Oil Shower -- Revisited

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Apr 5, 2004
Pensacola & Vero Beach FL
OK, I'm 45, and I've been driving for roughly 30 years. Up until three years ago, I'd never experienced what I'd now call the "oil shower." Last night, it happened again, for the third time in about three years.

This time, I was driving down I-10E, and came up on a knot of cars tied up by one of those guys who insists on cruising at 65 in the left lane, though the limit's 70 and he wasn't passing anyone. I was several cars back, waiting my turn to get by. One of the cars ahead gunned it hard (I assume...) when he had an opening. His car (could not ID it in the dark) belched out a large cloud of oily smoke that I was enveloped in before I had a chance to react. The scary part is that the smoke was full of, no kidding, oil mist that has left my car's front half with hundreds, if not thousands, of spattered little drops of oil all over it (avg size 1-2 mm). The runs up the hood each end in a little brown droplet that you can dab up with a cloth, and easily see as a little oil spot. My windshield, of course, was a dangerous smeared mess as, duh, I hit the wipers in the instant before I realized that the droplets on the glass were oil, and wiping would do more harm than good. What a gawd awful mess!!!

So, for you engineers or those who actually tear engines apart and reassemble them for a living, how can an engine be so sick that it's spewing bulk oil out its exhaust, and still be actually running???
I had that happen once! I guess if an engine is so tired and worn out and has such little compression, that much oil getting into the combustion chamber can just as easily go out the exhaust.

Oil changes???? They too expensive; I don't need no oil change
Well, another possibility is, he had a split in his oil filter or an oil-bearing gasket, and a stream of oil was hitting onrushing air, throwing oil into his slip-stream. You guys were doing 65/70/80 to get by the knucklehead, that might explain the atomization of the oil that gave you your bath.

I've followed two strokes that blew fine oil like that out the exhaust while out on the bike, but never a car or bike 4-stroke. Dang, that thing must be FULL of oil, cause you figure from the exhaust manifold through the header, you have a resonator, cat-converter, and at least one more muffler out to the tailpipe, turns, drops and risers, I just can't see the thing having SO MUCH oil in it that that's even possible.

I mean, this dood has to have a puddle of oil BEHIND the car where the tailpipe sits over night, right? And what a d1ckhead, he's gonna oil some biker's front brakes and kill someone someday..
Any chance the oil had pooled in a muffler and the sudden acceleration or change of lanes ect moved the pool to place in the muffler to allow it to be blown out?
I hadn't thought of the motorcycle angle; that's really scary. It was bad enough trying to get my windshield sufficiently clear after the initial smearing. Obviously, vision is critically important, but hey, if you can't stop, it hardly matters if you can see or not (and might in some cases be more merciful if you couldn't see what was about to happen. . .). And I think you're right on about the awareness aspect of this. I can hardly imagine that the unknown owner of this car has no idea that something bad is afoot under his hood.

Yeah, I will be washing the car this weekend. . .
got hit with brake fluid from a truck on a off ramp. i hit the wash 2 min afterwards. no paint issues but messy.

Originally posted by GMorg:
Any chance the oil had pooled in a muffler and the sudden acceleration or change of lanes ect moved the pool to place in the muffler to allow it to be blown out?

This is likely what happened.

I am presently rebuilding a Ford 300 six for my 81 F-150. I bought this pickup a year ago for cheap, knowing the engine had serious blow-by. It actually ran tolerable well, but would leave a steady fog (not smoke) going down the road. Oil consumption was a quart in 20-30 miles. The previous owner had removed the air filter element from the air cleaner, I did a double-take when I opened it up, it looked like an oil-bath air cleaner!

Upon teardown, only piston #1 was intact. The rest of the piston rings were broken and the piston lands (the part between the rings) were broken. This poor engine had been SEVERELY detonated.

Yes, the oil shower can happen, but the engine that does it is really sick.
There's also the ATF shower. My boss' Crown Vic former cop car tranny seal was going and he drove it a couple hundred miles home, putting a quart in about every 30 miles or so. Many of the cars behind him were turning on the wipers and then no longer followed him.
I've never seen any oil mist before thats a very bad situation. A few days ago I did see a car that had a huge plume of whitish blue behind him as he drove, which was the same that I have seen before while we drove my friends car when a connecting rod smacked a huge hole in the block and we were just trying to get it a few miles to get it quickly safely off the rural two lane highway that had no shoulder. 280k miles wasn't too bad though, he got it for free with a bad rod knock and he got what he paid for.
I got misted while on my motorcycle a few years ago. It took me a while to figure out what the heck happened, as traffic was fairly light on the highway at that time. It was a nice, sunny day and then, all of a sudden--SPLOTCH!

I wiped as a small corner of my visor as I didn't know what the heck the stuff was, and decided that wiping was doing more harm than good. I couldn't wait to get off the road and clean my visor! (No harm to tires, brakes, etc., though.)
Theoretically possible with a bad enough exhaust valve guide seal. Oil would get sucked through without fouling plugs or really getting combusted. A gutted cat would help.
Yeah, the cat issue made me wonder. Again, I could not see the car in the dark, but it must have been very old or had an illegally modded exhaust. I can't see how misted oil could penetrate the matrix inside a real, functional cat.
bad exhaust valve seals/worn guides and no cat on an otherwise healthy engine can cause quite a mess of oil going straight out the exhaust. It may not burn because it's bypassing the combustion process completely. Or, as others have suggested, it could be a massive oil leak that's being atomized by the airflow around the engine.
I was behind an older Cherokee and that happened to me. Tiny droplets of oil went all over my truck and the wipers only made more of a mess.

As for the issue of cats, could the honeycomb have fallen apart and been blown out of the exhaust leaving oil a clear path to go out the exhaust?
Antifreeze feels oily, and can appear dark when old.
I never heard of an oil shower like that.
Sounds more like a head or gasket was cracked, and coolant was being spewed out the pipe.
Sadly, I was the cause of an oil shower one time. I was in the army, stationed in Virginia. I had an '81 Ford Bronco that I liked to think was a mug king. Anyway, in a mudhole, I overrevved the 300 straight 6 and, unknown to me at the time, broke a piston. The truck ran, but was basically junk. I put in for leave and limped my way all the way home to Louisiana, to my dad's auto shop and rebuilt the engine. I was using about 1 quart of oil every 50 miles. It was just throwing it out of every seal in the engine and the exhaust too. I'm sure I gave many a driver along I95 and I20 and oil shower that day and night driving back home to Louisiana.

Ah, those were the days, young and ignorant.
another theory; you may have been following too close to James Bond and he decided to make a quick get-away!!

I have been in smoke but never an oil shower. very interesting.
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