broken dipstick - blow out or leave in?

Discussion in 'Tech & Repair' started by benjamin graham, Oct 5, 2013.


  1. benjamin graham

    benjamin graham New Member

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    Hi all

    Earlier today, took my car in to a chain oil place, and 30 min later I was told my dipstick handle had broken off and they couldn't change the oil. Needless to say, I was quite irritated.

    But, now I'm trying to find out how to fix the problem. I can see the metal part of the dipstick still in the tube, so it hasn't dropped into the oil pan.

    I've read some threads mentioning using a magnet, but I tried that and it just isn't a strong enough hold. Leery of trying super glue because I don't want any to seep into the actual oil pan or to the sides of the tube.

    I've already bought a replacement dipstick and tube, but trying to get it out.

    I read somewhere blowing compressed air up the tube could potentially propel it out, but I'm not sure where to actually blow the air into. Anyone have any ideas on that, or any other techniques to try to get the broken dipstick out?

    Could I just push the old one down until it drops in the pan and then have a mechanic take it out when the oil is changed, or should I just leave it in there since it's secure in the tube and not letting any oil slosh up?

    Thanks
  2. DaveH

    DaveH FEOA Donator

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    If you already have a replacement dipstick and tube, the tube can be replaced. On the tube that's on your Escort, it's attached to the side of the engine block using a bolt(s). Remove the bolt(s) and pull straight upward on the tube to remove it. If the dipstick slides out of the old tube, it should still hang out of the side of the block. Grab it and remove it. Next, with your new tube, slide it into the hole it came from on the side of the engine block, push down to seat it into the hole and replace the bolt(s)
  3. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    You don't say what year your Escort is or what type of motor; i.e. 1.8L 1.9L, etc. I only know about the 1.9L engines in 2nd gen. Escorts; 91-96.
    Removing the dipstick tube is certainly a good way, IF it will agree to pull up and out of the block. I have rebuilt a 1.9L engine where the tube was too tight in the block to pull, and had to be driven up from below. On other engines I was able to twist it slightly and pull it up.
    I doubt you would be able to push the old dipstick down into the oil pan, since it would be too long to fall completely into the pan, or if you did get it shoved down, it would be too long to lie in the oil pool without sticking up to interfere with the spinning crankshaft.
    Depending on how far down into the tube the broken dipstick is, a pair of the locking clamps called 'hemostats', might be able to grab it. They are like the very long needle nosed pliers, but smaller; were originally used for clamping off arteries in surgery. I have seen them for sale in some auto parts places, and I think Harbor Freight has them. They are very handy to have in the tool box.
    www.harborfreight.com/catalogsearch/result?q=hemostat , then scroll down the page. But in that case, you shouldn't use the car till you get the hemostat, since it might slide lower and out of reach.

    Another way would be to pull the oil pan off, and pull the dipstick out the bottom.

    Im wondering where you got the replacement tube and dipstick?

    On the early 1.9L engines in 2nd gen Escorts, the dipstick came out to the side of the motor on the passenger side of the car, and it took a little care to slide back in - or it could get kinked. Staring in about 93 they brought the dipsstick up behind the motor between the 2nd and 3rd intake manifold tube: A much better location where you didn't have to flex the dipstick when getting it out and back in again.
    zzyzzx likes this.
  4. benjamin graham

    benjamin graham New Member

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    Hey, thanks for the replies.

    Sorry, it's a 2003 Escort ZX2 -- I'm not sure of the engine type.

    I'm going to try the hemostat idea this afternoon, if I can find a pair. The dipstick is very near the top of the tube ... I can touch the top of it with the tip of my finger. I think the plastic handle just popped off.

    Since I've ordered the replacement tube and dipstick (I got it on eBay ... says it's OEM Ford, and the picture looked exactly like mine, so I'm hoping it'll work), should it be okay to drive around until I can have it replaced? It's not overdue for an oil change or anything but I was a little worried with the handle off if there was any possibility of damage by oil coming up the tube. Since the dipstick is still in the tube near the top, I'm hoping it'll be okay to drive. I have to drive about 300 miles roundtrip Tuesday morning and I know the replacement won't be here by then, so I'm wondering if it will be okay to drive. Really don't want to have to go out and get a rental car.

    I also ordered replacement front CV axles so hoping to just be able to have those installed along with the dipstick in one trip to the mechanic.
  5. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    I doubt any oil will be coming up from the dipstick tube. On my 2nd gen Escorts there isnt much if any oil around the top of the tubes, even though the dipstick handles dont have a seal in them. I dont know if there was any seal there when new - but if so its long gone.
    On the dipsticks in my Escorts there is a section just below the handle where the dipstick is bent in a 'wave', maybe to make it flexible when inserting. You might want to try bending a paper clip or other short piece of steel rod into a 'hook' to try to get it caught on the wavy section of the dipstick to pull it up; something along the line of a crochet needle shape.
  6. ShakeZilla19

    ShakeZilla19 My name is ^^^

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    I just leave my dip stick in the trunk;), because my strut bar is in the way. No oil has ever came out of the tube.
  7. zzyzzx

    zzyzzx FEOA Member

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    As per denisond3 I would try surgical clamps first. I have used them for stuff like this and they have worked for me just fine.
  8. benjamin graham

    benjamin graham New Member

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    Great, thanks everyone for the advice.

