Technical aspects of automobiles

Evaluating a Used Car – DipStick (Oil) Reading

I’m looking at a 2002 Dodge Grand Caravan 3.3L with 57,000 miles. I
pulled the dipstick and the oil looked dark and smelled a bit cooked.
The vehicle had been taken in trade at a [Dodge] dealer. The salesman
showed me the shop work that had been performed on this vehicle to
ready it for resale. Among other things such as brakes and stabilizer
bushings, the engine oil and filter had been changed. The van had
about 50 miles on it since the oil change.

Although I put a deposit on the 2002, I am concerned about the care
that the engine was given by the previous owners.

Why would the oil be dark so quickly?

What inspections or tests can be performed to determine the overall
health of the engine?

When I change the oil in my current van (1994 Dodge Grand Caravan 3.3L
with 180,000 miles), the used oil is very dark, nearly black at 5,000
miles. The fresh oil is nearly clear and it takes a few hundred to a
thousand miles before the oil is dark again.

I also have a 1997 Corolla. I changed the oil last week and have
driven over 1,000 miles since the change. I check the oil level today
and the oil is still clean and clear!

.
posted by admin in Без рубрики and have Comments (24)

24 Responses to “Evaluating a Used Car – DipStick (Oil) Reading”

  1. admin says:

    On May 19, 10:18 pm, HKEK <coolm…@hotmail.com> wrote:

    - Hide quoted text — Show quoted text -

    > I’m looking at a 2002 Dodge Grand Caravan 3.3L with 57,000 miles. I
    > pulled the dipstick and the oil looked dark and smelled a bit cooked.
    > The vehicle had been taken in trade at a [Dodge] dealer. The salesman
    > showed me the shop work that had been performed on this vehicle to
    > ready it for resale. Among other things such as brakes and stabilizer
    > bushings, the engine oil and filter had been changed. The van had
    > about 50 miles on it since the oil change.

    > Although I put a deposit on the 2002, I am concerned about the care
    > that the engine was given by the previous owners.

    > Why would the oil be dark so quickly?

    > What inspections or tests can be performed to determine the overall
    > health of the engine?

    > When I change the oil in my current van (1994 Dodge Grand Caravan 3.3L
    > with 180,000 miles), the used oil is very dark, nearly black at 5,000
    > miles. The fresh oil is nearly clear and it takes a few hundred to a
    > thousand miles before the oil is dark again.

    > I also have a 1997 Corolla. I changed the oil last week and have
    > driven over 1,000 miles since the change. I check the oil level today
    > and the oil is still clean and clear!

    They oil may be contaminated due to excessive blow-by caused by worn
    out piston rings among many other things — this would be a very bad
    thing as it would mean engine rebuild. It may also be an issue with
    something not working on the emissions side of things, which might be
    cheaper/easier to fix. Definitely, if the oil was indeed changed, it
    should NOT look black after 50 miles.

    To check the condition of the piston rings you can have compression
    test done on the engine, which effectively will tell you whether the
    rings are good or not to some extent.

    Hope this helps,

    Alex

  2. admin says:

    "HKEK" <coolm…@hotmail.com> wrote in message

    news:1179627511.912166.240550@q75g2000hsh.googlegroups.com…

    > I’m looking at a 2002 Dodge Grand Caravan 3.3L with 57,000 miles. I
    > pulled the dipstick and the oil looked dark and smelled a bit cooked.
    > The vehicle had been taken in trade at a [Dodge] dealer. The salesman
    > showed me the shop work that had been performed on this vehicle to
    > ready it for resale. Among other things such as brakes and stabilizer
    > bushings, the engine oil and filter had been changed. The van had
    > about 50 miles on it since the oil change.

    It’s hard to say. Likely as not, they falsified the work report.  I bought a
    car from a Dodge dealer just a few weeks ago, and they had records showing
    they did work that was obviously not done.  Who knows.

    3.3′s are pretty tough.

