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How To Diagnose High Oil Consumption Problems

by Kamal Salar
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Something that a lot of car owners face is the problem of oil consumption. Many of those same car owners only do something about the problem when they notice that their engine’s oil levels are low.

But, by then, there is usually some permanent engine damage caused. And you know what that means? Lots of money spent on repair bills! Some folks are quick to blame the quality of the engine oil used. The truth is, that isn’t always the case.

Image credit: Sean MacEntee

The many reasons for oil consumption

One point that everyone will agree on is that engines are complex mechanical devices. If you find that your car’s engine is consuming a lot of oil, there could be one or more reasons why this is so. Here are some of the reasons why:

Engine design

You might be driving a car that is well-cared for, but the engine uses a lot of oil. Some car engines are notorious for using oil more than others. Take, for example, the rotary engine that featured in many Mazda cars.

The Japanese car manufacturer no longer builds Wankel rotary engines. One of the reasons for that is because the engine drinks a lot of oil on a regular basis.

Your driving style

Do you drive your car as if you stole it? If so, chances are your high oil consumption might be to do with your spirited driving style! Most modern engines use as little oil as possible to lubricate their innards.

But if you spend a lot of your time redlining your engine, it will burn more oil. It is because you are putting more pressure on your engine’s internal oil seals and gaskets. Some of that excess oil will get burnt away in the combustion chamber.

Worn oil seals and gaskets

As an engine ages, the rubber oil seals and gaskets used in it will become worn. When your engine’s oil seals and gaskets become worn and brittle, oil will escape past them. You can diagnose that problem because external oil leaks will be evident.

For example, I once had a car that had a worn cylinder head gasket. Because of the location of the leak, the oil escaped outside of the engine, down the side of the block.

High engine temperatures

Most car engines will activate a fan when the temperature reaches a certain level. Sometimes, if a fan or some other coolant system part is faulty, the temperature will get too hot.

According to a mechanic friend from Imperial Car Supermarket, engine oil will get thin when the engine is too hot. The result of which means that oil can reach the combustion chamber and get burnt.

You will know when that happens because you will see a puff of blue smoke coming from your exhaust tailpipe.

Wrong viscosity engine oil

Car manufacturers tell owners to use a certain grade or “viscosity” of engine oil. If you use a different grade, you could be using too thin an oil.

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