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Discussion Starter #1
How long can you drive the car without any further damage if your dipstick reads below the 'LOW' mark, like maybe 0.5in - 1in below the mark (Not sure how many quarts that is)?

Reason I ask is because I stupidly did this for maybe 2 or 3 days? I was really busy and also had last checked the oil probably 500 miles earlier. When I went to check it again I saw it was well low and topped it off immediately, then got an oil change (because it was time anyway) soon after.

During those 2-3 days of low oil the engine may have sounded kinda 'off' at one point when I had it started and was parked, but then again I'm not sure. I also had no light illuminate on my instrument panel either. Have I done any significant damage or am I worrying for nothing? And no I will not let this happen again.
 

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Most modern engines would be fine...if you were down to the point where the oil pressure light came on, that would be another story! :crying2:
My Buick has a low-oil light...nice to have!
 

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I do not think that can be answered with certainty. The fact that you said the engine sounded "off" would worrie me. The good thing is that the idiot light did not come on,for,once that happens on these engines,it is usually the kiss of death. I think it's a crap shoot at this point. Hopefully you are lucky and the oil was not super low,I guess time will tell.

How much oil did it take to top off?The motor sounds fine right now? Hope you ok.
 

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No modern engine would be fine.

Low oil level = rapid engine wear = unknown increase in amount of wear

We don't have the most reliable or toughest engine out there. Keep that oil level full and top off regularly, at every gas station fill-up.

You will be more busy when waiting for the tow truck for a failed engine, waiting for a rental, waiting for a new engine....

I would consider a different oil brand, or grade, or additive, or combination to deal with oil consumption.
 

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Being a naysayer will not help his worrying...if there is enough oil in the sump for pressure, he should be fine.
 
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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
I do not think that can be answered with certainty. The fact that you said the engine sounded "off" would worrie me. The good thing is that the idiot light did not come on,for,once that happens on these engines,it is usually the kiss of death. I think it's a crap shoot at this point. Hopefully you are lucky and the oil was not super low,I guess time will tell.

How much oil did it take to top off?The motor sounds fine right now? Hope you ok.
I added nearly a full quart.

As far as the noise, if I can explain it in other terms, its like the engine sounded 'hungry', or louder than usual. At one point I had the engine started and was parked, the noise was fluctuating if you listened closely (little loud, little low, little loud, low, etc). But this wasn't immediately obvious because you had to sit silently to catch this noise. Once I topped it off the car sounded more 'durable' and the noise leveled down. Maybe it's just my imagination but it was hard to tell as I had other things clouding my mind.

It sounds absolutely normal / function now, no problems since it happened (It's been nearly 3 weeks since the incident)

I also wonder why no oil light came up? Maybe the level wasn't low to a point to be critical? Is that possible? Obviously I don't want to count on that light but I am curious to know for knowledge.
 

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i don't think a light would come on if you were only down a quart. i can see your engine getting a little clickity being due for an oil change AND down a quart. what are your oil change intervals?
 

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I added nearly a full quart.

I also wonder why no oil light came up? Maybe the level wasn't low to a point to be critical? Is that possible? Obviously I don't want to count on that light but I am curious to know for knowledge.
Possibly, you won't listen to a newbie (I've answered the questions you raised), or you like to worry...I have been saying you are probably in good shape! :smile:
 

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These engines have consumption problems. Not all do it; but quite a few do. They also have some mysterious issue that causes them to eat themselves up (132 aand 161 "recalls"); but that's another 251 page thread. So keep on top of the oil no matter what. It only takes a few moments no matter how busy your schedule is.

Whatever has been done has been done. Nobody can say you will blow up in xxx miles. Nobody can say "no damage done". But there is no sense in stressing over it. Pop that hood every couple days and make sure you know how much your engine consumes during what kind of driving. If you keep it full you will reduce one of the possible causes of problems with this engine. There are no guarantees with this car so keep up with the items within your control. :)
 

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Good practice is to check the oil every time you fill up with gas. If you are using more than a quart per tank of gas the engine has a serious problem with either a leak or consumption.

