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Disappearing oil
My wife owns a 2012 Passion. She loves it, I hate it. Very expensive to maintain as maintenance is done by Mercedes with a $125 per hour shop rate for labor. None of the dealers seem to know how to maintain it. Wife has had a check engine light on for the last year with no dealer fix.
Now oil is disappearing and dealer is stumped. Wife brought car home and said the oil pressure light came on when she stopped at stop signs. Check engine light was also on. Car had a charred oil smell with no oil indicated on the dip stick. Serviced with 4 quarts of synthetic oil. Oil instantly turned black and grainy on start up. The only time I have seen anything like that is when fuel gets into the oil and causes a crankcase fire but I am dating myself as that was a 49 Ford after a mechanical fuel pump diaphragm failure. Her Smart ran fine, even the check engine light went out, except a week later it was out of oil again – no smoke or oil out the tail pipe, no leaks on the garage floor. Now mind you, four quarts of synthetic oil is 48 dollars. Wife made appointment with Mercedes. I followed her with no exhaust smoke but all the oil was gone by the time she got there (40 miles). Dealer is stumped after running a $650 test. I suspect the car is done as there is no sense putting more money in it. As my wife told the dealer, with maintenance costs, she has bought the car twice. They are fun to drive but there is nothing smart about a Smart car.
Richard
 

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Welcome to the club! Sorry you are having problems with your wife's car.
Oil problems can be hard to find but if it is bad enough to be able to smell like burnt oil, I would guess it has a leak somewhere that is making it leak on to the exhaust which runs across the back of the car.

It is hard to believe the oil was full and was then gone after 40 miles with no smoke or a trail of oil leaking out. Even if it burned it in the motor, that much oil would have left a trail of oil oil on the ground. 4 quarts is a lot of oil to disappear in 40 miles, even if it somehow got pushed into the transaxle, it would overfill it and leak out. Also if the oil was grainy, there has to be a problem as the filter should take most of that out, unless the oil pan was full of something.I would be taking it back to the dealer and be asking some serious questions about how it could go through that much oil in such a short amount of time and not be noticeable as a leak or at least the motor running poorly.

If there was fuel getting into the oil (which could be a bad injector) it would soon be overfilled and the motor could get hydro locked and stop turning and break components (has happened to me on a different car)
sounds like someone is not telling the whole story.

$650 and they can't tell you what the problem is?? I would be a bit upset and would be talking to the service manager and the owner of the dealership no matter what kind of car it is.

I did find a leak on my car (2008 passion) that was tough to find, but did leave oil on the ground and black dirt across the back of the car. It ended up being a bolt that blocks off a oil port on the back of the motor. Took me a while to find it as I was working on it in the driveway but I could drive farther than 40 miles without running out of oil. Ended up using some gasket sealer and problem was fixed . that was about a year ago and still is good. But like I said, there was oil all over under the car and across the back of the car.
 

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I would escalate this up to MB head office, since you will have bills for the service done something should be done about the problem. $650 to fix nothing would make me boiling mad, and the fact that they could not find the source of the problem makes me wonder how competent their service department it.

I would find out if there are other members in your part of the world and from them find out who is a reliable/competent shop since the one(s) you say you have used are not.

No smoke or signs of oil is certainly mysterious since that oil has to be going somewhere. I might have suspected a blown head gasket but without a big trail of white smoke that seems unlikely though coolant in the oil will give the appearance of a chocolate milk shake.

So it's a 2012, how much milage is on it?
 

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Very little about this makes sense. You don't say whether the Mercedes dealer is a smart franchise holder. It makes a difference. In either case a Check Engine light that can not be diagnosed for a year is due to lack of effort, ignorance, incompetence or a lethal combination of those.

Engine oil does not disappear. It must go somewhere and when it does it leaves evidence behind. Consuming 3-1/2 quarts of oil in 40 miles without any evidence left behind seems implausible.

No mention of vehicle mileage, whether purchased new or used nor of past service history done how often and by whom. No indication whether the car was driven with the oil light on or oil level low. In all, not enough information to reach a conclusion.
 

