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Better drain excess oil

Question: I got distracted while changing the oil on my 2005 Town & Country 3.8-liter V-6 and put in one more quart than I should have. The dipstick specifically indicates “do not overfill.” Is this a real problem? Should I make an attempt to try to drain off the extra quart?

Answer: Yikes! Drain off that extra quart! Overfull motor oil can allow the crankshaft to strike the oil, whipping it into a viscosity reducing froth. This can lead to a loss of oil pressure and possible engine damage. Some engines are more tolerant of overfill than others, but yours is not. I’d recommend drawing the excess oil from the dipstick tube using an appropriate pump or suction device and a skinny tube. This way, you can accurately harvest the correct amount of oil and keep it clean for reuse.

I remember from my dealership days our newbie lube kid accidentally added 5.3 quarts of oil to a used vehicle’s engine rather than the 5.3 pints specified . During a subsequent customer road test the engine began pumping large quantities of oil from almost every seal and gasket, billowing smoke and odor, followed by the dreaded red light and a loud knocking sound. An embarrassing big dollar mistake!

Brad Bergholdt is an automotive technology instructor at Evergreen Valley College in San Jose, Calif.


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