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#4379498 - 04/14/17 01:47 PM trust dipstick or manual for refill capacity??
NissanMaxima Offline


Registered: 10/21/15
Posts: 187
Loc: co
Hi Gang:

I want to ask a question that's been bugging me since I bought my Maxima in 1995. I learned at the first oil change that the specified refill for oil and filter change of 4 5/8 US quarts puts upwards of 1/4 to 1/2 the distance between the L and H mark on the dipstick ABOVE the H line. So, for 22 years now, I have filled it just to the H mark during oil changes and make sure it is at that point when the engine is stone cold. Filling to this point requires about 4 qt or so - although it may even be 3.9 (I need to measure carefully next time). Now I will also add that the manual, like I know has been discussed here, in my case specifies to check oil after engine up to operating temperature and waiting more than five minutes but I have done the experiment suggested in other threads of checking stone cold vs. following these directions and have found basically no difference in dipstick level. Therefore, it doesn't seem that this would account for the 5/8+ US quart difference in specified oil. Finally, nothing has ever gone wrong with the engine - the oil light has never come on even with the level approaching L. Any thoughts about this? The dipstick appears to be in perfect condition (not slipping up or down in the grommet base, unless there has always been something wrong with it). Could the refill oil + filter spec in my owner's manual be a misprint and perhaps indicate what one might have to add to a completely drained engine (if in fact draining the oil through the drain plug would leave behind 5/8 qt.)

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#4379504 - 04/14/17 01:52 PM Re: trust dipstick or manual for refill capacity?? [Re: NissanMaxima]
bigt61 Offline


Registered: 02/12/13
Posts: 3117
Loc: Virginia
Trust the manual, confirm with the dealer.
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99 Olds Aurora 4.0L 91K M1_5w30 5yr OCI
13 Dodge Dart 2.0L 30k PP 0w20 OLM OCI
70 Camaro 5.7L 59k

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#4379512 - 04/14/17 01:59 PM Re: trust dipstick or manual for refill capacity?? [Re: NissanMaxima]
OneEyeJack Offline


Registered: 09/14/10
Posts: 7479
Loc: S California
You're doing well. There will always be a little bit of oil left behind floating around in the head(s) and other little depressions and clinging to the various engine parts. Worry not.

I had to replace the dipstick on my 84 Honda with a newer dipstick that had different markings. So when I changed the oil for the first time with the new dipstick I marked it. And that's what I now use. The manual calls for 4.7 quarts with a filter change but I use 5 quarts. That means I running 9.6 ounces too much oil but it makes an oil change easier.

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#4379526 - 04/14/17 02:12 PM Re: trust dipstick or manual for refill capacity?? [Re: NissanMaxima]
Tech819 Offline


Registered: 02/08/15
Posts: 254
Loc: Toronto, Canada
It's been 22 years and you still have the car running so whatever you have been doing it seems to be working.
_________________________
2017 Impreza Sport Hatch M1 0w20 OEM filter
2003 Corolla PP 5w30 OEM Filter
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#4379542 - 04/14/17 02:30 PM Re: trust dipstick or manual for refill capacity?? [Re: NissanMaxima]
barryh Offline


Registered: 01/09/16
Posts: 312
Loc: Cheshire, England
Trust the manual.

I have the problem the other way around. The stated capacity for my Merc is 5.5 litres. When I did the first oil change 6 litres came out even though it had only been half way between min and Max on the dipstick. When I refill with 5.5 Litres it comes to 1/3rd of way between min and max but I've never been tempted to put in more.
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1979 BMW R45 (Triple QX 5W40)
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#4379549 - 04/14/17 02:40 PM Re: trust dipstick or manual for refill capacity?? [Re: NissanMaxima]
CPB Offline


Registered: 08/27/09
Posts: 9
Loc: Texas
Few (if any) cars, trucks, motorcycles, etc that I have worked on had owners manual capacities that matched the dipsticks. I use the dipstick as my gauge. YMMV.


Edited by CPB (04/14/17 02:41 PM)

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#4379565 - 04/14/17 03:02 PM Re: trust dipstick or manual for refill capacity?? [Re: NissanMaxima]
NissanMaxima Offline


Registered: 10/21/15
Posts: 187
Loc: co
Thanks all. I searched the forum and didn't find anything on the topic so I'm curious if others can chime in as to if they have compared manual specified refill vs. resultant dipstick level. Maybe this could have been an interesting poll. I thought perhaps is was the hot vs. cold thing (since by the time I fill the engine during my oil change the engine is cool) until I actually did my own experiment on both cars. It is a curiosity because on my new 2015 corolla, it is the same thing - filling to manual specified refill puts it well over F line. I'm inclined to fill and keep as close to possible between OCI at the F line as I've been doing but curiosity got the cat so I'm going to ask a Nissan Master Tech. I know and see what he says.

