Engine Oil Consumption, Is On The Rise, Where It Go’s And Why

Engine Oil Consumption, Is On The Rise, Where It Go's And Why
Engine Oil Consumption, Is On The Rise, Where It Go's And Why

So, engine oil consumption, is now going up, as the oil change intervals, become higher.

But, most modern engines, don’t suffer from, engine oil consumption. That’s why, many vehicle owners, forget to regularly check their levels.

As a result, oil level warning systems, are becoming standard equipment on many vehicles. Most new engines today, use less than half a quart of oil, in 3,000 to 5,000 miles.

Actually, some have almost, no engine oil consumption.

But, as the miles pile up, wear and oil consumption, naturally go up. So, most of the time, an engine that burns oil, will foul the spark plugs.

Engine Oil Consumption
Fouled Spark Plugs

As a result, causing ignition misfires, higher emissions and likely, damage to the catalytic converter.

Excessive engine oil consumption, will also shorten the service life, of oxygen sensors and catalytic converters. So, as engines wear, the combined loss, from external and internal oil leaks. Consequently, will just add to the increase, of engine oil consumption.

External, Oil Consumption Sources, Include:

  • Crankshaft seals
  • Oil pan gasket
  • Timing cover gasket
  • Cylinder head gasket
  • Valve cover gaskets
  • Intake gasket
  • Turbocharger

Internal, Oil Consumption Sources

So, a large puff of blue oil smoke from the exhaust, after a long idling period. Usually, suggests internal engine oil consumption.

Some causes may include:

  • Worn piston rings
  • Worn valve seals
  • Leaking, intake gaskets
  • Clogged, oil drain back holes
Engine Oil Consumption
Blue Oil Smoke From The Exhaust

How Can Engine Oil, Enter The Combustion Chamber?

So, worn or cracked intake valve stem seals, can let oil leak, through the valve guides. As a result, the spark plugs, might show some, oil ash accumulation. Most often, on the side of the electrode, facing the intake valves.

Engine Oil Consumption
Worn Or Cracked Intake Valve Stem Seals

However, oil leakage through the exhaust valve guides, isn’t as common. Because, normal exhaust flow, causes positive pressure.

Fuel Washed Cylinders

So, there is a condition that, adds to engine oil consumption, generally referred to as “fuel wash”. It is caused by engine flooding, at initial startup or in early operation, of a newly rebuilt engine.

This event can cause, very serious damage to:

  • Cylinder bores
  • Pistons
  • Piston rings
  • Engine Bearings
Cylinder Bore Scuffing
Cylinder Bore Scuffing

If flooding occurs, from a fuel system problem. Then, the excess fuel, washes the oil film off the cylinder walls. As a result, metal to metal contact occurs, and scuffing takes place. (Engine oil consumption)

Piston Ring Sealing

Oil washing, is an sign of engine oil, leaking past the piston rings.

Piston Ring Set
Piston Ring Set

Consequently, wrong ring installation, is another source of this problem. For example, many top rings are flat, with a convex or barrel shaped outer edge.

Crankshaft Bearing Clearance And Oil Consumption

So, the piston and cylinder wall, are splash oiled. And, is done by oil, passing through the rod bearing and onto the cylinder wall. As a result, too much rod bearing clearance, affects oil consumption.

Measuring Crankshaft Clearance
Measuring Crankshaft Clearance

Consequently, doubling the rod bearing clearance, will quadruple the oil flow to the piston rings. As a result, dramatically, causing oil consumption, to go up.

Issues With, High-Viscosity Engine Oils

So, using high-viscosity oil, might prevent low tension piston rings, from contacting the cylinder wall. As a result, causing oil consumption, to go up. In addition, engine oil slinging off the crankshaft, not only lubricates the rings, but cools them as well. Because, high viscosity oil, reduces oil flow through the rod bearing. Consequently, cylinder lubrication and cooling, will be badly affected. (Engine oil consumption)

While trying to reduce oil flow to the piston rings. The oil film still has to reach, the top of the cylinder. Consequently, high viscosity generic oils, might not adequately lubricate the top and second piston rings. For instance, during cold startups.

So, the flash point of the oil, must be high enough, to resist vaporizing. Subsequently, under high cylinder wall temperatures. To clarify, using non-synthetic base oils, in synthetic applications, allows this oil film, to be burned away, during combustion.

Piston Rings Stuck In Groves
Piston Rings Stuck In Groves

In practically all cases, synthetic oils, protect the upper cylinder. So, as miles pile up, synthetic oils, also keep pistons free of varnish deposits. Because, that can cause, low-tension piston rings, to stick in their grooves.

Basic Tips To Follow:

  • All engines consume some oil. First, always check the oil level, before the oil is drained. Next, compare the mileage, with the mileage on the lube sticker. Then, estimate the engine’s, oil consumption rate.
  • Oil flows downhill. Use a bright light to examine the engine for leaks. Beginning with, the camshaft or rocker arm covers.
  • If there’s oil leaking from the bell housing area, remember that automatic transmission oil, is usually red. However, engine oil is black or brown. So, check the level of both, to help determine, the source of the leak.
  • Engine oil consumption with no apparent oil smoke, often suggests collapsed oil control ring expanders or worn oil control rings.

  • Poor lubrication, can cause modern piston rings, to overheat and lose their tension. When combined with a lot of varnish, the piston rings can stick, in a collapsed position.
  • Excessive compression ring blow by, will force engine oil into the intake air ducting or intake manifold.
  • Also, a combination of low speed driving and lack of oil changes, on variable displacement engines. Usually, cause the piston rings, to stick in their grooves, on the deactivated cylinders.
  • Crusted oil ash deposits on spark plugs and upstream oxygen sensors. Are the best signs of too much, internal oil consumption.


So, preventing engine oil consumption, is even more important today. Because, many modern vehicles come with, longer oil change intervals. So, monitor your engine oil level and condition, more often. Finally, change the oil as necessary, don’t wait for the manufacturer’s suggested interval.

Thank You !