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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 8/17/2005 11:24:10 PM EDT
On our way back from vacation we stopped to get gas. I was on a motorcycle (took a side trip to Sturgis while they stayed at grandparents) and the wife and son were in our 2001 Saturn. Anyway, she said it was making a ticking noise which I could hear. I told her to turn it off and I checked the oil. NO OIL SHOWING ON THE DIPSTICK!!!

It took two quarts to get it up to normal.

My question:

Am I screwed?

It ran fine the rest of the way home (only 48 miles)

We bought it new, and have had NO problems with it EVER. It now has 110,000 miles on it. Changed the oil religiously the last 5 years.

Is two quarts low an engine killer? The oil light did not ever come on.

We just paid this sucker off. I can't begin to afford a big repair bill and I am NEVER going to finance a new car again.

Link Posted: 8/17/2005 11:27:08 PM EDT
You probably didn't kill it, but...the oil is going somewhere.
That will need attention asap.

my 4Runner likes to "self-oil change" and hasn't died yet!

(p.s. this will likely get moved...)
Link Posted: 8/17/2005 11:27:43 PM EDT
Does it have a temp gauge or one of those idiot lights? Did it overheat? How many total quarts of oil does it hold?
Link Posted: 8/17/2005 11:28:52 PM EDT
My wife routinely lets our 97 saturn get that low in oil Doens't matter how often I tell her to check it. Her car is none the worse for wear. It has a quiet tick, but has had that for years. Still going strong with about 130,000 miles on it.
Link Posted: 8/17/2005 11:31:00 PM EDT
Won't kill it, but definately check for leaks.

Link Posted: 8/17/2005 11:57:45 PM EDT
The car is supposed to have 4 quarts in it including oil filter. So it had half the oil it was supposed to have.

It seems to be running fine now. Time will tell I guess.

Link Posted: 8/18/2005 12:09:40 AM EDT
if it's not knocking it's probably ok, close call though!
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 1:08:57 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/18/2005 1:09:20 AM EDT by FishKepr]
This is a good site: SaturnFans.com

BTW, I just bought a VUE a few months ago.
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 10:49:14 AM EDT
I did that once to an old car, and it ran for years afterwards but that was the beginning of big oil blowback problems. It helps if you run synthetic oil. Why didn't the low oil light go on? My guess is the oil pressure sending unit is loose, not working, and that is where the oil is leaking from.

Link Posted: 8/18/2005 10:53:44 AM EDT
I have friends that have two Saturns, they are both oil burning machines even with low mileage. They're good other than that, but you really have to stay on top of checking and filling the oil.
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 11:00:23 AM EDT
Look for a leak. Make sure you check the oil every week or so now. Just keep the oil level kinda full and you will be fine.
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 11:15:33 AM EDT
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 11:17:48 AM EDT
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 11:18:34 AM EDT
Thanks guys for the encouragement. The car isn't knocking at all, and there is no smoke coming out. That doesn't mean that there isn't damage, but I am going to be tracking the oil level like crazy now. It is too nice not having a car payment for the first time in 20 years to not baby this puppy along. Adding a quart a week is fine with me as long as nothing else goes wrong.

Link Posted: 8/18/2005 11:20:45 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/18/2005 11:21:25 AM EDT by The_Beer_Slayer]
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 11:26:47 AM EDT
my 97 burns about 2 quarts every 3k miles. I check it once a week and add to it as necessary. It is about 8 miles shy of rolling 140k miles now. When my problem first started my oil light came on and I think I added 3 quarts, this was a good 50k miles ago and it is still running strong, just likes it's oil.
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 11:27:04 AM EDT
Running properly, a car will consume a small amount of oil, some upwards of 1-2 quarts per 3000 miles, especially when the engines are new.

The oil pressure sending unit is only going to send a signal when the oil pressure drasticly drops, like to zero, and that only happens when the end of the pick up tube is not covered on oil, and it is covered when there is less than half the reccommended amount of oil in the pan. If he were to have taken a corner fast or stopped suddenly, he may have noticed a brief flash from the dummy light, but that would be it.

PAtsue did good by hearing the ticking and checking the oil. Little 4 bangers are ticky little buggers to begin with, so he has a good ear. I do not know what causes the engine to get tickier when the oil gets low, whether it is a lack of lubrication, or that the oil gets hotter and loses some of its cushyness.

It is amazing what some engines will go through and keep going. I do not think any major harm was done to the saturn.

Link Posted: 8/18/2005 11:32:55 AM EDT
my 97 saturn takes 5 quarts. I doubt that any damage was done to the engine, just dont let it get low again and hopefully youll be good for another 100k
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 11:33:38 AM EDT
I just talked to my local mechanic whom I am fortunate to trust. He from the top of his head explained to me what his concerns are based upon what I discribed happened. He is going to check the car tomorrow for a cracked head. At least that is what I thought he said. He said that it will burn oil like that on long trips as the engine is working hot for a long time and will slowly burn oil in such a way that there really is no visible smoke. He said that Saturn knows there is a problem with some of the heads produced at the time my car was made, and stood behind them for awhile but no more. So if that is the problem, he will have to find a good used head from somewhere.

Oh well, sounds like there was nothing I could do about it ahead of time. Just one of those things. Thanks again for the comments!

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