How to Reduce Oil Consumption in Cars [Causes and Symptoms]

Your engine oil lubricates the interior parts of your engine system, so the various components can function effectively. When your engine oil is very low, the engine might stop functioning, and the effects will require a high cost of repairs. You might even have to replace your entire engine system. Hence, it is essential you know how to reduce high oil consumption in car to avoid dealing with the adverse effects.

Many reasons can attribute to excessive oil consumption by your engine. You need to immediately address this issue once detected. This article will show you the signs to note when your vehicle is consuming too much oil, the causes, and the best way possible to resolve this issue. You will need to also read further to know when oil consumption can be termed excessive.

Symptoms Of Too Much Oil Consumption

You need to be aware when your engine is consuming a lot of oil, so you will know if it’s safe to drive your vehicle. Failing to detect this issue on time can lead to unfavorable effects on your vehicle. In a few cases, it can ultimately damage the vehicle. Signs that show a high rate of engine oil consumption include;

why is my car using so much oil

Constant Low Level of Oil Gauge

When your vehicle’s engine is consuming a lot of oil, you will always notice your oil gauge is regularly reading low, even when you just refilled. Although this can occur due to other faults, you need to diagnose the actual cause of excessive oil reduction properly. You can compare your vehicle’s mileage on the odometer with your lube sticker to estimate the oil consumption rate in your vehicle.

Smell

The smell of burning oil is another indication to know if your vehicle engine is consuming a lot of oil. This means a fault in your engine system, either damaged gaskets, oil leakage, or piston rings. Faults like these cause the oil to flow into the combustion chamber, which is not normal. This will cause your engine to use up more oil. You will initially perceive this smell before any smoke comes out from your exhaust.

Smoke from Exhaust

Although you might perceive the smell first, smoke comes shortly after this. An excessive release of bluish smoke will come out from your exhaust. This mostly happens when you are idling your engine for a long while. This indicates a high level of oil consumption in your engine system, and damaged engine components mostly cause it. You need to know that you can experience high engine oil consumption no smoke.

So immediately, you perceive the smell. You do not need to wait for the smoke signal; your oil rings are likely to be faulty.

Clogged Oxygen Sensors and Spark Plugs

Any oil ash debris on your spark plugs or bad o2 sensors is one of the sure indicators that your engine is consuming an excessive amount of oil. Get this examined immediately.

What Causes A Car To Consume Too Much Oil?

Once you have detected a high oil consumption rate by your vehicle’s engine, you need to know what could have caused this problem before attempting to repair or fix this problem. It is imperative to be sure of the cause. Please do not guess the cause or causes.

You need to carry out a proper diagnosis first because you can fix the fault of this problem. If you are not sure of the actual cause, you might waste your time, energy, and money.

Non-recommended Engine Oil

Some car owners are not aware of the recommended oil to use for their vehicle engine, so they use a different oil. Using a non-recommended type of oil can negatively affect your engine system, reducing its efficiency and life span. This is probably the reason why you are experiencing a high oil consumption rate. You need to check your vehicle’s manufacturer’s manual to know the type of engine oil to use for your vehicle.

Irregular Oil Change

You need to regularly change your vehicle’s engine oil based on the manufacturer’s recommendation. If you can’t find this, I’ll advise you to service your vehicle at 5,000 kilometers from the last service date. When you use engine oil for more than the required kilometers, the oil will become dirty, contaminating other parts of some particles. It can cause significant engine components to wear out quickly. Failing to do this will also reduce the amount of oil in your engine system, and at this point, your engine will have more work; this is part of high engine oil consumption causes.

Age of The Engine

If you have an old engine system, you will most likely face this issue. An engine used for more than 120,000 miles must consume a lot of oil more than a new engine that has not been used for more than 30,000 miles. Several components of your engine system will wear out with time; that’s why every mechanical component needs to be regularly serviced.

Faulty Gaskets

Your engine gaskets help to avoid leaks by sealing-up mating engine parts. When you have damaged gaskets in your engine system, it will give room for oil to escape. This can lead to oil leaking from under your vehicle or being burnt in your combustion chamber.

This can also be seen when you have faulty valve guides or seals, which allows oil to enter the combustion chamber; it will create excess pressure due to the combination of gas and oil. The intake manifold gasket, crankshaft seal, or cover gasket, if faulty, can cause oil leakage in your vehicle.

