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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello!

I have a 2012 Honda Civic 9th Hatchback, 1.8 petrol engine. I have been driving with the oil level slightly above the low mark (so technically still in the safe zone) for a while and have been wanting to top up the oil, but haven't had the chance yet.

A few days ago I got the "Check engine oil level" warning message on the screen, but the oil light itself was not on. The light does work, as it lights up before turning on the engine (as it should), but it was not on at that point. Drove about 1 km more, stopped, checked the dipstick and there was still oil above the low mark (more on the front of the dipstick than on the back of it). I decided to head back home (another 2km).

I spent the last few days reading around about the topic. The manual states [1] that both the light and the message should pop up and that this event signals the decrease in oil pressure. Why I only got the info message and not the light is still a mystery to me. I now have the following questions:

1. Are there any chances that there is permanent damage on the engine?
2. Could the oil light turn on, trigger the info message on the screen, then turn off while the message is still displayed? Maybe I missed the light and I now assume that it never turn on.
3. If 2. is not valid, then could it be that the car was simply telling me that the level was still ok for normal operation of the engine, but should be topped up? I guess this is what a normal 'check oil level' warning would do...
4. Has anyone around here had problems with the dipstick, namely that you get oil on the forward-facing part of the dipstick, but not so much on the back of the dipstick? Is this because of the possible inclination of the surface the car is on? Does it affect the reading that much?
5. What can I do to ensure that no damage has been done?

Thanks and happy new year!


[1]: Honda Civic Owners Manual - Information Display Warning and Information Messages - Indicators
 

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One light is for oil pressure, you do not want to see that ever, the one you saw is informing you that the oil level is getting low. Top it up asap before you let it get to low. The amount normally between min and max is around a litre. Top it up with 500ml first then check oil level, add more if needed. I always keep a litre of oil in my boot and check oil around every two weeks, only takes a minute.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
One light is for oil pressure, you do not want to see that ever, the one you saw is informing you that the oil level is getting low. Top it up asap before you let it get to low. The amount normally between min and max is around a litre. Top it up with 500ml first then check oil level, add more if needed. I always keep a litre of oil in my boot and check oil around every two weeks, only takes a minute.
What worries me about the screen info message is that although it clearly says "check engine oil level", the manual states that the message is displayed when oil pressure drops. It also mentions, or so I understand it, that the light appears along with the info message (which it didn't happen in my case, this actually gives me hope that pressure was not lost, or so I hope). I have attached a picture of the manual page.

Could it be that pressure was actually lost? Or is it a known thing that having only the message being displayed is actually only about the level?

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im a bit confused, you know your engine oil is near its recommended minimum limit yet worried its done damage, isnt it just easier to top up your oil so its well above the minimum in future so you dont get said warnings, or the worry it self creates after it happens when you let it get near the recc minimum? Or am i missing something? I check my oil weekly, especially just after a service to make sure everything is as expected, if its a touch low, i top it up with the Honda oem oil i use?

Check oil level on i--mid to me doesnt mean check there's oil on the dipstick....it means there's a not enough oil in expansion tank and engine? so pressure seems lower as theres more air than oil being put under pressure in the engine? what if the cars burnt off a tiny amount in this rough weather, thats enough to put the limit to warning state?

you want to keep an oil level between min and max ideally slap bang in middle of dispstick level, not too much but not too little, the "goldilocks" level really :)

also one off flashes of random warnings is a known quirk of most civics, i randomly get some, last one was system active and a picture of a car with an arrow under it (city mode it turns out)...huhu im parking up and stationary! Civics are divas.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
civics aswell as other cars now have 2 sensors
the 1 on your car is a warning the oil level is dropping not the oil pressure warning
this sensor on some civics has been know to trigger for no reason at times
That's what I was hoping. I also found out that there is are other ways of signaling low oil level like the oil light being yellow or a wavy line under the oil light. However, my car does not have any of those two. That's why I was hoping that maybe the display compensates for the lack of "low oil level" indicator.
 

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Champ White Type-R GT
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That's what I was hoping. I also found out that there is are other ways of signaling low oil level like the oil light being yellow or a wavy line under the oil light. However, my car does not have any of those two. That's why I was hoping that maybe the display compensates for the lack of "low oil level" indicator.
compensate by checking oil when cold and warm and if both say near minimum level on a flat surface, top it up?
You should technically check oil, tyres & lights are fit for purpose before driving ;) for good reasons such as this buddy.

add it to your weekly fluids check when washing the car or when bonnets open for screen wash top up maybe? Most civic drivers also keep a liter of their chosen oil in one of the boot recesses for such a need, i carry a liter of the honda synthetic oil used in my Type-r next to my wheel jack, i got same warning after a service and it was because my oil level was a bit close to minimum, we added another 100ml and job done, the vessels been store din car ever since. mine doesnt burn any oil currently.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
im a bit confused, you know your engine oil is near its recommended minimum limit yet worried its done damage, isnt it just easier to top up your oil so its well above the minimum in future so you dont get said warnings, or the worry it self creates after it happens when you let it get near the recc minimum? Or am i missing something? I check my oil weekly, especially just after a service to make sure everything is as expected, if its a touch low, i top it up with the Honda oem oil i use?
I will maintain it at a good level from now on. I simply did not have the chance to buy another L of Honda 0w20 oil to top up. I postponed this and now that I got the info message I freaked out. Lesson learnt, though. Now I'm just trying to conclude that the warning came at a time when oil level was still enough for the engine to work properly and not self-destruct.

