Car leaked all the oil. Please help
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  1. #1
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    Car leaked all the oil. Please help

    So, I've noticed for the last couple of weeks the oil level would be slightly low every time I would start the car ('98 1.8t 93k), which is only about 1-2 times a week these days as i don't need it to get to work anymore. I figured I'll have it checked out soon, since there was no rush and money is kind of tight right now. Last time I drove was Thursday night and it was fine (it was about a quart low so I just added some oil).

    Forward to this morning, I get to my garage and there is a huge puddle of oil under the car. I check the level and the dipstick was completely dry.

    I'm probably just going to fill it with oil and drive over to my mechanic (About 20 miles).

    Any ideas on what this could be from past experience? Should I not even drive like that? TIA

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  3. #2
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    what likely has happened is that either one of the main crankshaft seals have gone, due to age and pcv pressure, or that the oil pan gasket has deteriorated and started leaking as well.

    the thing i recomend to you right now is to get that car up on some jackstands and start to looking where the hell that oil is coming from.

    go to your local auto parts store, and pick yourself up some engine oil dye, pour it into your engine oil spot, then run the car for a little bit, around the block, or whatever, then come back with a UV light after about an hour or two. you should visibly see where the oil is coming from. if you don't see the oil just yet, let it sit overnight.

    you have a serious leak that the slightest lack of maintenance "oh i can do it later"-ness will blow your engine from oil starvation.
    it's not necessarily a serious problem, but don't get yourself into a spot where if you forget one time, serious damage will be done. fix it proper.

  4. #3
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    The one time I had a major oil leak that happened like all at once, it was the front crankshaft seal (not a Passat). I don't think a gasket would go bad that suddenly. A crankshaft seal takes some work to get to, including removal of the timing belt. You should replace it along with other related timing belt parts at the same time if that hasn't already been done - almost no additional labor to do it. Your plan to take it straight to a mechanic is a good one. Stop along the way to check the oil and add if necessary.

  5. #4
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    Yeah. I definitely want to fix it proper. They don't let me do any work in the garage in my building so I don't even have jackstands... What do you think about my thoughts on filling it up with oil and trying to drive for like 20 miles to my mechanic? Is that something that you would not even consider attempting at this point? I don't even have AAA right now, so the tow would be $$$

  6. #5
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    Well, don't just fill it and zoom off - see how fast it's leaking. If you lost all the oil on the floor there's a good chance you might not make the 20 miles. New engine is much more expensive than a tow - I wouldn't risk it.

  7. #6
    Moderate Moderator Steve in Chicago's Avatar
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    Another common place from which to lose oil is the O-ring that goes between the oil cooler and the flange above it. Simple repair. Inexpensive part.

    Like other people have suggested, top off the oil then let it idle while you inspect for leaks. BE CAREFUL POKING AROUND A RUNNING ENGINE! Once you discover the source and volume of the oil leak, you'll be more able to judge how far it can be driven before needing to top off the oil level again.

    Don't run it dry (or exceedingly low) of oil or you'll be looking at a blown engine. If you need to stop every mile of that 20 miles to add oil, do it. It'll be better than buying a new engine.

  8. #7
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    ^^^^ Great advice from the SAGES

    Suggestion:
    Since you indicate the bldg you're in will NOT allow car repair.....

    IF I were in your shoes, having grown up in NYC, keep in mind
    all the SAGES pointers ...... and do Sipes216 recommendation.......
    and then jack it up on the STREET and examine maybe your
    solution...... given your indicated circumstances!

    Towing will break one's piggy bank it's NYC!

    Distance of 20 miles is a HAUL: for example
    Bronx to Rye, NY
    Bronx to mid Long Island on the LIE

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    Thanks for the pointers guys. It really is a haul. It would be from the Bronx to deep into Brooklyn (Jackie Robinson Pkwy - Atlantic Ave). Plus, if I hit traffic...which I will, it would suck. I guess I'm just going to try and figure out how fast it's leaking it and go from there.

  10. #9
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    I wouldn't even risk it, tow that puppy. The cost of a tow is a lot less then the cost of a new engine after you seized that one up.

    If you were leaking blood out of your heart, would you walk to the hospital 20 miles away or call an ambulance?

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    Consider the cost of the tow a part of this repair. I certainly wouldn't risk a cross-town with oil leaking out that severely. Know a friend with AAA??

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    get a flatbed - don't drive the vehicle.

  13. #12
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    Ensuing responses FAIL to recognize the OP's statement: money is tight right now;
    he lives in the BRONX (Fort Apache: Paul Newman!); exorbitant NYC costs for towing!
    to the eastern end of Brooklyn!

    To Do:
    1.Any PW NYC'ers willing to make the list below easier?
    2.Call up to see who sells necessary OIL DYE and take a bus or subway if necessary!
    3.Find someone to borrow TWO jackstands for the front.
    4.Start out EARLY 6AM on a CLEAR vs rainy day when you have ALL that's necessary
    to do it CLOSE BY!

    After doing the above: REACCESS your REAL situation:where's the oil leak!

