CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Burning Oil

I appear to be burning 2 quarts every 2500 miles or so. Is this normal for a car with 165k miles on it? I bought her new, the engine was recalled at 18.000 miles due to poor design of converter. I have always been religious about changing the oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. That is why I am so stumped. Anything I can do outside of an overhaul? Would that be worth it?

I need to add this vehicle is a 2002 Nissan Altima 2.5SL.

That amount of oil burning is not something to be alarmed about. Especially with an engine with that many miles. Most auto manufacturers consider a quart of oil every thousand miles as being normal consumption on their new vehicles.

One thing that can cause oil burning is stuck piston rings. You might try adding a half a can of SeaFoam Engine Tuneup to the oil to see if will free up any stuck piston rings. If that shows no improvement, then the engine is a good candidate for RESTORE engine treatment. http://www.restoreusa.com/Engine_Restorer.html

Tester

IMHO, your oil consumption is not excessive. It would be a good idea to check the oil when you fill up the gas tank. In my experience, some brands of oil don’t seem to be consumed as quickly as other brands of the same viscosity. I had a Ford Maverick that used about a quart every 1250 miles when I used Sunoco 10W-30 oil. When the Sunoco station where I was trading closed its doors and I was doing my own oil changes, I found a special on Valvoline 10W-30–25 cents a quart with rebate (this goes back to the 1970’s). I decided to take a chance. The oil life improved to a quart every 1500 miles with the Valvoline.

A quart of oil every 1250 miles does not warrant an overhaul. You can buy a lot of oil for the price of an overhaul. Furthermore, an overhaul may not improve your situation. If it is any consolation to you, my first car, a 1947 Pontiac, which I purchased in 1962 for $75, used a quart of oil every 150-200 miles. However, with careful driving, I made the 350 mile trip from my home to the university where I enrolled in graduate school. I would have thought I was in heaven if the Pontiac had only used a quart every 1250 miles.

In my opinion, that rate of oil consumption falls on the borderline between normal and something to worry about. Before you try the ideas Tester mentioned, you could try using a high mileage oil. High mileage oils sometimes reduce oil consumption.

Make mine another vote that that consumption on a 165K engine is a sign of good health.

Kudos for keeping track of these things. With this level of attention the engine should continue to run healthy for many, many more miles.

Happy motoring.