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So when i check my dipstick, i get different results almost every single time. Sometimes I check it right after I turn off the engine after driving, and it comes up bone dry, sometimes its at half full, sometimes it shows full. Other times I wait 5 mins, i get similar results, all sorts of different levels. I've also checked it cold, once again, weird results, what is going on?

ive also checked it after taking off the oil fill cap.


every now and then, i check it, shows bone dry. i wait 5 mins, it shows almost full, and then if i re-check 3-5 times its stays at this almost full level.


is there something i'm missing. driving across the country i was very wary about the levels and did not want to run it dry. i'd drive for 4 hrs straight, fill up with gas, and check the level. nothing. go inside, take a leak, buy a twix, check again, nothing. then check once more 2 seconds later, full...


what is going on?
 

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Lawn ornament XT
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It's normal for your oil to read lower shortly after running. The most trustworthy measurement is when it is cold, first thing in the morning. There shouldn't be a lot of difference between stone cold and ~5 minutes after shutdown.

If you need to check it "on the road" do it as the last part of the pit stop so that the oil has had time to drip down.

Also check your method:

1: draw the dipstick, clean it.
2: return the dipstick all the way down. One mississippi two mississippi three mississippi pull slowly and read.
 

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2012 Outback 3.6R
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I have found my 2012 3.6R is very sensitive to how level the car is. Make sure it is a level as possible. If the rear of the car is low my oil level will show low. Does not take much to have a ½ quart change. Not sure about side to side.
 

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The 3.6 will be a little more sensitive to pitch than the 2.5 but it's still a good point. The most accurate readings will occur when the car is level in pitch & roll axes.
 

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'05 2.5i H4 4-Speed Auto w/Sportshift
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Since our OB was new (2.5 engine), I have had the exact same oil-check results. Also, if I put in the recommended 4.5 qt capacity, the oil is then over-full! I ended up filling the engine with only four quarts after I change the oil & filter, instead of 4.5 qts.

I've read that, if you don't first loosen oil-fill cap, any pressure that may exist in the closed oil system may result in having the oil push a bit up the dipstick tube upon pulling out the dipstick.

That is the only thing I can think of which would cause different readings!
 

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2011 SSM Outback 2.5i Premium
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Saint, do you fill the filter before installing it? If not, I suggest you run the engine for a minute, let it rest for a few and re-check oil level, bet you need that last .5 quarts.

I agree with the others, checking the oil right after shutdown isn't a good idea as a lot of the oil is in the upper parts of the engine.
 

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2012 Outback 3.6R
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Since our OB was new (2.5 engine), I have had the exact same oil-check results. Also, if I put in the recommended 4.5 qt capacity, the oil is then over-full! I ended up filling the engine with only four quarts after I change the oil & filter, instead of 4.5 qts.

I've read that, if you don't first loosen oil-fill cap, any pressure that may exist in the closed oil system may result in having the oil push a bit up the dipstick tube upon pulling out the dipstick.

That is the only thing I can think of which would cause different readings!
I for the last 40 years have pulled the dipstick cleaned it then insert and pull again to read the level. This will take care of any oil migration up the stick. No need to loosen the oil fill cap which you can then forget to retighten.
 

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'05 2.5i H4 4-Speed Auto w/Sportshift
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I for the last 40 years have pulled the dipstick cleaned it then insert and pull again to read the level. This will take care of any oil migration up the stick. No need to loosen the oil fill cap which you can then forget to retighten.
I have done that, in fact, a number of times and the oil is up above the full mark every time!
 

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Saint, do you fill the filter before installing it? If not, I suggest you run the engine for a minute, let it rest for a few and re-check oil level, bet you need that last .5 quarts.

I agree with the others, checking the oil right after shutdown isn't a good idea as a lot of the oil is in the upper parts of the engine.
Let's put it this way. I have done EVERYTHING possible to check the oil to get an accurate reading! I'm talking, even the next day and longer, I consistently end up with too much oil in the engine, by about half a quart.

I have DONE EVERYTHING mentioned here, plus many other things, and the oil level is consistently high, unless I'm a quart low, in which case, the oil line is at the lower "fill" mark!