  14. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by 02GLXWag6stk View Post
    Ensuing responses FAIL to recognize the OP's statement: money is tight right now;
    he lives in the BRONX (Fort Apache: Paul Newman!); exorbitant NYC costs for towing!
    to the eastern end of Brooklyn!
    Oh, we're just being silly. We know that the tow will cost more than an engine, and who knows, he might just make it!

    Seriously, though, when you try to help someone, you have to guess at their expertise and reply accordingly. My guess (no offense) was that while the OP might possibly find the leak, he was unlikely to be able to fix it in situ. If he can't afford the tow, he won't be able to afford the fix.

    The AAA suggestion made was a good one. AAA covers the subscriber (even if a passenger), not the car. So if he can get a friend with a AAA Plus membership to sit in the car, it can be towed to any shop within 100 miles.

  15. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by scotts13 View Post
    Oh, we're just being silly. We know that the tow will cost more than an engine, and who knows, he might just make it!

    Seriously, though, when you try to help someone, you have to guess at their expertise and reply accordingly. My guess (no offense) was that while the OP might possibly find the leak, he was unlikely to be able to fix it in situ. If he can't afford the tow, he won't be able to afford the fix.

    The AAA suggestion made was a good one. AAA covers the subscriber (even if a passenger), not the car. So if he can get a friend with a AAA Plus membership to sit in the car, it can be towed to any shop within 100 miles.
    I've never take issue with any of your posts!

    It's just the one's after my first post in this thread.

    Great suggestion:AAA! thru a friend.

  16. #15
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    I'm going to go ahead and add my $.02 as well, TOW it! Do not attempt to drive 20 miles, that is asking for trouble. Secondly, someone had a great suggestion above... you MUST have a friend that has AAA, no? If so they can get you a tow, AAA members can get tows for friends as long as they are present at the time.

    That is your best bet on "saving money with a tight budget". And to second scotts13's response... if he can't afford a tow, he won't be able to afford the repair. No point in letting a tight budget seize up your car because you wanted to take a pretty big risk. I'm not trying to be apathetic to the tight budget at all, believe me I'm a college student.. I understand tight budgets more than most people on here. But a tight budget is not an excuse to risk seizing the car. Either pay for a tow, have a AAA member get you a tow, or leave the car in your garage until you have more money.

    And I like the analogy used above... if you were leaking blood out of your heart would you walk 20 miles to the hospital or call an ambulance? Great analogy lol.

    And I really don't see any issues with the posts below your first post 02GLX. The guy asked for help, and they were giving him advice to make absolutely sure he wouldn't seize his engine. Especially considering now we find out he's not even allowed to use jack stands. What other option is there besides towing if he can't jack it up himself? Just blindly guess as to whether he'll be able to make it 20 miles or not? Go for it man, but unless you want to drop $100+ on 20+ quarts of oil so that you can put one in every mile or so... then you're taking a significant risk. And if you are willing to drop all that money on oil in order to put some in every mile... then towing fees shouldn't be out of the question.

    A tight budget isn't a reason to risk ruining your car. Leave the car in the garage for a couple months if you have to in order to work up some money, but if I were in your situation there is no chance in h*ll I'd risk driving 20 miles.

  17. #16
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    Could be an easy fix if you are lucky . . .

    I could be a major repair or - if is an oil cooler seal - its an easy repair you can do in the street without jacking up the car for about $10. If the oil leak is coming from above the oil filter, its the cooler seal. Is the outside of the oil filter covered with oil? Replacing this seal is only slightly more complicated than getting the oil filter off for an oil change so it is an easy DIY job. Worth looking into before you a) drive car 20 miles with a major oil leak and b) pay scarce $$$ to a mechanic.

  18. #17
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    tighten or replace your oil filter...I saw it happen this past week. Dumped it all out on the pavement (not my car). Could be that simple.

  19. #18
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    Find a friend or relative with AAA. They cover the driver, not the car. So they can say that they are using the car and need it towed. I've done it. The tow drivers don't care as they get paid either way, but you may want to bring beer.

    If it is the oil cooler seal, it absolutely won't hold oil for 20 miles. Maybe 20 yards. Fixing that seal is the same as an oil change plus 5 minutes. There are DIYs in the index but beware the one where the poster clamps the coolant lines. The coolant lines do not need to be removed or clamped.

  20. #19
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    It's a shame your building doesn't allow any car repairs/work to be done. Otherwise instead of telling you up above to definitely tow it I would've recommended seeing if it is something easy/cheap like the past couple people have said. Definitely no point in paying for a tow if it is something very simple. But at the same time, you don't KNOW it is something simple and if you can't check it out I personally really wouldn't take the risk.

    Anyways, you don't need a jack for the oil filter idea.. so at least check that one possibility out. If that's not it, there's really no area close to your building (street, park, friends place, or similar?) you could push the car to in order to jack it up and/or check the other possibilities?

    If you are going to risk driving anywhere, MAYBE (still don't advise it, but up to you) get a few quarts and drive the car a block or to wherever the closest place you could check it out is. I personally wouldn't even risk driving it that far, but if you are going to.. obviously make sure you keep oil in it. If the closest place is farther than like a block or so and you have no idea whether it's a simple or complex fix.. don't gamble with your engine's life.