    Took it in today to the mechanic for the CV axle and he confirmed what everyone said -- ended up getting it out and changing the oil.

    Another question -- I'd been told about 4 months ago the left CV axle needed replacing. When I turn the steering wheel left, especially at lower speeds, there is a very loud click-crack-click-crack, metallic sound. So I originally quoted me $185 for the axle replacement and that would solve the problem.

    Today, a second mechanic told me it actually was the front struts and mounts that were totally gone -- one apparently (the front left) is literally wobbling back and forth when I turn the wheel and all the rubber (I guess) is gone. He said those needed replacing ASAP and that the axle didn't look that bad at all. He found a "pinprick" hole the left boot but said that wasn't the major problem. He quoted $585 for replacing both front struts and mounts (said I couldn't do just one).

    Does this sound at all reasonable? Just wanting to get whatever is wrong fixed because both the axle mechanic and the strut mechanic have told me my wheel could fall off.
  9. zzyzzx

    zzyzzx FEOA Member

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    Take a picture of the upper front strut mounts and post them here. You can see them when you open the hood.
  10. FordMan59

    FordMan59 FEOA Member

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    $585. sounds high to a person who does their own work like me, but in reality it might not be all that bad considering the cost of 2 new struts/mounts, labor and a wheel alignment that would be necessary after replacing the struts. Your mechanic was correct in telling you both struts need to be replaced at the same time.
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  11. zzyzzx

    zzyzzx FEOA Member

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    IIRC clicking sound while turning left means the right side (passenger side) axle is going bad.
    Clicking sound while turning right means left side (driver side) axle is going bad. If you get them replaced, you want new ones, not rebuilt!!!
  12. LariRudi

    LariRudi FEOA Donator

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    Edit; it keeps happening to me................ paragraphs keep getting "lined out" when I don't do that to the font.............. it's NOT intended to be lined out; sorry]

    zzyzzx, was it you suggested photo? I agree........ that's number one.

    Then get our opinion based on that photo.....

    THEN check some of your "well known" and "dependable" places of repair and "shop for price" AND make sure they're comparing apples with apples; brand and quality of struts and if it includes alignment or not.

    Good Luck; to me that's a "lot of money", but in your area it still might be fair, OR high, or......?

    LarryR
  13. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    I have replaced just one of the front struts, and it worked out fine; though as a general rule, if one is worn out, the other is too. I replaced the other side strut about a year later. I didnt do a re-alignment at either time, other than to measure that the "toe-in" was close to zero, as the specs call for, and adjust the tie-rod to obtain that. I did the measurement with a length of white twine; because the Escorts front and rear wheel track is the same width. Now 40,000 miles later, I think I will increase the toe-in by turning one of the tie rods about 1/3 of a turn, due to the tire wear being greater on the insides of the tires tread pattern versus the outer sides. But that is after 40k miles of driving.
    I would argue that replacing a CV axle is something that should be done on on both sides also. Its easy for me to say it, since I do all of my own work, and a pair of new struts only involves a cost of about 130$. I also check my ball joints, tie rods and wheel bearings at the same times of course.
  14. Intuit

    Intuit FEOA Member

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    Needle-nose pliers from electronics toolkits are...
    http://www.amazon.com/Silverline-Needle-Electronics-Pliers-150Mm/dp/B000LFXAFQ
    ...perhaps small enough to fit in the tube, and perhaps long enough to reach the dipstick.

    If there's an eyelet on the end of that dipstick probe, presumably where the cap latched on to it, you may be able to fashion a small hook on the end of some "hanger wire" and go a fish'n...
  15. 4cylinder

    4cylinder FEOA Member

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    585 is too much to pay for new struts and the installation of the new strut mounts. Those mounts do wear out and do cause the sound you describe. They are not hard to change out on the zx2. IIRC autozone charges approximately $30 each for these. I would guess that the shop is charging this much because of the hours it says it takes and the cost of an alignment once those parts are replaced. Still very high though. If you lived close to me I would help you with this and have it done in a couple hours.
  16. zzyzzx

    zzyzzx FEOA Member

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    I paid about $20 each for rear strut mounts for my 1995LX last winter. One was off Amazon, one off of eBay. Monroe brand and made in USA.
  17. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    I could imagine $585 might an honest price, based on them buying quick struts (at list price, not a discount price) & doing the 'alignment' afterward. I could imagine the price could go higher if they find you have worn ball joints or tie rod ends when they get things apart.
    I know the prices we pay for parts is usually a lot less than the price the repair shop passes on to a customer. (Since I do my own repairs, I'm going by what I see on the invoices I see from people who do pay for shop work).
    I can also understand a shop declining to install the parts a customer brings in - due to problems like only installing a strut, not a strut top, or a new spring; and the other stuff that might affect the shop's liability.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2013

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