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Used S2K, low oil. Worth buying?

 
Old 03-05-2019, 07:29 PM
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Exclamation Used S2K, low oil. Worth buying?

Hi guys, so new to the forums here and long story short, I've looking to buy an AP2 for a while now and I've finally found one that I'm actually interested in. It's an 04 with 90k miles on it, for $15k in a large city. The car is overall in phenomenal shape. Other than the front bumper, the body and top are flawless and the interior is in great shape also. Other than the radio being replaced, the car is 100% stock which is huge for me.
When I checked out the car the first time, the weather was less than favorable, so we agreed to wait till this coming Friday to test drive it and put it on a lift so I could inspect the underside.
However, this is where the catch is. When I checked out the car a few days ago, the oil was extremely low. While cold, the oil level was at the minimum according to the dip stick. Then I let the car run and get up to operating temp, and when I checked the oil at op temperature, it was super low. About 1/3 the way up from the bottom of the dip stick to the "minimum" line. (wish I took pictures of it for reference...)
The car is for sale at an independent sports/luxury car dealer and when I brought up the oil level to the manager, he said that for sports cars, they don't do any maintenance. They leave them as-is so you know exactly what you're buying, which is super rare and I really appreciate. Most of the other ones I've looked at have had fresh oil put in and always "have perfect maintenance records"....sure.
So my question is, does anyone here have experience with very low oil in their cars? Short of sending an oil sample to see if any metal has been shaved off the engine walls or bearings, is there a way to tell if any damage has been done? Things to look for during the test drive? I have a scanner, but I doubt that would show anything...
I'm really bummed out since I was thinking that this was going to be the one I finally make a serious offer on, but I'm having serious second thoughts because of the oil level. Granted, any of the other ones I've looked at could of had the same problem, and I would never know because they threw in new oil...
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Old 03-05-2019, 07:31 PM
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Worth adding, that while the car was at operating temp, the low oil pressure light never came on, nor did the check engine light.
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Old 03-06-2019, 05:51 AM
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Maybe, have a mechanic check the compression.
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Old 03-06-2019, 06:52 AM
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The S2000 requires a different method to check the oil, which could make your situation even worse... always flip the dipstick over and check the other side, and go by the lowest mark. There's a baffle/tray inside the oil pan that will transfer oil to the dipstick, causing it to appear that you have more oil than you actually do. If you search, you'll see several posts about this, as well as a youtube video or two. I'd be concerned, honestly, because it's very very unlikely this was the first time it's been low or out of oil. Also, if there's anything other than a big, blue Honda oil filter on it, that's a red flag. There are only a few other oil filters that will work reliably with the S2000 besides, and none are cheap.
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Old 03-06-2019, 09:51 AM
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Technically the bottom end of the 1 quart L and H levels, essentially right at L, is still in 'normal' range. I never let my oil get that low, as most here don't. But its technically ok.

So long as you didn't get any of those phantom level readings mentioned in post above (lower on one side than the other, always read tbe lower side), that reading isn't that bad.

That said, this is one engine that does not do well with low oil incidents. All it takes is one redline incident with low oil to set in motion an engine failure down the line. Often they don't fail right then, but some thousands of miles later. But we're talking about low low, not at L level low.

You are correct that an oil analysis would tell the tale. Here is what I think you shouod do. Go back to the dealership, and ask to do an oil analysis, that you will pay for. DO NOT let them take the sample, unless you can watch.

Also, when you go back, recheck the oil level. I suspect the we leave them as is comment was used car dealer bs. A standard line they whip out when someone finds an issue. Turn a negative into a positive. If oil level has been corrected, it was bs. If it hasn't, it may still just mean they don't think 1 quart low is anything to worry about, as on most cars its not.

I have bought cars from used dealers before. But not because I trust them. I never ever would. But rather because the car was a good deal, and passed my inspection. Even if they were honest, they can't control what happened to the car before they got it. Its not about them, its about the car.

If oil analysis checks out, it will ease your mind.
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Old 03-06-2019, 11:26 PM
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My AP2 88k miles never got below 3/4 before needing oil changes. Any sign of leak when you looked?
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Old 03-07-2019, 08:04 AM
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An independent (used) sports/luxury car dealer who doesn't check the oil levels? I seriously doubt they're permit drawing an oil sample, or a compression check, or much else other than a test drive. But, surprising as it may seem, I'm frequently wrong.

These cars to not use excessive amounts of oil but the owners manual specifies an oil level check with every tank of fuel. My 2006 car has the following explanation in the Quick Start Guide.


-- Chuck
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Old 03-07-2019, 08:43 AM
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Remember, there are lots of S2ks in the world. This is not a rare car.

The way I see it this low oil thing is a sign that the car may not have been well cared for. Do your due diligence. I could be fine. But you have to do your due diligence because it could also be a mess.

Personally, unless I had complete knowledge about the history of an S2k and 100% trust in the seller, I would not buy one with 90K miles without a compression test.
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Old 03-07-2019, 09:02 AM
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I agree with rpg51 and Chuck. I have a 2006 who's oil level hasn't budged since I changed it 6000 miles ago. I check it every two weeks. Still looks relatively clean as well, and the car as 116K on it now. It's in winter storage at the moment, but I'll change the old before the spring wake-up. The AP2s do not burn much oil unless you spend a lot of time in VTEC. AP1s had some history of oil consumption, but if it's low, it either has an issue or hasn't been checked/cared for properly.

However, (and someone can correct me if I'm wrong) I always thought the oil level was most relevant when the engine was off - if you check when it's running, there's oil circulating and the dip stick won't read accurately. You mentioned you checked it cold, but was the off? Or cold, as in you started it and checked it after running a min?

When I check mine after warmup, I check it once the car sat for 5 mins to let the oil collect. This is how I've always checked oil... maybe the S2K is different?
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Old 03-07-2019, 11:11 AM
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Wait a few minutes after turning the
engine off before you check the oil.
So says Honda.

-- Chuck
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