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2002 Toyota Camry losing oil

I drive a 2002 Toyota Camry with 145,000 miles. At the 75,000 mile mark, the dealer told me that the engine block was gone due to a knock he heard on cold morning. He said my only option was to rebuild the block or buy a new car.

For some reason, and a good one, I went for a second opinion. This mechanic said that nothing was wrong and to keep moving. 70,000 miles later - the car is still running.

However, now over the past 20,000 miles - the Camry started to burn a quart of oil every 1,000 miles. Of course, I have gotten three differing suggestions from three differing mechanics, including:

1. replace the short block

2. replace oil pan gasket

3. buy a quart of oil every 1,000 miles until the engine dies

I use the car for commuting to work (80 miles daily), and love the gas mileage. The car has been reliable and sound otherwise.

My questions are:

1. Should I give up on the car and trade it in?

2. Replace something - I do know what?

3. Keep driving it until it stops? What will happen when it stops?

4. At 145,000 miles - I am dreaming that this will last?

Thank you,


Burning a quart every thousand miles with that mileage on the engine isn’t that bad. As a matter of fact, a quart of oil consumption is considered normal on a new car by some automobile manufacturers. I would just keep driving it until it gave up the ghost. Afterall, oil is a lot cheaper than a new car payment or the cost of a replacement engine.


Is the car LEAKING oil or burning oil??

You have completely different suggestions on how to fix for completely different problems.

If there’s a leak…find it and fix it.

If it’s burning oil then either rebuild it…get a new vehicle…or live with it.

I also have to ask…do you change your oil regularly? The camry engine is an extremely durable engine. Very very few show this sign of wear with so few miles on them.

If the car is really burning oil, not leaking, I would just keep driving it since it has a lot of life left in it. This is by far your most economical option, since the car is worth very little on a trade.

If it is leaking oil, and a competent mechanic confirms this, I would cost out the fix. If too high, just keep driving and adding oil.

In your case, the least expensive oil by the case is the best option. Walmart will be your best friend.

Does your state have annual vehicle inspections? Will a oil leak cause you to fail? This is a European thing they will fail your car for a oil leak

a cheap alternative to try might be a high mileage oil. I know high mileage oil sounds like a gimmick but i have actually seen cars really improve on the amount of oil they burn/leak after switching to a high mileage oil.

Will a oil leak cause you to fail?

I don’t know of ANY state that fails you for an oil leak…MAYBE if the leak is bad enough and it’s leaking on the hot exhaust manifold or catalytic converter it might become a safety issue.

With over 20+ years of Import Experience I’d say that the oil is leaking from either the oil pump cover gasket or cam or crank seals, if it was burning it you’d see blueish grey smoke on either start up or after its heated up, often time the oil pan looks like its leaking but its actually the oil pump cover, good luck

You might not see blue smoke from oil burning if the catalytic converter is catching it. Just throwing it out there…no visible smoke doesn’t necessarily mean oil isn’t being burned.

Thank you to everyone with your thoughtful replies. I do have a few answers to some of the questions:

  1. The Camry was taken care of really well. I got the oil changed every 3 -4 k miles over the life of the car.
  2. The differing choices were not from me (I really know nothing about cars) but rather what either the dealer or mechanics told me to do - as you can see, they were all different.
  3. There has been no confirmed oil leak - it cannot be found - according to the mechanic. No oil on the garage floor.
  4. I am going for a vehicle inspection this month - I guess I will find that out.

I agree that one quart of oil is the best choice in regards to price. But not knowing cars well, how will I know when the oil problem gets worse - is there a sign?

As for the high extended mileage oil, I am trying the Valvoline MaxLife - hoping that it works.


I asked about the oil leak and the inspection thing because here in AZ we dont have safety inspections,I didn’t know about other states.As I mentioned in Europe (Iworked for BMW in Switzerland) any oil leakage was cause for failure of inspection,it was nice not having to dodge a oil slick in every parking spot.Fixing oil leaks are not a waste of moneyIMHO

Thank you oldschool for your reply. I live in MD where we do have inspections for our vehicles and will find out if it is a problem then.


In Maryland they only plug the OBD2 scanner, and check for codes, unless the car is pre OBD2 (before 1996), in which case it gets tread milled. So if your check engine light is not on then you are most likely ok.

You probably are leaking oil, but a quart every 1000 miles is hard to detect. When it gets to a quart every 500 miles, you will probably be able to find it then. That will probably occur some time in the next 40-50k miles. Then the 500 miles per quart will probably last until about the 250-260k mark.

If you haven’t replaced the valve cover gasket, make sure it gets changed with the next valve adjustment. If valve adjustments are in your service schedule and you haven’t had one done that you know of, then I would strongly suggest that you get it done. Having said that, a lot of valve cover leaks are caused when the adjustment is done but the valve cover gasket isn’t changed. Did you just happen to have the valves adjusted 20,000 miles ago?

Check the PVC system. With 145,000 miles on it, the PCV system may be clogged or gunked up. If there is no crankcase ventilation due to a plugged valve or gunked up lines, then the crankcase can over-pressurize, and force oil into the cylinders to burn. This is an easy thing to do, since the PCV system is on top of the engine, and connects to the fresh air intake on one side, and the throttle body on the other. Pull a hose from the side between the throttle body and PCV valve, and look. If you see sludge, the system needs to be cleaned.

Inspections are safety inspections. Oil leak is NOT part of a safety inspection.

Try BG Product RF-7. As right now, I am burning about a quart every 2000 miles. Dealership says anything more that 1200 miles a quart is normal.