  3. admin says:

    In article <1179627511.912166.240…@q75g2000hsh.googlegroups.com>,

    - Hide quoted text — Show quoted text -

     HKEK <coolm…@hotmail.com> wrote:
    > I’m looking at a 2002 Dodge Grand Caravan 3.3L with 57,000 miles. I
    > pulled the dipstick and the oil looked dark and smelled a bit cooked.
    > The vehicle had been taken in trade at a [Dodge] dealer. The salesman
    > showed me the shop work that had been performed on this vehicle to
    > ready it for resale. Among other things such as brakes and stabilizer
    > bushings, the engine oil and filter had been changed. The van had
    > about 50 miles on it since the oil change.

    > Although I put a deposit on the 2002, I am concerned about the care
    > that the engine was given by the previous owners.

    > Why would the oil be dark so quickly?

    > What inspections or tests can be performed to determine the overall
    > health of the engine?

    > When I change the oil in my current van (1994 Dodge Grand Caravan 3.3L
    > with 180,000 miles), the used oil is very dark, nearly black at 5,000
    > miles. The fresh oil is nearly clear and it takes a few hundred to a
    > thousand miles before the oil is dark again.

    > I also have a 1997 Corolla. I changed the oil last week and have
    > driven over 1,000 miles since the change. I check the oil level today
    > and the oil is still clean and clear!

    That is a severe inconsistency.
    I’d not believe anything they say, even the mileage,  and would pass on
    this one.

  4. admin says:

    > Why would the oil be dark so quickly?

    If the oil was not changed often enough or never changed, you will get a
    build up inside the motor. When you do replace it and start driving the old
    build up (dirt) blends in with the new oil. That makes it black and will
    take out the bearings down the road. I always change mine between two and
    three thousand miles.

  5. admin says:

    - Hide quoted text — Show quoted text -

    HKEK wrote:

    > I’m looking at a 2002 Dodge Grand Caravan 3.3L with 57,000 miles. I
    > pulled the dipstick and the oil looked dark and smelled a bit cooked.
    > The vehicle had been taken in trade at a [Dodge] dealer. The salesman
    > showed me the shop work that had been performed on this vehicle to
    > ready it for resale. Among other things such as brakes and stabilizer
    > bushings, the engine oil and filter had been changed. The van had
    > about 50 miles on it since the oil change.

    > Although I put a deposit on the 2002, I am concerned about the care
    > that the engine was given by the previous owners.

    > Why would the oil be dark so quickly?

    > What inspections or tests can be performed to determine the overall
    > health of the engine?

    > When I change the oil in my current van (1994 Dodge Grand Caravan 3.3L
    > with 180,000 miles), the used oil is very dark, nearly black at 5,000
    > miles. The fresh oil is nearly clear and it takes a few hundred to a
    > thousand miles before the oil is dark again.

    > I also have a 1997 Corolla. I changed the oil last week and have
    > driven over 1,000 miles since the change. I check the oil level today
    > and the oil is still clean and clear!

    If the oil gets dark after 50 miles of driving at 180K this is pretty
    much normal for any car that has had the oil changed at extended
    intervals of say 5000 to 7000 miles. Had the oil been changed more often
    it would take considerably longer for the oil to become dark. Basically
    what is causing the oil to become black is grime that has accumulated
    inside the engine.
            The engine may still be in good shape. Check the tail pipe. If it is
    coated with black soot then the engine is probably beyond hope. But if
    the engine runs well and is still in good shape you can clean it out by
    changing the oil whenever it gets dirty. That may mean changing it at 50
    miles for the first oil change, but the next one will be longer (maybe
    500 miles). After following a regimen of changing the oil whenever it
    gets dark for a while you should be able to get it back to where it will
    stay clean for thousands of miles.

    -jim

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  6. admin says:

    I can have the vehicle inspected and the deposit is refundable if my
    mechanic finds any serious issues.

    It has been suggested that some shops do not drain the oil during
    changes but pump it out instead through the dipstick tube. It was
    further suggested that this practice may leave enough used oil behind
    to contaminated the fresh oil being added.

