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My dipstick is possessed

Discussion in '5th Gen 4Runners (2010+)' started by coloradoh, Jul 31, 2020.

  1. Jul 31, 2020 at 12:55 PM
    #1
    coloradoh

    coloradoh [OP] New Member

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    Or... I'm an idiot. Probably the second one.

    So I went to check my oil today before a trip, and I noticed the oil was a bit high - a little lower than the stamped numbers. "Damn," I thought. "This is probably because it's so hard to check the oil when it's clean. I'm pretty sure I added the right amount last time, but time to take some out, I guess."

    With a Fumoto valve, it's super easy to drop a bit of oil, so I did. Probably around 1/2 to 3/4 of a quart. I go to check the dipstick and... it's dry. I check again, and there's a tiny bit on the very end, well below the 'low' mark. Yes, I put it all the way in, no I didn't accidentally drain out 2+ quarts.

    Then I put some oil in, about the same amount that I took out... read the dipstick again... AND IT'S HIGH AGAIN!

    What am I doing wrong?
     
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  2. Jul 31, 2020 at 1:15 PM
    #2
    Dillusion

    Dillusion New Member

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    It doesn't take much to move the level on the stick.

    Should also be checking it warm. Or thats what I do.
     
  3. Jul 31, 2020 at 1:33 PM
    #3
    Singleminded

    Singleminded New Member

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    I'm interested to hear what others say about this. I noticed the level seemed rather high on my new 4R from the dealer. I read somewhere that the dipstick on the 4R is especially sensitive to how level the truck is, so I figured my reading didn't mean much. But would be good to know.
     
  4. Jul 31, 2020 at 2:01 PM
    #4
    nimby

    nimby in the drink

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    To get the most accurate reading:

    Read the dipstick when the engine is cold.

    Take the dipstick out and wait 5 minutes.

    Put the dipstick back in, then out and take your reading.

    You can get weird and skewed results a lot of the time if you don't follow this method.
     
  5. Jul 31, 2020 at 2:06 PM
    #5
    Jmb0351

    Jmb0351 New Member

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    Yup this is the method to use. Would be nice if Toyota would put hatch marks in between the dots. Its about impossible to get an accurate reading if its warm or hot ....
     
  6. Jul 31, 2020 at 2:07 PM
    #6
    Singleminded

    Singleminded New Member

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    Huh. Never heard of waiting 5 minutes before reinserting the stick. Is that so the oil has time to drain back down the tube and thus won't coat the stick and throw off the reading? Also odd to hear the advice of measuring cold. The standard advice is measure when warm (because of thermal expansion), but 5-10 minutes after shutoff so the oil has had enough time to drop down into the pan.

    I've never had a problem getting consistent measurements using the standard procedure in other cars.
     
  7. Jul 31, 2020 at 2:16 PM
    #7
    coloradoh

    coloradoh [OP] New Member

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    So I just ran it, got it hot, waited 5 minutes.... and the oil is still overfull - it's up to the bottom of the stamped numbers on the dipstick. I've heard different opinions but it seems like most people think this is an acceptable level of overfill - thoughts?

    The weird part is that it was this full at the beginning, then I drained out *definitely* less than a quart, and it was reading almost nothing on the stick (manual says low to full should be 1.8quarts).
     
  8. Jul 31, 2020 at 2:27 PM
    #8
    Singleminded

    Singleminded New Member

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    Don't know how much this will help, but:

    As mentioned, my readings were high when I checked a couple times in the past month using the standard procedure -- ie when warm. They looked about a 1/2 quart high. Maybe 1/4 quart.

    I pulled the stick just now with the truck dead cold. It was exactly at the top mark. I then wiped it, reinserted and pulled again. Exact same reading.

    Soooo, like these other guys said I'd suggest reading when cold. And of course when level.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2020
  9. Jul 31, 2020 at 2:52 PM
    #9
    alittleoff

    alittleoff New Member

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    I’ve always checked oil level when cold. Doesn’t matter if it’s a Cat loader, the 4R or my lawnmower.
     
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  10. Jul 31, 2020 at 3:40 PM
    #10
    Singleminded

    Singleminded New Member

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    From now on I'm checking it cold. This thread made me realize you get the most consistent results that way. First, you know the oil has fully drained into the pan. Second, you've eliminated most of the variability in thermal expansion (ambient temps will always vary much less than engine temps).

    The only downside I can see is that this will delay an apples-to-apples measurement after an oil change. You're gonna need to run the engine to properly circulate the new oil, including to the filter. So then it's going to be warm. So you're gonna have to wait a long while before you can confirm you hit the proper level. Yes, you should have drained the old oil completely and poured in the recommended amount of new oil. But you're never really sure you hit it right until you check.

    Why our OP is getting such whacky readings is still a bit of a mystery though. The high reading might have been from thermal expansion? But the low reading is hard to explain.
     