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Discussion Starter #6

I want to thank all you for your input. We live in the country in the middle of nowhere near Wellston, OK. We’ve been here for 10 years. When we moved out here, it was the first time I have lived away from an air base in 45 years – it is so quiet out here. Pam, my wife, uses the car to commute to work at the Oklahoma City Zoo two or three days a week. It is forty miles one way trip most of it at turnpike speed (75 mph - which she pushes and runs about 80). I talked to my wife about the oil. I already ripped on her about driving the car with the oil light on. I could have put it on a trailer and brought it home. I have done it before when she had a flat tire. I was going to trailer it to take it to the dealer but she wanted to drive it to the Oklahoma City Mercedes dealer. There is no future in arguing with her. We are in ours 70s and it is not worth the stress. The only authorized Smart dealer is 125 miles away in Tulsa. They are also a Mercedes dealer. The OKC dealer has Smart cars but I don’t think he is an authorized dealer. I now have serious doubts about their capability to fix a Smart car.
When I serviced it the first time I put three quarts in it but I did not change the oil filter as we did not have one. I had a quart left over so I put it in the car so she could top it off if needed. As I said, the oil was instantly black with a grainy texture but no grit. I was thinking of taking it to a lube center and changing to 10W-30.
She drove the car to several yoga classes (26 miles one way) and then drove it to the zoo twice (40 mile one way – high speed). She called me from the zoo and said the oil light came on. I told her to check the oil. I am sure she had a co-worker do that. What she actually did was put that one quart of oil in it and bought four more. When the car came home, I was out working and did not check it. We took it to the dealer two days later. It was not until yesterday when I found a store bag with four quarts of oil in it that I realized she never filled it. Nonetheless, the car should not have gone through a quart of oil in 80 miles. When we went to the dealer we were on normal roads (max 65, most of it 45) and I followed. No smoke, no dripping oil. At the dealer it had that charred oil smell again and pulled the dipstick. There was no oil indicated on the dipstick. I told the dealer that. However, as we left, I saw someone driving it around the block. That does not say much for dealer competence. They are very nice and polite people but so are used car salesmen.
That was on Tuesday. Except to call for approval of the $650 test on Wednesday, we have heard nothing from the dealer as I write this Friday night. Funny, I never thought to check the radiator for oil in the water which was so common on the old Ford flathead V8s. I was hoping to find an answer on the internet thus this forum. There seems to be nothing on the internet about this. I am a retired Air Force aircraft mechanic. I have had jet engines blow a bearing seal and dump everything overboard but I have never seen anything like this. Where is all that oil going?
Richard
 

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Very little about this makes sense. You don't say whether the Mercedes dealer is a smart franchise holder. It makes a difference. In either case a Check Engine light that can not be diagnosed for a year is due to lack of effort, ignorance, incompetence or a lethal combination of those.

Engine oil does not disappear. It must go somewhere and when it does it leaves evidence behind. Consuming 3-1/2 quarts of oil in 40 miles without any evidence left behind seems implausible.

No mention of vehicle mileage, whether purchased new or used nor of past service history done how often and by whom. No indication whether the car was driven with the oil light on or oil level low. In all, not enough information to reach a conclusion.



The Smart was bought new from the Tulsa dealer in 2012. My wife is meticulous about servicing but changed to the Oklahoma City Mercedes dealer because of the distance to Tulsa. The check engine light is an intermittent but consistent problem. It never seems to be on when she takes it to the dealer. Twice it has gone out as she drove to the dealer. The last time, I put it on a trailer and the light was on. It was off when we drove it into the dealer. The last two times they did not charge her because they could not find or fix the problem. However, this made her complacent and when the oil light came on she ignored it. She said it only came on when she stopped at stop signs. I will not go into the “discussion” after that statement.


The engine must have a big sump as I only put three quarts in it not the required four. I think she has just over 90 thousand miles on as she was complaining about not reaching 100K. I don’t drive it.


I agree that the oil has to go somewhere but there is no smoke or leaks. The tail pipe is sooty but not oily. I did not check the radiator for oil in the water. Neither I nor the dealer has a clue where the oil is going. That is why I am on this forum. I am 75 so my wrench is a little rusty too


Richard
 

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I wonder if the oil light is also triggered by oil pressure? Only reason I'm wondering this is because you mentioned that the filter has not been changed and that makes me curious that perhaps it is clogged and when oil filters are 'full'/clogged they bypass if I remember correctly. If so I would change the filter as soon as you can. If you can't get one locally Rockauto who does mail order has plenty and they are fast, I even order stuff from them and have it shipped to Canada when I find it cheaper there even with shipping and exchange.

I use the Fram PH6607 on my smart. Link is here, 2012 SMART FORTWO 1000cc L3 Oil Filter | RockAuto But any store such as Pep Boys or AutoZone will carry this part.

What surprised me with my smart was how long the oil change intervals are on it, up here we are in kilometres but the recommended interval is 15,000km! Considering I am used to going in 5,000km intervals I was somewhat shocked at this but my gut feeling is that perhaps this might be a possible reason.

