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geepondy 09-23-2004 07:19 PM

Why hasn't my friend seized his Saturn engine?
My friend has a '97 Saturn SL with approximately 150k miles. The car uses oil quite heavily, I'm given to understand. He says he only adds oil when he hears it tick or knocking sound. I was with him when he added oil today. The dipstick was dry and the car took just a shade under three quarts of oil. He says that is about the normal amount it takes when he adds it. Why hasn't he seized his engine? Can a car run for a prolonged period of time on just one quart of oil? I tried to warn him of the consequences of letting it get that low but he doesn't seem that concerned about it.

Nowhere Man 09-23-2004 07:49 PM


That wears out bearings horribly fast. And I think its a miracle that it hasn't siezed yet. I suppose it is interesting to see how much abuse these engines can take. I thought my sister held the record for lowest oil level when her SL1 had a quart and a half in it. :D The best way to convince your friend is to print out this thread once everyone is done spouting off their opinions. Oh yeah, and give him what you printed out.:p

geartooth94 09-23-2004 08:35 PM

I ran an auto transmission in my Olds Calais three quarts low once.

Once I refilled it, changed the pan gasket and filter it was OK. Although the mechanic that fixed it said it would die "any day now". It lasted me until I sold the car 2 months later!

sierrap615 09-24-2004 12:40 AM

he is damn luckly, he is doing damage, and its only a matter of time before it does break.

look for the "MMO soak" in the how to section, it has been known to help oil problems in the past

Spazie 09-24-2004 01:26 AM

He needs to check his oil EVERY time he gets gas. Or more often, if possible. My former car, a 94 SL1, burned oil faster than anything. I did the whole "add it when it starts ticking" thing, but mine was never more than a quart and a half low. Never ever ever ever let it get too low. There is no such thing as checking it too often!!

Razorbak 09-24-2004 06:25 AM

From my own personal experience about four years ago, the timing chain set went before the bearings. The bearings didn't seem to suffer much damage at all.

jeep4523 09-24-2004 11:18 PM

My work truck just got it's bi-YEARLY oil change.

When I checked the oil the otherday, I realized all that brown wasn't was oil additive to attempt to stop the sticky lifter. Then I tilted the dipstick and saw a little river of black come up........THAT was the oil.


Niteshooter 09-25-2004 11:29 PM

He should get a lottery ticket, he's lucky. My wife just destroyed the motor in her 99 SL 1 two days ago. The dealer told her it died because of a bad fuel pump. I pushed the issue about it sounding sick when you tried to start it so they pulled the rocker cover and discovered a bunch of broken rocker arms (3 of 8). She did not over rev the car.

Posted the entire sordid story in the dead fuel pump thread below this thread. Now wondering if I should be bailing out of my 2000 SL2


jeep4523 09-26-2004 02:22 AM

Nah, the DOHC's are stout, and it's the first time I've ever heard of broken rocker arms on a SOHC Saturn that wasn't beat on.

wolfman 09-26-2004 05:12 AM

Must be the plastic Jesus on the dash perhaps? Start saving your money, when he does kill it, buy it from him cheap and put in another engine...

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