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Car Burning Oil But Not Leaking – Why Are Your Oil Levels So Low?

Car Burning Oil But Not Leaking

Car burning oil but not leaking? If your oil levels are low after recently adding oil to the motor, your car could be burning oil. For older vehicles that have reached the hundred thousand mile mark, it is completely normal for the engine to consume more oil than usual. As the engine wears it will require additional oil to thoroughly lubricate all of its components. 

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE


Sometimes an oil change is all you need for the proper oil levels to be restored. However, when the car is burning oil but not leaking there could be a serious problem with your engine. What should you do?


Signs That Your Car Burning Oil But Not Leaking

What are some clear signs that your car is burning but not leaking? Most of the time when there are problems within your engine or the cooling system there are usually telltale signs. One thing you should do is monitor your engine’s performance. Is the engine running rough? Or perhaps you’ve noticed that your engine has begun misfiring,


You should also inspect the spark plugs. You can use a spark plug wrench to remove every one of the spark plugs so that you can examine them. An engine that is burning oil will foul the spark plugs. Check to see if the spark plugs are oil, sooty or wet from oil residue.  


If they are then you’ll know for sure that your car is burning oil. Make sure you properly reconnect all the spark plugs because your engine won’t be able to turn if you don’t. 


Car Burning Oil But Not Leaking – How Much Oil Is too Much Oil

Since most auto manufacturers don’t provide any guidance on this problem you might wonder if your car burning oil but not leaking is normal in every engine? The truth is that what may be normal for one engine could be excessive for another vehicle. According to BMW, it’s normal for their engines to burn at least a quart of oil in less than a thousand miles. In cars made by General Motors, it's normal for their engines to burn a quart of oil every two thousand miles. 


As a general rule of thumb if your engine has less than fifty thousand miles on it you shouldn’t be using more than a quart of motor oil between oil changes. Check your oil levels every five hundred miles. If you’ve lost a quart of oil within five hundred miles you should have your car serviced immediately.


 If your need to keep adding oil to the motor every 3,000 miles or less there could be internal problems within the engine. In recent years, cars have been designed with engines that use lower viscosity oils which means they are thinner and more likely to slip through the gaskets and seals. 


Car Burning Oil But Not Leaking – Don’t Rule Out An Engine Oil

If your car has been running well for the most part but your low oil pressure light flashed on it’s a good idea to perform a dipstick test. If the oil level is low you’ll need there could be a small engine leak that isn’t visible to the untrained eye. If your car was leaking a lot of oil you would leave a big black or brown puddle underneath your car.


 Even a small oil leak could cause the engine to lose a considerable amount of oil over time. It would leak from the engine onto the valve covers and the manifolds in the exhaust. You wouldn’t know that something was wrong with your engine until you notice something was wrong with your engine.


Before your blood pressure rises a small leak doesn’t mean you’ll have to go out and replace the entire engine. If the leaks are small then likely the head gasket isn’t leaking too bad, at least not yet. You should make sure you’re keeping track of your oil levels and add more when necessary your engine isn’t in danger of failing. 


Car Burning Oil But Not Leaking – What Should I Do?

Once you’ve noticed that your engine has been consuming an excessive amount of oil you should check to see if there is any smoke coming from the tailpipe. If so, what color is it? If blue smoke is coming from the tailpipe is a major sign that your vehicle isn’t just burning gas. 


Even if you don’t see blue-tinted smoking coming from the exhaust, there’s something wrong with your car’s engine or cooling system. In some instances, a simple tuneup could fix the issue, however further in-depth repairs might be necessary.


 Of course, the first thing you should do is take your car to an experienced mechanic to confirm that you don’t have a leak. Being informed on how much oil is too much for your vehicle to be consuming can help you determine whether your engine is burning excessive amounts of oil and whether you will need to have it serviced. 


Car Burning Oil But Not Leaking – Is It The Head Gasket or PCV Valve?

An engine that’s burning excessive amounts of oil is usually due to a bad head gasket or PCV valve failure. The head gasket is the most important gasket in the engine responsible for sealing the cylinders and preventing coolant and motor oil from seeping into the engine. The head gasket is also designed to allow the engine to produce enough power to move the car. 


How Do I Know If It’s the Head Gasket?

The head gasket seals the passages in the cylinder head which transport the oil into and out of the valve train. When the head gasket goes oil won’t be able to move to the engine block and into the cylinder head. You’ll notice that your car starts to idle poorly. 

Another sign of head gasket failure is when the coolant gets into the engine oil supply. When this happens the oil in the engine isn’t able to efficiently lubricate all the components of the engine which can trigger the low oil pressure light. This will cause damage to the engine bearings and other vital components of the engine. 


