96 Civic Losing oil...but where? - Honda Civic Forum


Fuel, Oil, Cleaners & Other Maintenance Extending the life of your Civic requires the proper fuel, oil, and cleaners, along with other regularly scheduled maintenance.

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Old 03-22-2009   #1  
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Exclamation 96 Civic Losing oil...but where?

*Newbie, FEMALE, beware...
I don't know all the lingo so I apologize in advance.
My boyfriend is very into cars but can't quite seem to figure this issue out either so he advised me to post and see what others have to say.
Here it goes:

1996 Civic Ex
Automatic Trans.

The car has been losing oil like crazy since last summer. I have to add 2 quarts every week. NO blue smoke, or ANY smoke for that matter, no visible oil leakage under the hood. BUT we did take it in and they did the works on it. Here's all the crap they replaced.... (btw please tell me if I was ripped off =])
*i hardly have a clue about this stuff*
Came in complaining about the oil light being on and always being atleast two quarts of oil low every week.
They fixed/Changed/Replaced:

Oil Pan Set
Timing Cover Gasket Set including camshaft and crankshaft seals
Valve Cover Gasket Set
Removed and Replaced Distributor Gasket
Left Front Lower Motor Mount
and they added 3 belts, not sure what for or where...all it says on the reciept is Poly-Rib Belt at three different prices.

so that came to a heartwrenching $844.36 with tax and labor

to find out it didn't solve a damn thing

And in addition to that, for ***** and giggles I suppose, the timing belt needed to be done, so add to that:

New Timing Belt
New Water Pump
Radiator System Flush
so add another $571.00

no change.

still comes up very low on oil.

vehicle has 180xxx miles.
completely stock.
please enlighten me with some advice.
Anything. We're both clueless (me and the boyfriend)
and really don't want to put any more money into this car if its not going to change anything.
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Old 03-22-2009   #2  
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Re: 96 Civic Losing oil...but where?

"Came in complaining about the oil light being on and always being atleast two quarts of oil low every week."

as soon as anyone hears this, there should be no more discussion. the engine is dead and needs a complete rebuild. once the low oil pressure light comes on, the inside of the engine basically falls apart from lack of oil on the moving parts. but the shop wanted to make money obviously so they decided to sell you anything they could think of, none of which are even remotely related to your issue. obviously if there is no external oil leak, NONE of the gaskets or seals are to blame. it is burning the oil in the engine, even if you dont see smoke. its not always that obvious. but yeah the shop took advantage of you big time. and the second time they did it again, assuming they didnt do all that in one visit. if they were replacing the seals, the timing belt and water pump wouldve taken no time at all to put on. water pump is $50 at best, belt is $20, gaskets combined maybe $30. labor for replacing it all maybe 4-5 hrs. they shouldve charged you 500 for everything combined. but like i said already, there was no purpose at all to do any of that work on a dead motor. but its done already and you spent the money, so really the only options left are either sell the car or if you are very attached to it, look for a used motor to swap in. a motor swap with install is maybe 1500 for everything and you wouldve had a working car.

a few more things to check: is your coolant normal looking (green or blue)? or does it have oil in it. have you done a compression test on the motor? are you putting oil in the engine and not somewhere else. its very hard to believe that much oil is being lost without any leak at all. ive seen bad leaks before but that was due to oil spilling everywhere. burning oil is usually a very slow process. I used to live in IL, which shop did you go to? hopefully not a quick lube place like firestone/meineke/midas/jiffy lube/sears.

also, how long did you drive when the low oil light came on? more than a few seconds? was it because the oil level was too low? does your engine make any type of knocking or other noises... usually severe oil burning is caused by valve guides, piston rings, and cylinders being demaged which can get very expensive to rebuild. thats why the better option is swapping to a different, working motor with lower miles. a broken oil pump could have also led to the oil light coming on. in any case, the damage is already done and you need to figure out what to do next. maybe at least call up the shop and tell them how stupid they are.

Last edited by gearbox; 03-22-2009 at 03:40 PM.
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Old 03-22-2009   #3  
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Re: 96 Civic Losing oil...but where?

