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Understanding Why Your Car’s Engine Consumes So Much Oil

Your engine needs oil in order to keep its moving parts properly lubricated. Otherwise, the friction generated by those parts during its operation will cause expensive damage. Under normal circumstances, your vehicle should only need a single quart for every 2,500 to 3,000 miles. In fact, if you own a late model car, there’s a good chance your engine will need far less.

After years of driving, your car’s engine will begin to suffer wear and tear. As it does, the amount of oil it uses will increase. In a lot older vehicles that have an enormous number of miles, it’s not uncommon for the engine to use a quart every 1,500 miles. At that point, the consumption rate still doesn’t represent a major problem. However, by the time your car is going through a quart every 600 or 700 miles, it may be due for a trip to the repair shop.

If your engine is burning too much oil, it can potentially cause other problems. For example, your spark plugs may become fouled, which will eventually cause misfiring and rising emissions. Below, I’ll explain some of the factors that can lead to excessive oil consumption.

Factors That Cause Excess Consumption

One of the most common reasons vehicles burn too much oil is because of worn valve guides. When they wear down, a few problems can form. For example, the space between the guides and the valve stems can become greater. Or, the seals around the guides might break or crack. When these problems occur, oil can make its way into a cylinder’s combustion chamber. During the combustion process, the ignition of the fuel mixture will burn the oil.

If the seals around the valve guides have broken or become cracked, they can usually be replaced or repaired with little trouble. On the other hand, if your engine is burning oil because of worn piston rings, replacing them may be more time-intensive and problematic.

Is It Possible To Reduce The Burning?

Unfortunately, repairing or replacing worn valve guides and piston rings are usually the only reliable ways to fix an oil burning issue (aside from an expensive engine overhaul). That said, there are a few strategies you can use that may reduce the amount of burning. For example, consider using a motor oil with a higher viscosity. You can also look for special additives for the crankcase. Another option is to use a seal conditioner on the crankcase to help plug gaps left by a worn valve seal. It won’t completely plug the gaps, but may help.

Also, ask your mechanic if he can replace the worn seals without taking out the cylinder heads. It’s not always possible, but if it is, repairing the problem will be far less expensive than otherwise.