Thursday, January 06, 2011

Car Oil

My car engine was making an odd noise. It is noisy tappets, I convinced myself. Modern tappets automatically adjust themselves. But if they get quite worn, they can no longer do so. The noise was only when I started the car and it would quickly disappear.

R advises to always turn the car radio up if you hear strange noises. I followed his advice in so far as it was only clattering when I started the car. On the off chance that Mutton Chopped Mutant is still around, I expect he could guess where this is going.

The last trip my car made was to Pakenham a week before christmas and the car then sat idle for two weeks.

Sadly I had to work today and R did not, so a car change over in our carpark was necessary. What a racket my car made when I started it. It sounds like it has no oil in the motor.

Modern cars are so good that you don't really need to check the oil between services, but I suspected my engine oil was low. Why did I not think of this earlier when I started to hear clatter? I checked and poured three litres of oil into it as there was not any oil registering on the dipstick. My car does not noticeably burn oil and the engine doesn't leak. Where has the oil gone? Well, with any car the oil slowly burns away in very small quantities. I guess the long freeway trip to Pakenham burnt off some oil, water and muck.

I was surprised how long the engine took to settle down once it had its fill of oil. I thought it would be instantaneous. It now sounds very sweet.

But again, why did it run out of oil? I am sure it was only mid last year when the head gasket blew and it was replenished with new oil after its repair.

Open drawer of filing cabinet and go to Andrew's car file. Head gasket repair and replenished with oil, July 2009. I can recall writing about it at the time. You can check back. I don't have the energy.

So, it is eighteen months since my car was serviced. Seems like just yesterday. I'll book it in tomorrow while R is home on holidays and I can steal his to go to work.

I was discussing someone at work today with workmates. He left about five year ago, I suggested. No, I was firmly told. Ten years ago. Golly gosh, before I know it, it will be 2011. As you get older, time seems to compress itself.

Later note: I don't think double overhead camshaft engines have tappets. They certainly don't have push rods.


  1. Why yes, I am still here, thanks for asking.

    Just so you know DOHC engines do indeed still have tappets. I can't think of anything except for industrial equipment that isn't fitted with self-adjusting ones though, and Holden's big V8 is still push-rod equipped and no worse for it really.

    As for oil - even without anything resembling a visible leak it still vanishes - a period of inactivity coupled with a long drive is just the thing to make it drop too.

    I'm a little surprised you didn't think of it sooner too. I guess with my cantankerous elder-Holden its still pretty commonplace to do an essential fluids check every week. Can't do any hard, right?

    Anyway I hope all has returned to normal within your internal combustion world!

  2. the red 'oil light' on the dash was not lit ?

  3. Anonymous8:53 pm

    HI Andrew

    you have the same car as me, and yes mine ticks when it first starts if I forget to put the oil in it , as it warms up it stops but its still there just not as loud lol

    I don't use the super synthetic oil as needed but the thicker oil as it burns off too quick if thinner is used, it hasn't hurt mine yet... that was from a mechanic.

    They are real goers our cars, presuming you still have the lantra, mine is the last of the 99 se ones and still as reliable as ever, probably go out in the morning and it wont start lol

    oh and as above the red oil light never comes on! only when you first start it as the norm warning.


  4. As I was typing Mutant, I realised that the contact point must have a tappet. Yes, self adjusting for years but once they wear out, they can no longer adjust. Who would wear out tappets nowadays anyway.

    While it would be obvious if water was in the oil, something clearly burns off when a minimally used car goes on a decent hike. I got sick of checking oils and water, sorry coolant, when they never ever dropped. Of course as soon as it made an odd noise I should have checked the oil. Twenty years ago I would have, but twenty years ago I would have checked oil regularly. Mea culpa for sure. You must demonstrate the benefits of push rods to me some time.

    Emstacks, oil lights never come on until it is too late from what I have hear anecdotally. Mine certainly did not come on.

    Err Michelle, can't we pretend our cars are Elantras? Although we bought mine new in 2000, it was made in 99. We paid too much. How cool that you have the same. Mine is a GLX. I don't know if that is better than SE. I suspect the differences would be minor. We paid extra for a rear spoiler and tinting and body finish. Apart from failed spark plug leads, replaced, and blowing the head gasket for no obvious reason, it has been and still is very good. I can't believe how sweet it sounds now that it is full of oil. I will have it serviced next week. Funnily, someone at work was telling me, in broken English, the same about the oil, as you say. Now I get what he was saying.

  5. aargh that reminds me (again) I STILL haven't booked mine in for it's first proper service. I'm a bad car mummy!

  6. Oh Andrew, what a disappointment you are turning into.

    First it was PVR and now all this stuff about car thingamajingees.

    Next thing you'll be writing that you've turned straight.


  7. Service already Fen? You only just got it.

    Victor, there is something I have been meaning to mention....nah, just kidding.

  8. I got it 9 months ago and it's well overdue for its service. Mind you it's well under the required km's but they say you have to have the first one after 6 months. If they whinge I'll tell 'em I was unable to drive!!

  9. This reminds me of an old "dumb blonde" joke.
    I know these are no longer acceptable, so apologies to anyone out there who is offended.

    A blonde girl walks in to her local service station and asks to buy a longer dipstick, because hers doesn't reach the oil.

  10. Not heard it before River. I laughed. It is ok, you are in a non blonde zone.