    When I drain oil for a change, I drain it hot and for an hour or two
    if not overnight.

  7. admin says:

    Just drive the used car around.If it seems ok and the price is
    right.(cheap) Buy it.
    cuhulin

  8. admin says:

    If they’re not getting underneath the car to drain the oil, then they might
    also be not changing the filter…

    "HKEK" <coolm…@hotmail.com> wrote in message

    news:1179685142.328413.256480@b40g2000prd.googlegroups.com…

    - Hide quoted text — Show quoted text -

    >I can have the vehicle inspected and the deposit is refundable if my
    > mechanic finds any serious issues.

    > It has been suggested that some shops do not drain the oil during
    > changes but pump it out instead through the dipstick tube. It was
    > further suggested that this practice may leave enough used oil behind
    > to contaminated the fresh oil being added.

    > When I drain oil for a change, I drain it hot and for an hour or two
    > if not overnight.

  9. admin says:

    "april1st" <alex…@gmail.com> wrote in message

    news:1179628677.699078.37710@p47g2000hsd.googlegroups.com…

    > They oil may be contaminated due to excessive blow-by caused by worn
    > out piston rings among many other things —

    To separate the blow-by hypothesis from the other things, could it be as
    simple as removing the oil filler cap and seeing how much smoke comes out? A
    compression test might be better, but the smoke test is fast and free.

  10. admin says:

    Blake wrote:

    > "april1st" <alex…@gmail.com> wrote in message
    > news:1179628677.699078.37710@p47g2000hsd.googlegroups.com…
    > > They oil may be contaminated due to excessive blow-by caused by worn
    > > out piston rings among many other things —

    > To separate the blow-by hypothesis from the other things,

            You can’t separate the "blow-by hypothesis" because that theory is
    incorrect. If you change the oil often enough you can keep the inside of
    any engine clean even if it burns a quart of oil every 50 miles and it
    has compression of 50 lbs. and leaves a trail of blue smoke wherever it
    goes.
            It may well be that because the oil wasn’t changed often enough the
    rings are more worn than they otherwise would be. And/or it may well be
    that because the engine used a lot of oil the previous owner thought
    that the oil didn’t need to be changed very often because they were
    always adding oil. So there may well be a correlation between the
    appearance of black oil and blow-by. But the cause of the oil being
    black is not blow-by. It is either they didn’t really change the oil as
    the salesman said or the engine has a history of the oil not being
    changed as often as some people do. In my opinion its unlikely that they
    skipped the oil change if they were seriously trying to sell the car. As
    for the other theories that they didn’t drain all the oil or didn’t
    change the filter – it is much more likely that the previous owner was
    the one doing those things. The dealer probably changed the oil and
    filter properly.

    -jim

    >could it be as
    > simple as removing the oil filler cap and seeing how much smoke comes out? A
    > compression test might be better, but the smoke test is fast and free.

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  11. admin says:

    Joe wrote:
    > "HKEK" <coolm…@hotmail.com> wrote in message
    > news:1179627511.912166.240550@q75g2000hsh.googlegroups.com…

    >>I’m looking at a 2002 Dodge Grand Caravan 3.3L with 57,000 miles. I
    >>pulled the dipstick and the oil looked dark and smelled a bit cooked.
    >>The vehicle had been taken in trade at a [Dodge] dealer. The salesman
    >>showed me the shop work that had been performed on this vehicle to
    >>ready it for resale. Among other things such as brakes and stabilizer
    >>bushings, the engine oil and filter had been changed. The van had
    >>about 50 miles on it since the oil change.

    > It’s hard to say. Likely as not, they falsified the work report.  

    My first thought also. It would be rather hard to *truly* damage a 3.3
    in only 57k miles. Yeah, extreme, extreme neglect would do it, but that
    should be fairly obvious in other ways. I bet they just didn’t change
    the oil.

