Never Overfill the Oil, Can Lead to Many Car Problems

December 26, 2009/Steve Tackett


Dear Doctor: I own a 2005 Toyota Camry with the four-cylinder engine. The car has 20,000 miles on it. The last few times I had the oil changed I’ve noticed that it’s been overfilled when I checked the oil level. Will overfilling the oil cause any problems? Arthur
Dear Arthur: Yes, overfilling the oil crankcase will cause multiple problems including, oil foaming; extra crankcase pressure that can cause oil seals to leak; loss of gas mileage; higher emission levels; fouling of the spark plugs, just to mention a few problems. Check the owner’s manual for the correct amount of oil capacity. Have the shop change the oil and filter and then add the correct amount of oil. Check the oil dipstick reading. If the dipstick reading is incorrect then mark the dipstick with a small grind mark.
Dear Doctor: I have a 2008 Nissan Xterra sport utility vehicle with only 8,500 miles. Recently, the clutch went out and the SUV had to be towed to the Nissan dealer. They could not determine the actual cause, but stated that it was a wear and tear item, not covered by warranty. The cost to repair the clutch was over $1,500. I have been driving standard shift vehicles for over 50 years. Is there an explanation, other than wear and tear, on why a clutch would go out at 8,500 miles? I have tried dealing with the local representative as well as Nissan North America with no results. Richard
Dear Richard: Some manufacturers do cover clutches during the warranty period. With your vehicle’s low mileage and the clutch worn out, could possibly indicate someone is riding the clutch, or it is not being engaged fully, or there is a possible hydraulic failure or adjustment. Whatever the case, in the vein of good customer relations, Nissan should cover at least 50 percent of the repair on a vehicle with only 8,500 miles on it.
Dear Doctor: I am interested in buying a 2000 Audi A4. I remember all the problems of the early Audi cars. Does a 2000 Audi have a better track record? Are there any problems I should know about? Can my local mechanic perform the service requirements? Wanda
Dear Wanda: No car is perfect, however, some cars have more problems than others and require more routine maintenance.

Before buying any vehicle search the Internet for problems. Have a used car evaluation before you buy the vehicle. Ask your mechanic if he works on the make and model you are buying. If you do buy an import, check for timing belt replacement if equipped.
Dear Doctor: I just purchased a 2009 Cadillac CTS performance sedan with the 3.6-liter V-6 equipped with all-wheel drive. The vehicle computer will let me know when it’s time to change the oil and filter. I always thought the oil should be changed every 3,000 miles. Cadillac recommends Mobil One synthetic. What do you suggest? Louis
Dear Louis: Congratulation on your new car purchase. Unlike years ago, the full-synthetic oil replacement interval can range from 5,000 to 12,000 plus-miles on an annual basis. My wife owns a 2009 CTS-V and we change the oil at 5,000-mile intervals. As for the oil brand, you may use whatever brand meets the factory recommendations.
Dear Doctor: I own a 1968 Chevrolet Camaro V-8 327 cid. The engine will start right up all day. However, when it sits overnight, it is very hard to start. A friend says that the factory Quadrajet carburetor leaks down overnight. I purchased another carburetor and still have the same problem. Do you have any advice? Jerry
Dear Jerry: The first item to check is the carburetor for the choke position and then the accelerator pump shot for gas. If there is no accelerator pump squirt, then I recommend pouring some gasoline down the carburetor air vent and see if the accelerator pump now has a squirt when pumped. The Quadrajet carburetors do have a common leak down from the bottom front valley. I have used a two-part epoxy over the years to seal up the cavity well area. — Junior Damato, Motor Matters

Junior Damato is an ASE-certified Master Technician.

E-mail questions to

Mail questions to: Auto Doctor, 3 Court Circle, Lakeville, MA 02347

Listen to Junior online at Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. eastern time.

Copyright, Motor Matters, 2009