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#4587381 - 11/28/17 10:10 AM How full is full? Settle a debate
jcartwright99 Offline


Registered: 03/31/17
Posts: 13
Loc: IL
Recently, after changing my oil in my Ford Fusion a buddy of mine said my oil was low. I assured him it wasn't. The owners manual said 5.7 quarts (with the filter). I ended up putting in 6. After measuring several times in a few different days, it's just above the crosshatched section of the dipstick and a little below the top (max) hole.

My friend and I got into a spirited discussion on how much oil you should have in there. He claims it should always be right at the top Max hole and you if you aren't, are low on oil. I say as long as it is either in the crosshatched section or a little above you should be fine. I told him you never want to overfill or be at that over or into that top hole because then you are overfilling it (and that can be bad). He doesn't change his oil and has always gone to Jiffy Lube type places. His rationale is that they always show him his dipstick at the max level.

I am not messing around, so I came here to the oil experts. Who is right on this?

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#4587384 - 11/28/17 10:15 AM Re: How full is full? Settle a debate [Re: jcartwright99]
2015_PSD Offline


Registered: 09/26/10
Posts: 7248
Loc: SE Texas
From an OCD point of view, I would guess to be FULL, the oil would need to be EXACTLY at the maximum line on the dipstick--IF that is what the manufacturer intended. With that said, within the crosshatches is operationally fine and I would not add until the oil hit the add line on the dipstick (but that is just me).
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#4587385 - 11/28/17 10:15 AM Re: How full is full? Settle a debate [Re: jcartwright99]
TheOilWizard Offline


Registered: 06/02/16
Posts: 107
Loc: US
You are correct in this instance. Anywhere on the crosshatch is a safe operating level.

It's probably smart to keep the oil near the max line simply so you have extra capacity in case of a leak.

Also, don't exceed the max fill line. More is not better in that scenario.

Don't take our word for it, check your owners manual!


Edited by TheOilWizard (11/28/17 10:16 AM)

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#4587386 - 11/28/17 10:17 AM Re: How full is full? Settle a debate [Re: jcartwright99]
JohnnyJohnson Offline


Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 2774
Loc: Wet side WA
Originally Posted By: jcartwright99
He doesn't change his oil and has always gone to Jiffy Lube type places.


Never listen to anyone to lazy to do their own oil..
This sounds like many people I've ran into in life that always have the answer for everyone but their own life is a total wreck.
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#4587400 - 11/28/17 10:28 AM Re: How full is full? Settle a debate [Re: jcartwright99]
fenixguy Offline


Registered: 02/08/17
Posts: 307
Loc: NC
I like to get it as close as I can to the top mark when changing but I don't add any throughout the interval unless it's at the bottom mark (I don't have to add any to any of my vehicles). I've overfilled enough times that I take it slow until I get it close to the top. Usually start with a quart less than total capacity and run the car a few minutes. Then add accordingly.

And don't take an internet forum's word for it. Read the owner's manual and see what it says.
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#4587403 - 11/28/17 10:30 AM Re: How full is full? Settle a debate [Re: JohnnyJohnson]
28oz Offline


Registered: 04/20/17
Posts: 344
Loc: Utah, USA
Originally Posted By: JohnnyJohnson
Originally Posted By: jcartwright99
He doesn't change his oil and has always gone to Jiffy Lube type places.


Never listen to anyone to lazy to do their own oil..
This sounds like many people I've ran into in life that always have the answer for everyone but their own life is a total wreck.


Isn't that the truth! Just like parenting advice from the relative/friend who doesn't have kids, or financial advice from someone who is always broke or in debt.
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#4587405 - 11/28/17 10:31 AM Re: How full is full? Settle a debate [Re: jcartwright99]
sir1900 Offline


Registered: 03/12/09
Posts: 1589
Loc: Regina, Saskatchewan
1. Add the required quantity according to the manual.