  12. admin says:

    Used car lots are going to change the oil? I don’t believe it.
    cuhulin

  13. admin says:

    In article <1179685142.328413.256…@b40g2000prd.googlegroups.com>,

     HKEK <coolm…@hotmail.com> wrote:
    > I can have the vehicle inspected and the deposit is refundable if my
    > mechanic finds any serious issues.

    > It has been suggested that some shops do not drain the oil during
    > changes but pump it out instead through the dipstick tube. It was
    > further suggested that this practice may leave enough used oil behind
    > to contaminated the fresh oil being added.
    Correct.

    > When I drain oil for a change, I drain it hot and for an hour or two
    > if not overnight.

    That’s how I do it.
    The shop I go to does remove the drain plug for about 15 min.

    Over the years I’ve noticed very very dirty oil in some rental cars with
    over 15K miles on the clock.  I’m sure they only change the oil just
    before selling the rental.  How to shorten engine life!
    I’ll not mention the worst rental car oil I’ve noticed, not wanting to
    be sued!  <:)

  14. admin says:

    After doing a little test, I believe the oil had been changed before I
    put a deposit on this car.

    I had the dealer change the oil and filter and I drove the van around
    for about 15 miles. I then collected some of the oil from the dipstick
    into a glass vial. I repeatedly insert the dipstick into the
    crankcase, withdrew it, and wiped into the glass vial.

    The dealer saved some of the original oil in a glass jar.

    I also got a sample of the fresh oil, which was Citgo 5W30.

    Well, the original oil was very dark and smelled a bit like gasoline.
    The fresh oil was very clear, a bit yellow, and had little scent. The
    oil that had been in the crankcase for 15 miles looked about half as
    dark as the original oil and also smelled a bit like gasoline.

    Does this mean anything of significance? I think the previous owner(s)
    ran the car beyond the recommended service intervals (oil & filter
    change) and I believe the fresh oil, with its detergents, is cleaning
    up deposits on engine surfaces.

    I will have a compression check run on the front 3 cylinders (the back
    3 are require removal of the intake plenum).

    If I end up buying this one, I will probably change the oil at
    extremely short intervals (~100 miles or weekly) until the oil stays
    clear.

  15. admin says:

    On Wed, 23 May 2007 19:01:11 -0700, HKEK wrote:

    <snip>

    > If I end up buying this one, I will probably change the oil at extremely
    > short intervals (~100 miles or weekly) until the oil stays clear.

    Correction – if you end up buying it, you’ll be an even bigger fool than
    you appear to be now.


    "Ubuntu" — an African word, meaning "Slackware is too hard for me".

  16. admin says:

    - Hide quoted text — Show quoted text -

    HKEK wrote:
    > After doing a little test, I believe the oil had been changed before I
    > put a deposit on this car.

    > I had the dealer change the oil and filter and I drove the van around
    > for about 15 miles. I then collected some of the oil from the dipstick
    > into a glass vial. I repeatedly insert the dipstick into the
    > crankcase, withdrew it, and wiped into the glass vial.

    > The dealer saved some of the original oil in a glass jar.

    > I also got a sample of the fresh oil, which was Citgo 5W30.

    > Well, the original oil was very dark and smelled a bit like gasoline.
    > The fresh oil was very clear, a bit yellow, and had little scent. The
    > oil that had been in the crankcase for 15 miles looked about half as
    > dark as the original oil and also smelled a bit like gasoline.

    > Does this mean anything of significance? I think the previous owner(s)
    > ran the car beyond the recommended service intervals (oil & filter
    > change) and I believe the fresh oil, with its detergents, is cleaning
    > up deposits on engine surfaces.

    > I will have a compression check run on the front 3 cylinders (the back
    > 3 are require removal of the intake plenum).

    > If I end up buying this one, I will probably change the oil at
    > extremely short intervals (~100 miles or weekly) until the oil stays
    > clear.

    Hi..

    The real question is how fast can you run?  And how quickly
    can you start?

    Take care.

    Ken

  17. admin says:

    In article <1179972071.133129.23…@h2g2000hsg.googlegroups.com>,

    - Hide quoted text — Show quoted text -

     HKEK <coolm…@hotmail.com> wrote:
    > After doing a little test, I believe the oil had been changed before I
    > put a deposit on this car.