So I guess the most important thing to figure out is if the oil is indeed winding up in the coolant and if so that would indicate a bad head gasket. If there isn't any oil in the coolant I would consider an engine flush and fresh oil and filter and see what happens. I wouldn't go with a cheap oil though unless you decreased the intervals between changes.

My smart has just under 100,000km on it and was bought used in Jan, I just took it in for an oil change at my mechanic's shop (not MB) and after getting it back was surprised at how much peppier it felt. I used 0w 40 Mobile 1 with the Fram oil filter, Fram also has something called high mileage filters but honestly I would wonder just how much of a difference there is and also wonder if they just tweak the bypass setup, guess when it comes to cars and oil changes I'm still really old school...
 

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Just my .02, but these cars with the Mitsubishi engine do not use oil. The OP's situation is way out of what's normal - including where the missing oil might be going. Probably not any way to get the answer without tearing onto the engine itself. :)
 

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The smart engine holds 3-1/2 quarts of oil. Use only Mercedes specification or equivalent oil. European specification oil and full synthetic only, either 5W-30, 0W-30 or 0W-40. European specification is not the same as American specification. Do not under any circumstance use 10W-30 oil in anything other than maybe a worn out 50 year old lawn mower. The oil level is properly checked with the car on level ground at least 20 minutes after the engine is shut down. Over-filling the oil is as bad as under-filling.

If the engine is run low on oil for any reason or the incorrect oil is used a couple of things can happen. In either case the oil or remaining oil can get overheated and get baked onto the oil control rings on the pistons. This causes the rings to stick in the ring grooves and not seal properly against the cylinder walls, thus causing oil consumption. You may not see evidence of it driving the car because the catalytic converter in the exhaust system will eat a lot a smoke. One should be able to smell the burned oil in the exhaust and there should be burned oil residue on the spark plugs and in the exhaust ports.

If there is no internal or external leakage of oil the above would be my best guess about what is happening. And you know what a guess is worth. Naught. If that is what is happening then it is not likely worth the cost of repairing the engine in the car. If the car is worth keeping an low mileage used replacement engine would be my choice.

Keep in mind this is all speculation from afar on my part. Thinking out loud. Mental masturbation.

I would be interested in what kind of test was done for $650. I can not imagine what that would be. A typical oil consumption test is to change the oil and filter and monitor the oil level to determine how much is consumed in 1000 miles.
 

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my car at 100K miles still did not use any oil at the 10K oil change intervals, and I have not seen oil with a grainy texture to it. We are talking Mobil 1 synthetic oil here right? As for the intermittent Check Engine light, That is not normal to occasionally get a light unless there is something going on. They should have given you a work order or receipt of the work they did with the error code that made the light come on and that would help in troubleshooting some. You can get the light to come on if you overfill it with gasoline and flood the carbon canister, the light will come on and sometimes can be reset once the fuel level goes down. Usually the canister needs to be replaced. Or if the gas cap is not fully closed (or doesn't seal right) then the light will come on and will eventually reset once the cap is sealed and after a number of engine restarts. A code number from the OBDII port would tell what is up there.


The car does not have a big sump for oil, it only holds just under 4 quarts, so if you added 4 quarts, it should have shown that it was over filled.

Driving the car with no oil (and adding 4 quarts) is a definate problem and may have caused internal damage. A blown head gasket or oil leaking into the coolant will make the motor run poorly and the computer will sense a bad cylinder , and will shut down that cylinder. You will notice a uge loss of power and the car won't go much over about 40 or so (been there) I know with the external leak I had, it was difficult to find and there wasn't any oil in the exhaust, or coolant. I park on the street and that was when I noticed the quarter size spot of oil overnight. The only indication I had was the black spots the covered the back of the car when I drove it and of course the oil level that would go down. I was driving 40 some miles each way to work and back. It did take longer than a few trips to lose a quart. Mine only leaked oil when the motor was running which was also strange. It took me a few weeks to find exactly what was leaking and like I said, never have i heard of it before or since happening to another car.
http://www.smartcarofamerica.com/forums/f353/oil-leak-113738/

(might help)
unfortunatly not all dealers are the same in their service department. We have heard of both good dealers and bad dealers, and even the good dealers can have a bad day. My 2nd smart had 165K miles on it when it died (lost a cylinder ) and I pretty much did almost all the work myself because we did not have a local dealer for a few years. I ran into some pretty strange problems and there are a ton of others on here that also have seen just about everything. So there is a huge collective of information that are willing to help if we can.

