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Car Burning Oil – How To Reduce Engine Oil Consumption

by Kelvin Yates

Naturally, we can say that the engine is the beating heart of a car. Similarly, engine oil is vital for the longevity and performance of the engine. Car burning oil is not normal. But what exactly is the normal amount? And what are the causes for your car burning oil excessively?

If you notice that your car is burning oil much more than it used to, you should get it checked immediately. If the problem dwells for a longer period in your engine, irreparable damage is almost certain. The problem for why your car is burning oil could range from a quick fix to a serious repair.

Burning oil is mostly seen in older cars. With age and a ton of miles on the engine, wear is imminent. When wear is present in the engine, oil consumption is going to increase. If you own a newer car and your car is burning through the oil every time you refill it there are countless culprits which could cause an increase in engine oil consumption.

Different cars are going to burn engine oil at a different rate. Understanding what amount of engine oil it requires should give you an idea of whether it is burning more oil than ordinary. On the other hand, you cannot set unrealistic expectations and complain that your car is burning oil.

Why Is Engine Oil Important

All engines rely on oil. Car owners should know why it is important and what it does to your engine. A vehicle’s engine depends on fuel and oil to function. Your car burns oil and fuel in the process.

Imagine your bones. They are all in contact with each other right. Now, if they can’t operate smoothly, every time you lift your arm, you have to overcome the friction as it screeches when in contact with every bit of calcium in your body. This is exactly how the engine will feel without oil. So what does engine oil provide to the engine? There are actually many reasons for us to use engine oil.

Reduces Friction

Engine lubrication is critical. it protects engine components from wear. All those huge metal blocks moving inside the engine are going to be in contact with each other on most occasions. Imagine metal on metal grinding every time you start your engine. The grinding could destroy your engine.

Engine oil

Motor oil lubricates and covers your metal with a layer of oil. This way metal on metal contact is reduced. This allows your engine to run smoothly.

Acts As A Coolant

Because the engine oil prevents friction, naturally it starts to act as a coolant as well. Unlike the metal components inside the engine, motor oil is a liquid and an insulator. This allows it to reduce the heat transfer from one part to another inside the engine. Therefore, motor oil doubles somewhat as a pseudo-coolant for your car’s motor.

Cleans Your Engine

When your engine works it leaves a ton of residue. Here the viscosity of the engine oil comes into action. When the high viscous fluid flows through the engine it drags all the dirt and debris along with it. As a result, it ends up constantly cleaning your engine by removing all the impurities.

Protects From Rusting

With all oxygen constantly entering the engine and with the presence of metal your engine is prone to rust. Here again, comes engine oil to the rescue. It is manufactured in a way that is capable of protecting your engine from rust.

By doing all of the above the engine oil helps to improve the engine’s performance, fuel efficiency, and longevity And when considering all the chores your engine oil is responsible for it gives a sense of how important it is for an engine to function. Even after considering the importance, it is going to be a real inconvenience to change your engine oil regularly if your car is burning oil.

Car Burning Oil? What Amount Is Considered Normal

A car burning oil is common, it is the amount that bothers most people tough. The oil is not intended to be inside the combustion chamber. But it needs to circulate and thus lubricating every inch around it. This includes the valves and pistons around the combustion chamber. During the process, some oil does find its way inside the combustion chamber and burnt when the piston compresses. When the amount is just a tiny bit, this is totally normal.

In general, any car manufactured after the 2000s will require an oil change every 3000 to 5000 miles. Meanwhile, some modern automobiles can run up to 10,000 miles before needing an oil change. This is all due to advances in sciences and automotive technology. Every single day developments made in these fields are giving us much more durable, comfortable cars. Literally making our lives so much easier. On average newer cars require an oil change between 5000 and 7500 miles.

There are a few exceptions to consider as well. Some car brands or specific models of them are known for excess oil consumption. BMW, Audi, Subaru, and Chevrolet are among the well-known brands which consist of specific car models that face oil consumption issues. Some of these car manufacturers even had lawsuits filed against them.

If your car has less than 50,000 miles under its hood and if it burns a quart of oil for less than 3000 miles, then your car is burning oil at a high rate. After your mileage goes above 75,000 or 100,000 miles, excessive oil consumption should be expected.

Why Is Your Car Burning Oil

If you have a new car and you need to change the oil every 1000 miles, then there is something wrong with your engine. There could be many reasons for your car burning oil. Most can be easily spotted, so if find out that your car is burning too much oil, get it fixed. Here are some of the top reasons why your car might be burning oil.

Worn Gaskets

If your crankshaft has worn out or damaged seals or valve cover gaskets, your car might be leaking oil through those seals. If this happens whenever you drive, your engine is going to be leaking oil. This will end up with you toping up the liquids every now and then.

If you suspect worn gaskets are the reason why your car is burning oil, get them replaced. Replacing gaskets isn’t going to be expensive and will definitely end up saving you money in the long run. Leaking oil this way is not going to cause engine damage, but you will need to spend on engine oil frequently. If you miss the mark and your reserves run dry, then you would be looking at some serious engine damage.

