. If the level is anywhere between the high mark and the low mark, it is okay. If the level is below the low mark, add a full quart or liter, depending on your market and how they package oil. Measuring oil with a dipstick is very imprecise, but it works fine because a cup or so too much or too little is no big deal.

You said you add oil pretty regularly, but you also said you added a half quart and it was still not showing up on the stick very well. If you are adding oil all of the time, then you should know how to do it and how much it takes to get it done.

This is all very confusing to me, you say you do something frequently, but this is right after saying you have no clue what you are doing. It confuses me to read two opposing messages at the same time.
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Old 09-03-2013, 06:18 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by WDE46 View Post
Incorrect. BMW specifies to check oil 5 minutes after shutting down a fully warm engine. Coolant is to be checked cold in the morning, not oil.


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Checking oil in a cold engine is the best check. If the engine has been running, then you want to wait 5 minutes for it to drain down to the oil pan.
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Old 09-03-2013, 10:54 PM   #15
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Verbatim from the 3 Series Bentley Bible, the Book of Maintenance, Chapter 020-11, Verses 1-4:

Engine oil level is checked with a dipstick (arrow ((pointing to picture of E46 dipstick)) ) in engine block.

-Check oil level with car on a level surface, after engine has been stopped for at least a few minutes.

-Check level by pulling out dipstick and wiping it clean. Reinsert it all way and withdraw it again.

-Oil level is correct if it is between two marks near end of stick.

Tomato, tomahto, potato, potahto...
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Old 09-03-2013, 11:35 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by jdstrickland View Post
Checking oil in a cold engine is the best check. If the engine has been running, then you want to wait 5 minutes for it to drain down to the oil pan.
Quote:
Originally Posted by skylane5sp View Post
Verbatim from the 3 Series Bentley Bible, the Book of Maintenance, Chapter 020-11, Verses 1-4:

Engine oil level is checked with a dipstick (arrow ((pointing to picture of E46 dipstick)) ) in engine block.

-Check oil level with car on a level surface, after engine has been stopped for at least a few minutes.

-Check level by pulling out dipstick and wiping it clean. Reinsert it all way and withdraw it again.

-Oil level is correct if it is between two marks near end of stick.

Tomato, tomahto, potato, potahto...
BMW Manual:

Read it and weep.

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Old 09-04-2013, 02:30 PM   #17
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I like how this turned from a thread where was genuinely worried about my car and asked what might be a problem, to one where I'm being instructed to do something I learned how to do in 5th grade. I have a decent level of mechanical experience people. I'm not an idiot.
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:32 PM   #18
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I like how this turned from a thread where was genuinely worried about my car and asked what might be a problem, to one where I'm being instructed to do something I learned how to do in 5th grade. I have a decent level of mechanical experience people. I'm not an idiot.
Sorry, but the way your phrased something made me think you were doing it wrong. I wasn't sure. Not trying to insult you. Then, others come in an suggest things differently than what's in the manual, so I had to post that.
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Old 09-04-2013, 03:01 PM   #19
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Just buy some of the newer model cars that have no engine oil dipstick at all!

You have to rely on the oil level sensor 100%.
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Old 09-04-2013, 03:26 PM   #20
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BMW Manual:

Read it and weep.

OR,
You can check the oil when the engine is still cold, before it has been started, and the oil has had nothing better to do all night than to drain into the oil pan where the dip stick can touch it, and you can see how deeply the dip stick has touched it.

You need to wait 5 minutes for the oil to drain to the bottom IF THE ENGINE HAS ALREADY BEEN STARTED, else you can simply yank the dipstick out and read it if the engine has already been resting for more than 5 minutes.
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