I am on my 3rd smart and just finishing rebuilding the front end after an encounter last fall with a j-walking deer. ( I think the deer lost) I picked up this one with 99K miles on it and after fixing the oil leak, a door latch that wouldn't close, heater that wouldn't run, and a few minor problems, it has been a great car! If I had the space , I would have fixed my previous car that lost the cylinder, but I don't have the place to work on it and tear down the motor so I passed it on to someone who could. I don't doubt it is probably back on the road.
 

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My smart car, only held 3 1/2 qts., of oil. That's what the manufacture recommends. Never took it to a smart/MB dealer, for basic maintance. You could buy The Mobil one synthetic oil a qt. Cheap at Walmart. Mobile one oil filter. New oil plug washer. I'd buy 4 qts. Use 3 1/2. Have a 1/2 for the next oil change, at 10K miles. Taught my daughter how to change the oil, after she took over driving it. It doesn't take any special shop, to do basic maintance, on any smart car. The hardest maintance procedure, was replacing the air filter.

I would suggest, to the Op, have someone do a compression check on all 3 of your cylinders. That oil, your losing is going someplace.
 

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The smart engine holds 3-1/2 quarts of oil. Use only Mercedes specification or equivalent oil. European specification oil and full synthetic only, either 5W-30, 0W-30 or 0W-40. European specification is not the same as American specification. Do not under any circumstance use 10W-30 oil in anything other than maybe a worn out 50 year old lawn mower. The oil level is properly checked with the car on level ground at least 20 minutes after the engine is shut down. Over-filling the oil is as bad as under-filling.

If the engine is run low on oil for any reason or the incorrect oil is used a couple of things can happen. In either case the oil or remaining oil can get overheated and get baked onto the oil control rings on the pistons. This causes the rings to stick in the ring grooves and not seal properly against the cylinder walls, thus causing oil consumption. You may not see evidence of it driving the car because the catalytic converter in the exhaust system will eat a lot a smoke. One should be able to smell the burned oil in the exhaust and there should be burned oil residue on the spark plugs and in the exhaust ports.

If there is no internal or external leakage of oil the above would be my best guess about what is happening. And you know what a guess is worth. Naught. If that is what is happening then it is not likely worth the cost of repairing the engine in the car. If the car is worth keeping an low mileage used replacement engine would be my choice.

Keep in mind this is all speculation from afar on my part. Thinking out loud. Mental masturbation.

I would be interested in what kind of test was done for $650. I can not imagine what that would be. A typical oil consumption test is to change the oil and filter and monitor the oil level to determine how much is consumed in 1000 miles.






I suspect Pam scorched the engine pretty good as she brought it home at turnpike speeds. We have no problems getting oil filters; she had one the next day when I was thinking of taking it in for an oil change as many of the service centers do not have the required filter. When I serviced the oil I used Valvoline (spelling?) 5W-10 synthetic. I looked at her owner’s manual and in the back 10W-30 is listed on the chart but I stayed with the normal oil as heavier oil affects gas mileage. We have a Honda Fit that uses 0W-5. One of the oil service centers used 5W-10 and there was a significant impact on gas mileage. I had to laugh as I do have a lawn tractor that uses straight 30W while the other two use 10W-30 (I mow six and a half acres). However, they are semi retired as a Bad Boy zero-turn does it in half the time.


My past experience tells me if there is a gasket leak/cracked block, there would also be water in the oil. Unfortunately, engines of today are not as simple as the ones of my youth. If, as you say, the catalytic converter is catching all that oil it will soon be clogged and that is another expensive change. I will ask the dealer what kind of test he did and post it. They still have the car and they have not called back.


Richard
 

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I suspect Pam scorched the engine pretty good as she brought it home at turnpike speeds. We have no problems getting oil filters; she had one the next day when I was thinking of taking it in for an oil change as many of the service centers do not have the required filter. When I serviced the oil I used Valvoline (spelling?) 5W-10 synthetic. I looked at her owner’s manual and in the back 10W-30 is listed on the chart but I stayed with the normal oil as heavier oil affects gas mileage. We have a Honda Fit that uses 0W-5. One of the oil service centers used 5W-10 and there was a significant impact on gas mileage. I had to laugh as I do have a lawn tractor that uses straight 30W while the other two use 10W-30 (I mow six and a half acres). However, they are semi retired as a Bad Boy zero-turn does it in half the time.
Richard
I think you meant to write 5W-30 and for the Honda 0W-20. There is no 5W-10.
 