PCV System Block

Your PCV system or positive crankcase ventilation is a system that contains one-way valves. It keeps the fuel-air mixture that enters your engine in place. It keeps it from escaping into the crankcase.

If your PCV system is blocked, it is going to cause a build-up of pressure in the crankcase. This would cause your seals and gaskets to blow and let the engine oil enter the combustion chamber. Mixed with the fuel and oxygen your oil is going to get burnt inside as well.

The good news is that PCV valves are really easy to replace and cheap as well.

Quality Of Engine Oil

Every car is going to have a recommended engine oil quality. Most of the time, it is based on the viscosity of the oil. Unless you use the recommended oil, excess oil consumption is expected.

Other than this, if you use unbranded oil or if your oil has sat on your engine for long periods of time, it is going to burn at a higher rate. Old oil would have definitely accumulated much more dirt over time and this causes it to burn.

Other than the fact it burns if your oil isn’t up to par, it won’t be able to do its job. Your engine won’t be lubricated properly and this could cause more damage.

If your oil is black or dark brown in color get it replaced. It is an easy job requiring the most basic tools. It will take 30 minutes at best so get it done as soon as possible.

Worn Out Piston Rings

The piston rings are the seal between the cylinder bores and the pistons. They make sure to keep your oil away from the cylinders as much as possible. At the same time, it allows effective lubrication surrounding your pistons.

If you have worn out or damaged piston rings, the oil will be able to seep through them and then enter the internal combustion chamber. This is will cause carbon deposits on the piston rings and cylinders.

When these wear out and let oil flow inside the cylinders, you’ll be able to a bluish smoke when you try to accelerate.

There is no easy fix for this. You can try to get your piston rings replaced but in some cases, this will require a complete engine rebuild.

Increased Oil Pressure

When the oil pressure is high, it is going to force its way through the gaskets and seals and enter the pistons. This would definitely cause an increase in engine oil usage.

Increased oil pressure usually occurs due to 2 reasons. One is your onboard computer is faulty and it is sending excess oil to flow through the engine. The second reason is that you filled the reserves with more oil than required. This too will cause an increase in oil pressure and end up burning more oil than usual.

Type Of Oil Used

Yes, this too could cause an increase in oil consumption. This is true if you use synthetic oils.

It is true that synthetic oils are better at engine lubrication than conventional oil. But synthetic oil is made of much finer particles than conventional oil. This causes a difference in flow patterns and could cause the oil to seep through much tighter gaps.

If you have an older engine, the slightest wear could allow synthetic oils to leak through the smallest spots of wear. If this is the case, switching to conventional oil could reduce the rate your car burns oil.

Your Driving Style

The way you drive could also contribute to why your car is burning oil. If you accelerate regularly, run the engine at high RPMs, drive at high speeds, or travel a lot through inclines, all of these could affect the rate at which your car burns oil.

Generally, if you overwork your engine, it will be thirstier than usual. Try not to overwork your engine. Learn to shift your gear at the right time.  Improper driving, though it is not a huge factor it certainly affects the rate of engine oil burning.

What Type Of Oil Should You Use To Prevent Car Burning Oil?

Synthetic oil is often costlier than conventional oil. If you are a conventional oil user you might be asking, why pay more for synthetic oil? Experts say synthetic oil is much better for the environment as it reduces hazardous gas emissions. Upon visualizing both synthetic and conventional oils it is hard to spot the differences.

Traditionally natural oils are a direct derivative from crude oil. While synthetic oil is manmade to better suit the requirements of the engine. Nowadays, many manufacturers recommend synthetic oil over conventional oil.

Advantages Of Synthetic Oil

When paying 6 to 10 times the price of conventional oil to purchase synthetic oil, you might wonder what good is it for your engine apart from the fact that it is better for the environment. Synthetic oil was first developed in 1929. With new technology and access to resources, it has been refined to accommodate jets, high-performance vehicles, and everyday consumer vehicles.

The uniform molecular size of synthetic oil gives a better reduction in friction inside the engine. It is engineered so that it can perform well in hot and cold temperatures. It is cleaner than conventional oil as it contains fewer impurities. Other than these, it leaves less residue in the engine and provides better cleaning as it flows through the engine.

With all these advantages, you might be tempted to use synthetic oil over conventional oil. But there is another side to the story as well.

Disadvantages Of Synthetic Oil

Yes, synthetic oil produces fewer emissions. This could protect the ecosystem. But it is equally bad, or according to some studies, much worse to the environment if not disposed of correctly. Before throwing away your engine oil if it is synthetic, you must think twice about it.

Other than this, another common issue with synthetic oils is that they don’t suit older cars or worn-out engines. The problem with older cars is the seals aren’t tight enough. The same could be seen with worn-out engines. These small gaps would allow the smaller particles of synthetic oil to leak where the larger particles of conventional oil will not.

