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What a Dipstick!
Old 05-29-2013, 08:39 PM   #1
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What a Dipstick!

Okay, as I was driving today, the oil light flickered a couple of times. So, I park and check the oil and the oil was very low. So, I go to Wally World, buy some oil and add.

As I check the oil level for second time, the level is fine but when I put dipstick back in, the dipstick handle broke off.

Looks like a need a new dipstick.

When replacing a dipstick, is a dipstick just a dipstick? That is, standard size and can I just pick up one at an auto store or Walmart?

Or is replacing a dipstick more of a pain in the they are specific to the car make and model?

Thanks.
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Old 05-29-2013, 08:41 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by easysurfer View Post
Okay, as I was driving today, the oil light flickered a couple of times. So, I park and check the oil and the oil was very low. So, I go to Wally World, buy some oil and add.

As I check the oil level for second time, the level is fine but when I put dipstick back in, the dipstick handle broke off.

Looks like a need a new dipstick.

When replacing a dipstick, is a dipstick just a dipstick? That is, standard size and can I just pick up one at an auto store or Walmart?

Or is replacing a dipstick more of a pain in the they are specific to the car make and model?

Thanks.
The latter.

Ha
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Old 05-29-2013, 08:43 PM   #3
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Oil dipsticks are unique to a particular car/engine. You may be able to find a replacement at a wrecking yard - probably much cheaper than buying new from a dealer.
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Old 05-29-2013, 08:46 PM   #4
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check ebay too. just checked for my car (2000 honda civic). $17 shipped for a new OEM dipstick. You could probably buy one from the dealer or an auto shop too, but it would probably be more than just ordering it yourself. Just be careful "installing" it. Apparently these things are prone to break easily.
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Old 05-29-2013, 08:47 PM   #5
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Okay, as I was driving today, the oil light flickered a couple of times. So, I park and check the oil and the oil was very low. So, I go to Wally World, buy some oil and add.

As I check the oil level for second time, the level is fine but when I put dipstick back in, the dipstick handle broke off.

Looks like a need a new dipstick.

When replacing a dipstick, is a dipstick just a dipstick? That is, standard size and can I just pick up one at an auto store or Walmart?

Or is replacing a dipstick more of a pain in the they are specific to the car make and model?

Thanks.
I would get one for the specific make and model to make sure it measures correctly. You might have to go to a dealer but try rockauto, lots of parts for all makes RockAuto Parts Catalog, or search ebay motors

I'd be more worried about where the oil went. The oil light coming on is close to engine damage if it got that low.
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Old 05-29-2013, 08:47 PM   #6
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Yes, specific to that engine, or model. You need the right one.

MORE IMPORTANT - Did anything break off inside the engine? That could be a big problem and do some serious damage. Though retrieving it would require pulling the oil pan, not a major cost.

But if the handle just broke off externally, and internal is fine and it can't fall i deeper than it should, just replace it, or use a pliers every time you check the oil. But if you were checking regularly (I admit, I get lazy about this), it should never be that low.

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Old 05-30-2013, 05:43 AM   #7
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Yes, specific to that engine, or model. You need the right one.

MORE IMPORTANT - Did anything break off inside the engine? That could be a big problem and do some serious damage. Though retrieving it would require pulling the oil pan, not a major cost.
I was thinking about that too, with visions of that long piece of metal getting tangled in the crankshaft, oil pump, etc. If that happens it's new engine time.

Then too, the remaining bit may be long enough that the upper end is still in the lower part of the dipstick tube, blocking entry of the replacement dipstick, in which case he'll still have to pull the pan.

For piece of mind I'd have to pull the oil pan and retrieve it.
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Old 05-30-2013, 06:57 AM   #8
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As Haha said, there's no universal one to fit every make and model because each one's engine would have different specification. Trying to source a used one from some auction sites is a good idea. If the metal gauge piece broke off and left inside of the hole, you might want to give very cheap telescope type piece of retriever tool (with a strong magnet tip) a try. You may be able to pull the broken gauge without taking the whole oil pan out by using that tool. I got mine from Pepboys years back for only 99 cents.

