On inspection of my regularly serviced 6-yr old Honda Odyssey, I noticed that my engine oil was almost empty after driving about 300Km.

Can a 6-yr old regularly serviced car with no-leaked detected loose too much oil in just 5 months after a mechanic did an oil change?

Oil indicator has not come on, does this indicate that my engine is still alright?

Is my engine cooked or damaged in the long term?

  • 3
    When you say your oil was "almost empty", how was this determined? Was it that it barely showed on the dipstick or did you measure it by the amount of oil it took to bring it back up to full mark on the dipstick? (ie: it took 5 quarts of oil to bring it back up to the full level) Dec 26, 2016 at 15:32
  • thanks for sharing your thoughts. oil level did not show on the dipstick at all and had a look at the oil refill and could not see any oil. car still runs though and light indicator has not come on.
    – user24752
    Dec 26, 2016 at 20:05
  • you only need to be approx 1 qt (litre) low to be off the dipstick. You are likely far from "almost empty" Get oil, add a half quart at a time until the level is correct. Start checking it often and keeping a log of how much you need to add.
    – agentp
    Dec 29, 2016 at 18:48
  • Hondas are part of a class action. From these years over 1.5 million Hondas burn about a quart every 1000-2000 miles. Mine is one as well and didnt know till I only had 1qt left in the oil pan :(
    – user41744
    Sep 20, 2018 at 19:33

3 Answers 3


If oil level drops that dramatically (to "min" mark in dipstick):

  • Oil is getting burned because head gasket or piston rings damage/worn: you could be able to see either unusual gray or black fumes in the exhaust, or crankcase vent, or oily spots in the cooling liquid.


  • Oil is leaking from oil filter, oil sump nut, gaskets, retainers, dipstick rubber seal: sometimes you can see small oil drops, or even puddles in the area you park the car. Sometimes the dripping is not that large and the engine heat would evaporate it (for instance, leaks coming from dipsticks, which are like atomized and hot)

If the mechanic did a oil change, my guess is that perhaps something was left loose enough for under-work leaks. It may not leak when the car is off, but would leak small drops when it is running and hot. This is common when the oil filter was not tight enough, or its rubber seal got hard.


A warning light on the dashboard of the car and low levels of oil on a dipstick reading are two of the most common ways of checking if an engine is low on oil. A warning light indicates there is a problem, while a dipstick is a guide that shows whether or not the oil is filled to the correct level. Strange engine noises as well as the color of the oil in the engine are two other signs of low oil.


Keep in mind that having a low oil level is not a harmful event in itself. The only thing that matters is that there is enough oil to keep the oil pump pickup tube submerged so it can keep the bearings lubricated. Most of the oil capacity of a typical car is excess capacity designed to ensure that even when you brake or go around a corner really fast the sloshing oil doesn't uncover the oil pump pickup. The oil warning light/gauge is what tells you whether or not this has happened.

Oil warning light is typically an "oh shit light" on most cars that indicates pressure. Even on most cars with a gauge that indicates actual pressures, the gauge is often designed to read full pressure until it is catastrophically low. It's basically a light that tells you why your engine is dead unless you notice it immediately and stop the engine for repairs. And even then it's usually an indication that something is very seriously wrong (for example, there is a major breach in your oil galley that feeds the bearings).

My instinct with a 5 year old honda is that it probably isn't burning oil yet. Ensure your dipstick is actually going in all the way and not catching on anything and then add oil to the engine a quart at a time until it shows as being properly full on the dipstick again.

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