2010 Equinox Oil Consumption

I have a 2010 Equinox with about 52000 miles on it. At about 48,000 I took it in for the 50G maintenance. The car ran with a fluttery sound that I did not really notice until it was brought to my attention. Recently the car began running rough and stalling when idling. there were no warning or indicator lights lit. I had OnStar run a remote diagnostic and they said there were no codes. The day after the diagnostic the check engine light went on , while at the same tie the rough idle and stalling went away. I brought the car in for service at the dealer. They said that the car had several codes indicating low oil and the car was down 2 quarts but there was no leak. They also said the noise I heard was the timing belt. The noise is gone after the service and the car is running smoothly. Coincidently, or not, I got a notice from GM saying they were changing the oil monitoring software on the 2010 Equinox to recommend mre frequent oil changes.

  1. What could cause the car to loose 2 quarts of oil over less than 6000 mile? Is this normal or an Equinox problem.
  2. Would low oil cause the timing belt to make a noise.
  3. Do I have a lemon and am I being ripped off y the dealer?

Extended oil changes can lead to oil consumption.
Running the engine chronically low on oil can lead to oil consumption also.

The big questions are how often do you have the oil changed and how often do you raise the hood to check the oil level?

Those oil life minders are getting a lot of people in trouble and even a change in the software may not be good enough to prevent problems.

Some vehicle manufacturers consider a quart of oil consumption over 1,000 miles as normal on their new vehicles. You should refer to your owners manual to see if there’s any mention of this.

My advice? Check the oil level in the engine every 500 miles.


I agree with OK4450. You need to check your oil level every coupla-three weeks. I use the OLM on my GM cars to determine when to change oil, but I check level more frequently.

I doubt the timing belt had anything to do with the oil consumption. It’s not uncommon for a belt - including a timing belt – to produce a little fluttering noise. Usually either the belt is starting to fray, in which case the belt needs to be replaced, or if the belt is good, something needs to be adjusted is all.

2qts in 6K sounds acceptable to me.

Not great, but acceptable.

I would HOPE my car would burn a quart of oil every 1500-2000 miles…That’s the only way the compression rings and valve stems get lubricated…Zero oil consumption means the compression rings and valve stems are being starved for oil…At some point, this oil starvation will make itself known… There was a time when adding a little “top oil” to the gas was thought to have positive benefits…Today, people worry more about their catalytic converter than they do their piston rings…

My car burns at least a quart of oil every 1,000 miles. It is 15 years old, though.

If I waited 6,000 miles to check the oil, my engine would be in serious trouble. It does have a “check oil level” indicator if the oil gets about 2 quarts low, though.

The engines in the Equinox, both the I4 and V6 are CHAIN driven not belt driven. In both engines the oil is used for two purposes. The first as a lubricant, the second as a hyrolic fluid to operate the cam shaft phasers. Besides low oil, using the incorrect oil (without a special anti foaming agent) will not provide sufficient hyrolic oil pressure (because of the air mixed in with the oil) to operate the camshaft phasers. This may cause the timing chain to lengthen, cauing the timing to be incorrect. The drive train, engine and tranny are warrentied for 6yr/100,000 miles by GM. GM sells their version of motor called DEXOS, which contains the proper level of anti foaming agent. Goggle DEXOS for addtional information. Check the Edmonds. com website for similar issues. Follow up with GM corporate. Have the cylinders checked by the dealer using a cylinder bore scope (a flexible scope the attaches to the spark plug opening) for a type of cylinder wear called Zebra Striping an indication of excessive oil burning that generally require the engine to be replaced. I am interested in hearing the follow up.

Even in this age, where everything is more and more “maintenance free” and ultimately disposable, you cannot just get your oil changed and forget about it. You MUST open the hood and check the oil periodically, and since your engine uses some oil, I would follow the recommendation of checking the oil every 500 miles, or every other fuel stop. You also might try a different brand of oil or switching to full-synthetic to see if that reduces your oil consumption, though as mentioned by others, 2 quarts in 6K miles, while annoying, is perfectly acceptable.

I also wouldn’t put too much reliance on the oil life monitor. I wouldn’t go past 5,000 miles with conventional oil, maybe 6K if you’re using synthetic. Here’s a perhaps poor analogy: If you wait until the oil life monitor reads 0% remaining, the oil is pretty used up and filthy at that point. No doubt it isn’t doing your engine any favors or lubricating very well. Would you let your whole household use the same bathwater to get the most out of it? How about eating that 10-day old chili until every morsel is gone? Waiting until every dish in your house is dirty to load the dishwasher? Probably not. Then why wait until your oil is practically tar to change it?

Using 1 qt of oil every 3k miles is definitely within normal limits, and is actually not a bad rate of oil consumption. So…this oil consumption should not be considered to be a problem.

