Oil dipstick location gripes

Joined
Mar 2, 2004
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3,652
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Kentucky
Every time I change the oil on my '96 Maxima (or top it off) I'm reminded what an awful location the dipstick is in. Nissan cast a slot into the cylinder head in which the dipstick sits, which leads right down an oil drain hole in the head/block that eventually goes to the oil pan. Convenient placement and doesn't take up much room. The problem is, if you've added oil recently or just shut down the engine, say, in the last hour or so, the whole dipstick is completely slathered in oil. Even if you remove the dipstick during an oil change, just inserting it after having added oil covers the entire thing from top to bottom. It takes at least 3-4 insertions and wipes to get a semi-accurate reading. What a dumb design. Every time I have to add oil (which thankfully is not often), I feel like half of it goes into a paper towel just checking it afterward. I've tried waiting 10-15 minutes, that helps some, but still doesn't eliminate the problem.

Despite being a chore during some engine repairs (they get in the way), I much prefer the tube that's usually held to the engine block via a bracket, that leads directly to the oil pan.

Do other engines use this design? Surely I'm not the only one frustrated by it.
 
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I don't like the oil filler\dipstick on a lot of mowers, because the oil sticks to the side of the tube and makes the dipstick annoying to read, I love the way they did them on the Briggs Classic motors, just a small little threaded hole with a short dipstick that went straight down in the middle of the sump where you could easily get a reading and top it off and read it again without having to wait forever or stick a paper towel down in the dipstick tube to wipe the oil off the edges so it doesn't take all day.
 
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The problem is, if you've added oil recently or just shut down the engine, say, in the last hour or so, the whole dipstick is completely slathered in oil.
Do other engines use this design? Surely I'm not the only one frustrated by it.

Some are even worse (Mini > worst dipstick ever). Best method on my Mini:
Place the car in the garage when coming home and remove dipstick. Cover
dipstick tube to avoid contamination. Next morning thoroughly clean dipstick
and check oil. On the Mini's PSA engine the main issue is with any removal of
the dipstick it gets slathered within the tube and the tube gets slathered by the
dipstick as that dipstick tube is S shaped and so the dipstick touches the tube
four times at least. Probably not the same issue on your Maxima, however the
same method may perhaps help. That said, when performing an oil change I
feel ok with the oil level somewhere in the middle. I use to top up to max the
next day or so.
 
Joined
Mar 20, 2016
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Western S.C.
... On the Mini's PSA engine the main issue is with any removal of
the dipstick it gets slathered within the tube and the tube gets slathered by the
dipstick as that dipstick tube is S shaped and so the dipstick touches the tube
four times at least. ...
My Toyota dipstick tube is also S-shaped. Same problem, except not as bad. One side of the dipstick is usually readable (without your elaborate preparation ritual), as long as I check it cold. Easier after the oil gets dark enough to see easily.

Short straight tubes are best.
 
Joined
Jun 3, 2005
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17,170
Location
Santa Barbara, CA
The location on my 2014 Mustang is pretty miserable. If I pull the dipstick straight up like it should be, it hits the strut tower brace.
 
Joined
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Muncie, Indiana
The location on my 2014 Mustang is pretty miserable. If I pull the dipstick straight up like it should be, it hits the strut tower brace.
On the 2013+ Escape with the 2.5L the engine is put so far back in the engine bay that the dipstick is under a cowl and you have to remove it at an angle.
 
Joined
Mar 8, 2012
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16,290
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Colorado Springs
My BMW? No dipstick no problem:)
My VW? Nicely designed dipstick that gives accurate reading 10min after turning off engine. Good visibility.
My Toyota? Absolutely useless unless checking in the morning before turning engine on. During the day oil just gets splattered everywhere on dipstick and hot o super heard to see.
 
