Just one look at the dashboard gauge, and you already to know if it's time to fill up the tank with gas. It's a different thing, however, when it comes to engine oil. You have to use a long, thin rod known as the oil dipstick. You have to dip this rod into the engine to check the oil level through the markings on the stick. Oil on the dipstick will tell you if there's still enough fluid to lube up the numerous engine parts or if it's time to fill up. This will also let you know if oil flushing is needed.
When the oil dipstick breaks
The thought of replacing the dipstick probably never crossed your mind. But this rod can also break, sometimes in two or in half. When this happens, it may get stuck inside the shaft or the engine and you'll have to pull this out right away.
How to pull out a broken oil dipstick from the engine
- After carefully pulling out the broken dipstick, check the rod to see how long the detached piece of the stick is. If the length of the missing piece is less than 4 inches, this could probably be found in the oil pan. If not, then this could be picked up by a telescoping magnetic tool.
- Place the telescoping magnetic pickup tool inside the shaft. As you move this around the tube, you can probably feel where the broken piece is. Once the tool has made contact with the missing dipstick piece, gently pull out the tool. Since this can be a bit difficult, you may have to do this a couple of times.
- If the magnetic tool wasn't able to pick up the broken piece, the broken part of the dipstick has probably gone to the oil pan. You have to empty the pan by unscrewing the bolt or plug using a socket wrench. Make sure that there's a container or drain pan underneath to catch oil.
- Undo the other bolts that secure the oil pan to the engine. Look for the missing piece of the dipstick in the pan. After picking up the broken piece, reattach the oil pan with the bolts. Also, don't forget to refill it.
Why you should get a new oil dipstick
Some people try to fix the broken dipstick by gluing the pieces together using epoxy and sanding off the stick to even out the rough surface. If not properly cured or applied, bits of torn glue or some of its residue may mix with oil. If not thoroughly cleaned, leftover shavings and dirt may also contaminate the oil.
If your car ever runs out of gas or fuel, the worst that could happen is that it won't run. But when the engine is starved of oil, moving metal parts may break, as this fluid acts as a buffer or a smoothing agent. There could be too much friction, and this can lead to the engine easily overheating. Oil not only keeps the engine clean but also helps minimize heat. To properly measure oil in the reservoir and know when oil flushing should be done, replace a broken oil dipstick.
When looking for a new dipstick, make sure that:
- It comes in the right length.
- It has the needed markings on the tube for measuring oil in the pan.
- It fits into the oil shaft.
- It's sturdy and has a good handle.