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CEL Dirty Oil experience?

1950 Views 1 Reply 2 Participants Last post by  Motty82
About two weeks ago, I was driving my CVT Insight back from work (a 33 mile highway-driving trip). It was around 12,000 miles and nine months of use at this point. The MPG had dropped a few since the morning, which was a little unusual, but I thought maybe it was a combination of cold weather, needing to check tire pressure, etc so put it out of my mind. I didn't notice any particular engine roughness.

Due to a bad combination of ultra slow and ultra fast people in the lanes, I had to give it some gas going up a steepish hill on the freeway :( . I popped it into the CVT shift-down mode (am I getting the name correct for pressing the little "S" button?) and pressed down the gas pedal. I didn't get very far before the engine sputtered a little and made an "annoyed" noise, and refused to give me even as much acceleration as I would have without being shifted-down. The check-engine light came on, to boot. Interestingly, when I took it out of shift-down mode, it ran pretty close to normal. I tried shift-down mode again and the acceleration was still awful.

Fortunately, I had left the school I teach at early enough that it was between 4 and 4:30 pm when this happened. Plus, this was one of the two nights a week when my dealer's service department stays open until 8 pm. Coincidentally enough, at the time I ran into the engine problem, I just had passed the highway exit that leads to my dealership - there's another at the bottom of the other side of the hill, so I took it and looped back to the dealership.

All my engine sensors read clean - no problems. Yet the engine was still acting funny. The tech then remembered that he had encountered a few other scattered Insights that behaved similarly, and what solved their problem was an oil change. (Apparently, dirty oil and a bit of crud might have congested something somewhere in the system?) He didn't make any guarantees that would fix the problem, but it was worth a try. He changed the oil and my car's been running fine since.

Using the 3750-mile schedule, I wasn't due for an oil change for another 400 miles or so (which would put me right about into next week, so I was just going to take it in at the beginning of spring break the end of next week). I guess this was my car's way of saying, "I want clean oil now!" :D

Now, I am doubly resolved to get an oil change between the end of the school year and the beginning of a trip to Iowa (for a workshop) a few days after, just to play it safe.


So, anyone experienced something similar, or have any ideas, suggestions, whatever? Despite teaching physics for a living, I'm a bit of an auto-repair-illiterate. (What can I say? I focused on highly theoretical physics topics when I was a student,. I'm still learning the applied concepts. When I was a youth, my father tried to teach my a few auto repair things and it went in one ear and out the other.)
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All I can say to your helpful story is this: I (was) thinking that I could get away with 7,500 miles between oil changes. I drive in a very similar COLD climate (Northern Vermont). I have since decided to go with a 3750-5000 mile interval as to keep the engine cleaner.
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