Newbie needs your help. How low on oil can you go?

Not open for further replies.
Jan 9, 2004
San Francisco
What's up fellas, Did I damage my engine by running it with low oil? Details... I own a G35 Coupe (VQ35 engine, V6, 3.5 L) that takes 5 quarts of 5W30. At 3750 miles, I changed from dino to Mobil 1 Synthetic with an OEM filter. Today at 7500 miles, I changed my oil again (Mobile 1 oil and filter) and noticed I only drained out 3.5 qts of oil. It looks like I burned off almost 1.5 qts in between oil changes. I measured the level and everything is normal, so I know I got most of the old oil out. Do you know if there is any long term damage to the engine by running it with ~3.5 qts of oil instead of 5? [Duh!] I know, I know, from now on I am going to check my levels every coupla weeks to ensure everything is ok. I'll also be doing an analysis at my next oil change at 11,250 mi. Can someone reassure me that my engine will be okay in the long run? I hope to keep the car as long as possible. Thanks in advance.
i doubt it unless the engine oil light came on when you went round corners. Then probably you starved the bearing of oil. I hope the engine was not at high rpm.
I drive the car relatively hard (4000-5500 RPM shifting). Oil light never came on. I wanna assume it's okay becuase I hear other people have run their car and drained their oil only to get back 3.5 qts of oil. I just want some "professional" opinions. Thanks again
I would't worry about it. As long as you have enough oil to maintain oil pressure (pump submerged at all times) you are fine. The drawbacks to having too low of oil is that the oil will be a little hotter than normal, and the oil life will be reduced..but I wouldn't worry. [Cheers!]
Are you adding the amount in the old filter? Some oil always stays in the engine - every car I have owned. In fact when I let the oil drain for many hours it's quite amazing how much more comes out. Plus the amount that will never flow out (sitting on the head, small "shelves", lines, etc, etc) Don't sweat it, but watch your dippy stick [Big Grin]
I was thinking the same thing. Your owners manual or service manual should specify the sump capacity with oil filter change, without filter change, and for an overhaul. For my RSX there's about 1 qt that can't be drained out of the engine.
1.5 quarts is not too bad. The only way you would uncover the pickup even that low would be if you redline it alot or do high "G" loading routinely. Like other have said you proably did not do any damage in spite of this. I think you need to be checking your oil more often. It is too easy to check your oil while you are getting gas. Most people have to get gas once a wek or once every two weeks. Most gas stations are level and have paper towels on hand. When you let you oil get that low you can other issues. Less oil will now have to carry the same load of dirt and heat. Your oil can get real nasty with oxidation and nitration real fast this way. I have an uncle that routinely blows engines by not checking the oil between changes!
I have ran out or almost out about a dozen times on my truck. SO low I heard SQQUEEEEEEEELLLLLLLing sounds. And a CHERP like a big bird, when I shut on and off the engine. So low I went to the gas station and put in a quart and could not see it on the stick, so I bought two more, put them in and still could not see any oil, after four quarts and it was at the bottom end of the dipstick I knew I was low. At that time, for the next several days I ran out a couple times. Unknown to me at first, I was leaking about 3 maybe 3.5 Quarts AN HOUR... Well after the second time, I got the hint, but getting on the freeway speed things up.. This was one of several sets of events that a similar thing happened to me... Granted, I had BOAT loads of MOLY (800-1800PPM) for some time, but I'm sure I did some damage, got to... None the less, I have 398K now. Wife also ran out of oil for two hours on a trip and did not wake me for the check engine light because she wanted to get to work... Wife had other car she would tell me only after hearing a sound with the check engine light on for two weeks (low oil) - Next car we can get for her... I'm just gonna have to check it every couple days... anyway, you sound careful and concerned, I'm sure you'll be fine. There are other horror stories but I think these will do!
drsifu... Nice car, looks better than the 350Z, IMO, and I love that stock exhaust growl...! You burned 1.5 quarts in 3750 miles; this seems a little high... You said you do drive the car firmly, and high revs tend to increase oil consumption. You may be able to lower oil consumption by going to a thicker oil. M1 30 weights ALL fall on the thin side of the 30 weight range. Try M1 0W40 , or another slightly thicker brand of oil, or adding a couple of quarts of 15W50 M1. Or, if the consumption doesn't bother you... CHECK YOUR OIL !!! [Eek!]
With some engines you may hear valve clatter at idle before the oil light comes on, giving you early warning of low oil.
Not open for further replies.