If your engine is using too much oil, you, your auto repair shop or a mechanic need to find out why.  When a vehicle is operating as it should, you should not ever need to add much oil.

If you need to add a quart or greater between oil changes, you have an issue.

Lucky for you, most of the likely oil consumption problem areas can be repaired by an auto repair shop.  Let’s look at a few common issues and what they likely are being caused by.

So the car is using more oil than it should…but is there smoke?  If there is no smoke coming from your exhaust, but the oil level keeps being a little low, even after topping it off, you are likely looking at one of the following problems:

  • You may have a PCV system that is not functioning properly.  This would require a PCV valve replacement.
  • You may be experiencing mechanical problems with your engine.  If you think you may be having engine problems, you need to check the compression to find out your engine’s condition.
  • Your engine valve seals could be bad.  In most cases you will need to take your vehicle in to an auto repair shop to have the valve seals replaced.
  • You need to have a look at your engine’s seals and gaskets.  If they are damaged they will require you to get them replaced.

If your problem is high oil consumption with no exhaust smoke and your coolant looks foamy and brownish in color, your problem is probably one of these three issues:

  • You could be looking at a blown head gasket.  If it is, you will need to get that replaced.
  • A cracked cylinder head can also cause the symptoms described.  With a cracked cylinder head you can remove and either repair the cracked head or replace the cylinder head completely.
  • You may have a problem with oil leaking into the water cooler.  There are some systems that circulate your oil in a line that runs through a coolant filled chamber.  With a system like this, you could have an oil leak in the line allowing it to mix right into your cooling system.

If your engine is using too much oil and you have evident puddles or pools under the car, it doesn’t matter if you have exhaust or not.  This is an obvious leak and be aware you need to really keep on top of keeping your oil level up until you can get the necessary auto repair.  Here are three common causes of this type of leak.

  • The PCV system may be faulty.  You need to have your vehicle’s PCV system checked and properly repaired.
  • Your engine seals and gaskets may be your problem.  The best way to determine if you have damaged gaskets and seals is to take a good close look at them.  If you see evidence of leakage, replace your gaskets and seals as needed.
  • Your trouble area could be the oil filter.  If the oil filter is not properly tightened, you could be leaking.  You may be able to tighten the filter that is already in place, but you may choose to replace the oil filter altogether.

When you know you are burning too much oil and you can see the smoke coming from your exhaust, you already know you have a problem.  If you also notice that your engine seems to be lacking some power as well, you may be dealing with one of the following areas of auto repair.

  • Again, this may be indicative of a malfunctioning or faulty PCV system.  If you have a clog you may be getting some massive oil blow-back.  If this occurs, your oil is being sucked straight through your air intake and you definitely need to replace your PCV valve.
  • A compression check on the engine can help you determine if your engine has a mechanical issue.  If you have poor compression, the necessary repair could range from something quick and simple all the way up to massive leaks from your head gasket, the rings or any other number of places.  I recommend you take your vehicle in to a trusted mechanic that will get things fixed right the first time.
  • Worn piston rings can allow the engine’s oil to seep through.  If oil is detected on the wrong side of your piston rings you could have a worn ring.  It could also be a more serious problem, such as a badly worn or grooved cylinder wall.  You may want to seek a professional auto repair shop to help you out with this one.
  • The last possible cause of the scenario described above is worn valve seals.  Much like a leaking piston ring, a worn or bad valve seal will allow oil to get through to areas that can create problems.  The necessary repair at this point is usually one that requires a professional.  Replacing valve seals is not for a novice mechanic.

The professionals at Sanford’s Automotive Service would love to help you with your auto repair troubles.  We are located at 7917 Wilson Blvd. in Columbia, SC.  We provide superior automotive service and customer service to drivers throughout the area.  To set an appointment or for more information on getting the auto repairs you need, please call our ASE Certified Master Mechanic Mike Sanford at 803-735-7902.  We would be proud to serve you!