BTW, this is the only vehicle that does this out of about nearly 30 vehicles I have owned and driven since I got my driving license in 1972.
 

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With most "upright" engines, the dipstick goes down into the oil pan from the top of the pan. In other words, the dipstick tube itself is above the oil level and will readily drain down.

On the 2.5 boxer engine (not FB), the dipstick tube enters the side of the oil pan at an angle of about 45 degrees. (See attached diagram.) As a result, the bottom part of the dipstick tube doesn't always drain down fully, and this is exacerbated if the dipstick is in the tube. The oil in the tube makes finding a clear mark on the dipstick difficult.

I found that getting a good reading isn't solely waiting a few minutes or overnight; the key is to wait with the dipstick out of the tube. This allows the lower part of the tube to drain down. Then insert the wiped dipstick and retract -- there will be a clearly visible demarcation between the wet and dry part.

A caveat. Because the dipstick goes in on a sharp angle, the demarcation line between wet and dry will be a different places on the marked "front" side of the dipstick, and the unmarked back side. There's a twist in the dipstick and it will orient itself so that it goes into the pan "flat" side up. But there's two possibilities to "flat side up". If the dipstick is inserted 180 degrees "in reverse" and then read on the marked side, there will be a noticeable difference.

On mine, when the dipstick is inserted properly, if the oil on the marked side is at the F hole, the back side will be at the notch (higher). And if I put the dipstick in reversed, the marked side oil level will show at the notch. This could lead to the impression that it's overfilled.

The dipstick has a looped handle, and mark, on it that determines the orientation. (See second attachment.)

Saint J VT: my 2.5 takes 4.2/4.3 litres when I change the oil and filter. That's 4.4 - 4.5 quarts U.S. I wonder if the orientation of the dipstick could be a factor.
 

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'05 2.5i H4 4-Speed Auto w/Sportshift
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I'm sure you hit the nail on the head!
I need to keep the stick out longer, then check the level after any oil in the tube has 'seeked' its own level.

Thanks!
 

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2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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Very scientific plain OM. I think you got the point across.

4.5 quarts Saint J. 4.5. If your engine is on the full mark at 4 after the initial start up after a change, maybe you should check to see if your oil pan is dented upward or maybe you have a sludge build up in the pan changing the heighth of the oil and effecting volume in the pan.
 

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No dents and I've had this problem since the day we got the car new with about 92 miles on it!

I take it I need to let the oil settle down for a little while after first pulling the dipstick!

Many thanks, OM!:29:
 

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On my 07, if I pull the dipstick straight out, maintaining the orientation of the yellow handle as in the diagram attached above, the L and F marks on the dipstick will be facing the right side of the car (or to my left if I'm facing the engine).

If the dipstick was incorrectly assembled, with the metal part reversed (turned 180 degrees), then with the handle properly oriented, it could lead to a reading on the marked side that is high even if the actual level is correct. Perhaps it's something to verify.

I take it I need to let the oil settle down for a little while after first pulling the dipstick!
Let us know if this helps, or doesn't help as the case may be . . .
 

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Well, now that the car has about 123,000 miles on it, I finally know how to check the oil! The car had been sitting in the garage all night. I removed the dipstick AND the oil-fill cap then took our other vehicle to run some errands.

About two hours later, I wiped the dipstick clean and inserted it fully for about two seconds, then pulled it out. I could CLEARLY see the oil level line on both sides of the dipstick (pretty close to being in-line with each other). As I suspected, the engine was about 1/2 qt low (as I only fill it with 4.0 quarts when I change the oil).

I added a bit more than 1/2 quart which brought the level to just below the notch (a bit above the 'F-hole').:gasp:
 

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The short wait with the dipstick out should work as well when the engine is warm, i.e., it shouldn't be necessary to leave the car sit overnight, although that works too. I found that the key was just to have the dipstick out for a while. I've lifted it before starting to fuel the car at a gas station, and after filling and paying could get an equally useful line. Also, I don't remove the fill tube cap -- one less step.

Otherwise, glad to learn that this has helped.
 

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I had the same issue. Found that vigorously pumping the dipstick up and down a couple times, then removing and cleaning it, then checking again seems to work fairly consistently.
 
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