  11. Jul 31, 2020 at 3:55 PM
    #11
    nimby

    nimby in the drink

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    Yes, that's correct.

    The dip stick is measuring the oil level in your pan. If you run the vehicle, circulate the oil, and then check your dipstick, there will be a certain percentage of oil that's being used in your motor...........so you will not get an accurate pan reading.
     
  12. Jul 31, 2020 at 4:03 PM
    #12
    nimby

    nimby in the drink

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    And the engine doesn't have to be cold per se......you just need to allow enough time for the oil to get back into the drain pan. 10-15 minutes? Something like that.

    I just measure it when it's cold because I know all the oil is back in the drain pan.
     
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  13. Jul 31, 2020 at 4:04 PM
    #13
    Agent_Outside

    Agent_Outside New Member

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    Straight from the owners manual....

    3819DC94-4339-4237-9FE6-3AE87DE626DF.jpg
     
  14. Jul 31, 2020 at 4:14 PM
    #14
    Singleminded

    Singleminded New Member

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    Of course. But that doesn’t explain why the OP was getting high readings.
     
  15. Jul 31, 2020 at 4:15 PM
    #15
    Singleminded

    Singleminded New Member

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    Right. This is the standard advice. Measure when warm. That’s what I’ve always done and had no prob.
     
  16. Jul 31, 2020 at 4:26 PM
    #16
    Dillusion

    Dillusion New Member

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    Maybe he was getting high readings from when he changed oil last.

    As you notice all his drain/fill is guesstimates. Nothing wrong with that but if you need an accurate answer you need to do stuff accurately also.
     
  17. Jul 31, 2020 at 4:42 PM
    #17
    nimby

    nimby in the drink

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    I suspect he's getting a high reading from oil filling the dip stick tube.

    That's why the "pull and wait 5 minutes" method I suggested above.
     
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  18. Jul 31, 2020 at 5:46 PM
    #18
    ForRun

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    So it says park on level ground. If we are leveled to we need to park an 2x4s to get the rake back and add 1/2" on the passenger side to get the lean back? :boink:
     
  19. Jul 31, 2020 at 6:08 PM
    #19
    MI-FL off roader

    MI-FL off roader T4R Hobby/Addict

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    Yes this^^ especially when warm. I had to get used to reading this 0w20 synthetic because it's so thin and hard to read when the oil is fresh. You can get different readings several different times as the stick leaves a little in the tube as you pull it out as well. Level ground makes a bit of difference as others have said.
     
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  20. Jul 31, 2020 at 8:37 PM
    #20
    ElectroBoy

    ElectroBoy Ad astra

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    Scuff up the end of the dipstick with sandpaper or a wire brush. It’s really hard to see the level on these things especially with new 0W-20 synthetic oil. Plus, one side of the stick always seems to smear against the oil in the tube walls as you extract it. It takes a careful technique to get a good reading.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2020
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  21. Jul 31, 2020 at 8:51 PM
    #21
    MeefZah

    MeefZah Curmudgeonly

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    Assholes call travel "overlanding"
    Look who found the "other" forum!
     
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  22. Jul 31, 2020 at 8:52 PM
    #22
    MeefZah

    MeefZah Curmudgeonly

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    At this point, OP, I have no idea how much oil is in your engine. Do you? I'd really only feel comfortable doing a full oil change and reinstalling 6 q. or 6.6 q with the filter. Then follow the "5 min" advice above and make a mental note of where 6.6 q is on the dipstick.
     
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  23. Jul 31, 2020 at 9:59 PM
    #23
    36tacundra

    36tacundra New Member

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    Once long ago, lol I mixed a 20r and a 22re dipstick and added 8 quarts to get the level correct. I thought something was wrong. Took me a min to figure it out.
     
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  24. Aug 1, 2020 at 1:43 AM
    #24
    fixer5000

    fixer5000 the logical one

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    put your own with a file
     
  25. Aug 1, 2020 at 7:34 AM
    #25
    alittleoff

    alittleoff New Member

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    Way back in the last century (the 70’s), my Dad taught me to pull the dipstick out before I put fresh oil back in.
    That way the tube stays dry when you make that first oil level check after refilling.
    At least back then I could see the honey color of the 30 wt.
     
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  26. Aug 1, 2020 at 7:42 AM
    #26
    Singleminded

    Singleminded New Member

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    Here's what mine looked like yesterday when pulled dead cold. Right at the top mark. 1400 miles on the odo and oil looks new.

    IMG_2719 (1).jpg
     
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  27. Aug 1, 2020 at 7:51 AM
    #27
    08TXRunner

    08TXRunner New Member

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    This. You'll almost always get a smear mark that gives a false reading of high. Pull, wipe, and re-read several times to get an accurate reading.
     

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