2. Run the engine for a minute or so.

3. Check the dipstick. Use the level shown as a guide of where you should be level-wise.

Dipsticks are not always accurate, so if you put in 5.7 qts and it "appears" low, then you are in some respects, overfilling when you add enough to reach the max line. Having said that, if you added a small amount (0.1-0.25 qts), you likely aren't doing any harm.
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#4587411 - 11/28/17 10:32 AM Re: How full is full? Settle a debate [Re: jcartwright99]
Cujet Offline


Registered: 02/15/03
Posts: 7164
Loc: Jupiter, Florida
My Cessna 177RG aircraft has a Lycoming engine. The sump holds 8 quarts. The filter and oil cooler hold exactly 1 additional quart.

When it's full, after a proper oil and filter change using 9 quarts, the dipstick reads 8 quarts.

Lycoming allows the engine to run, in flight, as low as 4 quarts. Testing shows that the engine will not suffer oil pressure problems in any aspect of flight until it's at 3 quarts on the dipstick.

There is nothing special about the engine. It has an oil pan and pickup much like a car.

For years, racers have improved power and economy by running the engine with less oil. As there is less oil to whip around inside the crankcase.

The bottom line is that every engine has a significant safety margin built in. At some point, under normal driving conditions, the oil pump pickup will be uncovered, say on a hill. Prob about 2 quarts total.


Edited by Cujet (11/28/17 10:33 AM)
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#4587413 - 11/28/17 10:33 AM Re: How full is full? Settle a debate [Re: jcartwright99]
bigj_16 Offline


Registered: 07/03/17
Posts: 1271
Loc: Douglas County, Colorado
Isn't this more of a philosophical debate? Is it a half quart above the low mark, or a half quart below the full mark?

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#4587415 - 11/28/17 10:34 AM Re: How full is full? Settle a debate [Re: jcartwright99]
StevieC Offline


Registered: 08/21/08
Posts: 17116
Loc: Ontario, Canada
I always keep it to the top of the fullest allowable mark that is not considered "Over Filled". This allows, in the case of a leak or if the engine decides to burn some oil, a safe reserve for me to notice it. If it's at the bottom of the "Safe" area and this happens you could be starving the engine for oil in some cases.

Also my OCD wouldn't let me do it any other way anyway. wink


Edited by StevieC (11/28/17 10:35 AM)
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#4587418 - 11/28/17 10:37 AM Re: How full is full? Settle a debate [Re: Cujet]
mpersell Offline


Registered: 12/12/06
Posts: 337
Loc: Texas
Dyno guys will often drop a quart out of an engine to get a higher hp rating for their clients, it only helps a little like around 5hp.

Originally Posted By: Cujet


For years, racers have improved power and economy by running the engine with less oil. As there is less oil to whip around inside the crankcase.

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#4587419 - 11/28/17 10:37 AM Re: How full is full? Settle a debate [Re: jcartwright99]
JustinH Offline


Registered: 04/17/04
Posts: 5186
Loc: Texas
I'm OCD about it.

I measure oil down to the ounce, I think my hyundai takes 5.23 quarts.

I try to get it as close to 5.25 as possible.
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#4587420 - 11/28/17 10:39 AM Re: How full is full? Settle a debate [Re: jcartwright99]
4WD Offline


Registered: 09/21/10
Posts: 6437
Loc: Texas
You got him … how much did you win ? wink

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#4587426 - 11/28/17 10:45 AM Re: How full is full? Settle a debate [Re: jcartwright99]
PimTac Offline


Registered: 03/04/17
Posts: 4342
Loc: Soviet State of Washington
There is a difference between full and enough. Full requires a reference. For most of us that is the dipstick where Full is clearly marked.

You may have enough oil in the sump to run the engine safely but that doesn’t mean it’s full.
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#4587427 - 11/28/17 10:47 AM Re: How full is full? Settle a debate [Re: jcartwright99]
WylieCoyote Offline


Registered: 06/08/16
Posts: 228
Loc: Texas, USA
I like it to land somewhere between the crosshatches and the hole on oil changes. If it ventures below the top of the crosshatch during the interval, I add.

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