Dealing with Oil Consumption Issues in Modern Vehicles

Oil consumption is a common issue that many modern vehicle owners face, and it can be quite frustrating. It happens when the engine burns more oil than it should, leading to decreased performance and an increase of damage to the engine and catalytic converter. The causes of oil consumption vary from one vehicle to another, but they mostly stem from issues with the piston rings, valve seals or a malfunctioning PCV system. In this blog post, we'll explore the reasons behind oil consumption from stuck piston rings and how to fix the issue.

Why did my car start burning oil?

When oil consumption occurs, it's usually because of a problem with the piston rings, valve seals or PCV system. Today we are going to focus on one of the biggest culprits, Stuck Piston Rings. Piston rings are meant to keep the engine oil out of the combustion chamber, while sealing up the cylinder to keep combustion gasses out of the crankcase. How they keep engine oil out of the combustion chamber is by scraping excess oil off the cylinder walls as the piston moves up and down. If the rings get stuck or damaged, they can no longer do their job effectively, leading to increased oil consumption. The leading cause of this issue is built up carbon around the rings. For years this had not been an issue because manufactures were not concerned about fuel economy and would make really strong rings that would not allow carbon to build up around the piston ring. With vehicle manufactures chasing fuel economy they have opted for lighter weight piston rings with less tension to reduce friction in the cylinder.

These piston rings coupled with new engine designs and extended oil changes have lead to the issue of oil burning. We first saw major issues with Honda and Subaru in the early 2010's and Audi years before that. Oil consumption began on these engines around 20,000 miles and would burn a quart of oil every 500 miles and some times more. That means on an engine that holds 5 quarts of oil your car would run out of oil in 2,500 miles. With a car burning oil that fast it is easy to see that it is easy to run out of oil.

Preventive maintenance is key in addressing oil consumption before it evolves into a more significant concern. Regular oil changes, using the manufacturer's recommended oil grade, can help maintain proper lubrication and minimize wear. It's also important to replace air filters and maintain engine components to avoid dirt and debris, which can exacerbate wear on valve seals and piston rings. Periodic oil level checks can catch early signs of wear and prevent oil consumption issues from developing further. By following a consistent maintenance schedule, we recommend 5,000 mile services, you can enhance your vehicle's longevity and avoid the inconvenience and expenses of unexpected repairs.

How can I fix oil burning issues with my car?

There are two ways to fix an oil burning issue. One way to fix oil burning is to take apart the engine and manually clean the carbon from the piston rings. This involves removing all components of the engine that cover the pistons and scrubbing them clean. By doing so, any buildup that might have accumulated over time will be removed, allowing for proper sealing of the piston rings.

However, not everyone wants to go through such a tedious and expensive process. Fortunately, there are chemical cleaners like BG Engine Restoration and Berryman's that can help address the issue without disassembling your engine. These cleaners work by dissolving any buildup on your engine's internal components and restoring their original function. We have tried BG Engine Restoration on Honda, Subaru and Audi vehicles with great success. In on instance it took a super charged Audi engine that was burning 1 quart of oil every 300 miles to 1 quart every 3,500 miles. That is a vast improvement which means there is less damage happening to the spark plugs, catalytic converter and it increased the fuel mileage.

How can I keep my car from burning oil?

If you're experiencing oil consumption issues in your vehicle, changing your oil more frequently may also help avoid it altogether. When you change your oil regularly (typically every 5,000 miles), you ensure that any particles that the oil filter has not trapped get removed from the engine. The other reason to change the oil at 5,000 mile intervals is that the oil has what are called additive packages. These additives are the thing that keep the carbon build up from happening and as the oil wears, the additives break down and don't perform as well leading to oil burning issues.

In conclusion, dealing with oil consumption issues can be challenging, but there are several ways to fix it. Whether you choose to manually clean your engine's piston rings or use a chemical cleaner, the goal is to restore your engine's performance and save you money on oil changes. Additionally, changing your oil frequently can help prevent oil consumption altogether. If you're still having issues with oil consumption in your vehicle, don't hesitate to reach out to us for assistance. With these tips, you can keep your vehicle running smoothly for years to come.

If you would like to see what happens during a BG Engine restoration check out the video below. WARNING it is 3.5 hours of content condensed to 20 minutes of boring video but you can see exactly what we do when we perform the engine flush.