I’m working on a Nissan Murano, and have been trying to check the oil level on my car. The mechanic said that the car is slowly leaking/burning off oil (I believe into the engine), so I need to top off the oil when it drops too low.

When I go to measure the oil level though, each time I pull out the dipstick, it makes no sense - the oil is somehow ABOVE the L/H reading, but not in it.

Here’s a photo: confusing reading

Here’s a second read: again

What’s going on here? What am I doing wrong? My steps are to remove the dipstick, wipe it with a paper towel, re-insert, pull it out, and flip it over to read it (the L/H bit is facing down). The car has been in a garage overnight before these measurements and the temperature is 55-65 here.

  • 1
    Welcome to Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair! Commented Apr 4, 2021 at 17:00
  • @DavidSupportsMonica, note in the text, "My steps are..." and "in a garage overnight..." which covers both of your suggestions.
    – fred_dot_u
    Commented Apr 4, 2021 at 17:57
  • My guess is that the oil is currently too low for the dipstick to reach and the oil you are seeing on the dipstick is oil from the sides of the dipstick tube.
    – HandyHowie
    Commented Apr 4, 2021 at 20:26
  • @fred_dot_u You're right, I didn't even see the text below the pictures. Thanks. Commented Apr 4, 2021 at 22:48
  • Thanks for the comments and the welcome message. @HandyHowie I expect the oil in this car to be lower than it should be, and in fact, likely quite low, so that sounds like a possibility.
    – Alex K
    Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 0:16

2 Answers 2


Your engine doesn't appear to have sufficient oil level to even reach the lower mark

Your dipstick has oil marks on it only next to places in the stick where it is bent. It seems likely that as you've pushed the dipstick down (after wiping) the places where it is bent have rubbed down the oil coated sides of the dipstick tube picking up sufficient amount of oil that the stick has oil on it underneath (relative to the normal "downwards pointing" orientation of the stick) a bent part

These spots of oil should be ignored.

There is a distinct lack of oil coating in the hashed area of the stick; you should remedy that. Regardless of whether the humps in the stick collect oil from the sides of the tube or not, there should be oil present on the stick in the reading area.

I recommend that for this particular stick you should remove, wipe, reinsert, remove and then hold is so that any oil scraped off the tube by a hump in the stick does not then run down the stick, as it will make it harder to read. Quickly move to holding the stick horizontally


Yes, it is a nuisance with this engine. I have a 2011 / 3.5 L, and it seems to hold oil along the dipstick passage. I just checked my oil which required starting it and moving to a level spot ( it MUST be level to check engine or trans oil). Then I put the dipstick in ,pull it out and wipe it off about three times before you can get a good level for the oil. Maybe something about a sidewise V 6 ; this is the first one I have had. At 85000 miles mine uses a half quart in 1500 miles , so oil use is not an inherent problem with this engine.

  • Thanks for the response. The car is particularly old (mid 2000s) and has some engine problems, so is going through oil considerably faster. I'll try it again on a more level spot. This was on my driveway, which I believe to be level, but perhaps is slightly slanted towards the road.
    – Alex K
    Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 0:17

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