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Originally Posted by gearbox View Post
"Came in complaining about the oil light being on and always being atleast two quarts of oil low every week."

as soon as anyone hears this, there should be no more discussion. the engine is dead and needs a complete rebuild. once the low oil pressure light comes on, the inside of the engine basically falls apart from lack of oil on the moving parts. but the shop wanted to make money obviously so they decided to sell you anything they could think of, none of which are even remotely related to your issue. obviously if there is no external oil leak, NONE of the gaskets or seals are to blame. it is burning the oil in the engine, even if you dont see smoke. its not always that obvious. but yeah the shop took advantage of you big time. and the second time they did it again, assuming they didnt do all that in one visit. if they were replacing the seals, the timing belt and water pump wouldve taken no time at all to put on. water pump is $50 at best, belt is $20, gaskets combined maybe $30. labor for replacing it all maybe 4-5 hrs. they shouldve charged you 500 for everything combined. but like i said already, there was no purpose at all to do any of that work on a dead motor. but its done already and you spent the money, so really the only options left are either sell the car or if you are very attached to it, look for a used motor to swap in. a motor swap with install is maybe 1500 for everything and you wouldve had a working car.

a few more things to check: is your coolant normal looking (green or blue)? or does it have oil in it. have you done a compression test on the motor? are you putting oil in the engine and not somewhere else. its very hard to believe that much oil is being lost without any leak at all. ive seen bad leaks before but that was due to oil spilling everywhere. burning oil is usually a very slow process. I used to live in IL, which shop did you go to? hopefully not a quick lube place like firestone/meineke/midas/jiffy lube/sears.

also, how long did you drive when the low oil light came on? more than a few seconds? was it because the oil level was too low? does your engine make any type of knocking or other noises... usually severe oil burning is caused by valve guides, piston rings, and cylinders being demaged which can get very expensive to rebuild. thats why the better option is swapping to a different, working motor with lower miles. a broken oil pump could have also led to the oil light coming on. in any case, the damage is already done and you need to figure out what to do next. maybe at least call up the shop and tell them how stupid they are.
Thanks for the reply. Their next step once we complained till no end to them that their bullshit work did nothing, they said "well, we need to take apart the motor and see what's going on, which will run you atleast $3k, which is about what you're car is worth private party" so we said screw it.
We had taken it to Honda originally to get a quote, and for all the stuff that the other place did (which, ugh, did end up being Firestone, but i have a credit card with them which is why we did it..) it was a couple $100 more, so that's why we did go there.

My boyfriend checked the coolant when this issue first started and it was fine, and actually he did just check it the other day, and there was NONE. So that's probably a whole nother problem in itsself. I never want to mess things up more so I buy the oil and make my boyfriend put it in, he does put it in the correct place =] he's very mechanically inclined, though he prefers CRX's to civics and constantly is working on his. We just cant figure this out and agree that the only option is to take apart and rebuild. Which I can't necessarily do since it's my only means of transportation and I figure it'd take more than a weekend?
I actually JUST recently realized that the oil light isn't a sign that its LOW, but that it IS pressure...so that really sucks because i've driven A LONG TIME with the light on. But the light does correlate to the oil level being low in the case of my car.
I guess I was just hoping that there could be SOME other answer to its issues, but I guess it's time to face reality...
My boyfriend was talking about how he found a K series swap for $1500....couldn't believe that but hey maybe that's the next step since the economy sucks too much to get a car loan right now. I just wish i could get some decent money for my car... it really is nice aside from being automatic and the engine issue. It's a shame.
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Old 03-22-2009   #4  
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Re: 96 Civic Losing oil...but where?

I don't think you can do a K swap into a 96...Think about it though you were able to get 180k miles out of an engine and a car that lasted 13yrs, you can't really ask for more...I guess you could do a rebuild on the engine and yes it's going to take more than a weekend, but there are so many other problems that can/will arise. It'd be like putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound. I would just sell it and move on.
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Old 03-22-2009   #5  
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Re: 96 Civic Losing oil...but where?

if i were you do not even try to rebuild, the engine will be a mess inside. and from your coolant loss issues, im sure it will need a new headgasket and maybe even a new cylinder head if the old one is warped. you could end up easily spending more than what a new engine costs. there are plenty of civics going for $2-3k for the whole car, i think you should try and get rid of what you have for cheap and just buy a different car.
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Old 03-22-2009   #6  
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Re: 96 Civic Losing oil...but where?