    > I had the dealer change the oil and filter and I drove the van around
    > for about 15 miles. I then collected some of the oil from the dipstick
    > into a glass vial. I repeatedly insert the dipstick into the
    > crankcase, withdrew it, and wiped into the glass vial.

    > The dealer saved some of the original oil in a glass jar.

    > I also got a sample of the fresh oil, which was Citgo 5W30.

    > Well, the original oil was very dark and smelled a bit like gasoline.
    > The fresh oil was very clear, a bit yellow, and had little scent. The
    > oil that had been in the crankcase for 15 miles looked about half as
    > dark as the original oil and also smelled a bit like gasoline.

    > Does this mean anything of significance? I think the previous owner(s)
    > ran the car beyond the recommended service intervals (oil & filter
    > change) and I believe the fresh oil, with its detergents, is cleaning
    > up deposits on engine surfaces.

    > I will have a compression check run on the front 3 cylinders (the back
    > 3 are require removal of the intake plenum).

    > If I end up buying this one, I will probably change the oil at
    > extremely short intervals (~100 miles or weekly) until the oil stays
    > clear.

       Just fill the crankcase with diesel fuel instead of oil and run it at
    temp for five minutes or so.  Diesel is a good lubricant, so no harm to
    the engine, but it’s also high detergent, so it’ll clean.  Then drain &
    fill with motor oil.  Do that at your next two regularly scheduled oil
    changes and your engine ought to come clean unless it has other
    problems.  No need to waste a bunch of motor oil and filters.
       I always put a quart of diesel fuel in my engine a day before I do an
    oil change to keep everything clean.  On lawnmowers I’ll actually fill
    it up with diesel and mow a lawn.


    B.B.           –I am not a goat!       thegoat4 at airmail dot net

  18. admin says:

    Citgo anything is worse crap than crap itself.  It is made out of heavy
    crude from Venezuela.  Try using a real oil like GTX or Havoline – anything
    but that shi^&.  Keep using Citgo crap and Hugo Chavez will continue to
    thank you for funding his shipments of heroin, coke, and pot to this
    country.

    "HKEK" <coolm…@hotmail.com> wrote in message

    news:1179972071.133129.23060@h2g2000hsg.googlegroups.com…

    - Hide quoted text — Show quoted text -

    > After doing a little test, I believe the oil had been changed before I
    > put a deposit on this car.

    > I had the dealer change the oil and filter and I drove the van around
    > for about 15 miles. I then collected some of the oil from the dipstick
    > into a glass vial. I repeatedly insert the dipstick into the
    > crankcase, withdrew it, and wiped into the glass vial.

    > The dealer saved some of the original oil in a glass jar.

    > I also got a sample of the fresh oil, which was Citgo 5W30.

    > Well, the original oil was very dark and smelled a bit like gasoline.
    > The fresh oil was very clear, a bit yellow, and had little scent. The
    > oil that had been in the crankcase for 15 miles looked about half as
    > dark as the original oil and also smelled a bit like gasoline.

    > Does this mean anything of significance? I think the previous owner(s)
    > ran the car beyond the recommended service intervals (oil & filter
    > change) and I believe the fresh oil, with its detergents, is cleaning
    > up deposits on engine surfaces.

    > I will have a compression check run on the front 3 cylinders (the back
    > 3 are require removal of the intake plenum).

    > If I end up buying this one, I will probably change the oil at
    > extremely short intervals (~100 miles or weekly) until the oil stays
    > clear.

  19. admin says:

    Sounds like the oil is filling with gas.  This will ‘fast’ destroy the
    engine if it already hasn’t done so.

    A compression test will not tell you about all the dead crank and cam
    bearings, only the rings and valves which aren’t parts killed fast by
    gasoline diluted oil.

    You really need an oil analysis on it or to just walk away now.

