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Today I got an oil change at vavoline. After the oil change is done, it is customary to show the dipstick to the customer to show the oil is clean and full. The technician informed me that the oil dipstick was missing? I had no idea if it was missing before I drove to valvoline. I inherited the car from an estate. I live in Minnesota and inherited the car and house in California. The last time I was in California was May 2020 to get the Title changed at the DMV (just stayed 2 nights due to COVID 19 lock downs). This trip I was able to stay 3 Months to clean out the house. I had to order the dipstick from Honda so ended up driving the car 7 miles back to the house. When I opened the hood the engine was smoking? Now I am scared to drive the car to the dealership tomorrow to get the new dipstick (from Oceanside CA to Carlsbad CA). Will I ruin the engine?

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  • I would think the oil change place would’ve warned you not to drive it so I’m guessing it’ll be okay. Run the engine with the hood open and see if anything comes out of the dipstick tube when you rev the engine. The dipstick cap doesn’t fit very tightly so I’m guessing there’s no potential for leakage. – Mysterfxit Mar 19 at 5:23
  • Did you get your new dipstick? – HandyHowie Mar 23 at 7:52
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It sounds like some oil may have been been getting blown out of the dipstick tube while driving and has ended up on the exhaust. You probably won’t experience this with the engine ticking over (as suggested in the comments) since there won’t be sufficient crank case pressure at tick over.

There is a risk that oil blowing out could end up on the hot exhaust and ignite, hence the smoking. So there is a small risk when driving the car.

Can you reach the dip stick tube easily? Why not cut a finger of a rubber glove or something similar (use your imagination) and put it over the end of the pipe, then stretch an elastic band over it to secure it. It should stop splashes until you get there.

The fact that you are only just experiencing the smoking suggests to me that the dipstick wasn’t missing prior to your oil change.

Did the car run as normal after the change? Since an open dipstick can also allow unmetered air into the crankcase ventilation system, which is designed to feed into the air intake.

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The risk of anything bad happening is absolutely minimal if all you're seeing is a little smoke or vapor, and no oil blown all over the engine. I'd just drive it to the dealership; you've been driving it around without a dipstick for awhile now and so far no flaming wreckage, right? :-)

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