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I think you might be onto something!! 0W-8 for the next oil change on this 300k engine it is 😂
I got one better for ya! Unlock all that hidden horsepower!
s-l400.jpg


Gripe more and they will do away with this dipstick completely.
Europeans are on the roll with that one! Up until the oil level sensor :poop:s-out, and engine kills itself from oil starvation.
 
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Joined
Jun 15, 2021
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237
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Central Pennsylvania
I love my Hondas.....however, since they went to that idiotc orange lollipop on the end of a steel dipstick that, especially with new clean oil is almost impossible to read, I've been constantly frustrated by it. Adding to that, on newer CRV'S with the 1.5t, the dipstick is positioned so you have to reach around the hood prop rod to get to it. Whoever was responsible for this design should be sent back to the ladies undergarment industry from whence he/she probably came. Hoping for a return to sanity in the form of a flat steel dipstick with clearly defined hash marks and "full" and "add" indicators, how difficult could that be? With an oil capacity of only 3.7 quarts, it's somewhat important to know the proper level.
 
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JTK

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Aug 14, 2003
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Buffalo, NY
I have a feeling the Nissan VQ in this vintage of Maxima is a heck of a lot better than the dipstick on my 2019 Nissan Pathfinder's VQ35DD.

There's a flat metal guide chute you have to hit just right with the dipstick, so the end of the stick is guided at an angle back into the hole you absolutely can't see. It's so bad that I've read a few times where owners pull the stick to check the oil and then have no idea where to re-stick the dipstick. LOL

Also, the chute gets dirt and grit on it which is impossible to completely wipe away without funneling it right into the engine.
 
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Worst dipstick I've seen out of all vehicles I've owned and maintained over the years is gotta be the one in 2008 Infiniti M35 with VQ35DE. Hard to read, nearly impossible to stick back in the engine, unless sun is up or you got a good flashlight. Dipstick alone makes me glad the car burned down lol.
 
Joined
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I find a lot of dipsticks are almost impossible to read, I take the end of the dipstick and roll it around on a paper towel and then I can get a clear Idea how much oil is actually on the dipstick, My dad's 2002 bravada had a horrible yellow plastic piece on the end and of course with age it discolored and had varnish deposits on it and he thought it had oil in it one time and turns out it was actually almost 3qts low it just looked like oil on the dipstick.
 
Joined
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2,622
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Illinois
Pontiac Fiero V6 disptick tube is on the front side of the block, and since you're standing behind the car to check the oil, they made the dipstick itself about four feet long..... It just keeps on coming when you pull it out! And if you're trying not to lean against or scratch the car while working on it, that makes for a very long reach.
 
Joined
Jul 24, 2014
Messages
327
Location
Canada
Every time I change the oil on my '96 Maxima (or top it off) I'm reminded what an awful location the dipstick is in. Nissan cast a slot into the cylinder head in which the dipstick sits, which leads right down an oil drain hole in the head/block that eventually goes to the oil pan. Convenient placement and doesn't take up much room. The problem is, if you've added oil recently or just shut down the engine, say, in the last hour or so, the whole dipstick is completely slathered in oil. Even if you remove the dipstick during an oil change, just inserting it after having added oil covers the entire thing from top to bottom. It takes at least 3-4 insertions and wipes to get a semi-accurate reading. What a dumb design. Every time I have to add oil (which thankfully is not often), I feel like half of it goes into a paper towel just checking it afterward. I've tried waiting 10-15 minutes, that helps some, but still doesn't eliminate the problem.

Despite being a chore during some engine repairs (they get in the way), I much prefer the tube that's usually held to the engine block via a bracket, that leads directly to the oil pan.

Do other engines use this design? Surely I'm not the only one frustrated by it.

Yeah, I remember those old Nissan's from when I was working at a lube shop years ago - we just filled them with the capacity our book gave us during a LOF, never could get an actual reading on them.

Many of their newer models aren't much better, the placement of their tubes makes the dipstick still slathered in oil if the car has ran in the past half hour or so
 
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