Damaged Piston Rings

Oil is not meant to enter your combustion chamber, which is attributed to the piston rings’ function. A faulty piston ring will allow the oil to enter the chamber, which will affect your engine’s efficiency.

It can cause your vehicle to have a high gas mileage ratio. A damaged piston ring can allow gases to flow from the combustion to your crankcase. When this happens, these gasses will combine with oil, leading to a high oil consumption rate, which can lead to engine knocking once is oil stay below the gauge for a long time.

Vacuum Leakage

If your vehicle has vacuum leakages, engine oil can enter into your vehicle’s intake. This will cause an accumulation of carbon deposits that will stop the flow of air.

Style of Driving

How you drive your vehicle is another factor that can cause your engine to consume a high amount of oil. When you overwork your engine while driving, for instance, running at high speed or drifting, all these make your engine work very hard, and this will burn gas oil at a much faster rate. Sometimes, high oil consumption might be because of your driving style only. If this is the cause, you need to learn how to drive better to not overwork your engine.

Faulty Valve Guides or Seals

Your engine valves ensure that your engine system operates at high efficiency. The intake valves give room for the mixture of air and fuel in your engine cylinders, and your exhaust valves allow the burnt mixture to escape from the cylinders. The engine oil lubricates this system without entering your combustion chamber.

If you fail to regularly service your engine, the valves will become faulty, and oil will be allowed to flow into your combustion chamber. This is the primary reason why you notice bluish smoke coming out from your vehicle when you turn on the engine. A valve spring compressor can be used to remove and grand your head cylinder when you notice bluish smoke coming out.

Faulty Oil Cap or Filter

This type of fault can be responsible for your engine consuming a high amount of oil. If you have a damaged filter or cap, it will cause the oil to escape from the engine system, shortening the engine oil quantity in your vehicle’s system. All these will make your engine to consume more oil than usual.

How To Fix Oil Consumptions

Excess consumption of oil can sometimes require technical repairs. This is why you should leave some significant faults to the mechanic or automobile technician. However, there are several measures you can adopt to help you solve or reduce the chances of experiencing a high amount of oil consumption in your vehicle’s engine system:

how to stop engine from burning oil

Use Recommended Engine Oil

Most automobile manufacturers state the brand of engine oil to use in any of their manufactured vehicles. Before recommendation, the manufacturers make specific calculations and considerations to ensure they recommend the best oil to effectively serve your vehicle’s engine. So, one of the major factors on how to slow down the oil consumption rate is to use recommended engine oil.

Also, note that quality is also of utmost importance. When purchasing your engine oil, you have to make sure you scrutinize for quality. Poor quality engine oil can cause an accumulation of debris, and it will burn; the oil won’t be able to effectively lubricate the internal components of your engine system. This is probably another reason why you are experiencing a high rate of oil consumption in your vehicle.

Replace your engine oil at intervals

Like we stated above, overused engine oil can be responsible for your engine, consuming a high amount of oil to function. You need to make sure that you follow the recommended interval to change your oil; you can see this in the manufacturer’s manual. You need to know that no matter the quality of engine oil used, there is a stipulated amount of time to effectively carry out its function. This is why you must change your engine oil at the recommended date.
Regularly changing your oil at the stipulated time makes your vehicle’s engine perform better and even more efficient. It will remove the chances of a high oil consumption rate.

If you notice the oil in your engine system has a very dark color, this causes your engine to give black smoke through the exhaust. You need to get the engine oil replaced immediately. It’s very easy to carry-out. You just need a wrench, new engine oil, an oil filter, some car ramps, and roughly 15 minutes. You are done.

Replace or fix damaged engine parts

If you have damaged seals, gaskets, or piston rings in your engine system, then you should consider replacing these parts. These types of faults can cause severe oil leakage in your vehicle, which will drastically lower the amount of oil in your engine system.

When there is insufficient oil for your engine to work with, it will cause your engine to break down. These are relatively cheap replacements you can do, which you will benefit from in the long run.

You might need to examine your oil cap or filter. If you notice any minor damage, then you should replace it. You might need to have your air filter replaced. It is also an inexpensive repair that you can quickly carry out.

