How fast is the oil leaking? I regularly run the oil level low on my '88 Grand Caravan and it hasn't caused any damage, ... Yet, but after 381,000 miles, I'm not too worried.
A 2" spot on the ground where you park is a significant leak but not bad enough to prevent driving the car. You would not want to drive 100 miles non-stop without checking the oil level. If the leak is relatively slow, as most valve cover leaks are, don't panic if the level gets a little below the "min" mark on the dipstick. All engines use a little oil between oil changes, and to address the complaints, no manufacturer uses "add" and "full" on their dipsticks any longer. They all use "min" and "max". As long as the level is above the "min" line, you're fine. If the level drops a little below that line, the engine isn't going to suddenly fly apart. I'm not recommending you do this, but I often find my oil level three quarts low. That's two quarts below the "min" mark. My engine is a special case though. It has time to get that low because I haven't changed the oil in over nine years! I just add a quart about every 1000 miles. That is enough to replenish the additives in the oil but it is not neglect; it is abuse. I do that to show my students what some of these engines are capable of. I would never suggest anyone else do that to their car.
Thursday, January 5th, 2012 AT 1:08 AM