Author Topic: car problem, or maybe not.  (Read 3164 times)

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Offline franksolich

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car problem, or maybe not.
« on: February 17, 2015, 08:06:04 AM »
1998 Oldsmobile Intrigue.

Two days ago, when the temperatures began plummeting, suddenly lit up a red "sensor" light on the dashboard.

Since this whole thing's new to me, and it was a red light rather than a yellow one, I immediately pulled over to the side of the road and read the owner's manual.

"Needs oil change."

I checked.  The oil was last changed on December 24, 2014, 1100 miles ago.

Mysteriously, the yellow sensor light that indicates "low oil level" has never not a single time ever gone on.

Since the RPMs (1500-2000) and the temperature (about a third of the way up, far below the red "danger zone") remained consistent and the car drove well, I returned home, although cautiously.  If I hit a bump or a rough part of the road, the red light went off.  And then it'd come on again when going over a long stretch of smooth road.

I've driven it since then--nowhere far, as there's other vehicles out here, owned by other people but for my use if I need any of them--and noticed it's after the car's thoroughly warmed up, that the red light goes on.

When the vehicle's cold, or if I go 55 mph or less, the red light doesn't come on.

I'm taking the vehicle into the mechanic in town this morning--it's barely 6:00 a.m. as it is--to have him take a look.  But in the meantime, anybody have any ideas?

Offline Chris_

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Re: car problem, or maybe not.
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2015, 08:13:24 AM »
Did you physically check the oil level with the dipstick?
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Offline franksolich

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Re: car problem, or maybe not.
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2015, 08:21:20 AM »
Did you physically check the oil level with the dipstick?

No, it's been too cold, and besides, wouldn't then the yellow light indicating "low oil pressure" turn on?

I'll check it in a few minutes out here, if you think I should, though.

Offline Chris_

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Re: car problem, or maybe not.
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2015, 08:27:12 AM »
No, it's been too cold, and besides, wouldn't then the yellow light indicating "low oil pressure" turn on?

I'll check it in a few minutes out here, if you think I should, though.
Couldn't tell you.  The first thing I would do is check the level and the condition of the oil.  It should look like honey and feel slick between your fingers.
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Offline franksolich

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Re: car problem, or maybe not.
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2015, 08:28:09 AM »
Couldn't tell you.  The first thing I would do is check the level and the condition of the oil.  It should look like honey and feel slick between your fingers.

Okay, it's gonna take a few minutes, because this is triple-padding cold out here, and then I have to let the car warm a little, before checking.

Gimme a few minutes.

Offline Chris_

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Re: car problem, or maybe not.
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2015, 08:29:11 AM »
I usually check my oil level while the engine is cold.  I don't know if that's the correct way, but it's always worked for me.

Did that car sit around before you bought it, and was that your first oil change after buying the car? 
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Offline franksolich

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Re: car problem, or maybe not.
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2015, 09:08:50 AM »
Oh Hell.  It's too damned cold out there.

So I decided to drive to town (eight miles) so as to warm it up--I'd always been under the impression one checks the oil after the car's run a bit, not when it's cold, but that might be an erroneous impression.

The car worked as smoothly as a pig sliding on ice, but of course never got warmed up enough so the red sensor light would flick on.

When I was in town, I noticed the tire guy was opening up the place, and so I left it there with him, and instructions for the mechanic, after which he gave me a ride back here.

Offline franksolich

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Re: car problem, or maybe not.
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2015, 09:11:58 AM »
Did that car sit around before you bought it, and was that your first oil change after buying the car?

No, the car was in active use up to the time I'd bought it.

It was from a truck driver who maintained it himself.  It was his wife's car, but she wanted a van, so after she sold this to me, they got a van for her.

I bought the vehicle the third week of September, and immediately upon bringing it back here, had the mechanic do the oil-and-liquids change thing, so I'd have a "starting point" about when to have the oil changed.