    Just so ya know.. I've been in a similar situation before very shortly after I got my current Passat. A little less than a year ago I went out, picked up my friend about a 1/4 mile from my house and started driving to go out somewhere with him. We were still around the corner from my house when my "STOP! Oil Press. Low" light came on. I went directly back to my house and noticed oil ALL over my garage floor. I ended up cracking my oil pan bottoming out somewhere a day or two before.

    I'm very lucky I was so close to my house when that light came on. Had I been any further away from my house than I was at the time, my engine likely would of seized. Especially considering I had no idea what the issue was and didn't know my engine had NO oil in it and possibly would've tried to make it home (had I been further away than I was). Wish ya the best of luck and I hope you figure this all out without any further issues.

  21. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by scotts13 View Post
    it can be towed to any shop within 100 miles.
    Really? That's not how I remembered it. I thought it was like 10 miles or something. If it's any shop within 100 miles, I'll gladly drop the $50 to renew my membership if I can't find a friend willing to let me use their AAA card (Something I probably should have done earlier this year, however I haven't had any reason to call them in years - the Passat has actually been one of the more reliable cars I've owned). I'll also check the oil filter and see if it has any oil on it. I really did not have time to check it out this weekend.

    Anyway, my mechanic does not have room for my car til Wednesday, so I'll find out what the deal is then.

  22. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by BxTurbo View Post
    Really? That's not how I remembered it. I thought it was like 10 miles or something. If it's any shop within 100 miles, I'll gladly drop the $50 to renew my membership if I can't find a friend willing to let me use their AAA card
    Ah, the loss leader; which is why I specified "AAA Plus." With the standard coverage, you actually get only six miles; the value is just getting someone there. AAA Plus (currently eighty-some dollars a year) includes up to 100 miles. They'll also tow to two destinations per incident, so if the first shop can't do the work or is too expensive, they'll take you somewhere else.

    I found out about the difference in coverage the first time I got a tow. Broke down in the middle of nowhere, and the driver told me I could do an "instant upgrade" to the Plus level - let me use his phone to do it. I was then towed all the way across Delaware for free.

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    Quote Originally Posted by scotts13 View Post
    Ah, the loss leader; which is why I specified "AAA Plus." With the standard coverage, you actually get only six miles; the value is just getting someone there. AAA Plus (currently eighty-some dollars a year) includes up to 100 miles. They'll also tow to two destinations per incident, so if the first shop can't do the work or is too expensive, they'll take you somewhere else.

    I found out about the difference in coverage the first time I got a tow. Broke down in the middle of nowhere, and the driver told me I could do an "instant upgrade" to the Plus level - let me use his phone to do it. I was then towed all the way across Delaware for free.
    Good to know Thanks a bunch. That really helps

  24. #23
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    OK. As it turns out, in order to be eligible for AAA Plus, you have to be a member in 'good standing' for over a year. Even then, you cannot use it for 10 days after you signed up for it.

    Whatever, I got a basic membership and paid the $4.50/mile for the tow truck. Turns out my oil leak was from the bolt on the oil pan being stripped by the guys that did my last oil change...

    All is well that ends well. I also had my steering rack changed, spark plugs, and brakes in the front. Boy, does that new steering rack make a difference. It's really tight and my car feels new again! It put a serious dent in my finances but it had to be done sooner or later anyway.

  25. #24
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    Glad that all the fussin' was all for naught.

  26. #25
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    Hmmmmm...going to contact the shop that stripped it?

  27. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by swcrow17 View Post
    Hmmmmm...going to contact the shop that stripped it?
    I wasn't really sure about that. Would you?

    I mean I have no way of proving it was them. It would just be my word against theirs. I was just planning on staying away from them from now on.

  28. #27
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    Well, if the shop you had your car towed to can professionally say it was stripped, and you show a receipt from the oil change, based on date and timeliness of the event after said oil change, you could have a good case against them.

  29. #28
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    i deffinately would... I assume you have the receipt and the car isn't due for another oil change yet. Was just the bolt messed up or did it mess the threads on the pan too. Then there is the tow bill and getting new oil and everything else.

  30. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by swcrow17 View Post
    Well, if the shop you had your car towed to can professionally say it was stripped, and you show a receipt from the oil change, based on date and timeliness of the event after said oil change, you could have a good case against them.
    Quote Originally Posted by therealjt View Post
    i deffinately would... I assume you have the receipt and the car isn't due for another oil change yet. Was just the bolt messed up or did it mess the threads on the pan too. Then there is the tow bill and getting new oil and everything else.
    See, that's the thing. The shop where I fixed it is not a real shop in the full sense. I mean it is, and they have everything you would find in a regular shop except they don't give ehm... receipts. It's more of a cash only type of place if you know what I mean

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    Quote Originally Posted by BxTurbo View Post
    See, that's the thing. The shop where I fixed it is not a real shop in the full sense. I mean it is, and they have everything you would find in a regular shop except they don't give ehm... receipts. It's more of a cash only type of place if you know what I mean
    They should still stand behind their work. If they don't I wouldn't let them near my car.

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