Burning Oil-Blue Smoke May Only Be Part Of The Problem

Signs of burning oil are usually accompanied by Blue Smoke from the exhaust.

Burning Oil-Blue Smoke may only be part of the problem.

Oil leaking can also contribute to excessive oil usage.

This is something that will be seen after you park and let the vehicle sit awhile.

Most oil leak repairs can be fixed by replacing a seal or gasket.

  • When valve guides are worn blue smoke will be seen when the engine is started, usually after it has run and then sits awhile.
  • If valve seals are worn or broken blue smoke will be seen when the engine is started, usually after it has run and then sits awhile.
  • If the piston ring seize, break or collapse in their groove, oil will pass causing the excessive oil burning. Damaged pistons and rings will cause oil burning and excessive blow-by. This will also cause the exhaust smoke to be blue when driving or at idle depending on how bad the oil is leaking past the piston rings or valve guides or seals.
  • If an engine is using oil becouse of defective piston, rings or valve parts the engine may need to be removed and over hauled. It’s a time consuming job and very costly depending on the vehicle.

It can be a gut wrenching feeling to start your vehicle and find smoke spewing out of the exhaust pipe. For most, it leaves them feeling anxious and panicked that they will have to dip into their savings account.

First, it doesn’t take much for an engine to start burning oil. But you should know that there are many variables that can cause the engine to burn oil.

Here are the top 5 reasons how vehicles started to smoke:

  1. Poor maintenance routine:

    A vehicle’s engine and fuel system are crucial to the vehicles performance and keeping them clean requires standard regular maintenance procedures. These can be as simple as getting regular oil changes and servicing the vehicle when the manual calls for it. Missing or prolonging oil changes beyond their recommended changing intervals can also lead to further contaminant issues. Without regular maintenance, contamination will build up in the vehicle over time and they always affect the vehicle’s fuel economy and the longevity of the motor.

  2. Ignoring the tell-tale signs:

    If the vehicle wasn’t purchased new, then there is really no way to tell how often the vehicle had received maintenance before you purchased it. If the vehicle has received poor maintenance throughout its life, then it is likely there are tell-tale signs of issues brewing in the motor. Such issues could be: over heating, burning oil, loss of power, loss of acceleration, inconsistent idle and reduced MPG. Ignoring these tell-tale signs is a surefire way to ensure that the vehicle, in the future, will require costly repairs at an automotive repair facility.

  3. Common engine issues:

    There is a large number of vehicles that were produced from 1995-2005 that have common sludge issues. These sludge issues cause oil to be burned and the exhaust to smoke. If this sludge is not removed in these vehicles, then the vehicle may experience a cracked head, blown gaskets, or something more severe. This could require thousands spent at an automotive repair facility to fix the issues.

  4. Randomly smoking:

    For every case, there is always an exception. Several customers reported their vehicle had received proper and regular maintenance throughout its entire life yet the vehicle randomly started smoking. For these cases, there is no cause that can be easily identified. If the smoking is not dealt with it  can cause further damage to the motor.

  5. Home-made remedies or cheap cleaners:

    Majority of people use YouTube to learn in this day and age. However, there are a lot of bad videos and even worse advice when it comes to proper vehicle maintenance. Some examples we are referencing include using diesel fuel, kerosene, or water as an engine flush. Other examples are people using products that have seen no refinement in their chemical formula throughout the years. Often, these cheap flush products eat away at engine gaskets and critical seals which can cause the motor to leak oil. Additionally, the cheap flush can break large chunks of contamination free.

Common reasons why an engine would start burning oil or start smoking:

  • Contamination:

    Have you ever seen the oil come out of a vehicle during an oil change. Ever wonder why it is much darker than new oil. Oil only changes color when contamination is present in the motor. The oil mixes with the contamination and lubricates your motor with the debris mixed in. It’s not the ideal situation. These contaminants can turn into deposits left behind in the motor and can lead to clogged PVC valves. If the deposits are not taken care of, then the deposits can grow in size and eventually reduce the air flow and the ability of the motor oil.

  • Head Gasket Leak
    Head Gasket Leak

    Bad gaskets and cracked heads:

  • If you have a bad gasket, it typically can be pretty obvious because your vehicle will be smoking a noticeable amount. Typically, a blown head gasket or cracked head would make the vehicle have continuous, thick, white smoke that never stops or decreases in volume or intensity. However, sometimes they can be a real challenge to diagnose because they can be a minor leak or crack.
  • If you suspect a bad gasket or head, inspect your oil to look for signs of water, coolant, or antifreeze. If you find water, coolant, or antifreeze in your motor oil, then it’s a good indication you might have a bad gasket or head.
  • Oil blow-by:

    This happens when your piston rings are less than capable of maintaining a proper seal in the cylinder. Often scratches or deep grooves on the cylinder walls prevent rings from sealing properly. The oil then reaches the combustion chamber in a greater volume than is expected and produces smoke from the combustion of the gas and oil. Oil blow by is most commonly caused by contamination and deposits in the motor oil. Another issue cause by oil blow-by is when the gas moves past the piston rings into the crankcase. Once gas enters the crankcase, it dilutes the oil and can cause further damage to the motor.

  • Valve train and lifters:

    Lifters and valves can tick, stick and not seat correctly. Every one of these symptoms can be caused by contamination in the motor. If left untreated, the motor will continue to burn oil until the contamination has been removed. If left untreated for an extended period of time, the increase in oil combustion inside the motor will lead to further contamination and future mechanical issues.

  • Foreign substances added to engine:

    Some might be shocked at how many people try water or diesel fuel as an engine flush. Yet, almost every week we have someone who tried it and now has a motor smoking worse than before. Never use a home-made remedy in your vehicle. They are not formulated to protect the engine and they almost always create additional issues for the person trying to engineer their own solution.

  • Stuck piston rings and clogged oil rings:

    Contamination and debris from dirty oil can end up clogging oil rings and causing piston rings to become stuck. Both issues can create blow-by as mentioned earlier which will cause the vehicle to burn oil.

  • Engine Overheating:

    Burning Oil-Blue Smoke
    Burning Oil-Blue Smoke

    Overheating is a very serious issue that needs to be addressed immediately. Typically, overheating is caused by an increase in friction in the motor due to a lack of oil lubricating a portion of the motor. Normally, this issue (when it is not related to the heating and cooling system), are caused by contamination and debris in the motor oil.

  • The contamination in a motor can block oil pick-up and oil return lines which prevents the oil lubrication system from working properly. When the oil lubrication system cannot work properly, friction increases and so does the heat in the motor. This in-turn can warp metal, melt seals, and ruin gaskets. All symptoms that can cause the vehicle to burn oil and smoke.

Oil burning can eventually contaminate the catalytic converter and oxygen sensor. It also increases the risk of the engine running low on oil and losing oil pressure.


About Danny Bender 168 Articles
DannysEnginePortal.com Is The Premier Automotive Engine Troubleshooting Resource Site. DannysEnginePortal.com Shares Information On Engine Troubleshooting, Engine Rebuilding, Engine Repair Tips, Tech Info, Basic Machining, Automotive Testing, In Addition To Possible Solutions.