That was then the third week of September, and Christmas Eve, that the oil was changed.

Online freedumb2003b

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Re: car problem, or maybe not.
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2015, 09:25:52 AM »
I suggest the Penny (Big Bang Theory) solution:

Measure with a micrometer, mark with chalk, cut with an ax

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Offline Eupher

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Re: car problem, or maybe not.
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2015, 12:34:50 PM »
Sometimes the guy changing the oil ****s up and either strips the oil drain plug threads (therefore indicating a slow leak) or forgets to put the oil cap on the top of the engine (therefore resulting in oil sprayed all over the top of the engine) or even forgets to put the dipstick back in its place (therefore resulting in oil sprayed all over the side of the engine).

In either case, manually checking the oil level is a good idea, cold or not. You then might be able to physically see if oil has sprayed all over the engine compartment.

Depending on an idiot light to tell you what's going on is a real good way to wind up with a burned out engine.

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Offline Bad Dog

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Re: car problem, or maybe not.
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2015, 12:53:37 PM »
I think you probably have two problems.  First, your change oil warning is based on either a specified mileage (usually 4 or 5K) or time period (usually 6 months) and, I doubt it is causing the check engine light.  If your mechanic didn't reset it when he changed the oil then the computer based the warning on whenever it was reset last.  Your owners manual will have instructions on how to reset it. 

The reason for the check engine light should be recorded in your computers memory and could be any of a couple dozen sensors/actuators.  It is quite common for weather changes to set off warnings and, intermittent warnings are a big PIA.

Offline franksolich

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Re: car problem, or maybe not.
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2015, 12:55:20 PM »

No leaks underneath even after being parked on concrete for more than twenty-four hours, clean engine.

But as previously mentioned, it's already with the mechanic in town.

Offline franksolich

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Re: car problem, or maybe not.
« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2015, 12:56:21 PM »
The reason for the check engine light should be recorded in your computers memory and could be any of a couple dozen sensors/actuators.  It is quite common for weather changes to set off warnings and, intermittent warnings are a big PIA.

The yellow "check engine" light never came on, as did none of the others--only the "change oil" red light.

Offline Bad Dog

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Re: car problem, or maybe not.
« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2015, 01:05:35 PM »
The yellow "check engine" light never came on, as did none of the others--only the "change oil" red light.

Sorry, misunderstood your first post.  Your computer has no way of knowing the oil has been changed and I have found the average Jiffy Lube guy usually doesn't know how to re-set it.  Check your manual, and remember to re-set it when you get your oil changed.

Offline franksolich

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Re: car problem, or maybe not.
« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2015, 01:10:43 PM »
.....I have found the average Jiffy Lube guy usually doesn't know how to re-set it.....

I can understand the nervousness about not knowing exactly who it is, who's worked on one's car.

But in this case, with all four vehicles I've owned while living up here the past fourteen years, I've always used the same mechanic.  And no others.

This has been for both major and minor work.

There was one time I needed a vehicle towed, and had to make a decision: to somewhere in the big city, and the towing charges would be reasonably minimal, or back to town to the regular mechanic, in which case the towing charges would be about double.

I chose the second option.

Offline Bad Dog

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Re: car problem, or maybe not.
« Reply #15 on: February 17, 2015, 01:47:02 PM »
I can understand the nervousness about not knowing exactly who it is, who's worked on one's car.

But in this case, with all four vehicles I've owned while living up here the past fourteen years, I've always used the same mechanic.  And no others.

This has been for both major and minor work.

There was one time I needed a vehicle towed, and had to make a decision: to somewhere in the big city, and the towing charges would be reasonably minimal, or back to town to the regular mechanic, in which case the towing charges would be about double.

I chose the second option.
Sorry I impugned your mechanic.

In any case, the change oil warning function of your computer is based purely on milage/time and must be physically reset when the oil is changed. 

