Oil and Radiator Questions

courtesy of Bob, The Auto Answer Man

I dread hearing the answer to this question. My husband and I bought a used '92 (dual cam) Saturn last July, partly because we heard Saturns were very reliable, long-lasting cars. We've already had to replace the alternator, and now we're possibly looking at a ring job. The car is using (or leaking?) oil at an extreme rate of 3 to 4 quarts in under 2 weeks. Only no oil shows up on a cardboard left under the vehicle, and no oil is visible around the engine.

My father insists it is odd for the rings to go suddenly like this (this all occurred since our last oil change) and that we'd see blue smoke from the tailpipe (we don't). We immediately took it to the place where we got the oil changed, but they didn't see a leak either. It's also odd that our oil pressure gauge never goes down, even when we're supposedly low on oil.
Chris and Mike in SF

Chris and Mike,
STOP! Check the coolant! You might have blown a head gasket and are pumping oil into the coolant. Since you are using an extreme amount of oil and don't see any leaks or smoke (is the inside of the tail pipe greasy?), then it must be going somewhere.

Dear Bob,
I have a small pinhole leak in my radiator. Is it acceptable to buy time by using a "stop leak" product until I can repair the radiator?
Our Hero

That is exactly what those products are for. The one that I like the best is the one that is a aluminum colored powdered/flaked product. It seems to work the best especially with high pressure leaks.

Dear Bob,
You recommend changing oil filters at the manufacturers recommended interval even if using a synthetic oil which is not changed as often. My question has two parts. How do I remove an oil filter without draining the oil first? Please don't tell me to drain it and pour the old oil back into the engine. Also an oil filter won't ever stop filtering out particles. It will only clog and slow oil flow. So, as long as oil pressure is good, why should the filter be replaced any more often than the oil?
Rob B

First part is that the oil is stored lower than the filter in the oil pan. The filter will hold about a quart so be careful, but the remainder of the oil will still be in the pan. As for the oil pressure, what about oil flow? Even though you are maintaining pressure, you are not assured that the flow is the same. It is the amount of oil, not the pressure of the oil that is real important!
Good Luck!
Drive Safely!
Bob, The Auto Answer Man

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