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Discussion Starter #15



Sorry for the slow update, we have been out of town. We finally picked up Pam’s Smart from the dealer. We have known since Thursday, Mar 16, that the car is a dead soldier but we could not get into the city until Monday, the 20th. I made several mistakes in my previous writings. Pam’s car is a 2008 Passion (she went on a waiting list to get it) and she has 99,290 miles on it. Also the Oklahoma City Mercedes dealer now has an hourly shop rate of $134.95. There is also a Smart sign out in front of the dealer.


They charged her $475 to do a compression check with a total bill of $633. The cost of the compression check can be applied to the cost of an engine change. However, it is not the simple compression check of my youth in that it has three “T” values. Normal compression is 149-159 PSI.


#1 Cylinder: T1 – 65 psi, T2 – 70 psi, T3 – 65 psi


#2 Cylinder: T1 – 160 psi, T2 – 165 psi, T3 – 160 psi


#3 Cylinder: T1 – 55 psi, T2 – 40 psi, T3 – 30 psi


They recommended a bleed down check to determine the location of the compression leak but we were told nothing else except it needed an engine change. Interestingly, on an old Ford flathead I could get away with compression like that but that was a simpler engine with 30W oil.


I must say I am impressed how the catalytic converter hides the problem. There was no smoke emission or oil in the tail pipe. The dealer wants $8,400 to install a new engine. The Smart is much too expensive to maintain so it would just be throwing good money after bad. The engine warning light was probably trying to tell us all along there was a problem but the dealer was never able to determine the cause.


We trailered it back home where it will probably sit in the back of the barn with several dead lawn tractors until we figure out what to do with it. I wish there was some simple fix like filling the cylinders with WD40 and letting it soak to break the rings loose but there is no telling if the cylinder walls are scored or a piston is cracked. As the car still looks brand-new, I lean toward donating it to a trade school. They might be able to bring it back to life. As I said before, they are fun to drive but there is nothing smart about a Smart car.


Richard




 

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Sorry for the slow update, we have been out of town. We finally picked up Pam’s Smart from the dealer. We have known since Thursday, Mar 16, that the car is a dead soldier but we could not get into the city until Monday, the 20th. I made several mistakes in my previous writings. Pam’s car is a 2008 Passion (she went on a waiting list to get it) and she has 99,290 miles on it. Also the Oklahoma City Mercedes dealer now has an hourly shop rate of $134.95. There is also a Smart sign out in front of the dealer.


They charged her $475 to do a compression check with a total bill of $633. The cost of the compression check can be applied to the cost of an engine change. However, it is not the simple compression check of my youth in that it has three “T” values. Normal compression is 149-159 PSI.


#1 Cylinder: T1 – 65 psi, T2 – 70 psi, T3 – 65 psi


#2 Cylinder: T1 – 160 psi, T2 – 165 psi, T3 – 160 psi


#3 Cylinder: T1 – 55 psi, T2 – 40 psi, T3 – 30 psi


They recommended a bleed down check to determine the location of the compression leak but we were told nothing else except it needed an engine change. Interestingly, on an old Ford flathead I could get away with compression like that but that was a simpler engine with 30W oil.


I must say I am impressed how the catalytic converter hides the problem. There was no smoke emission or oil in the tail pipe. The dealer wants $8,400 to install a new engine. The Smart is much too expensive to maintain so it would just be throwing good money after bad. The engine warning light was probably trying to tell us all along there was a problem but the dealer was never able to determine the cause.


We trailered it back home where it will probably sit in the back of the barn with several dead lawn tractors until we figure out what to do with it. I wish there was some simple fix like filling the cylinders with WD40 and letting it soak to break the rings loose but there is no telling if the cylinder walls are scored or a piston is cracked. As the car still looks brand-new, I lean toward donating it to a trade school. They might be able to bring it back to life. As I said before, they are fun to drive but there is nothing smart about a Smart car.


Richard




It is shame but kind of true.

As far as rebuilding it, at the dealership you spent 1/4 of the value of a running 2008 Smart car with 100,000 miles.
Any more money would be foolish good money chasing bad. You would NEVER get any thing in return.
If you have the time and the car is in as great a shape as you say "Part it out" As a matter of fact I'm looking for rear wheel rims if they are the 9 spoke type. .
Good luck with what ever your choice is.
 

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Sell the car to an enthusiast who will put it back on the road. Someone can use it. It will bring you more money than donation tax credits. And sell it while it is still running, even though not running well. I have a car sitting in my driveway that "was running when parked" and probably isn't worth a quarter of what it would have been if still running, in the same condition.

Parting a car out takes time and work. Plus you have the shell to deal with.
 
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