Offline franksolich

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Re: car problem, or maybe not.
« Reply #16 on: February 17, 2015, 02:03:03 PM »
Sorry I impugned your mechanic.

No, you didn't; you didn't know.

Quote
In any case, the change oil warning function of your computer is based purely on milage/time and must be physically reset when the oil is changed.

Now, that's a good new thing to know.

Offline Chris_

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Re: car problem, or maybe not.
« Reply #17 on: February 17, 2015, 02:16:22 PM »
Quote
In any case, the change oil warning function of your computer is based purely on milage/time and must be physically reset when the oil is changed.
That must be for people who never think to change their oil or look at their odometer. :thatsright:

My sister bought me a book over Christmas written by a British car mechanic.  He said someone brought their Range Rover to him after it started making funny noises and the dash light came on.  The mechanic asked him when the last time the oil was changed.  The owner's reply was "It came with oil when I bought it."
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Offline Eupher

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Re: car problem, or maybe not.
« Reply #18 on: February 17, 2015, 03:24:00 PM »

No leaks underneath even after being parked on concrete for more than twenty-four hours, clean engine.

But as previously mentioned, it's already with the mechanic in town.

No leaks is always good news. I mentioned all that stuff about the leaks and oil change guy only because the average Jiffy Lube guy makes above average mistakes. The fact you're using a competent mechanic makes things mo betta.  :-)

My minivan shows the "maintenance needed" light if I forget to reset the thing after I change the oil. Comes on about every 5K miles. Pretty easy to reset - with the key off, press and hold the odometer button. Turn the key on, but not to start the car. The odometer comes on and displays 6 zeroes, then 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 then the thing is reset.
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Offline dixierose

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Re: car problem, or maybe not.
« Reply #19 on: February 17, 2015, 05:17:25 PM »
I always check my oil when the engine is cold. It's my understanding if you try to check it when the engine is running (or still warm) chances are some oil will still be in the engine and not in the pan. It is possible to overfill your oil, so making sure your dipstick is ALL the way down, as well as making sure all the oil is back in the pan, give the most accurate readings. That's what my daddy taught me anyway :)
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Offline thundley4

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Re: car problem, or maybe not.
« Reply #20 on: February 17, 2015, 06:08:34 PM »
I always check my oil when the engine is cold. It's my understanding if you try to check it when the engine is running (or still warm) chances are some oil will still be in the engine and not in the pan. It is possible to overfill your oil, so making sure your dipstick is ALL the way down, as well as making sure all the oil is back in the pan, give the most accurate readings. That's what my daddy taught me anyway :)

I sometimes check it cold, or run the car for a few minutes, then shut it off for 10-15 minutes.  If you check it while warm, you definitely need to wipe off the dipstick and then check it.

Offline franksolich

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Re: car problem, or maybe not.
« Reply #21 on: February 17, 2015, 07:20:10 PM »
The car's back here now; a little after 5:00 p.m. central time, 4:00 p.m. mountain time.

But as the mechanic just dropped it off and left, I dunno the story yet.

I'll find out tomorrow (Wednesday) when I'm in town, and post it here.

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Re: car problem, or maybe not.
« Reply #22 on: February 17, 2015, 07:58:37 PM »
Quote
  When the vehicle's cold, or if I go 55 mph or less, the red light doesn't come on.
 

 :confused:

So maybe you should just go "55 mph or less"  :rimshot:

 :-)
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Offline franksolich

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Re: car problem, or maybe not.
« Reply #23 on: February 17, 2015, 08:24:35 PM »
:confused:

So maybe you should just go "55 mph or less"  :rimshot:

 :-)

Actually, that's probably more possible for me, than for most people.

Most roads have "cars per mile."

Out here, it's "miles per car," and so one can usually go any speed one wants.

Offline franksolich

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Re: car problem, or maybe not.
« Reply #24 on: February 18, 2015, 05:49:28 PM »
It was a five-dollar fix.

All was checked out, and it just hadn't been reset OR the connection's bad.