Repairing your PCV (Positive Crankcase Ventilation) system is also a straightforward and affordable approach that will quickly solve this problem. But repairs that involve changing your valve guides can be very expensive and challenging to carry-out. Please make sure you do not re-use parts that are completely damaged.

If you do not possess the technical know-how to fix or replace these components properly, kindly drive or tow your vehicle to the mechanic shop to help you with this. Improper tightening of your oil filter will end up solving nothing at all.

If your engine is ancient, then you need to consider replacing the engine. This type of repair will require thousands of dollars, but you can also consider selling your vehicle to purchase a higher car or a car of equal value. But If you feel the vehicle is worth it, you can change the entire engine system.

Replacing a few parts in an old engine system will not be able to do the trick. So, you should buy a new engine. You need to liaise with your mechanic if you plan on doing this.

How to diagnose engine oil consumption YouTube

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: How do you fix a car that burns oil?

When your vehicle burns oil, meaning there is a leak somewhere in your engine system. For oil consumption fix, you need to understand the specific cause of burning oil; this is very important to determine the next course of action. For internal problems of oil burning, the PCV system’s elements and hoses have to be replaced if this is the cause of the problem.

If the PCV valve is faulty, you can fix this by thorough cleaning of the valve by a professional mechanic. If you find any fault with your valve seals and guides, these also need to be replaced. For external oil burning, to fix is easy and straight forward. Tightening and securing the oil filter, oil filler cap, and oil drain plug are required. You can also replace these parts if they are severely damaged. The oil pan, valve cover gaskets may also need replacement to fix this problem.

Q: Does thicker oil reduce oil consumption?

In most cases, it does – but also at a price. Oil additives can be added to lighter oil and make it thicker. In my experience as a seasoned auto mechanic, I found out that Engine oil additives stop burning oil issues in cars, which will replace the one quart of oil that would be used normally. This will not hurt the worn-out engine, and with a good battery, it will turn over very fast.

Although thicker oil is also a terrible solution for modern vehicles, using oil that is way thicker than the recommended one will reduce fuel economy and a higher load on the car’s engine. It may even reduce the engine’s lifespan.

Q: Why is my vehicle losing oil, but there is no leak?

One of the most common cause is due to worn out of the internal engine components. The valve seals present in the engine could be leaking oil into it, which the engine burns, thereby causing oil reduction without any leakage. If there is no sign of leaking in the engine, and the PCV system is not faulty, that means your engine is wearing out from the inside. The oil burn will lead to damage to the engine.

You need to dismantle your engine and fix new piston rings to stop this problem. It could also be that the engine is burning enough oil due to the far distance covered by the car. A clogged crankcase ventilation system can also be the problem. When the crankcase is broken or seized, control of oil rings on the piston or the intake valve seals are also leaking. Any of these problems will cause the engine to consume oil without leaking.

Q: How much oil burn is normal?

Some car models are originally designed to function with a high oil consumption rate. A quart of oil burned every 1,200 to 1,400 miles is said to be acceptable. Also, for other brands of cars, a quart burnt every 500 to 800 miles is acceptable.

You should note that some high-performance vehicles will burn a quart of oil in less than 1,200 miles, which is considered normal. If your corporate car requires a quart every 3,200 miles or less, that could be a sign of excessive oil consumption.

Q: What can I consider to be a high or excessive engine oil consumption?

You have been using your vehicle for a while, so you should be familiar with your engine oil’s decrease rate. When you notice your engine oil decreases more than usual. Then it’s time to raise an eyebrow. However, you need to know that there are a few harmless causes that might be responsible, like your engine’s age or how frequently you engage in long trips.

The rate at which automobile engines consume oil varies. Most manufacturers specify the mileage figure for consumption. However, an average rate should be one quart for every 1,400 miles; this number might vary depending on the vehicle’s performance. You need to take note of the symptoms listed above.

Final Words

Hopefully, this article has answered your questions on why is my car using so much oil and how to reduce oil consumption in car. These are crucial pieces of information every car owner needs to have. If you need more knowledge on this topic, feel free to get in touch with us at any time.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a seasoned automotive technician for the past 9 years, and a technical writer. He loves writing about auto professional repair guides, DIY repair guides, and buyer’s guide. After spending six years in the automotive workshop, he decided to impact his knowledge to people aside his domain, and he has achieved this by centering his Automotive writing skills on REPAIRS.

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