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Dry dipstick after oil change


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I finally found another red wagon like my first and it's been taken care of well. 

I changed the oil 5 days ago with Rotella and the car has sat since. No oil has leaked. I checked the dipstick a few times and there's nothing on it. 

I am now worried to start it, but if I put 4.5 quarts in and it hasn't left the motor then why is the dipstick dry? Back when I had my GTs I brought them to a garage for all service so I'm not sure if this is a normal characteristic of these motors. 

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Rotella comes in a 4 quart container. You may be under filled.

Funny story. First oil change I ever did I couldn’t figure this same thing out and I only added 3.5 quarts bc I thought it was a 5qt container.

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These things are the worst car to get a true reading on the oil level.  I've posted about how much of a PITA it is for years.

Here's how the stick goes into the oil pan... Stupid, if you ask me. Not really the best angle to get a good reading.

I have found that I needed to loosen the oil fill cap, then walk away from the car for a while. Then come back and pull the stick and read both sides of it.

Back in July, I had to replace the rusted out oil pan on my wagon, weeks later the oil was still so clean, I couldn't get a good reading.

 

 

DSCN4718.JPG

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305,600miles 5/2012 ej257 short block, 8/2011 installed VF52 turbo, @20.8psi, 280whp, 300ftlbs. (SOLD).  CHECK your oil, these cars use it.

 

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Wow what the hell? Looks like 4.5 quarts on the Rotella and that's if it's filled close to the top. I've used this for over a decade on turbo motors thinking it was 5 quarts....I'm dumbfounded!

I used the rest of the Rotella and magically, the dipstick shows full now.

How embarrassing.

 

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I've struggled with getting an accurate oil level forever while owning this car. Imagine my horror when seeing a dry dipstick with 4 quarts in the car after an oil change.... ugh... 

I usually have a shop do an oil change for me these days but if I do it myself I'll get a 5 qt jug of whatever 5W-30 or 5W-40 is available in synthetic at whatever store is convenient to me. That's usually Valvoline and it works fine and leaves me with some leftover.

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Using @Max Capacity's method (described in more detail elsewhere) is what gave me the most consistent readings.

  1. Loosen oil cap to break vacuum
  2. Pull out and clean the dipstick, then lay it somewhere safe
  3. Return 10+ minutes (or hours) later and re-insert dipstick to check reading

I believe removing the dipstick for an extended amount of time helps oil in the dipstick tube drip back down into the pan, giving you a more accurate read. I've found my readings the most repeatable after following this process.

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Check first thing before first start of the day. If memory serves it's 4.7 qt after filter change with the stock pan.

After changing to the Killer B pan it's just under 6 qt for full dipstick reading cool.

Pulling the fill cap and leaving the stick out for a few min are solid suggestions for a clean reading.

You'll notice as the pic Max shows the angle is terrible. I notice a little more on the back of the stick.

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I've seen, the oil on the stick in the shape of a V also.  The 3.6 in our 18' seems to act like a normal car when it comes to checking the oil.

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305,600miles 5/2012 ej257 short block, 8/2011 installed VF52 turbo, @20.8psi, 280whp, 300ftlbs. (SOLD).  CHECK your oil, these cars use it.

 

Engine Build - Click Here

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On 11/25/2022 at 11:02 PM, Enlight said:

I believe removing the dipstick for an extended amount of time helps oil in the dipstick tube drip back down into the pan

This does the same thing as loosening the oil cap, just a smaller vent port so takes longer for the air to find its way out.

I check oil 8+ times a day, and generally right after they've been running.  If it's anywhere between the dots it's fine. if it's below the dot, wait a few minutes and check again, if it's not even on the stick, well shame on you!

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Not my intention to challenge anything that's been said, just add to it. Since my rod knock issues discussed elsewhere I've been diving deeply into the topic of Subaru oiling. My rod knock developed even after installing the Killer B oil pan/pickup/baffle trio. It always sipped oil until all the sudden it wasn't. If you are a gentle driver, I agree that you're probably safe if the oil mark is anywhere between the two dots. But, if you do any spirited driving at all, whether it is fast acceleration, or cornering, and/or possibly stopping, I would recommend making sure your oil is topped off every two gas fill-ups if not more.