Check oil level on i--mid to me doesnt mean check there's oil on the dipstick....it means there's a not enough oil in expansion tank and engine? so pressure seems lower as theres more air than oil being put under pressure in the engine? what if the cars burnt off a tiny amount in this rough weather, thats enough to put the limit to warning state?
So basically the pump detected that oil was getting close to too low?

also one off flashes of random warnings is a known quirk of most civics, i randomly get some, last one was system active and a picture of a car with an arrow under it (city mode it turns out)...huhu im parking up and stationary! Civics are divas.
I found out this while reading these days about warning messages. I wouldn't have been so freaked out about the alert if I had 50% oil on the dipstick. But since I knew I was slightly above the low mark, I knew that the alert might have been valid. Now I just want to know that the engine is still ok.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
compensate by checking oil when cold and warm and if both say near minimum level on a flat surface, top it up?
You should technically check oil, tyres & lights are fit for purpose before driving ;) for good reasons such as this buddy.

add it to your weekly fluids check when washing the car or when bonnets open for screen wash top up maybe? Most civic drivers also keep a liter of their chosen oil in one of the boot recesses for such a need, i carry a liter of the honda synthetic oil used in my Type-r next to my wheel jack, i got same warning after a service and it was because my oil level was a bit close to minimum, we added another 100ml and job done, the vessels been store din car ever since. mine doesnt burn any oil currently.
I try to get used to a routine. I have checked the oil, but somehow got the idea that "well, it's still above the low mark so maybe it's not yet critical". Once the oil gets delivered I will carry it inside the car for any needed top ups.

Not that I would like to try this myself (I really don't), but is the low mark on the dip stick chosen so that the oil pump is still able to pump oil in the engine without sucking in air? In other words, are engines built so that even a low mark oil level allows normal engine operation for at least a while?
 

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I try to get used to a routine. I have checked the oil, but somehow got the idea that "well, it's still above the low mark so maybe it's not yet critical". Once the oil gets delivered I will carry it inside the car for any needed top ups.

Not that I would like to try this myself (I really don't), but is the low mark on the dip stick chosen so that the oil pump is still able to pump oil in the engine without sucking in air? In other words, are engines built so that even a low mark oil level allows normal engine operation for at least a while?
Yep that's a common way of thinkingvwith most cars, I've just found both of my civics were a bit sensitive to anything but midway on dip stick :)

you also have to try doing it when the car is level so the reading is accurate, less oil in engine less to slosh around as the car moves too. It's a viscous liquid held under pressure and temperature and gets thinner at 80 C and above so closer to minimum recommended level will thin out and dip to a lower pressure or volume of oil which could be why you saw the light.

If you see the light on start up saying check oil it's low, if you seeing it say 30 mins into a drive it's just a touch low n triggering the alarm. :) both would be covered with a wee top up. I still use all Honda parts and oil because it is under 6yrs old and Honda are not servicing it ;) I have a mechanic n garage who do all our family's cars.

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She will be fine it flagged it and your sorting it :)

You learn that way I recall how freaked I would get with every light flash on my 8g went VW no such issue back to a 9g and forgot until it started. Was thanks to this forum I learned :)

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I think your really over thinking this, as long as you didn't get a red oil warning on the dash you didn't have low oil pressure, you will have an oil level sensor in the sump which will detect the oil level.
When the engine is warm the oil level will be read higher than when it's cold as the oil will expand when it warms up. If your checking it cold you ideally want it around half way, once the engine is warm ideally at the max level will be fine, even slightly over max is fine too.

If you saw this indicator light in red (circled in red) then you had low pressure, if you just had a warning message on the dash, I'm guessing it was yellow (circled in yellow) then it was more than likely just low oil level.
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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
you also have to try doing it when the car is level so the reading is accurate, less oil in engine less to slosh around as the car moves too. It's a viscous liquid held under pressure and temperature and gets thinner at 80 C and above so closer to minimum recommended level will thin out and dip to a lower pressure or volume of oil which could be why you saw the light.
This was one of my assumptions as well, that somehow by moving the car, the level dipped and the sensor detected that.

She will be fine it flagged it and your sorting it :)

You learn that way I recall how freaked I would get with every light flash on my 8g went VW no such issue back to a 9g and forgot until it started. Was thanks to this forum I learned :)

What we all here for and our divas , they get under your skin.
Yeah, that info message warning did get to me. But I have faith that a top up will sort it out.

I think your really over thinking this, as long as you didn't get a red oil warning on the dash you didn't have low oil pressure, you will have an oil level sensor in the sump which will detect the oil level.
When the engine is warm the oil level will be read higher than when it's cold as the oil will expand when it warms up. If your checking it cold you ideally want it around half way, once the engine is warm ideally at the max level will be fine, even slightly over max is fine too.