BTW, since your engine oil ran low for whatever reason, it might be a good idea to check you auto trans fluid as well if your car has one. Some cars also have a dipstick (much shorter) for ATF. If the fluid level is low, or the fluid color is too dark (brown/black) and the fluid carries some burnt smell, then it's time to top it off or even totally replace it. The cost of a few quarts of ATF is always cheaper than a whole auto trans.
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Old 05-30-2013, 07:22 AM   #9
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Luckily, the part that broke off is just the handle and not the long metal part that measures the oil level. I still can pull up the dipstick with pliers until I get a replacement.
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Old 05-30-2013, 08:22 AM   #10
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Old 05-30-2013, 08:30 AM   #11
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Luckily, the part that broke off is just the handle and not the long metal part that measures the oil level. I still can pull up the dipstick with pliers until I get a replacement.
I think I'd go the other way. Pull the dipstick out and leave it out until you get a replacement. The "handle" also serves as a cap and keeps oil from coming out and dirt getting in. I'd but put that back on.
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Old 05-30-2013, 11:11 AM   #12
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I think I'd go the other way. Pull the dipstick out and leave it out until you get a replacement. The "handle" also serves as a cap and keeps oil from coming out and dirt getting in. I'd but put that back on.
While I mostly agree, I must add: In my cars the top serves as a cover, but the slender metal part is what holds the top cover on. I'd remove both, and cover with tape.

I'd also replace the dipstick ASAP.
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Old 05-30-2013, 11:19 AM   #13
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I still can pull up the dipstick with pliers until I get a replacement.
Good for you!

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The "handle" also serves as a cap and keeps oil from coming out and dirt getting in. I'd but put that back on.
A very good point indeed. Just be sure the cap can stay on firmly. The last thing you want for turning belts and pulleys is something falling from above due to vibration.
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Old 05-30-2013, 12:18 PM   #14
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Oh. I did talk to the car place and there is a very small oil leak. But to do the repair would require taking out the engine and costing much more (like about 3K) than the car is worth.

So, in the meantime, since the car still is driveable, the solutions is to stock up on: Amazon.com: Mag 1 62939 SAE 10W-30 Motor Oil - 5 Quart: Automotive


I did have the car place go ahead and order a new dipstick for me as I figure I'll be adding and checking oil more often in the upcoming months
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Old 05-30-2013, 12:36 PM   #15
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Oh. I did talk to the car place and there is a very small oil leak. But to do the repair would require taking out the engine and costing much more (like about 3K) than the car is worth.

So, in the meantime, since the car still is driveable, the solutions is to stock up on: Amazon.com: Mag 1 62939 SAE 10W-30 Motor Oil - 5 Quart: Automotive


I did have the car place go ahead and order a new dipstick for me as I figure I'll be adding and checking oil more often in the upcoming months
Well that bites, sounds like you have an oil burner now. I'd check around for a second opinion see what others would charge for a fix. Last car I got rid of, the new set of tires was going to cost more than the car was worth, so I got a new car.

Walmart has about the best price on oil, you can get a jug there for around $13. Also check the specials at the parts stores and rebates. I have a boatload of oil stashed up and have gotten it for mostly free.
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Old 05-30-2013, 01:00 PM   #16
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Well that bites, sounds like you have an oil burner now. I'd check around for a second opinion see what others would charge for a fix. Last car I got rid of, the new set of tires was going to cost more than the car was worth, so I got a new car.

Walmart has about the best price on oil, you can get a jug there for around $13. Also check the specials at the parts stores and rebates. I have a boatload of oil stashed up and have gotten it for mostly free.
I like the idea of checking around for a second opinion and seeing that others would charge for a fix. Definitely worth a try.
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Old 05-30-2013, 08:21 PM   #17
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If your car's mileage is high, then a little oil burning is normal. With the replacement dipstick, you can keep track how much oil is burned at what pace. At least with a compression test on all cylinders, a shop can get a preliminary idea on the engine's overall health considering its age. Just curious, the $3k figure is for a total original engine rebuild or just a drop-in replacement?
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Old 05-31-2013, 11:14 AM   #18
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No, not a rebuild.

Anyhow, I went ahead and made an appointment at another place (high reviews at Yelp) for a second opinion. The place was so packed (there was about 30 cars waiting on the lot) that the appointment is not until Jun 10. I could have made it sooner, but first, I gotta put about 1000 more miles going for a weekend vacation before the 10th.
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