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1999 corolla, 190K miles, burns 5 qt oil in 1000 miles

I have a 1999 Toyota Corolla with 190K miles on it. Recently, I have seen its burning a lot of oil. I put in 5qt and it disappears within 1000 miles. There are no leaks whatsoever and there is no blue or white smoke coming off the exhaust. The car runs perfectly well, except this oil consumption issue. Can someone please guide me on what I can do without opening up the nuts and bolts of the entire engine. I read on some posts about seafoam or using B12 but not sure.

If you are sure there are no leaks then the catalytic converter is burning the oil. This won’t last long, the converter is not designed to take that much junk through it.

What is the history of maintenance? How often did the oil get changed? Is the check engine light on?

Its a well known problem with the 1998-2002 Corolla.Mine started to burn oil at 120k miles but I choose to replace the car with a newer 2012 Corolla.

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Add this to the engine oil to see if it slows down/stops the oil consumption.

Otherwise,I wouldn’t put anymore money into the vehicle.


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Why am I remembering some sort of PCV problem leading to high oil consumption with some Corollas?

When we replaced the PCV valve in my friend’s Rav-4, it did result in less oil consumption.

Are you really down 5 qts in 1000 miles? Or are you down one quart or maybe just down below the dipstick? If you did lose 5 qts in 1000 miles, then you should have been adding a quart about every 200 miles, otherwise you would have gone bone dry and ruined your engine.

If you did lose 5 qts over a 1000 mile period, did this just happen all at once? I mean did it go from no oil loss to a qt every 200 miles suddenly? If so, you do have a leak, you just haven’t seen it yet.

The valve cover may leak around the cam end plugs at the back of the engine. This engine can also develop a front crankshaft seal leak. You will see this by looking at the area directly outbound of the harmonic balancer and crankshaft pulley. The backside of the harmonic balancer will be wet. That seal is easy to replace but you will need to make a special tool. I made one out of a 1x4 one time.

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It’s usually been the rings and pistons

95% of my oil changes have been done at the Toyota dealership and remaining 5% at Jiffy Lube or PepBoys. I used to do it regularly at 5000 miles or 4 months and off late, it has been frequent oil changes. There is no check engine light coming up. I just get the oil light in my dashboard and the dipstick confirms the oil level is at or below the minimum line.

Yes, I add the full 5 qts and it vanishes in 1000-1100 miles. It should be noted that I drive almost 400 miles each week so within 3 weeks, my full 5 qts oil is gone and I use 5W-30 oil which is the recommended one. I get a oil light in my dashboard and dip stick confirms the oil level is below the minimum.

Now there was an oil leak into the spark plug chambers so I replaced the valve cover gasket and no more leaks in the spark plug chamber or on the outside. When I check underneath of the car, its dry as well which I am assuming means no leaks. I also replaced the PCV valve 6 months ago but no difference in oil disappearance. Also the oil loss is not sudden. I believe it has been gradually happening.

How do I address the rings and the pistons if they are the problem?. Given its a 1999 car, I dont want to open up and spend tons of money on it. Is there some cleaner or chemical which I can use?

If you’ve driven it with the oil pressure light on, the engine is likely now junk.

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I don’t think you understand my question. So lets start over. After 1000 miles or so, the oil light comes on. You may have two oil lights, one is red. If that one comes on, you are in serious trouble if you don’t shut down immediately. The other is amber and has two wavy lines under the oil can symbol. It just means you are low on oil.

The dipstick does not go all the way to the bottom of the oil pan. Typically it measures only the top quart and a half or two quarts. So if the dipstick is dry, you could be only 1.5 to 2 quarts low, unless the red oil light came on, then you are pretty much out of oil and it will take 4 to 4.5 quarts to reach the full mark again.

BTW, you should probably check that dipstick every time you fill the gas tank. Don’t let it go for 1000 miles before checking. I tied a cloth to one of the AC lines under the hood to wipe the dipstick when filling the gas tank. That way I don’t have to go looking for a rag or paper towel.

Note: if the front seal is leaking, it throws the oil so you rarely see a puddle of oil under the car, but the backside of the harmonic pulley will be very oily. I suggest you check that before dismissing an oil leak.

So after 1000 miles, do you add one quart at a time and check the dipstick after each quart is added?

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It sounds like you should do the following: change the oil, using clean 5W30 or 10W30 oil and a new oil filter. After adding the first 3 quarts, add a can of Restore, then add the rest of the oil needed to make the dipstick show “full”. Then check the oil every time you stop for fuel, and top off as needed.

Every 3000-4000 miles, change the oil and filter again, and add Restore. Use of this product, together with frequent oil changes and keeping the oil topped off should reduce oil consumption, and allow this engine to last for a few more years.

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See @tester and @COROLLAGUY1 response above. But still as asked, do you drive 200 miles and add a quart or drive 1000 miles and have to add five quarts. If you ran the oil out and had to add 5 quarts at one time, as said the engine is likely questionable to rebuild.


Thank you Keith for your response. I have never gotten the red oil light. Its always the amber one and it goes away after few seconds and it keeps coming back every 5-10 mins. Many a times, just the tip of the dip stick gets the oil which means oil level is low.

Now if I add 3-4 qts, the oil level in the dip stick goes to the maximum, but I always pour the full 5 qts which takes the oil level much above the maximum line on the dip stick. I do not add 1 qt and check the dip stick. When I get the amber oil light, I simply pour the full 5 qts.

When I get the amber oil light, I simply pour the full 5 qts, even if it means going above the maximum line on the dip stick. I do not check the oil level in between. After another 1000 miles or so, amber oil light comes up and I again our the full 5 qts.

BTW, I have never added any restore, seafoam, B12 or any other products to my car.

I have two V6s and neither of them take a full 5 quarts. That means either you have regularly run the engine out of oil which means it is now trash, or it has been down a quart and you have been over-filling it by 3-4 quarts. Those extra quarts will quickly be expelled from the engine. So in reality you may only be burning a quart or two every 1000 miles or your engine is shot. Maybe someone else can help but I can’t. Maybe take it to a shop and they can lead you through a method for diagnosis. No way to treat a machine though.

Please stop doing that, adding to much oil is just as bad as not having enough oil.
When the add oil light comes on, just add one quart.

It’s not burning that much oil, it’s leaking out.

If you’ve been putting too much oil in you’re creating a situation in which the oil gets whipped up by the oil pump and fails to adequately lubricate the engine. Never go higher than the “full” line. As has been noted, the help of a good mechanic seems like a very good idea at this point since the engine may have suffered damage.