Yeah... you're going to end up dumping more and more money. Even though you've already spent what you have, it'd be better to spend the next on a different civic. Because if you try to do a k-swap....that's for one going to cost a shizload and two it's going to take forever(very labor-intense), lots of fabrication and what not. Then after that, i imagine you'll have to put some more money down. Anyway, like i said try to get another car.
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Old 03-22-2009   #7  
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Re: 96 Civic Losing oil...but where?

i agree with gearbox..it'll be cheaper just to buy a newer engine and swap it in. There d16's with tranny and engine going for $500 on ebay. B-swaps usually run for $500 so dropping another d16 will probably run you half as much.

If your bf's pretty inclined, he and a friend can probably do the d16 swap over a weekend with a engine haist.
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Old 03-23-2009   #8  
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Re: 96 Civic Losing oil...but where?

If you paid for repairs for them to solve an oil leak and what they did didn't fix it, I would dipsute that with your cc company. I know a guy who had a tranny rebuild done, that sounds terrible, but you know what I mean : ) and after 200 miles it blew up. So he called his cc company and they reversed the charge, might be worth the effort. What's the worst that can happen.
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Old 03-23-2009   #9  
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Re: 96 Civic Losing oil...but where?

shouldnt the shop just fix the trans then? there has to be a warranty. but in this case, i agree, the car went in the shop for oil leak and they did nothing to fix it. in fact they did everything possible NOT to fix it. all that money shoudve gone towards valve guides, piston rings, and new head gasket. i bet that wouldve fixed most of the problem and prolly for around the same price or cheaper. im not even a mechanic and i know that already.
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Old 03-23-2009   #10  
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Re: 96 Civic Losing oil...but where?

if your boy was mechanically inclined about cars he should have known that once he seen the oil light it was donzo. i say just buy a used motor for around 300 and drop it in. bada boom, problem solved and your only hurt about 500 if you can do the work yourself.
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Old 03-23-2009   #11  
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Re: 96 Civic Losing oil...but where?

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shouldnt the shop just fix the trans then? there has to be a warranty. but in this case, i agree, the car went in the shop for oil leak and they did nothing to fix it. in fact they did everything possible NOT to fix it. all that money shoudve gone towards valve guides, piston rings, and new head gasket. i bet that wouldve fixed most of the problem and prolly for around the same price or cheaper. im not even a mechanic and i know that already.
They might have covered under warranty, but he did it on a road trip and needed to do the repair in order to get the car home. The tranny pretty much exploded about 400 miles away from the shop and 400 miles away from home. I am pretty sure he barely made it back, and then sold the car to a dealership on the same day they re-paved the parking lot. You couldn't smell the fried tranny over the fumes of the blacktop, haha.
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Old 03-23-2009   #12  
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Re: 96 Civic Losing oil...but where?

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if your boy was mechanically inclined about cars he should have known that once he seen the oil light it was donzo. i say just buy a used motor for around 300 and drop it in. bada boom, problem solved and your only hurt about 500 if you can do the work yourself.
Yeah well this all first happend when he was 'just getting into it' and he just kinda assumed it had to do with the fact that the oil was low.
Now on the other hand, he has said that same thing most of you are, saying either rebuild it or get a new(er) one. He has this crazy ideas and whatnot so how he'd manage a swap with a K i have no clue....but he does have the ability to rebuild or just do a swap.


heyy anyone want a 96 civic ex that looks great but the engines ****
just kiddding. I guess i could always just sell it to carmax, they offered me 2k for it.
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Re: 96 Civic Losing oil...but where?

take the $2k...or wait to see if the obama car junking bill passes.
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Old 03-23-2009   #14  
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Re: 96 Civic Losing oil...but where?

wow 2k is not bad at all. i would take it.
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