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Arguments for ditching my 2008 Toyota Rav4 that burns oil?

My 2008 Toyota Rav-4 (4 cylinder) started burning oil about 6 months ago, which apparently is a common problem with this vintage of engine. It has 122K miles on it, Kelley Blue Book value is about $3600. I am having to put in 1 quart of oil every 500 miles or so (plus the regular oil changes every 5K miles). The car otherwise runs beautifully and has not had any other major issues, but I worry about the longevity of the car, now that I have this new oil-burning problem.

I’m trying to figure out whether or not I should ditch this car or not. I just spent about $180 to change the spark plugs and I will need rear brakes and a whole new set of tires within the year. Is it silly to spend so much money on a car that might fail fairly soon? Is it environmentally irresponsible to be driving a car that needs so much oil?

I have the luxury of being able to buy a new car without any financial stress, but of course I don’t like spending money when I don’t have to.

Your thoughts on the matter would be greatly appreciated. If you do think it might be a good idea to upgrade my car, would it be unethical to hide the fact that I have this oil-burning problem? I certainly wouldn’t do that to an individual, but would consider hiding this issue if I do a trade-in.

It seems that you already posted earlier but this is what I would do.I would keep adding oil because $30,000 can buy you lots of it. Its either burning it internally due to worned piston rings or you have a leak somewhere.I would replace the pcv valve in case its the problem. It was the case of my1999 Corolla I sold last summer.

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I probably have a different opinion about oil consumption than others on this board, but I would keep driving the vehicle. Keep following the manufacturer’s recommendation on oil.change frequency and viscosity. For the need to add between changes, purchase a house brand of the right viscosity.
I can purchase house brand full synthetic oil that meets the specifications for my Toyota for $2.79 a quart. The cost would be around $25 between 5000 mile oil changes. I would do this and ride it out for a while and in the meantime look for a newer ride.

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Say for the sake of argument you can sell this RAV4 for $3600, and a new vehicle costs $30k plus tax, which comes to around $33k. Therefore, “upgrading” from this RAV4 to a new vehicle will cost you a net out-of-pocket of $29,400. You can buy a lot of oil for that much money!

My advice is to keep driving the RAV4, keep checking and topping off the oil, and continue to properly maintain it. As long as you keep the oil full, this SUV will likely last for many more years.

I’m going to go against the grain here. Your oil consumption will only grow as the miles pile up, the catalytic converter will become ineffective and may clog, and your spark plugs will become fouled. Most of all, you’ve fallen out of love with this car. If you can afford it, trade it in on something that won’t cause you agita.


If it continues to “burn” oil at the one quart per 500 mile rate it might be ok to do nothing But as the poster above suggests, I don’t think that rate will hold. Most likely the oil burning will get worse, perhaps markedly, and sooner than later. If I had that problem I think this is what I’d do

  • Assess the pcv system and replaced what’s broken
  • Measure the dry and wet compression. If they are both ok, that’s good news. If the compression test shows the piston rings are the likely problem, time to start looking for another car
  • Assess if the oil burning is due to incontinent valve stem seals. If so, that can be usually be repaired and still make sense economically. The valve stem seals can sometimes be replaced without even having to remove the cylinder head. Worse case the head has to be removed. Still not that big of a deal.

Whatever the problem is imo you should inform the potential buyer, whoever it is, of your concerns & the results of your testing.

You could try adding a can of Restore to the motor oil and see what happens. It’s a cheap last ditch gasp but it may improve things. Then drive it to the end.

Just some food for thought. Your car is 13 years old with comparatively low miles on it. You say the oil changes are at 5k miles intervals. This would tell you most of your driving is generally short hops. It’s quite possible the oil change intervals should have been more often both as to miles and time and this could have prevented the current oil consumption problem.


I would support @COROLLAGUY1 suggestion above to check/replace PCV valve.
My 2005 Prius had “high” oil consumption (burning a quart in ~2000 miles, I purchased it at 117K miles, 125K now), which completely cured with replacing a stuck PCV valve.
I’m on 5000 miles oil change interval, cheapest synthetics I buy in Walmart, when it is time to drain, I have only half an inch level drop on the dip-stick, which is probably something like a couple of ounces.

Car is worth 3500. You can afford a new car. 20k? 30k? It’s 12 yrs old. Do you like a suv? Want a sedan? Why not buy a newer suv? For 8k? Or 14k? You don’t need new. Unless you want new. Move on.

My '87 Toyota pickup runs as well as new: same compression, same gas mileage, same power (not a lot). Your car’s problem is very likely fixable for a lot less than a new car. I expect the executor of my estate to deal with my pickup. I won’t be buried in it.

Is this one of the Toyota engines prone to sludging, with small (possibly clogged) oil drain holes causing oil to pool up in the head?

+1 to the PCV valve as mentioned by @COROLLAGUY1, my big concern is if it is fouling plugs and catalytic converter.

Don’t say anything initially . . .

Let me clarify . . . if you sell the car private party, don’t look the prospective buyer in the eye and say “The car burns oil. I have to add a quart every 500 miles.”

But if the guy asks if the car burns oil, you should tell the truth

Buyer beware . . . don’t expect answers to questions that weren’t asked

If you trade in, don’t even mention it. The sales department won’t care, anyways. Your car is just a bunch of numbers on the computer screen, as far as they’re concerned

A compression test will not reveal worn oil control rings. I’m not sure if you were getting at this . . .

Toyota offered a warranty extension to correct the oil consumption problem on this vehicle for 10 years/150,000 miles, it is too bad that the problem didn’t surface before that warranty expired.

If the oil consumption problem could have been solved by replacing the PCV valve, Toyota wasted million of dollars replacing pistons (false hope).

. Will tell the buyer trailer hitch is trashed and bumper needs replaced, got $700 from the rear ender insurance co, used parts they said vs 1400 for new, get a code readout for small evap leak, but the car has had above and beyond maintenance, transfer case fluid, front and rear diff, new PS lines, brakes and tires are good and fluid changed at last brake job, Lifetime peak global, but ready to move on. 2wd, auto, 4 lo 4hi work fine, wife won’t ride in it anymore for the 2x 1k road trip to the cabins for boat towing. Thinking $1k sale, it should be a good vehicle for someone at that price. Up to $600 if a cracked filler neck is the cause of the code. 03 trailblazer 197k miles. Burns 1 qt oil every 3k miles. I saw a min 6500 trade in, push pull or drag at the local chevy dealer, got till june as it will not pass emissions with the cel.

It’s not ancient. Maybe if price is low buyer won’t be too mad about oil issues

A quart every 500 miles is not a burden if you like the vehicle and take care of it.

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If it were my car, I would buy inexpensive oil that meets the engine oil specs, keep adding it as needed, and continue driving it.

I’ve also had good luck extending the oil change intervals in cases like this. You’re adding 5 new quarts of oil every 2500 miles. I’ve gone from 5K to 7.5K or even longer for such oil burners, and it surprised me how that didn’t cause any ill effects. I know my opinion is in the minority on this.


I would not extend the interval. I would shorten the interval. You may be adding oil in, but you’re not draining the old oil out with all of the impurities suspended in it.

… and worn engine dumps much more of these impurities into the oil with more blowby gasses

My vote is also for not extending intervals (at the least) or even reducing the interval.