Normal, non-redline driving for 3 days a quart low is not *likely* to have done damage. You did right to add oil when you found it low, and get a fresh oil change right away.
 

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.... I also wonder why no oil light came up? Maybe the level wasn't low to a point to be critical? Is that possible? Obviously I don't want to count on that light but I am curious to know for knowledge.
You need to keep in mind that this light comes on only when the oil pressure drops to a specific value which some engineer decided upon. And, most importantly, this 'idiot' light would not come on when the oil pressure is just above that value. This means that the vehicle could be driven with low oil pressure, caused by low oil level, for many days and many miles. How low? Who the heck knows, because they took the oil pressure gauges away from us many years ago. But likely to be low enough to slowly cause bearing damage over an extended period of time. So the answer to your question is that 'critical' oil level is not the one fixed value that the oil light is set to come on at.

IMO low oil level/pressure is one of the reasons that so many of these Hyundai/Kia engines are blowing up. I would trade almost anything the automakers put on the Christmas tree dashboards, for the simple oil gauge that we used to have years ago. Just wishful thinking about something that will never happen.
 

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These engines have consumption problems. Not all do it; but quite a few do. They also have some mysterious issue that causes them to eat themselves up (132 aand 161 "recalls"); but that's another 251 page thread. So keep on top of the oil no matter what. It only takes a few moments no matter how busy your schedule is.

l. :)
Sadly a realistic perspective of the Theta II engine, a stellar example of durability it ain't . Like life it's next day is not guaranteed. Reading the OP at 1st take I thought another post where someone has done maintenance or let the oil get a bit low and then they start noticing engine noises that likely have been there all the while, but given that it's a Theta II engine the angst is completely understandable.
 

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IMO low oil level/pressure is one of the reasons that so many of these Hyundai/Kia engines are blowing up.
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So how many people that don't bother to check oil periodically esp in the case of having an oil burner are going to bother looking at gauge readings ? The idiot light for oil will come on between 3 and 10 psi in most engines, depending on location and specific engine, a light is intended to get someone's attention, many cars will chime as well.

Low oil pressure and engines blowing up would seem to be a cause/effect situation - the cause being crappy crank bearings or if you choose to believe Hyundai's explanation improper cleaning in the mfg process. Having a gauge really won't forestall or prevent that from happening, there aren't any good preventive measures that I'm aware of that one can take to save bearings that are destined to failure and when they fail there goes your oil pressure.

A recent post on the SFS - the owner had his oil changed religiously every 3k miles and yet his engine gave it up, expired, seized, kicked the bucket, breathed its last, pick your term.

If one really wants an oil pressure gauge they can have one installed, some guys monitor a whole bunch of engine parameters thru SW apps.

I've advocated for a bottom end knock sensor on the Theta II - one that acoustically detects impending bearing failure.
 

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How long can you drive the car without any further damage if your dipstick reads below the 'LOW' mark, like maybe 0.5in - 1in below the mark (Not sure how many quarts that is)?

Reason I ask is because I stupidly did this for maybe 2 or 3 days? I was really busy and also had last checked the oil probably 500 miles earlier. When I went to check it again I saw it was well low and topped it off immediately, then got an oil change (because it was time anyway) soon after.

During those 2-3 days of low oil the engine may have sounded kinda 'off' at one point when I had it started and was parked, but then again I'm not sure. I also had no light illuminate on my instrument panel either. Have I done any significant damage or am I worrying for nothing? And no I will not let this happen again.
I think you could well be okay. I had my grandson bring his 1999 4runner over the other day for low oil. Long story short- my granddaughter did a oil change while I was on vacation last sept and only put back 1 and a half quarts in a vehicle that requires 5.5 quarts. They ran the last four months with it 4 quarts low of oil and it seemed to have done it without damage. In comparison, I think you are fine.
 

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I added nearly a full quart.