Malfunction in the PCV System or Faulty PCV Valve

PCV stands for positive crankcase ventilation. The crankcase is located at the bottom of the engine and holds the oil. When the engine consumes and burns fuel, the PCV produces waste gases that pass through the exhaust system. 


The positive crankcase ventilation system controls emissions. When the PCV valve fails it leaves traces of engine oil that accumulates and clogs up. It also leads to waste gas mixing with the engine oil which starts to clog the engine and cause corrosion. Some of the most common signs of PCV valve failure is:


  • Leaves sludge around the engine
  • Check engine light will flash on
  • Causes noticeable oil leaks
  • Noises coming from the engine
  • Rough idling
  • Soiled spark plugs
  • Hard start


A fault within the PCV is often misdiagnosed for other more expensive mechanical issues. Therefore, to properly diagnose PCV failure a mechanic will have to remove the PCV valve from the bottom of the engine and inspect it. If the PCV valve is the problem it should be repaired as soon as possible or else the head gasket will blow which is a very expensive repair. 

The intake and exhaust valves in the engine keep it running soothingly. The intake valves allow the air and fuel mixture to enter into the cylinders while the exhaust valves help the burned mixture to exit through the cylinders. The motor oil ensures that this system is lubricated. The valve guides and seals keep the oil away from the combustion chambers. 


If the engine isn’t properly maintained as it starts to wear the valves and seal guides will fail. When that happens it won’t be able to keep oil from reaching the combustion chambers. These parts will become soiled with oil while the vehicle is off and parked. When the engine is running the oil gets burned. 


Car Burning Oil But Not Leaking – Worn Piston Rings

The piston rings form a seal over the cylinder bores. The piston's rings are tight enough to block too much oil from getting into the cylinders and burning along with the air and fuel mixture. When the piston rings become worn they aren’t capable of keeping excessive amounts of oil out of the cylinder and crankcase. It can cause the engine to burn a lot of oil and create issues that are similar to PCV failure.

Car Burning Oil But Not Leaking – Oil Burning Outside the Engine

A clogged filter or oil filler cap can be the culprit behind your engine consuming excessive amounts of oil. The oil filter removes contaminants from the oil before it’s released into the engine. When the oil filter becomes clogged it will stop releasing oil into the engine. As a result, the engine and its components won’t receive any lubrication and it will cause damage. 


In addition to low oil pressure, the engine’s performance will significantly decrease. This will become evident when you’re trying to accelerate and the engine fails to move the car fast enough. A clogged filter will begin to affect your car’s exhaust system. A lot of smoke will be coming from the exhaust system. The smoke may even be black or brown. 


When was the last time you had an oil change? The oil filter should be replaced every time you have your oil changed. Since motor oil can get dirty fast you should change the oil filter as soon as possible because it will eventually kill your engine.


Did you know your driving style can also affect how much oil your engine consumes? When you increase your RPM increased pressure is placed on the seals and gaskets. The oil ends up getting burnt in the combustion chamber. 


Car Burning Oil But Not Leaking – Are You Using the Right Type of Motor Oil?

 In case you didn’t know high viscosity oil can cause problems. The viscosity of motor oil refers to its consistency or thickness. High viscosity motor oils can keep low-tension piston rings from coming into contact with the cylinder walls. This causes increased oil consumption. In addition, high viscosity oils can reduce oil flow through the cylinders and connecting rod bearings. 


For older cars with engines that consume lots of oil, you should consider switching to a high mileage oil. Motor oil designed for cars with lots of miles is filled with additives and seal enhancers that provide extra support to the valve seals and other critical components of the engine. It also aids in reducing internal and external oil leaks. They also contain detergents that can remove sludge from the engine. Overall, this type of motor oil aids in mitigating all types of risks that come with normal wear and tear.


Engines with increased mileage require extra maintenance. High mileage oils are suggested for engines with at least 75,000 miles on the odometer, however, it’s up to you to decide when it’s best to make the switch.  


Car Burning Oil But Not Leaking – What’s The Next Step?

The longer you drive your vehicle in its current condition, you increase the risk of causing serious damage to the engine. While it’s normal for your vehicle to burn oil every couple thousand miles, when you find yourself losing a quart of oil frequently or your oil levels remain low it’s time to seek help.


A mechanic can perform an oil consumption test to see just how much oil your car is burning over the last few weeks. A skilled mechanic will need to perform a thorough inspection of your vehicle to determine the exact reason why your engine is burning oil. 


In the meantime, it’s best to exercise caution and drive your car as little as possible. As your engine continues to burn oil, overheating can occur which can lead to an engine fire. You also run the risk of completely burning out the engine.


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