Oil level weirdness

I have an ongoing oil consumption problem in my 99 Accord (4 cyl). The car has 88k miles.
Yesterday I checked oil after the car was parked for about an hour (on
a very hot day) and the level was below the lower mark. This morning I checked it again (the car was parked overnight, so the engine was completely cold) and the level was almost at the full mark, about 90% full. How is this possible???
There are no drip or leak marks under the engine or in the engine bay, last oil change dealer could not locate any leaks (oil pan seals, etc), so they asked me to start recording oil levels when I fill up gas.
Any explanations for such fluctuation?
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This unfortunately is a symptom of a rupture in the engine block/head cooling system such that it's getting into the oil system. For example, a head gasket leak.
Check -- the appearance of the coolant in the radiator, via the radiator cap, in a cold engine. Same for the coolant reservoir. If oil is present, it's looking like a head gasket or similar leak. -- the appearance of coolant in the oil system. Look into the filler cap hole and check the dipstick. Look for foreign residue on the filler cap (white?) -- Does the car's exhaust smell like anti-freeze at all? -- Look for foreign residue (white?) on the spark plugs. -- Is the car overheating at all.
I would not drive the car further until this is resolved. Or certainly do not let it overheat. This will worsen the problem and make it more expensive to fix.

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I am aware of the possiblity that coolant and oil could be mixing if there is a crack in the engine block. All those checks are negative, engine temperature is always good. I plan to check with Honda dealership tomorrow.
Elle wrote:

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Elle wrote:

theoretically. but three things:
1. hondas don't leak much into the oil from gasket failure - the oil and water passages are well distanced. cracked block is more likely to cause this kind of leakage in a honda, and that's very rare. 2. if /that/ much coolant was in the oil, over a quart [20%-30% water content!!!], there would be mayonnaise everywhere, including the dipstick, not to mention under the filler cap. advice to check the coolant level [when cold] might be handy in this situation. 3. clogged oil filters and general sludge buildup can affect drainback times.
i vote for the simple stuff first like the op making sure the oil is dipped on level ground. sounds trivial, but i'm not joking - had a similar issue with a buddy of mine just recently. ended up having to drain two quarts from his overfilled toyota.

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I know that the level ground is a must when checking oil. The spot where I check yesterday is not perfecly level, but I would say almost level. Hard to describe in words, but lets say the car does not roll in neutral. I assume this would not make much difference.
jim beam wrote:

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Pauly wrote:

fair enough, just cover your bases!
personally, my civic never gives consistent readings anywhere near warm, so i only dip cold in the mornings. reading your subsequent posts, it seems like you've done the right things. i'm guessing this is not a new car to you and that is a recent phenomenon, maybe since a recent oil change? if so, consider whether the right grade oil was used.
bottom line, if the car's not got leaks, either oil or coolant, and consistently dips at the right level when cold, i'd not worry about it. dealer coolant pressure testing will give you peace of mind, but as stated before, you'd /definitely/ notice the effects of a quart of coolant in the oil!

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That is *not* necessary, so long as you have some kind of reference point.
If you check the level the morning after an oil change, then use that as your reference point, that will do.
--
TeGGeR

The Unofficial Honda/Acura FAQ
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Pauly wrote:

Take note of any new gopher holes.
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jim beam wrote:

Here's another simple problem that's often overlooked. Sometimes the rubber bushing that seals the dipstick around the top of the dipstick tube comes loose and will slide up and down. This can account for seemingly random changes in the oil level.
Eric
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I have occasionally seen weird behavior like this on my GS-R. It isn't losing coolant, just takes a long time to get an accurate read on the dip stick.
Verify you aren't losing coolant. If not, just make a point of checking the oil only after the car has been sitting for a long time. I assume the car is always on level ground when you check it.
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You have already checked for the important problems, oil in the coolant and coolant in the oil.
Please do not take offense at the following suggestion. I know you are smart and probably would not make such a mistake. But you never know. It could be something as simple as not pushing the dip stick all the way in. I know this is possible because I have done it myself. The rubber seal around the top of the dip stick is pretty sturdy, so it is possible to think it has seated when it hasn't.
Elliot Richmond Itinerant astronomy teacher
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This is perfectly normal.
There is a right way and a wrong way to check your oil. Consistency is the key. The very best thing to do is to check it after having sat overnight, with the car parked in exactly the same spot every time you check. Follow the *identical same procedure* *every* time you check the oil.
When you run the car, your oil gets circulated around the engine. Depending on just how hot the OIL gets, (NOT the coolant temperature gauge), the oil will drain back into the pan faster or slower. The absolute worst time to check your oil is after a run, even if you let the car sit for a couple of hours.
--
TeGGeR

The Unofficial Honda/Acura FAQ
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Pauly wrote:

Perhaps the oil filter anti-drainback valve is leaking down overnight and thus increasing the oil level in the pan by AM>
I would try a new high quality oil filter to see if the symptom changes. It might not be the problem, but is worth checking because it is quick and cheap to do so.
John
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They call that "FRAMitis"

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