Got my wife’s 2007 Buick Lucerne’s oil changed today. It had gone 4,500 miles, in WI, cold weather. Anyway, it was a quart low. Should I be concerned? I see on-line some service issues and other complaining about the 3.8 using oil. I would get this fixed if I felt the problem would go away or if it is serious enough. I am not used to having cars use oil. This car we’ve had for one year, haven’t been told before it was low on oil. It has 17,000 miles on it.
A quart in 4500 miles is not that bad. I would change the PCV valve and monitor it. Check it at least once a month. A quart of oil every 4500 is cheap compared to a new car payment.
Cars may see an increase in oil consumption in cold weather. The computer enriches the fuel/air mixture when the engine is cold. In Wisconsin winters, it will take the engine longer to warm up. The enriched mixture dilutes the oil which makes it burn off more easily. The situation with computer controlled fuel injection is much better than the old days of carburetors which really dumped raw fuel into the oil. Last winter, I had to add a quart to my 2011 Sienna during a cold snap. I went through the spring, summed and fall without having to add any oil between 7500-10,000 mile changes. We will see what happens this winter.
The best way to solve the increased oil consumption in the winter is to move to a,warmer climate. However, the East Central Indiana winters never bothered me and I can buy quite a,few quarts of oil for the cost of relocating.
One Quart Per 1,000 Miles Is Way Within Normal Consumption Amounts.
On the other hand, 17,000 miles on a car that’s 9 model-years old is way below normal average driving mileage. I believe this can contribute to oil consumption, but I don’t think the consumption discussed is excessive, anyhow.
How far are the average trips made in the Buick?
How long does it sit between times it is driven?
Someone should not have to tell the owner of a vehicle it is low on fluids .
The trips are a mix. Sometime quite short other times 35 miles. This is our family car, so the driving pattern varies greatly on weekends. Currently it is getting driven short, short, long, short, short, short, long.
It sits in a insulated garage. On work days it sits 9 hours outside. Other times, 1/2 hour, 1 hour, 2 hours, etc.
This is just my opinion and it’s often at odds with others but to me a quart in 4500 is excessive.
I keep my cars forever and put a ton of miles on them. My current ride has a bit over 255k miles on it and it doesn’t use anywhere near 1/2 a quart in 4500 miles.
How often has the oil been changed since the car was new? Oil change regimens are also dependent upon time, type of driving, and environmental conditions as well as miles.
Short hop driving of a few miles here and there is the worst type of driving that can be inflicted upon an engine and this can easily lead to oil control ring issues on the pistons. That can translate to oil consumption.
As Volvo V70 alluded to you should not ever rely on the engine oil level remaining constant between changes. You need to get in the habit of checking fluids regularly even if it is a distasteful chore.
IMHO, the consumption of 1 qt of oil in 4,500 miles is not a problem.
What I do see as a problem, however, is a car owner who goes for…months…without apparently checking the oil level.
What if, instead of 1 qt low, it was 3 qts low?
At that point engine damage could have taken place.
If the OP is not inclined to check the oil himself, he should enlist the aid of a friend, neighbor or relative to do it for him on a regular basis. Checking the oil every 2-4 weeks is advisable if you want to avoid engine damage.
VDC driver… I am not ignorant of the need to check oil. Just never had to do it before due to my cars usually running in tip-top shape. Now that I know the oil is low or was I will check. No need to scold me. I feel checking oil level every few weeks is old-school for cars from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. On modern cars it shouldn’t be necessary unless the car has issues. Just my opinion. I have never had a modern car use oil before (that I’ve owned), that is why I am concerned about this one!
Although it’s against doctrine, I agree with the OP. I’ve never owned a car in 50 years that needed oil added between oil changes, with the minor exception of a Passat at 120k that sometimes needed 1/2 qt after 3-4k.
And in my present car (Forester) it’s impossible to get a reliable reading off the dipstick. Luckily (or on purpose) it has a low oil warning light.
A weekly check under the hood, including checking the oil, coolant level, and even windshield washer fluid level is a good practice. While the hood is open, glance at the battery terminals to see if corrosion is starting. I think we are spoiled today by mechanical devices that require little or no maintenance. It used to be that there were lubrication procedures for almost everything. My mother had to oil her New Home treadle sewing machine. Our prewar refrigerator had to be oiled every month–it didn’t have a sealed unit. Even in the 1960s, Consumer Reports gave the oil consumption rate on the cars it tested.
In my own opinion, a,quart of oil every 4500 miles is nothing to be concerned about. My first car used a quart of oil every 250-300 miles. It might even be the case that at the last oil change, the oil was a pint low. I always check the oil right after I have it changed.