One of the reasons Subaru's are more prone to oil starvation is that the horizontally opposed engine allows oil to collect on the sides (heads) of the engine, which must then travel laterally to reach the oil pan and pickup. In inline and V configurations, the oil has a much simpler path... down. During the time that oil is held in the heads (think a sweeping turn), the oil pan can actually run low and the oil pickup will begin sucking air. Further, with enough G's, oil in the heads can actually travel up the head breather ports (Killer B) exacerbating oil starvation, aka oil surge. In that link, Killer B offers a product to combat that issue. I found it very interesting that the other manufacturer of boxer engines, Porsche, includes a dry sump on their higher end models and a "integrated dry sump" (wet sump with more baffling) on their lower end models. If you look at the newest competition spec oil pans being offered by Killer B and IAG, they have Viton flaps to keep oil around the pickup and in the pan.

Re: the dipstick, besides vacuum, the dipstick might have a tendency to hold oil between the tube and itself (oil adhesion).

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I'll agree with the thought of keeping the oil always topped off. Even after 150,000+ miles on the ej257, it had zero bearing noise. I always kept its oil full or a little over full. It saw redline probably more than most. And I was doing 7-8000 mile oil changes, using Amsoil.

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305,600miles 5/2012 ej257 short block, 8/2011 installed VF52 turbo, @20.8psi, 280whp, 300ftlbs. (SOLD).  CHECK your oil, these cars use it.

 

Engine Build - Click Here

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7 hours ago, Max Capacity said:

I'll agree with the thought of keeping the oil always topped off. Even after 150,000+ miles on the ej257, it had zero bearing noise. I always kept its oil full or a little over full. It saw redline probably more than most. And I was doing 7-8000 mile oil changes, using Amsoil.

I swear you got the most unique, reliable 2.5 gt in the world. You have a ton more miles than I last remember!

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9 hours ago, Roche said:

I swear you got the most unique, reliable 2.5 gt in the world. You have a ton more miles than I last remember!

Not really sure about the most reliable, about 7 weeks ago, the 5mt broke again...I was done putting money into it. sold the car. But it was fun to drive, but at 305,000 miles, I was not looking forward to diving it another Winter.

305,600miles 5/2012 ej257 short block, 8/2011 installed VF52 turbo, @20.8psi, 280whp, 300ftlbs. (SOLD).  CHECK your oil, these cars use it.

 

Engine Build - Click Here

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14 hours ago, Roche said:

I swear you got the most unique, reliable 2.5 gt in the world. You have a ton more miles than I last remember!

He also drove the car lengthy distances often, which helps the longevity of these old turbo cars quite a lot. My car had nothing but leaks and issues when I drove 2 miles one way to work and only the coolant would get up to temp. When my commutes were mostly freeway the car seemed to treat me nicer. I now drive ~30 minutes to work and the car has been great to me.

 

Oh, and I should note I have 238K miles now. Not going quite as long between oil changes as Max did, though. Never gone more than 3500, which is probably a waste of synthetic, to be frank.

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1 hour ago, Pleides said:

He also drove the car lengthy distances often, which helps the longevity of these old turbo cars quite a lot. My car had nothing but leaks and issues when I drove 2 miles one way to work and only the coolant would get up to temp. When my commutes were mostly freeway the car seemed to treat me nicer. I now drive ~30 minutes to work and the car has been great to me.

 

Oh, and I should note I have 238K miles now. Not going quite as long between oil changes as Max did, though. Never gone more than 3500, which is probably a waste of synthetic, to be frank.

I sent an oil sample off to Blackstone Labs back when the ej257 had low miles and the Amsoil 5W-40 European Classic had 7000 miles on it. Blackstone said to leave the oil there till 9000 miles and send in another sample. I also used Amsoil oil filter, EA15K13. Member HAMMERDOWN, is the one who got me onto Amsoil. His GT had two remote oil filters, and he was running very long OCI.

This is from May 3 2013, Blackstone Labs, report.

This first sample from your GT Wagon showed low wear metals after this 6,599-mile oil run.
Universal averages show typical wear for this type of engine after about 4,000 miles on the oil. We did find a
trace of fuel in this sample, but that's a harmless amount that could come from starting prior to sampling, city
driving, or extended idling. The viscosity was on target and no other contamination was found. The TBN
read strong at 4.9, showing lots of active additive remaining. 1.0 is low. Add 2,000 miles to this run. Iron will
go up, but other metals shouldn't.

305,600miles 5/2012 ej257 short block, 8/2011 installed VF52 turbo, @20.8psi, 280whp, 300ftlbs. (SOLD).  CHECK your oil, these cars use it.

 

Engine Build - Click Here

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