    Mike
    86/00 CJ7 Laredo, 33×9.5 BFG Muds, ‘glass nose to tail in ’00
    88 Cherokee 235 BFG AT’s
    Canadian Off Road Trips Photos:  Non members can still view!
    Jan/06 http://www.imagestation.com/album/pictures.html?id=2115147590
    (More Off Road album links at bottom of the view page)

    - Hide quoted text — Show quoted text -

    HKEK wrote:
    > After doing a little test, I believe the oil had been changed before I
    > put a deposit on this car.

    > I had the dealer change the oil and filter and I drove the van around
    > for about 15 miles. I then collected some of the oil from the dipstick
    > into a glass vial. I repeatedly insert the dipstick into the
    > crankcase, withdrew it, and wiped into the glass vial.

    > The dealer saved some of the original oil in a glass jar.

    > I also got a sample of the fresh oil, which was Citgo 5W30.

    > Well, the original oil was very dark and smelled a bit like gasoline.
    > The fresh oil was very clear, a bit yellow, and had little scent. The
    > oil that had been in the crankcase for 15 miles looked about half as
    > dark as the original oil and also smelled a bit like gasoline.

    > Does this mean anything of significance? I think the previous owner(s)
    > ran the car beyond the recommended service intervals (oil & filter
    > change) and I believe the fresh oil, with its detergents, is cleaning
    > up deposits on engine surfaces.

    > I will have a compression check run on the front 3 cylinders (the back
    > 3 are require removal of the intake plenum).

    > If I end up buying this one, I will probably change the oil at
    > extremely short intervals (~100 miles or weekly) until the oil stays
    > clear.

  20. admin says:

    HKEK wrote:

    > The "Dark Oil Myth"…

    > http://www.nordicgroup.us/oil.htm#The%20Dark%20Oil%20Myth

    Hey, if you are looking for some dark oil to put in your engine I can
    sell you some cheap.

            The problem OP has (he now says) is there is gasoline in his oil. That
    is a serious problem unless maybe you can find a link to "Gasoline in
    the oil myth" which will of course instantly cure his problem.

    -jim

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  21. admin says:

    There are lots of good used vans for sale on the market.That van with
    the oil that smells like gasoline in it,,, I would look for another
    van.There is an old saying which goes something like, Don’t buy somebody
    elses problems.

    An old lawn mower tip I once read about in an old Popular Science
    magazine many years ago.Rig up some pieces of pipe so you can get the
    lawn mower’s muffler close to the ground.The exhaust is suppose to knock
    out fleas and mosquitos.Just keep your garden hose handy in case of a
    grass fire.
    cuhulin

  22. admin says:

    > Well, the original oil was very dark and smelled a bit like gasoline.
    > The fresh oil was very clear, a bit yellow, and had little scent. The
    > oil that had been in the crankcase for 15 miles looked about half as
    > dark as the original oil and also smelled a bit like gasoline.

    > Does this mean anything of significance? I think the previous owner(s)
    > ran the car beyond the recommended service intervals (oil & filter
    > change) and I believe the fresh oil, with its detergents, is cleaning
    > up deposits on engine surfaces.

    The gas smell in the oil means, it as faulty injector. It explaines
    why you have dark coloured oil.

    you donot need to have significant blown by gas.

  23. admin says:

    On 26 May 2007 12:25:55 -0700, uccos…@gmail.com wrote:

    >> Well, the original oil was very dark and smelled a bit like gasoline.
    >> The fresh oil was very clear, a bit yellow, and had little scent. The
    >> oil that had been in the crankcase for 15 miles looked about half as
    >> dark as the original oil and also smelled a bit like gasoline.

    >> Does this mean anything of significance? I think the previous owner(s)
    >> ran the car beyond the recommended service intervals (oil & filter
    >> change) and I believe the fresh oil, with its detergents, is cleaning
    >> up deposits on engine surfaces.

    >The gas smell in the oil means, it as faulty injector. It explaines
    >why you have dark coloured oil.

    Or a bad pressure regulator??? (unless it is a "dead end" system)

    >you donot need to have significant blown by gas.


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