On the other hand, driving for many thousands of miles without ever lifting the hood IS a problem, or–shall we say–will inevitably lead to problems if the OP continues to use a “hands off” approach to car maintenance. Waiting until one sees a warning light on the dashboard is not the way to prevent engine problems that might be otherwise preventable.

Anyone who wants to get the maximum value and service life from his/her vehicle should be in the habit of lifting the hood and doing fluid checks at least every few weeks. If there is an indication of increased consumption (let’s say, 1 qt every 750 miles…), then checking under the hood every week is more realistic.

And, while you are at it with the under-hood checking, it is also wise to manually check (and correct) your tire pressure on a regular basis. The Tire Pressure Monitoring System is there to alert you to catastrophic pressure loss while driving, and was never intended to be a substitute for regular, manual checking of the tires.

If you are not physically able to do under-hood checking and tire pressure checking, try to find a friend, neighbor, or co-worker who will do this for you. In the old days, gas station attendants would do these things for you, but those days are esssentially over, and most of the gas jockeys who I see nowadays probably wouldn’t know a dipstick from a donkey.

Thank to everyone who commented on my question. Lots of good information. You have definitely taught an old (old) dog new tricks and I will be checking the oil at fill-up going forward. I wonder why the dealer, where I get all my maintenance never told me to periodically check the oil? They seemed to imply I had ignored the oil pressure light, which I had not. Is the periodic check such an obvious requirement that they assumed I couldn’t be that stupid?

“Is the periodic check such an obvious requirement that they assumed I couldn’t be that stupid?”

The short answer is yes.

But it isn’t that simple. If you destroy the engine, you will buy a new car sooner. Some dealer service areas might take that into account. But I don’t think that all do.

“I wonder why the dealer, where I get all my maintenance never told me to periodically check the oil?”

Did they tell you to fill the gas tank every few days, and to wash the car when it gets dirty?

Seriously though, most of us who have been around for a few decades believe that it is common knowledge that car owners need to lift the hood at least every few weeks in order to do fluid checks. Perhaps the folks at the dealership are also of the opinion that this is common knowledge. Unfortunately, it now looks like we were wrong, and it isn’t common knowledge.

Or, perhaps the folks at the dealership thought that reading the Owner’s Manual, which does mention that the owner/driver should check the oil at every fill-up, would alert you to the importance of fluid checks. If that was their assumption, I guess that they were wrong on that point also.

I can even recall that, in high school Driver Education Class, the importance of checking fluids and tire pressure was stressed, so I am having a hard time figuring out how or why this is new information for the OP, but…better late than never!

Let me suggest that you check your oil at home rather than when filling up, maybe make this part of your day-off routine, normal home chores, something like that.

There are several reasons why the gas station is an inconvenient place to check oil: you may be in a hurry when you stop to buy gas, you probably are wearing clean clothes which you don’t want to get dirty reaching for the dipstick, there may be a line of cars behind you waiting for the pump, opening the hood when the engine is hot is not pleasant, you may get your hands dirty and need to traipse to the gas station restroom to wash, if you’re low, you probably will buy oil at an inflated price there at the station or you have to remember to stop somewhere to buy oil and add it asap. It’s a pain.

I find it’s far easier to keep oil at home and check oil in my vehicles when I’m doing assorted outdoor chores. If I need a half quart to get to full, it’s easy to put the partial bottle back in the garage. I’m definitely in clothes intended for maintenance of some sort. Good chance that it’s a day when I haven’t started the car so the engine’s cold and the oil has fully drained. There’s nobody behind me waiting for me to close the hood and get out of there. Because the engine is cold, it’s also a perfect time to check the coolant level, and look around for other potential problems. Maybe I’ll think to check tire pressure too. By that point, I’m focused on the car and start digging around inside for stuff that’s accumulated and should be put away, and in the process I wind up finding something which I’d misplaced and I’m thrilled to find!

Like that sandwich Al Bundy found in the couch . . . or was it that “classic” magazine?

And now we come to the end of the story. I started this string and appreciate all of the comments, even the one that answered in the affirmative to my being an idiot. I continued to check my oil and after the between servicing I put four quarts of oil in the car. I took it in for service and told the dealer how sick I was of the car. They later called and told me that GM had authorize a new motor for the car. It was too late and I have gotten rid of the car. Hopefully this one was an aberration an the later model Equinox I a better vehicle.


Had you already dumped the car when GM authorized that new motor?

Or did you still have the car, but didn’t want to keep driving it, even if it had a new motor?

Thanks for the update!

It’s assumed by me from your post that you bought another Equinox?

Unless the oil change regimen is altered and the engine oil level maintained this problem is likely to rear its head again in the future.

Yes I got another Equinox.Why? The first car I remember was a 47 Olds and the first car I drove after getting my license was a 54 Chevy. I am sticking with GM out of a mixture of nostalgia and patriotism. Hope I do not get burnt. I will be checking my oil regularly but given that GM authorized the replacement of the engine on my 2010 at no cost to me I must assume the problem was with the car from the gitgo and not due to my negligence.