Help: Strange engine problem?!

View Poll Results: What would you do?

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  • Ignore it. Drive the car.

    3 30.00%
  • Attach magnets to the outside of the sump.

    1 10.00%
  • Drop the sump.

    6 60.00%
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This is a discussion on Help: Strange engine problem?! within the General Maintenance, Troubleshooting & Accidents. forums, part of the Tech & Modifying & General Repairs category; I have a car with a conventional wet sump oiling system. There is an oil pan, and a dipstick with ...

  1. #1
    He simply abides. SD_GR's Avatar
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    Help: Strange engine problem?!

    I have a car with a conventional wet sump oiling system. There is an oil pan, and a dipstick with which to check oil level. I check oil level routinely; this of course involves removing the dipstick, and it so happens that the dipstick is close to the firewall (it's a tight engine bay). With repeated heat/cool cycles and the slight bend that the dipstick has to make to be removed and reinserted, the reading edge of the dipstick sheared cleanly off the wand. So, there is apparently a ~3mm X ~20mm piece of metal in the sump. Right now. I didn't start the car, assuming (perhaps erroneously) that the shear happened as I was checking the oil this morning rather than at any time between now and the previous time I checked the oil.

    The engine only has 280,000 miles on it so I don't want to ruin it.

    My initial plan is to drain the oil and see what comes out. If the piece doesn't, plan B is to fish around with a magnet. The issue is going to be the drain bolt mount, because the sump has a captive nut type setup so that the inside of the oil pan isn't flat, there's a ridge where the drain hole is so that the drain bolt can screw onto the threads -- or at least that's what I think, from memory. Anyway, that's my initial plan.

    I don't want to drop the sump unless I must.

    So my other thoughts were to magnetize the entire sump (magnets stuck onto it from the outside), or to simply ignore it and guess that it's too big to get into anything vital or get past the oil pump's pickup screen.

    Anybody have this happen?! I've posted a poll.

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  3. #2
    Registered User Ingo's Avatar
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    I don't think magnets would work. The metal of the sump will shorten out the magnetic field, there is nothing left of that field on the inside. Try it with a magnet on a piece of sheet metal. I'd recommend a magnet out of an old hard drive... So I'd be down to choice 1 or 3. And of those I'd really consider pulling the pan. I've done something similar on my JP, couldn't quite get the pan out but was able to reach into it to remove "grit" that developed over time with the previous owner and would occasionally clog the oil intake. Had to be removed, along with other work.

    And no bewbs option?!
    Last edited by Ingo; 10-02-2013 at 12:21 PM.
    You can't have everything - where would you put it?

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    He simply abides. SD_GR's Avatar
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    I'll go fishing first and see if I catch it. Sigh... I should buy a lottery ticket, I'm very lucky.
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  5. #4
    Moderator   Sasquatch's Avatar
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    If you get a powerful enough magnet(s) it would eventually grab the wayward bit, even through the pan. It would also attract any other tiny ferrous bits that you might want to loose during an oil change. There are some stupid strong magnets out there (saw them on Mythbusters a few times). Forget the lottery - you just blew your one "win".

    Fail on the no bewbs option.
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    I didn't use that option for fear it would dominate the answers...

    I'm very tempted to avoid dropping the pan unless I become convinced the motor will seize otherwise.

    A stupid strong magnet would be a must, otherwise I could end up losing the magnet when the car is driven etc. Hm...
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    Registered User Obeisance's Avatar
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    I'm surprised that no one has voted to drop the sump. I'm the young and curious type, so I vote to open it up, take some photos and show us if anything interesting has collected in there over the life of the vehicle. I wonder if anything can remain in spite of regular oil changes.
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  8. #7
    Moderator   Sasquatch's Avatar
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    If it is in the sump, the odds seem pretty low it would get picked up by an oil pump. That is a big chunk for a pump. Drive it 'til the doors fall off.
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    Luke Skywalker Mikie13's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sasquatch View Post
    If it is in the sump, the odds seem pretty low it would get picked up by an oil pump. That is a big chunk for a pump. Drive it 'til the doors fall off.
    This is what I was thinking as well.


    Also, I'd probably drop the oil pan as well just to be safe. That many miles on the car, it surely could have other goo in there to clean out which could be beneficial. Shouldn't take too much more of your time. Just make sure to have a replacement gasket.
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    Registered User Ingo's Avatar
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    Leaving it in there is certainly an option. Chances of it getting picked up are slim indeed. But if any wild maneuvers slosh that oil all bets are off. And that might be with just an emergency breaking... So depending on how much value is placed on that vehicle - I just don't know. It probably would be safe. That piece might get into the space where the crank turns, it would just get kicked around, but never make it into a bearing or some such. If it where to make it into the head, with the valve drive and all - so it would also depend on the engine configuration, flat, upright, v(6/8) or what...
    You can't have everything - where would you put it?

  11. #10
    Registered User SKI.WRX's Avatar
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    What about a magnetic drain plug? Then perhaps it would get caught on it while the oil flowed into and out of the sump.

  12. #11
    Mace Windu devilfluff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SKI.WRX View Post
    What about a magnetic drain plug? Then perhaps it would get caught on it while the oil flowed into and out of the sump.
    You have a flexible magnet to reach into the sump, correct? I'd be surprised if a passenger car had sufficient baffling to prevent it from dragging out the piece.

    I'd only drop the pan if I started to experience oil pressure dropping or unusual noises.
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  13. #12
    He simply abides. SD_GR's Avatar
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    I will have more info once I get a chance to drain the oil. Another possibility I need to look into is whether I can remove the dipstick tube easily and if so, whether that gains me more wiggle and fishing room.
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  14. #13
    Registered User tirerob's Avatar
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    i fished a small allen wrench out of a suburban's transfer case oil level check hole with a magnet bit jb welded into a tiny loop bent into a cut coat hanger. jb weld was to make damm sure the bit didnt fall out into the case as well. with shaky hands and some luck it came out on the second try. we credit the coat hanger for keeping the magnet from going places it shouldnt have like a stronger one would have once inside the case. it was enough to grab the allen wrench and drag up, maybe it will work better with gravity on your side. dunno, my 2 cents.
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    Captain James of the SS Impreza has gone down with the ship Drews's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sasquatch View Post
    If it is in the sump, the odds seem pretty low it would get picked up by an oil pump. That is a big chunk for a pump. Drive it 'til the doors fall off.
    This gets my vote.
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  16. #15
    He simply abides. SD_GR's Avatar
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    Driving it until the doors fall off is strikingly similar to my philosophy of car ownership. Ok gents, this weekend will be very telling -- if I find the time that is.
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    The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. Ernest Hemingway
    I lied. I cheated. I bribed men to cover the crimes of other men. I am an accessory to murder. But the most damning thing of all... I think I can live with it. And if I had to do it all over again - I would. Benjamin Sisko
    DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed are the author's alone and are inherently worthless.

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