Friday, March 2, 2012

Stupid Nissan Dipstick Tricks.....

The PLASTIC handle of the dipstick in my wife's 2005 Nissan Sentra has been broken for about a year or so now. Now why anybody in their right might, let alone a REAL "Engineer", would design this part with a 100%, NON-reinforced plastic handle is beyond me. The kind of plastic they use has been breaking more or less continuously since around 1998, and you'd have to be a real ding-dong to not change it.
It's been more of an annoyance than anything because I've had to use a pair of needle nose pliers to pull it out and check the oil, but in that category of "This'll work until I buy a replacement part", so we both kinda let it slide. I finally bought a new dipstick the other day, and figured while it was still light out, I'd pop the hood and install the new one.
It appears that the last time she had the oil changed, the moron who works there didn't realize the plastic handle of the stick was broken off, thought the dipstick was already out of the engine, and tried to jam another dipstick on top of it to 'check the oil'.
The previously reachable (broken) stick is now about 4~6" down inside the dipstick tube, and is barely visible, let alone grabbable.
Every little tool I have that might be able to reach down the tube and snag the stick just doesn't work.
I tried putting some Super Glue on the end of a chopstick, but the plastic is just too oily for the glue to hold.
One 'solution' I saw posted in a Nissan forum was to pressurize the crankcase with compressed air, which supposedly blows the stick out of the tube. I'll try that tomorrow, but I think this one's been stuffed down the tube too far to come back out with just a few p.s.i. of air, so I'm resigned to having to (carefully!) twist the dipstick tube out of the block, remove the dipstick, and then tap the tube back in.
That involves removing the heat shield over the exhaust manifold, a job best done after the car has sat over night.
I've read where they make an all-metal replacement dipstick, so that's next on the search list!


  1. Sounds like a bunch of dipsticks designed that. What a pain in the arse!

  2. Gah, that just sucks... I think I'd take that one to the dealer :-)

  3. Yeah, BUT......the dealer wants to drop the oil pan!
    *I* can drop the oil pan for a HELL of a lot less money then they want!

  4. Have you ever seen the feature on Design News magazine's website Made By Monkeys?

    Sounds like you should submit this one.

  5. No, I haven't. I used to get that one in print form years ago, but haven't seen it lately.
    Considering this dipstick "design" is going on 14 years old, I wouldn't be surprised if it hadn't already been commented on.

  6. What about some playdoh or modelling clay on the end of a small dowel rod. I know you have to be careful not to lose it down the tube, but....just a thought.

  7. It's not 'sticky' enough to grab what's left of the dipstick. It got shoved down there pretty well.
    She took it back to Jiffy Lube this morning, and they tried the compressed air trick to blow it out of the tube.
    Didn't work.
    SO....Wednesday they're sending her to the dealer to drop the oil pan, remove the old dipstick, and put the oil pan back on.
    And they're picking up the tab for all the parts and labor!

  8. Glad they're going to take of it for you.

    We had a 99 Intrepid that had the dipstick break, I used a med sized fish-hook (it was just small enough to feed down the tube). The dipstick was down there JUST too far to reach with needle nose, pulled dipstick out with fish-hook. Glad nobody helped push it all the way in.

    Me, not you

  9. I tried several things like that, but couldn't grab the plastic piece that was left. The plastic breaks off flush with the end of the metal strip that forms the dipstick, and really doesn't leave you anything left to grab.
    Pulling the oil pan is actually quite easy in this car, as the engine/transaxle sits in a cradle, and there's nothing in the way to prevent you from getting at the pan bolts, or dropping the pan.

  10. Well, she went yesterday and had the car repaired.
    All went well, and it took them about 4 hours total to drop the pan, remove the broken stick, and button it all back up.
    They even gave her an engine flush for free, as they wanted to make sure no crud got into the engine while the pan was off.
    Total bill: $15 and change for the new gasket. Not bad, and they guaranteed it wouldn't leak.


Keep it civil, please....