Have you recently noticed that your car burns oil faster than it used to?
It's not abnormal for an engine to lose oil, especially as the years and kilometres rack up on your car. Burning oil too quickly, however, increases friction between the moving parts. If left unchecked, the extra heat released in the process could distort the shape of the engine or even cause fusing of components.
If you ever notice that your car is burning oil, right then you'll want to get to the root of the problem. It might just be a minor fault—one that could be managed by a change of oil. Sometimes, it’s a more serious one that requires an almost instant repair.
At Carpart.com.au, we want to advocate keeping your vehicle healthy. We’ve compiled helpful articles, and this one focuses on possible reasons why your engine burns oil fast and how to manage the situation while you can’t yet bring it to a shop for repair.
Why Would an Engine Burn Oil?
Listed below are some common causes of oil burn in engines. Meanwhile, you will need to understand your car's everyday oil consumption to be able to notice the abnormal.
1. Engine Oil Leak
An engine oil leak can be major or minor. You can’t miss a major leak because of the oil's colour and viscous properties. Besides, it will most likely leave a big, annoying, black puddle underneath your car. A small leak, on the other hand, might not show signs. The car might even be running fine and without the oil indicator lights triggered.
Here are occurrences that could indicate a possible oil leak:
- Abnormal drops during the regular dipstick check.
- A burning smell when you open the hood at running temperature
Leaky oil would coagulate on metal components like valve covers and exhaust manifold. When these components get hot, the oil gets heated up too. That’s where the burning smell comes from.
Some of the most common hideouts for leaks that result in burning oil include oil cooler lines, oil filler caps, oil pans and gaskets, oil filters, and gaskets or seals.
2. Faulty Piston Rings
If your engine is wearing out on the inside, the engine is likely to consume more oil than usual. Piston rings are designed in such a way that they rub against the walls of the cylinders, keeping oil in the crankcase and the combustion mixture in the cylinders. With worn-out pistons, the oil can get past the crankcase and get into the combustion chamber where it mixes with gasoline and is burnt off. If this sounds like your car, one possible solution would be installing new piston rings.
3. Blown Gasket Head
The gasket head is the component that forms a seal between the engine block and the cylinder head. If it gets blown, your vehicle will likely begin to consume fuel abnormally.
4. Damaged PCV Valve
The Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) system is designed to protect the crankcase and all its moving parts from pressure, heat, and friction. Overtime, however, pressure can build up inside the crankcase. This causes combustion gases to be forced past the piston rings and into the crankcase.
Sometimes, the PCV valve gets clogged up, causing the engine to consume oil and burn internally. Or in another case, pressure can build up in the crankcase which eventually forces oil inside it past the gasket, resulting in an engine leak.
What Oil Is Best for a Car that Burns Oil?
This is a tricky question to answer because it depends on the reason why your engine is burning oil. For some of these reasons, an oil change is not a permanent fix. It can buy you some extra time before replacing the faulty part, but oil change will not solve your car’s oil burning problem. Going by this option could even lead to serious engine damage.
So, hopefully, it’s clear to you that it’s not always a question of which oil to use.
If your high-mileage car loses oil, you still should get to the root of the problem. Having addressed the problem, you may then use high mileage oils. These oils contain additives and conditioners that help combat engine oil sludge, general engine wear and tear, and soften hardened seals that could cause leaks.
Some excellent oils to use are:
- 05W-30 Synthetic High Mileage Oil
- 10W-30 Synthetic Motor Oil
- 05W-20 Synthetic Blend
How Do You Know That Your Car Burns Oil?
You can easily monitor your regular oil change by the car's odometer or with a calendar. Detecting an engine burning oil is a little trickier. Below are a few methods to find out if your car burns oil:
- Check the exhaust smoke – blue-ish smoke coming from your car's exhaust pipe while the engine is running is a sign of oil burning.
- Observe the exhaust smoke odour – an engine that burns oil produces higher emissions. This emission produces oil-burn smell which doesn’t occur under normal conditions. A car under this condition will also not pass an emissions test due to high hydrocarbon emission.
- Check the engine while running – see if it is misfiring or running rough. An engine that is burning oil will soil and foul the spark plugs, causing it to run rough.
- Inspect the spark plugs – use a spark plug wrench to remove the spark plug and examine the spark plug. An oily or wet spark plug terminal is a sign of oil burning. To ensure an accurate diagnosis, you may first replace the spark plug and wire. Do this for each spark plug, and if they get soiled after running the engine for a while, you know your car burns oil.
To drive around with a car that’s oil-short is to risk losing your engine. Therefore, check the oil level regularly and make every effort to avoid operating your vehicle if its oil is low. Also, be very observant of every sound and behaviour of the engine to notice quickly when your car burns oil.
Once you discover a fault, replace necessary parts or components immediately. If you do this, your car will live longer. To make searching parts quick, you may want to use Carpart’s Auto Part Finder! It’s fast. It’s efficient. It’s free to use.
By Damilare Olasinde