PS next time I buy a new car again (now I have to wait another 20 years) I'm going to measure what exactly comes out from the factory fill! Wait... will I still be able to do that in 20 years?? ???

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#4379573 - 04/14/17 03:24 PM Muddy the waters [Re: NissanMaxima]
Kira Offline


Registered: 08/19/10
Posts: 5257
Loc: Champlain/Hudson Valley
1) I'd bet money that dipsticks were never the subject of QAQC (Quality Assessment, Quality Control). That means I'd bet they were sloppily made and frequently inaccurate.

2) I'd ask if oil fill amounts stated by car companies are rounded off in the first place or tweaked by the "maintenance cost figurers" afterwards.

EXAMPLE: 3 identical 2.3l Saab engines. A '99, an '02 and an '05. All 3 call for "4 qts. with filter".

At the dipstick's FULL mark the '99 required 4.0 qts. The '02 required 4.25. And the '05 required 4.5.

All ran well.

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#4379574 - 04/14/17 03:25 PM Re: trust dipstick or manual for refill capacity?? [Re: NissanMaxima]
y_p_w Offline


Registered: 05/06/05
Posts: 3650
Loc: SF Bay Area
There are way too many variables for me to just look at the published capacity and hope it works every time. Maybe it requires a little more or a little less, but it's not as if that makes a whole lot of difference other than the possibility of overfilling. Most of the time I try to go under, then top off later. It's a lot easier to deal with adding more later than trying to extract too much.

There has to be a lot of leeway built in to the process. If I take my car to a quickie lube place, they're not going to extract the last 0.1 quarts of oil if it has to sit another 20 minutes to do so. I'll do that because I feel like it, but it's not as if it makes that much difference to get in that much more fresh oil if there's already a full oil change.

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#4379626 - 04/14/17 04:54 PM Re: trust dipstick or manual for refill capacity?? [Re: NissanMaxima]
mightymousetech Offline


Registered: 04/03/17
Posts: 1444
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Also depends how you change the oil.

Always do my changes with the oil at full operating temp, and let it drain for about two hours (I do other work on the car while it drains). Manual calls for 4.4 with filter, usually takes almost 5.0 to get to full mark. Also depends on how the car is sitting. When the front of the car is a little higher (drain plug at rear of pan), it gets more of the old oil out as well.
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Acura Tech
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#4379634 - 04/14/17 05:13 PM Re: trust dipstick or manual for refill capacity?? [Re: NissanMaxima]
Triple_Se7en Offline


Registered: 12/04/04
Posts: 8778
Loc: 1/2 hr. north of Detroit
Always trust the manual and not the dipstick. There are safe zones on dipsticks nowadays and they are often difficult to read precisely.

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#4379637 - 04/14/17 05:24 PM Re: trust dipstick or manual for refill capacity?? [Re: CPB]
SR5 Offline


Registered: 07/07/15
Posts: 4468
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: CPB
Few (if any) cars, trucks, motorcycles, etc that I have worked on had owners manual capacities that matched the dipsticks. I use the dipstick as my gauge. YMMV.


I use the dipstick too. The amount I need to refill goes up as I let it drain longer.

But, CPB, you joined in 2009 and this is your first post !!

I can see you are a guy that doesn't like to rush into things.
_________________________
Penrite Vantage 10W40 SN & A3/B4 + Wesfil-Cooper Z154

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#4379638 - 04/14/17 05:26 PM Re: trust dipstick or manual for refill capacity?? [Re: NissanMaxima]
hardheaded Offline


Registered: 11/10/16
Posts: 60
Loc: Missouri
one of my cars owners manual states that it takes 6 quarts. that's only half way on the dip stick.

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#4379641 - 04/14/17 05:28 PM Re: trust dipstick or manual for refill capacity?? [Re: NissanMaxima]
zorobabel Offline


Registered: 01/27/11
Posts: 479
Loc: Anaheim, CA
OP, my 97 manual says oil capacity with filter is 4-1/4 qt. With an oversize filter I add about that much to be at the H mark. I guess my dipstick reads low.
_________________________
1997 Maxima 175k, Delvac 15w40, Wix 51315
2004 Corolla 189k, VWB 5w20 + SSS 10w40, MGL4967

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#4379642 - 04/14/17 05:31 PM Re: trust dipstick or manual for refill capacity?? [Re: NissanMaxima]
demarpaint Offline


Registered: 07/03/05
Posts: 29791
Loc: NY
I trust the manual. I've had a few cars over the years where the dipstick was off. Most were spot on, but I replaced or re-calibrated a few due to inaccuracy.
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