No Accurate Dipstick Reading

Nov 5, 2022
For the last few days I have been trying to get an accurate reading on a new used car I just bought. It is a 2002 Honda Accord 4 cyl. The guy said he changed the oil not long ago and it looks clean.

When I check the oil level the dipstick has smears a few inches above the high mark. Even after trying multiple times on a hot and cold engine same result. It seems like the dipstick tube gets oil splatters pretty high.

Currently the dipstick is out of the car so the oil in the tube can settle. Then tomorrow it will give a good reading most likely. Any tips and tricks? I have put the dipstick in multiple orientations and still get the same result. Is this something others have encountered?
Welcome to the club. The only way I've ever been able to get an accurate reading on my three toyotas has been to let the car sit overnight, then before it gets driven the next day, pull out the dipstick before starting the car. I don't wipe it clean and then insert it back in for another pull, I just pull it out and observe the oil level. I always get a clean reading on one if not both sides of the dipstick. I realize you don't drive a Toyota, but its worth a shot. FWIW this is NOT the method recommended in the manual, but doing that is an exercise in frustration.
Get it hot, let it sit 1/2 hour on level ground with the dipstick halfway out. Then clean the dipstick & check the level. That gives the oil a chance to drain back (& is the ONLY way I can get an accurate reading on the Transit, it takes a while to drain back & is higher hot than cold).
Check it when COLD. If you have to, remove the dipstick (cover the dipstick tube opening), and check it after 4+ hours. Just insert the dipstick, remove it, and read the level.

As Rand said, look for the solid amount of oil and ignore the "smeared" parts. If the solid part is between the marks, it's good.
On my 96 Civic you have to check it when it's hot. Sure you let it sit for about 5 minutes after it's nice and hot, then check. The level is always off if you check that Honda when it's cold. I've actually watched all the oil drain out of that engine, the exact amount it needs poured in, and if it hasn't gotten hot, it's always higher.. Maybe your Accord is like my Civic.
Oil "drag-out" within the dipstick tubes is an issue with the 8-foot long (exaggerating) dip sticks in the Safari. I used to pull the dip stick(s) out after shutting down (hot engine or trans) and leave them out until the next day. I don't lose sleep over it anymore.