The oil you use actually depends on the car you use and the age of it. Also, before switching oils, consider looking at the manufacturer’s guide. In this case, it is better to stick by the book.

Car Burning Oil, How To Stop It?

If your car is burning oil, this is the question that will be on your mind all the time. How to stop your car from burning oil? Now that we know how to identify a car burning oil and the reasons for it, let us see how to reduce your oil consumption.

Use The Recommended Engine Oil

Most automobile manufacturers perform numerous tests on their engines before putting them on the market. This includes the best type of engine oil for the engine of the car.  They perform certain calculations to figure out which type of oil will suit the needs of the engine and also which will give the longest life period.

After the testing is over, then they come to a conclusion. This is how they recommend the best possible motor oil for your engine. So, one of the major factors on how to slow down the oil consumption rate is to use recommended engine oil.

Before purchasing the engine oil, it is best to check the quality of the engine oil. Look for an API (American Petroleum Institute) standard approval in the label. Poor quality engine oil can cause an accumulation of debris, and it will burn. It will not be able to effectively lubricate your engine either.

Replace Oil At Regular Intervals

Overused engine oil can cause your engine to burn more oil than normal. According to the manufacturer’s manual, there will be a recommended interval for an oil change. No matter the quality of the oil, after it serves its purpose, it will start to burn excessively.

A regular oil change will allow your engine to perform at its best. This will also lubricate your engine better and allow it to run smoother. Thinking about it long-term, by changing oil at regular intervals, you can save your engine from wear. This will protect it from burning oil in the long run as well.

You can easily identify an overused oil by taking a look at the exhaust. Dark black fumes usually mean that it is time to replace your engine oil.

Choosing Oil According To Your Climate

Yes, climate can affect your engine oil. Depending on whether you live in a colder climate or a warm climate your engine oil can be chosen accordingly. It all depends on the viscosity.

If you live in colder areas you should choose oils with lower viscosity such as 0W30 or 0W40. On the other hand, if you are living in a hotter climate you might want to choose an oil with higher viscosity such as 10w40 or 20w50.

Replace Damaged Engine Parts

The last thing you could do is to change your old part to newer ones. No matter which kind of oil you use, if your engine parts are broken or worn out, you are going to leak oil through those gaps.

Gasket replacement

If you have damaged seals, gaskets, or piston rings in your engine system, then you should consider replacing these parts. This will burn through your oil so quickly that you could run dry before you even notice it.

If your engine runs out of oil, your engine is done. It’ll break down sooner rather than later. These fixes are relatively much cheaper than replacing or rebuilding an engine. It is best to get them done before you get into deeper trouble.

Oil Consumption and Burning: What You Need to Know

  1. Cars that burn oil or have internal oil leaks may cause engine failure and other problems such as a slipping clutch, unpleasant odors, and reduced catalytic converter performance.
  2. Oil consumption leads to air pollution, with high levels of hydrocarbons and particulates in the atmosphere, which contribute to emissions, damage catalytic converters, and oxygen sensors, and add to environmental pollution.
  3. Oil leaks are bad, but internal leaks caused by valve seal leaks or failures may be less noticeable and result in reduced oil levels.
  4. Gaskets and seals near high-heat areas of the engine are more susceptible to wear and leakage, including the valve cover, oil pan, timing chain cover, and crankshaft seals.
  5. A low-quality valve stem seal can lead to spark plug fouling, increased hydrocarbon emissions, and debris build-up in oil passages, lifters, and rockers.
  6. Piston ring-pack deposits and cylinder wall oil evaporation can increase oil consumption and result in the loss of oil control and lubrication.
  7. Oil consumption contributes to hydrocarbon emissions and the development of particulate deposits, which can result in increased emissions that contain higher levels of hydrocarbon.
  8. By using the right valve stem seal materials, you can improve the durability and longevity of seals and reduce oil consumption.
  9. Some brands offer a product that helps repair leaking valve seals and reduce oil consumption. It can be used with all types of oil and is suitable for cars that consume one quart or less of oil per day.
  10. There are two basic types of valve stem oil seals: umbrella seals and positive seals. Positive seals are more effective at controlling emissions and oil flow and are required in most late-model engines.

Car Burning Oil – Summary

All things considered, having to change the engine oil regularly can be a real hassle. If you can’t keep up with engine oil demands due to your car model you might consider switching it for a different ride. Because if it is a model that burns excess oil there is not a lot of things you can do about it.

If you can identify the symptoms that your car is showing you can get to the bottom line on why your engine is burning oil. After that, it is just a matter of fixing it.

If you have an older car your options are limited. It is going to have wear and leaks throughout the engine. Swapping a newer engine is not always a good idea. One option you do have is to try using a high viscous oil. This will make it harder for the thicker oil to seep through small gaps. This could slightly increase the life span of your oil.

No matter how much your car is burning oil make sure to pour new engine oil when needed. Never allow the engine of your car to run dry. An oil change is much more affordable than an engine rebuild.

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