A few days ago i posted a question about the dealer reporting some oil spillage/leakage but that it passed the mechanical test. I checked the oil level of the car from my 80 minute drive home and it was a little below half (so plenty). Now i dont know how much oil was in the car when i bought it. Now, a few days later. My oil danger light turned on this morning. So i parked my car, waited about 15 minutes and checked the oil level. It was at the bare minimum. Now obviously the oil level shouldn't drop so fast. Is there anything i can check/do to resolve this? I've already made an apointment with my mechanic but i was wondering if there is something i can check for to make his job easier.

On a related note, the oil light turned off after about 3 minutes. (yes i finished my ride to work since it was a four minute drive). Would it be wise for me to drive home after work? Its about a 40 minute drive.

I just checked my oil level again (after 4 hours of not running) and the oil level was back to what it was a few days ago. Could this mean that my engine, for some reason, holds a lot of oil somewhere? I'm not a mechanic so i have no idea how any of this works but im keen to learn.

  • 2
    Check your oil level again. If it is below the minimum, top it up before the drive home. If you are worried, stop halfway home and check again, and top up as required.
    – Rory Alsop
    Sep 24, 2014 at 8:16
  • What kind of vehicle is this (year/make/model)? The reason I ask, we may be able to help you with your question better if this is a known issue or behavior. Mileage on the vehicle would be useful as well. Sep 24, 2014 at 21:58
  • Its a seat ibiza 1.4 stella from 2001 with about 220.000km driven. Sep 25, 2014 at 7:03

3 Answers 3


If you're losing oil, one of two things will be happening - either it's leaking or it's being burnt in the engine. If it was being burnt, you should be able to see and smell it in the exhaust - a blue-black smoke with an oily smell. However if you're losing that much I'd suspect an external leak.

Have a look around and under the engine bay for any signs of leaking. Are there oil spots on the ground under where the car was parked? Are there any areas of the engine bay that look more oily than others? Particularly look around the various seals and joints - oil filter, drain plug and pressure switch for example. Bear in mind that the place the oil is dripping from may not be the place it leaks, as it may flow along the surface first...

  • I didnt notice any smoke comming from my exhaust neither did i smell anything. I also made the assumption of a leak, i just checked and i didnt see any oil puddles underneat my car nor did the oil level drop (after about 2 - 3 hours). Now since its currently raining and i'm parked on gravel its totally possible that the oil was simply being washed away, but it didnt look like te oil level dropped dramaticly. So it must only be leaking whilest driving... Sep 24, 2014 at 10:18
  • Could you check my question again? I added some information. Sep 24, 2014 at 11:37
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    The oil level will increase after the car has been sat for a long time, as the oil that was in the engine will slowly flow back to the sump. How much this will change the level will depend on the car in question - different engine designs will have different drainage characteristics and will have a different range marked on the dipstick. If you've done a cold-cold comparison (i.e. both measurements taken with the engine cold) and not lost any, it sounds like you don't have a leak - I'd still be wary though, if the pressure warning light is coming on...
    – Nick C
    Sep 24, 2014 at 14:52

Your engine may have been run on a cheap brand of oil which would have lacked a good detergent ability. A 'cheaper(?)' oil can cause gumming up of the engines oil ways, causing a very slow return to the engines sump. (You are measuring the oil level held in the sump when you dip the dipstick into the engine.) Look inside and to one one side of the oil filler cap to see if there is a thick deposit there, or peer inside with a light. Difficult to put things right if your engine is sludged up. A couple of cans of engine flush may help, but this may just release some of the sludge rather then diluting it and may make matters worse.

  • At which point an oil change might help. Or two.
    – Cullub
    Jun 29, 2016 at 15:10

I noticed that whenever my change engine oil light comes on in the dash and I ignore it a few days and miles later a low oil light comes on and if it is still not attended to the engine shut down until New oil is added. This happens to me on a couple of occassions. My suggestion is keep your oil changed You car is trying to protect itself and save you money.

  • Thanks for the contribution. I would suggest you change your oil WELL before the oil light comes on. I am surprised your engine is still running considering this has happened to you on multiple occasions. This is not normal behavior and is extremely detrimental to the life of the engine. Jun 29, 2016 at 13:24

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