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Q&A: When is your vehicle too thirsty for oil?

When is a high-mileage vehicle too thirsty for oil, one reader asks Jim Kerr.
When is a high-mileage vehicle too thirsty for oil, one reader asks Jim Kerr. - 123RF Stock Photo


I drive a 2011 Audi Q5 SUV with 240,000 km. It has the two-litre, four-cylinder gas motor known to like oil. The manual says up to 1L of synthetic oil per 2,000 km is OK. Mine is slightly worse. I have had a few repairs over the years, but nothing major for the engine itself. What is frustrating to me as a driver/consumer is that the vehicle is equipped with a dashboard oil gauge display that is not much better than the "oil" idiot light.  Under the hood there is no dipstick.

As a driver, I find monitoring oil consumption just about impossible using the dash display. So I just wait for the message to come on the dash that says "Add 1L" and I do that. As time goes on between 15,000km oil changes, the "Add 1L" light comes on more frequently, but I have no way of knowing what the true oil level is as the display is inconsistent. The dealer keep telling me to just keep driving it and add oil when told, as the issue is not worth sorting out.

Why have manufacturers gotten away from the conventional dipstick? Is this where they are all going now in the digital age? Can a dipstick be added to my vehicle?  



As a mechanic, I see many engines that have failed because of lack of oil. I attribute this to driver’s seldom checking oil levels in their vehicles and some simply run them low on oil to the point of engine failure. Full service filling stations where attendants checked under the hood are a thing of the past so most drivers rely on the oil level being good between oil changes. For this reason, many manufacturers have incorporated electronic oil level sensors into vehicles. Some only indicate when the oil level is low. Others can provide the measured level on a dash display. 

Your Audi Q5 is not alone in not having a dipstick to measure engine oil level. Many other models from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche also come without dipsticks. There are also many other manufacturers who don’t have dipsticks for automatic transmission fluid levels. Fortunately, your Audi does come with a dipstick tube!

The dipstick tube on your 2.0-litre engine will have a small plastic cap on it and the cap snaps onto the end of the tube. There will be an o-ring seal on the cap so oil doesn’t leak out of the tube. At the dealership, the oil change technician can use a universal dipstick in this tube to check oil levels after changing oil. Rather than use a universal dipstick, there is a dipstick Part Number 06J115611E that should be correct for your Q5 and is readily available  for a few dollars from several sources including Amazon. 

Remove the plug from the dipstick tube and install the dipstick, but before closing the hood, make sure the handle doesn’t hit the hood and cause damage to the body. It should fit on your Q5 without modification but on some models you may have to cut or grind the handle down for clearance to the hood.  After an oil change, check the oil level on your new dipstick. It should show correctly but if there is an error, you can mark the dipstick with a file to the correct oil level and now be able to monitor oil level changes easier. 


I have a travel trailer with a seven-pin electrical connector on it. I was pulling it with a Dodge truck but it has lots of miles and am looking at purchasing another truck. My question is, do all the trucks use the same seven-pin connector or will I have to change wiring to match the wiring of my trailer?



The original factory wiring of seven-pin trailer connectors on all Dodge, GM, Ford, Nissan and Toyota vehicles use the same wiring configuration, which is an industry standard. Sometimes we see trucks with the wiring that has been changed to match an incorrectly wired trailer rather than change the wiring connections at the trailer plug, but if your trailer wiring is still original from the factory, it should all work correctly regardless of the truck you plug it into.


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