OIL CAN!

My car – Fluffy – has always been pretty reliable about oil. By “pretty reliable” I mean I drive about 7500 miles per year, so I get the oil changed roughly every six months. I think over the life of the car, I’ve added maybe two quarts of oil between oil changes.

I’ve gone to CJ’s for the oil changes and pretty much all the other maintenance on this 10-year-old Saturn since we moved to the area. I love these guys. I trust them.

On July 22nd, CJ’s changed my oil.

On August 2nd, I stopped on Rt 422 due to a massive traffick back up. The woman behind me didn’t. Net result: busted bumper, busted up trunk frame, busted car seat (I hit the back of the seat so hard I broke a notch off the doohicky that lets you tilt the seat back), and sprained neck.

I’m in PT for the sprained neck, which isn’t exactly fun, but I’m still working, feeling OK, etc. etc. Enough about me, back to Fluffy.

For the past few weeks, both before and after the body work, Fluffy’s developed a bit of a knock in the engine. Finally getting a bit nervous about it today, I took it into the guys at CJ’s.

They checked the oil, noticed it was low, explained that the knock could be a valve knock – if the oil pressure’s OK but the volume of oil is too low, the valves will be the first area to act up.

They added a quart of oil. Still low.

They added another quart. Still low.

The car only has a capacity for 4 quarts, so their next move was to check under the car to see if the oil was draining out. The parking lot was dry.

I turned on the engine and oil did not go squirting everywhere. The knocking was still there.

They added another quart. Still low, but at least we were finally registering on the dip stick.

Much other searching around. No leaks found.

After the 4th quart, the knocking finally started to quiet. Still no leaks, and no blue smoke billowing out the back.

So my car, which has never burned oil significantly in its lifetime, just burned through almost 4 quarts of oil in under a month. I’m currently under orders to check the oil regularly — something I haven’t had to do since Fluffy replaced Spot, back in 2000.

Can I say whatever this is was caused by the accident? Not at the moment – especially since we don’t know the cause. And it does seem a little bit of a stretch that hitting the back of the car would cause it to burn oil.

Still, I suspect Fluffy, who has over her years bit a deer, bounced off a guardrail, been sideswiped on the Schuylkill Expressway and put up with more than one incompetent mechanic at the dealership down in Devon, might be on her last legs.

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