Burning Oil in Toyota Highlander



I have a 2001 Toyota Highlanderwith about 107000 miles on it. I noticed the oil light turns on when i brake. I went and check the oil gauge. It indicates a low level of oil. I went have a oil service done. After the service and prior taking an out of state trip ,the oil level was checked and found to be okay. When I get to my destination after travellingg about 750 miles, the oil light turned on again. I check my oil gauge and it indicated a nearly empty level. What do you I need to be doing about that?


4 quarts in 750 miles??? you bet something is wrong…who checked your oil level??? you should have a puddle under the car or wicked black smoke out of the exhaust to use that much oil? you fill the crankcase and monitor oil level.


If you’re going through that much oil then it’s either leaking it or burning it.

With the former the bottom of the vehicle should be oil saturated and should be leaving spots, or puddles.

With the latter much of the smoke may be trapped in the converter.
A 107k miles is not much but you did not state if you bought the vehicle used and/or whether it’s been overheated at any time along with being properly maintained.

Take out the PCV valve and shake it. If it does not rattle freely then put a new one in. It’s easy and dirt cheap.
If the problem is not the PCV then (ouch) you may have a serious engine problem.
A compression and/or leakdown test would need to be performed. This will determine piston ring condition and valve/seat conditon, although the latter has nothing to do with oil burning.


Did this happen all of a sudden? Like how long have you owned this vehicle? Has it always used oil or is this something something new? If it happened all of a sudden, check for a leak. Running the oil so low the oil pressure light comes on usually indicates engine damage has been done…Good Luck.


Take it to a trusted mechanic soon. The two lines of Empty and Full on a dipstick indicate about 1 quart of motor oil.

Make sure until you get this addressed that you check/top off the engine oil every fuel fillup. Running your engine to the point an oil light illuminates causes severe engine damage.


Is the oil level empty or simply down to the bottom line on the dipstick? This could mean “only” a quart down which some folks consider acceptable for oil use. Was the engine “out of oil?” or down to the fill line? Rocketman


Anticipating the flames I did say “some people” . . . not me folks. A well-worn 4wd with 107k without proper maintenance could use a quart every 750 miles . . . .but I agree that you’d have to notice oil drips or smoke. Rocketman


If you have a v6, then you may have one of those engines that tend to sludge up. I would first check that PCV valve. If that is OK, or even if its not and you replace it, I would then remove the valve covers and check the oil drain holes. These are holes near the bottom edge of the cover rail (that part of the head that the valve cover gasket touches). When you find the drain back holes, use a long thin screwdriver to make sure they are clear all the way to the oil pan. If they aren’t, then clear them out with the screwdriver and a coffee pot brush or baby bottle brush.

Then do several oil changes in a row, a couple of hundred miles or so apart. If you get a lot of sludge down into the pan, you should probably drain the oil and then pour a gallon of kerosene down those drains and out the drain. You can do this several times if you filter the kerosene each time.