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1996 Toyota Celica GT

Hello I recently purchased a 1996 Celica. The car looks amazing and drives well. On top of it’s reliability, the vehicle is an absolute blast to drive!!! However, it seems to be burning oil. I was told to switch from 5w-30 oil to 10w. A thicker weight would help. Any ideas on the problem, suggestion or fix would be much appreciated. Thank You!1 Cheers mates!!

A 20 year old engine can burn oil for a number of reasons. Switching from a 5w-30 to 10w or 10w-30 is not going to a thicker oil. Switching to a 10w-40 would be.

How much is it burning?

  1. It could be valve stem seals. Does it burn it primarily when you start it up in the morning?

  2. It could be due to infrequent oil changes over the years, causing excessive wear on the cylinder walls.

  3. It could be related to the engine design defect Toyota had back in those years. For the Celica, 4-cylinders built from August 1996 to April 1999 had cylinder head designs that were prone to “coke” the oil, turning it to sludge and provoking burning.

How many miles on the car?

The car’s value is somewhere is likely between $1500 and $2400.

If it were my car, I would not invest in expensive engine repairs.

Instead, if it were burning less than a quart every 500 miles, I’d live with it.
If it burns more than a quart every 500 miles, I’d try 10w-40 and also live with it.

Also, replace your pcv valve. It can cause excess oil burn.

How much oil? Without knowing that, it’s impossible to offer an opinion.

An engine compression test would be worthwhile if the above suggestions don’t help. If compression is good, and other causes are eliminated, then new valve seals could help.

Thank You for all your replies guys!

These are bad about leaking oil too. For this engine, the front seal is a prime suspect, but they can also leak from all the usual suspects as well, valve cover gasket, PCV hoses, oil pressure sending unit, etc.

BTW, I would use 10w30 oil, but if you have leaks, nothing will help. If the oil loss isn’t too bad, it may be cheaper to just add oil.

EDIT: If this engine has a timing belt, the best time to replace the front seal is when you replace the timing belt. If it has the timing chain, the front seal is pretty easy to change, but you need a special tool, which you can make for yourself out of a 1x4 and a couple of bolts.

Thank You Keith! Why are Celica’s bad about leaking oil? My car is not leaking any oil.

How many miles?

How much oil do you have to add to the engine every 1,000 miles?


"Why are Celica’s bad about leaking oil? My car is not leaking any oil. "

Don’t be too sure. Toyota 4 cylinder engines in general are bad about leaking oil. The front seal on the engines with a timing chain throw the oil out in a mist so it is very hard to detect the leak. You have to know what to look for. Even then if the oil loss is less than 1 qt per 1000 miles, it is very hard to detect.

The usual suspects do drip oil and are easier to notice and find, they leave drops or puddles of oil underneath the vehicle.

Daniel, I’ve never had a problem with excess oil use or with leaking on any of my Toyotas either, but there are some regulars here who swear that they do. Apparently they’ve had different experiences with this than we have. People differ on this issue.

If a 1996 Celica were to use a quart or less of oil every 1000 miles, besides crawling underneath to see if it was leaking anywhere, I wouldn’t do anything about it myself, just continue to enjoy the nice drive. And check the oil level frequently and top it off as required. If it is on the border of this limit, before assuming the worse I’d assume the better, be optimistic, it might just need a set of valve stem seals. That’s a relatively inexpensive repair. Have someone look at the exhaust when you first start it after it has been sitting for a couple of hours. If there’s a noticeable puff of black or blue smoke at start-up, that’s consistent with worn valve stem seals.

I had a 92 celica very fun to drive, i would just keep adding oil and drive on.

You talking about the R series engines, Keith? Yes, they do leak oil, alright. But I rarely leak more than 1 quart per oil change interval (for me, 4000 mi). I’ll still take timing chains over belts any day. I’ve got over 200k on my 20R’s double timing chain, with no stretch to speak of.

1979 Celica. Best car I ever had.

Hard to say, unless we know a certain engine in particular is a known Drooler. If seen many many an oil tight Toyotie… But any engine can use some oil between changes. Question is whether is is truly leaking oil…or consuming oil. You dont want much of either really. If this engine is from 96’ with no preventive maintenance on it…it can leak from anywhere there is oil.

Its up to you to tell US…if it is leaking or burning it…and you seem to think the latter. Possible… depends on how much you burn between oil changes to know whether its excessive or not. Thicker oil can help sure…but not much when things wear to the point of Blue smoky exhaust. Thicker oil is a bit better for a well worn engine anyway…serves to fill in the larger bearing tolerances and cushion the gap a bit…but dont go too heavy…that is also a possibility. Depending on temperature…and mileage on engine…you can pick a good thicker grade oil to suit the engine.


One thing I’d try is to add Marvel Mystery Oil to the crankcase (maybe 1 quart, but don’t overfill) and use it in the fuel for a few tankfulls. It might, might free up sticking rings, which might, might be a big factor in oil consumption. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, and probably no harm done.