Any Brand Car Can Develop A Fluid (Engine Oil, Coolant, Brake Fluid, Transmission Fluid, Power Steering Fluid, Windshield Washer Fluid, Etcetera) Leak Or Consumption Problem At Any Time.
I check under-hood on all of my vehicles (takes only minutes), weekly, and tire pressures monthly. That’s not too much for me. I have low engine oil level warning devices and low tire warning devices, etcetera, but I would rather be more familiar with my machines.
When I flew planes, I was taught to check the whole vehicle out before every flight!
With cars and planes, better safe than sorry.
We see a lot of posts about newer cars using oil between oil changes. It seems to me that it still makes sense to check fluid levels ever two to four weeks and filters every couple of months. My 2005 Accord V6 does not use oil, but I still check it every few weeks.
Some of you didn’t notice the OP has had this car only one year; the other 8 are low yearly mileage and unknown (to us) maintenance.
"I feel checking oil level every few weeks is old-school for cars from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s."
Feelings can lead to peril.
I’ll bet your Owner’s Manual says to check the oil every time you get gas.
My car (2006 Matrix) uses no noticeable amount of oil between 5000 mile changes,
yet I check the oil every 1000 miles.
OP, the problem with the type of driving involved, (few miles over years) along with the environmental conditions can cause oil issues due to condensation in the block. This can lead to oil consumption and that can be exacerbated by operating the vehicle while it is low on oil; even to the tune of a measly quart. Less oil means the oil gets hotter which means the additives have a tendency to break down, etc, etc, etc.
Here’s a digit of mine in the oil of a new engine in a custom car that was only driven for a mile or two now and then. Sum total of miles on that engine? About 1100. That’s what condensation and not operating an engine long enough to burn out moisture causes. This is an extreme example and your engine sees more operating time but an example nonetheless.
I have a 2012 car and the owners manual says that the oil should be checked once a month. It also says oil burning is not a problem until it exceeds 1 qt. per 600 miles. No that is not a Typo, it really says 600 miles.
My PT Cruiser consumed a quart every 2500 miles from new, I know 3 other PT owners, all about the same.
I qt in 4500 miles is a blessing, not a problem. You probably would not see the level drop if you did short trip driving. The gasoline that got past the rings on a cold engine would have made up the level.
I don’t see that there is anything to fix on that car.
Why oh why are people under the impression that an engine that needs a quart of oil periodically is a problem?
If cars of the past never burned oil like late model cars do, why did every gas station on every corner have quarts and quarts of oil next to the gas pumps that sold very well?
I have a 2002 Explorer that uses absolutely no oil, a 2002 Mercury Sable that uses a quart every 3-4000 depending on driving conditions, a 2006 Lincoln Town Car that uses a quart every 2500 or so, a 1999 Silverado that uses a quart every 1500 miles. As a professional mechanic, in my opinion there is nothing wrong with any of these engines.
A quart of oil might cost $5, right? In the example above, at the rate of one quart per 4500 miles, the total amount spent on oil would be $20 over the last 8 years. Wow.
“Some of you didn’t notice the OP has had this car only one year; the other 8 are low yearly mileage and unknown (to us) maintenance.”
A car that has racked-up only 17k miles over the space of 8-9 years is a candidate for damaging oil sludging and “coking” of the piston rings. Once these conditions set in, the result is vastly increased engine wear and greatly increased oil consumption.
If I had a vehicle that was driven–on average–less than 3k miles per year, I would make sure that the oil was changed every 6 months, in order to try to prevent those conditions. Unless the OP can confirm, via hard copies of the maintenance records of the previous owner(s), that the oil was changed twice a year over that 8 year period, then the engine is likely…not healthy.
Also, when purchasing a vehicle–whether it is new or used–it is vital to check the oil VERY often in order to determine its rate of oil consumption. Assuming that it shouldn’t use any oil between changes–and failing to check the oil level between changes–is a practice that can destroy an engine.
The problem is that it’s a quart now. By the 30k miles mark it may be 2 or 3 quarts. By the 50k miles mark it could be a gallon.
If I were going to buy a very low miles car like this and discovered the oil had only been changed once or twice in that time frame I’d run screaming away from it.
“If I were going to buy a very low miles car like this and discovered the oil had only been changed once or twice in that time frame I’d run screaming away from it.”
Can the OP clarify some details for us, such as…
Were you able to obtain the old maintenance records for this vehicle?
How often was the oil actually changed (in terms of both odometer mileage and elapsed time) in the 8 years or so before you bought this vehicle?