Excessive Oil Consumption?


I have a 1999 Honda Civic LX, and beginning about two oil changes ago, at the end of the last winter, my vehicle has been draining less oil than it should be. According to every oil change i have done in the past and the manual my vehicle is supposed to drain and then accept 3.8 quarts of oil including the filter. For the past two oil changes it has only drained 3.3 quarts of oil, and so that is all i have added, and the dipstick reads full. Could this be a sludge problem? My oil change intervals have always been approximately 3000 miles. Any thoughts? Thanks!



I would not think sludge, but rather oil consumption due to engine wear. Overtime the piston rings will wear and there will be oil that gets into the combustion chamber. 1/2 quart in 3000 miles is not excessive in any case, and I would not be too concerned about it. Keep changing oil at regular intervals and check your oil level 1/2 way through your oil change interval to make sure consumption does not get out of hand.

Posted: 20th July 2009  |  Author: Kevin Schappell  |  Category: Engine, Oil & Lubrication

Worn Bearings or Oil Pump Problems?


I have a 98 Jeep Grand Cherokee w/ approx. 219K mi. When I start it up it takes 15 to 30 seconds before the oil pressure gauge comes up to about 40#. After it runs for a while (5 to 10 min) the oil pressure drops to zero, and in another 5 to 10 min (idling) I start to hear light valve knock. Is it the oil pump or main bearing wear? Is there a way to determine which?




Probably a little of both. No way but to remove the oil pan and measure the bearings by removing a bearing cap and using plastigauge to measure bearing clearances. Its almost as much work to get to the oil pump, so its worth investigating the bearings while you are there. I would suggest that if the bearings are within spec, replace the oil pump and consider yourself lucky to get another 50,000 – 75,000 miles from the engine. If the bearings are out of spec, I would look into a rebuilt or used engine from a reputable source like www.gotengines.com.

Posted: 10th July 2009  |  Author: Kevin Schappell  |  Category: Engine

Vacuum leak in brake booster.


Engine runs rough like missing on excelleration but when you apply the breaks the engine runs smooth for a moment. I am getting a code of egr low vaccume but have replaced the egr valve already.


The code tells all. The EGR valve does not create vacuum, the engine
does, so the low vacuum code at the EGR valve is not pointing to a bad
EGR valve, but rather a low vacuum signal to the valve. Typically the
only way to have low vacuum, is to have a leak somewhere. The
improvement in engine performance when you apply the brakes tells me
that you brake booster is most likely the culprit when it comes to the
vacuum leak. Not typically a DIY project, your best bet would be to
take the vehicle to the dealer and have them confirm the diagnosis and
replace the brake booster.

Posted: 7th July 2009  |  Author: Kevin Schappell  |  Category: Brakes, Engine

Engine Stumble on Dodge Pickup

Question: My 2001 Dodge Ram 1500 5.9 gas engine stumbles and backfires when cold. After short warm up seems ok. Any suggestions? 180,000 KM.

Answer: Two possibilities come to mind…

1. Faulty coolant temperature sensor could be causing the ECU to
think the engine is warmer than it is, thus not enriching the air/fuel
mixture. This usually trips a check engine light though.

2. Dirty throttle body could cause issues like this as well. You can
clean with throttle body cleaner, making sure to get the IAC (Idle Air

Since its easier to tackle, go to your local auto parts store and get
a can of throttle body cleaner. Take off the air intake hose, and
spray everything inside. You may also want to check out
for free instructions.

If cleaning the throttle body does not help, I would then check out
the temperature sensor by hooking the ECU up to a scan tool and see
what the temperature reading is at start up, to see if its accurate.
Most auto parts stores will allow you to borrow a scan tool, but if
you cant find one, you may have to go to a mechanic to have this step

Posted: 3rd July 2009  |  Author: Kevin Schappell  |  Category: Engine

Spark Plug Blowout on Ford Modular Triton Engines…

5-4 mod motor

Thursday morning the dreaded flying spark plug hit me. Yes, you heard me right, a flying spark plug. It seems that the Ford Triton engines from 1997 to 2003 had a problem where spark plugs would randomly fly out the cylinder head. This appears to be due to a few issues… First there are insufficient threads in the head to properly hold the spark plug. Second the threads in the head are not inserted, in other words the threads are in the aluminum and are not very strong. Many ford owners have had problems and the shop who repaired my head claimed to have done over 100 repair jobs on Ford Triton engines in the past 5 years. If you are faced with this problem here are your options…

1. Go to your dealer, bend over and pay up to 12 hours of labor to repair the hole (time quoted to me by my local dealer) or get two new heads with properly designed spark plug holes for $3500.

2. Buy the kit and do it yourself… from my research Timesert is your best option. This will cost you between $200 and $400 depending on which kit you buy. Lisle and Helicoil also make kits and are available online and from your favorite tool supplier.

3. Find a friend who already has the tool to do the job. I doubt a repair shop will lone you the tool, but you can check out this forum for some members who have bought the kit and will rent it out to other forum members.

3. Pay someone who already has the kit. I ended up spending about $75 more than the kit would have cost to buy. I was not in the mood to spend my Saturday under the hood, learning all the tricks to doing the job. Look for an independent repair shop in your area that does the repair. Ask how many repairs they have done, and how many have come back with problems. If you are in the Reading, Pottstown, King of Prussia area check out the shop I used…

Bill’s Auto Repair
1650 E Schuylkill Rd
Pottstown, PA 19465
(610) 326-9882


Make sure you replace all 8 spark plugs and that they are torqued to factory specs. An interesting fact… as the spark plug loosens but before it flys out of the head, it will sound like you have an exhaust leak. I heard it on my Expedition, but never thought about a loose spark plug. I probably could have retorqued the plug, or replaced it, and saved me some headache if I would have known.

Posted: 26th January 2009  |  Author: Kevin Schappell  |  Category: Engine

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