Low oil level damage to 302


Old 07-13-12, 11:47 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Cecil County, MD
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Low oil level damage to 302

I have a 1988 Ford F-250 with a 302 EFI. It has had an oil leak in the passenger side valve cover for months but I checked the oil frequently and kept it up to level. Two things happened. The oil leak suddenly got much worse and I neglected to check the oil for several weeks, maybe a month.
One day I started it and a friend who happened to be near the front of the truck signaled me to turn the truck off right away.
Apparently my valves were making quite a racket but as I am nearly totally deaf, I never noticed. I restarted the truck and the oil pressure gauge looked a little low but not alarmingly so. Shut the truck off and checked the oil. I put 3 1/2 quarts in and it was still a little low.

After that, sometimes the oil pressure gauge will just drop to nothing and then go back to normal. It seems to run ok but the pressure gauge just seems like it is acting funny.

OK, I was an idiot. Now, what kind if damage did I do?
Can I correct it?
Should I be looking for a new engine?
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Old 07-13-12, 12:03 PM
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I'd drain the oil and see how much metal is in it.
Old 07-13-12, 07:30 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Cecil County, MD
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Ok, simple enough. I can do that in the morning. What kind of amounts would I be looking for and what do they mean? A piston falls out I can understand I have a serious problem but how much metal means what?
Old 07-13-12, 07:43 PM
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I can't answer that, let's see how much is there and some of the better motor heads here ought to have chimed in by then.
Old 07-18-12, 06:52 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: North Central Indiana
Posts: 905
The first thing to do when you have oil pressure issues is hook up a mechanical gauge to see where you are at. Have you fixed the leak yet? They dont heal thamselves you know.
Old 07-18-12, 09:39 PM
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 42
Three and a half quarts of oil is a lot to be low. Your motor probably holds about 5-6 quarts total?

As suggested, a mechanical gauge would be good but in the mean time, probably fix that leak would be a great start. Valve cover gaskets are fairly easy to replace and in a pinch, even a silicone gasket maker would help.

How many miles do you have on this beast?

BTW, any amount of metal in the drained oil is not good. The oil filter should have caught the small particals.
Old 07-23-12, 09:53 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA/ Pacific NW
Posts: 3,208
well, low but chances are you caught air into oil pump. as a result, it will not be pumping well, as you have to fill it with Vaseline, to "bleed" air out, so that it goes back to normal pumping. Then again, with air in it, it will not pump at all. I think, guys are right - fix what's brok, then check pressure with mechanical gauge, easy enough to do on old engines, where you can walk around it inside engine bay.

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