2006 Caravan burning oil

Our 2006 Dodge Caravan needs a quart of oil every couple of months. There’s no oil stain in our driveway, so I don’t think it’s leaking. My husband thinks the engine is running hot. Any way to fix that? Thanks

A). Oil usage is measured in quarts per miles driven. One quart in 1000 miles is usually considered normal.
B) “thinks it’s running hot”. What does the temperature gauge read?

If it’s running hot, the coolant temperature gauge should show that - assuming it has enough coolant in it. It’s harmful to an engine to run it too hot, so that concern should be looked into. As far as oil consumption, check the oil level often and keep it topped up. A quart every thousand miles is not a bad situation in itself, though everyone would rather not have to add oil between changes. It’s very important to keep it from getting low on oil, and to fix any overheating problem.

A 13 year old car burning a little oil is not unusual. How many miles between each quart? Some new cars burn a quart every 800 to 1,000 miles and the manufacturers say that is within spec.

BTW good for you checking and keeping up on the oil, easiest and cheapest thing you can do to keep your engine healthy, we hear from so many folks who do not check or change the oil and are surprised when their engines require expensive repairs…

I you are burning no more than 1 qt per 1000 miles, most manufacturers consider that normal, MyToyota manual says one quart in 700 miles is normal. If you buy your oil at Walmart in 5 quart jugs it is cheaper/

Thinks engine is running hot - thinking and actually running hot should be determined as soon as possible or you will have a destroyed engine.

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The missing detail is… how many miles does that represent?

What is his basis for that opinion?
He may well be right, but…

Temperature is normal (inbetween cold and hot). So this is normal? Also, I can hear when the oil’s low. The engine is loud and rough.

That may mean that you have let the oil level get entirely too low.


Whooaa, don’t go there: “when oil’s low, the engine is loud and rough.” Ouch.

Don’t let the oil get low!


Yes, that is… normal.

That is not normal, and it indicates that damage is likely being done.


I can hear a slight difference in the way the engine sounds on my Corolla with a full complement of fresh oil vs one quart low of old oil in the crankcase. I wouldn’t describe the difference as being “loud and rough” though. On my truck engine I can hear some tapping noises in the valve area if the oil gets one quart low, but again I wouldn’t describe it as “loud and rough”. But it is perceptibly different.

This is my husband’s van. He maybe drives 100 miles a month. Yes, he’s ruining the engine, and should know better, but does it anyway. My concern is that now our 16 yr old is driving the van.
So to recap: it was driven 100 miles/month
husband only changing oil w/ yearly
frequently hear valves
temp gauge in middle
no obvious oil leak
So, maybe just changing the oil regularly will help?

The once a year oil change is not the problem . Not checking the oil level is the problem . Of course it should have been taken on a long drive once a month . Make sure this 16 year old knows how to check all fluids weekly . I would hope this is not needed but make sure he knows what fuel to put in it .
I also wonder if these tires are old enough to be past their sell date .

I am going to disagree with you. That 100 miles per month probably indicates only local, short-trip driving, and that is very hard on the oil. I recommend changing the oil twice a year under those circumstances.

Again, I am going to disagree with you. The OP told us that it needs “1 qt every couple of months”, and that would seem to indicate that someone is checking the oil level. As long as they don’t let it fall more than 1 qt below the full mark, they will be okay on that score. However, once a year oil changes for this vehicle are probably not okay.

VDC , you make good points . I was going by the statement that they could tell by the sound of the engine that it was low on oil. That made me think they were just putting a quart in and not really checking .

By running the motor oil level chronically low you are vastly exacerbating the oil consumption problem. And seriously shortening what’s left of the engine’s lifespan.

Running the oil level even a quart down means you’re short 20% of the oil capacity. That in turn causes the remaining oil to run much hotter. This in turn leads to piston ring problems; a.k.a. oil useage.


sludge . . . ?1

100 miles a month is very minimal driving. The national average is around 13-14K a year, over 1000 miles a month. If he’s changing the oil annually in connection with a vehicle inspection he’s changing it at 1200 mile intervals, which is probably fine. A quart every couple of months represents every 200 miles or so and that’s excessive. How many miles are on the van? Engines with more miles on them generally burn more oil.

Thanks everyone for your advice. Yes, my son does know how to check the oil. And yes, even though the van passed inspection in June, the tires might need replacing.