If you saw this indicator light in red (circled in red) then you had low pressure, if you just had a warning message on the dash, I'm guessing it was yellow (circled in yellow) then it was more than likely just low oil level. View attachment 323033
Agreed. I did over think this, since it's really the first time dealing with this issue. Regarding the indicator light, nope, I did not see it. It either was there for a very brief moment (thus I missed it somehow), or it had never been there at all. I was really checking the dashboard frantically and the light indicator was simply not there in neither red or yellow. The alert message on the dash had a red background (although I am not sure this matters at all. In terms of color, it resembled the two speed alerts that are manually set by the driver using the options in the menu). The message was not dismissed by pressing the button that would normally do so with other alerts. Still, during this whole process, I had no indicator light, as I said.
 

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This was one of my assumptions as well, that somehow by moving the car, the level dipped and the sensor detected that.



Yeah, that info message warning did get to me. But I have faith that a top up will sort it out.



Agreed. I did over think this, since it's really the first time dealing with this issue. Regarding the indicator light, nope, I did not see it. It either was there for a very brief moment (thus I missed it somehow), or it had never been there at all. I was really checking the dashboard frantically and the light indicator was simply not there in neither red or yellow. The alert message on the dash had a red background (although I am not sure this matters at all. In terms of color, it resembled the two speed alerts that are manually set by the driver using the options in the menu). The message was not dismissed by pressing the button that would normally do so with other alerts. Still, during this whole process, I had no indicator light, as I said.
All you can do now is just top up, ideally before using the car anymore, but if there is oil still on the dipstick it will more than likely be fine. Even if you top it up with a more common oil you can find at a petrol station etc like a 5w30 would be better than running it low.

Normally oil level if it's just a little bit low will show in yellow, if it's come up red then its very low, but I'm not sure how the 9th civic works.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
All you can do now is just top up, ideally before using the car anymore, but if there is oil still on the dipstick it will more than likely be fine. Even if you top it up with a more common oil you can find at a petrol station etc like a 5w30 would be better than running it low.

Normally oil level if it's just a little bit low will show in yellow, if it's come up red then its very low, but I'm not sure how the 9th civic works.
This is how I found out that 0w20 is actually a rare find in the auto parts shops. And yes, there was still oil on the dipstick. I have attached pictures taken today (four days after the alert first popped up and I have not started the engine since then) of both the front and the back of the dipstick (differences are caused by the inclined surface that the car is parked on). If the surface was flat, I assume that the middle diamond on both the front and the back of the dipstick would have been filled with oil. If I were to be rigorous, I would assume that each of the middle diamonds equals about 20% of the interval.

Another thing that I learnt during this whole ordeal is how difficult it is to read this dipstick.

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I would say your fine, just needs a top up, it's on the very minimum. If you need to use the car, just top up with a 5w30, it won't harm the engine, or if you can wait to your oil arrives then just wait.
Some dipsticks can be very hard to read, the worse one I've had to deal with is a mercedes SLS, checking the oil level after servicing those are a nightmare, silver metal dipstick and new clean oil, it's almost impossible to see any oil on it at all!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
I would say your fine, just needs a top up, it's on the very minimum. If you need to use the car, just top up with a 5w30, it won't harm the engine, or if you can wait to your oil arrives then just wait.
Some dipsticks can be very hard to read, the worse one I've had to deal with is a mercedes SLS, checking the oil level after servicing those are a nightmare, silver metal dipstick and new clean oil, it's almost impossible to see any oil on it at all!
I was in quite a dilemma when reading through posts saying that it was either bad to mix oils or not that bad anyway. Obviously, both are better than the engine grinding itself away because of lack of oil.

Regarding dipsticks, I've seen some older cars where the dipstick was basically a metal rod that would have oil all over the place. I was not involved with reading those, but I can only assume that it was pretty difficult.
 

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This is how I found out that 0w20 is actually a rare find in the auto parts shops. And yes, there was still oil on the dipstick. I have attached pictures taken today (four days after the alert first popped up and I have not started the engine since then) of both the front and the back of the dipstick (differences are caused by the inclined surface that the car is parked on). If the surface was flat, I assume that the middle diamond on both the front and the back of the dipstick would have been filled with oil. If I were to be rigorous, I would assume that each of the middle diamonds equals about 20% of the interval.

Another thing that I learnt during this whole ordeal is how difficult it is to read this dipstick.

View attachment 323035
View attachment 323034
Do yourself a favor and measure on a flat piece of road, you cant just assume it will end up in the middle. Further did you wipe of first and then dipped the stick again?4
Anyway its clearly low so adding at least 500ml is indeed the right thing to do.
 

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Do yourself a favor and measure on a flat piece of road, you cant just assume it will end up in the middle. Further did you wipe of first and then dipped the stick again?4
Anyway its clearly low so adding at least 500ml is indeed the right thing to do.
Yep, completely missed that part were he said he measured it on a incline, therefore the oil could actually be quite a bit below minimum depending on the incline. Always check the oil on a level surface, its pointless checking it on an incline as it will give an incorrect reading.
 
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