As far as the noise, if I can explain it in other terms, its like the engine sounded 'hungry', or louder than usual. At one point I had the engine started and was parked, the noise was fluctuating if you listened closely (little loud, little low, little loud, low, etc). But this wasn't immediately obvious because you had to sit silently to catch this noise. Once I topped it off the car sounded more 'durable' and the noise leveled down. Maybe it's just my imagination but it was hard to tell as I had other things clouding my mind.

It sounds absolutely normal / function now, no problems since it happened (It's been nearly 3 weeks since the incident)

I also wonder why no oil light came up? Maybe the level wasn't low to a point to be critical? Is that possible? Obviously I don't want to count on that light but I am curious to know for knowledge.
I don't know exactly what components are in the theta II head but this use to be called lifter tick or lash adjuster noise. It's what happens when the sump runs low and the lifters don't have the proper oil flow. I could always hear it in my Eclipse if it ever got low enough. I had a rear main seal leak for while and didn't have time to take it apart so I just kept adding oil to it.

Anyway that's probably what you're describing, as for any damage for a low oil level it depends on several factors. Your best bet is to do an oil change, put a magnet in the drain pain and go fishing for metal. Also cut your old oil filter apart, take a magnet and look for metal. If you can't find any metal then you're engine is probably fine.
 

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I think you could well be okay. I had my grandson bring his 1999 4runner over the other day for low oil. Long story short- my granddaughter did a oil change while I was on vacation last sept and only put back 1 and a half quarts in a vehicle that requires 5.5 quarts. They ran the last four months with it 4 quarts low of oil and it seemed to have done it without damage. In comparison, I think you are fine.
Yeah, this story really doesnt relate to the Theta. I know many stories like the above and if it wasn't the Theta in the OP; I would have the same opinion. Theta is a fragile engine.
 

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I don't know exactly what components are in the theta II head but this use to be called lifter tick or lash adjuster noise. It's what happens when the sump runs low and the lifters don't have the proper oil flow. I could always hear it in my Eclipse if it ever got low enough. I had a rear main seal leak for while and didn't have time to take it apart so I just kept adding oil to it.

Anyway that's probably what you're describing, as for any damage for a low oil level it depends on several factors. Your best bet is to do an oil change, put a magnet in the drain pain and go fishing for metal. Also cut your old oil filter apart, take a magnet and look for metal. If you can't find any metal then you're engine is probably fine.
HLA cams in the second generation Probe motor did this too.
 

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Decades ago GM used an electric fuel pump on the Monza/Starfire/Sunbird/Skyhawk that was fed power through a secondary oil pressure sensor. Turn the key to start and you got power to the pump, engine starts and the secondary oil pressure sensor contacts closed and provided "run power" to the fuel pump. Get low on oil to the point that the pressure would drop and the sensor opened, killing the power to the fuel pump and running the engine out of fuel in about 30-90 seconds. Thought that was pretty forward thinking for the mid '70's.
 

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Hyundai Sonata: Oil Pressure Switch. Repair procedures - Lubrication System - Engine Mechanical System - Hyundai Sonata YF 2011-2017 Service Manual

I've had cars with idiot lights that came on below 3psi. Pretty sad since that family of engines were usually toast before owners ever got a warning.

Oil level is monitored by the dipstick which requires owner participation. There is no dash idiot light for low oil levels. We have a dipstick for that oil level check.

Oil pressure dash owner's IQ reminder light is more of a self-destruct light for your engine. It means that you are too late with your required owner's dipstick participation.

There is liability to cut off fuel pump when oil pressure is lost. I am all for it but the typical consumer in traffic or on the highway with a stalled engine is dangerous. Best to let them seize it good as a snowflake learning tool.

Remind me not to buy a used '99 4runner in Colorado. It is one thing to misread the owners manual and another to ignore the dipstick, or not get a 2nd opinion from someone with more mechanical expertise. Must be too much of that medicinal second hand smoke blowing thru Colorado.
 
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