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Car using oil

I have a 2002 Saturn SC2 with 81,000 miles. It has started using at least a qt. of oil between changes every 3-4000 miles. It is not a leak. What is happening? The car runs great, terrific mileage, sounds good.

Nothing is happening. This is called “Normal”.

Are you saying that this should not be of any concern? It has never used oil like this. I took it to Lube Express for the last two changes. The last time they put in a "high mileage"oil and told me to bring it in after 1500 miles for a re-check and to get it topped off.

Some oil burn off between oil changes is normal. The amount varies engine to engine. The amount of burn off you are experiencing is apparently increasing. This may be cause for concern. Different oils have different burn off characteristics. If you changed brands of oil this can make a difference. If this isn’t the case, oil can be getting by your valve guides, perhaps you are showing some piston ring wear. Keep monitoring the oil usage to determine if it is constant or increasing.

What’s the worse case senario?

If the car was brand new, that rate of oil consumption (1 qt. per 3,000–4,000 mi.) would fall into the “normal” category. As a result, adding oil at that rate on a car with 81k on the odometer certainly falls within the normal category.

If this rate of oil consumption is higher than what you used to experience, then I can understand your concern. However, this is absolutely normal for any car. In fact, many owners of new or nearly-new Audis would be envious that you were using so little oil!

Just remember to check the oil every couple of weeks, in case the rate of consumption suddenly increases.

Your ignorance is going to end up costing you a lot of money…learn a little about cars and avoid places like Lube Express. Use the grade of oil recommended in your owners manual. Lube express will not let you observe what they put in…Piston engines NEED to burn a little oil. That’s what lubricates the compression rings and valve guides. Nothing lasts forever, especially car engines. I hope this helps.

If your increase in oil use started when you started using the Lube Express for the last 2 changes I’d switch to another shop for your next oil change. It may not be your car, it maybe the oil they are putting in your car.

Over the years I’ve had a couple of incidents where oil I’d bought burned off much faster than oils used before and after in the same car. The oil brands really do differ more than you think. Once I find a brand I like I tend to stay with it. I’ve had good results with Pennzoil, and Quaker State GTX. Synthetics are supposedly very good and have very low burn off rates as a group.

One poster said he’d experience “softening” of some seals when the high mileage oils were used. This could cause more problems than they solve.

YOU should check your oil every second or third fill-up. That’s just normal automotive maintenance. Different BRANDS of oil will indeed produce different rates of oil consumption.

I’d say not to over react. Change brands of oil and expect to add come oil between changes. 1 quart every 2000 was said to be normal in the Volvo owner’s manual for my '98 V70XC. Oils are getting thinner, we are now running 5W-20 weight oils which will burn off more than the 10W-40 oils we used 10 years ago.

If you are really worried you can get a compression test. This can detect worn rings and valves. You can have someone ride behind you on the road and watch your tail pipe for blueish smoke. Put the transmission selector in 2 or 3 and accelerate the car up to about 4500 rpm then get off the gas and coast for about a 10 count and then step on the gas again. If the observer behind you sees a puff of blue smoke then you are burning a bit of oil.

Even if you are using a little oil, that is not unusual especially for an older car. It is not going to blow up, and could run strong for a long time.

The worst case scenario is someone will rebuild your engine for you and botch the job and you are out a bunch of money and worse off than before. A quart of oil now and again is not a big deal. Two or 3 quarts every 2,000 then you worry.

You are doing significantly better than average for a pure Saturn motor. These engines when they hit over 100k-150k will eventually consume oil at a rate close to 1qt/1000 miles. A standard trunk accessory is a case of el cheapo motor oil.

Get into a habit of checking/topping your motor oil every 2-3 fuel fillups and it will last a long time.

4 of 5 older Saturn owners I know have a case cheap motor oil(buy whatever on sale) in the trunk.

I concur a check every 3rd fillup is just great car care. This is one of the three things that will make your vehicle last a long life.

Also checking the engine oil level at the next fillup after an oil change or sooner is also good policy.

This is true, Saturns are well known for their oil consumption. What you’re experiencing is not out of the ordinary. Maybe try a different brand of oil, you may be able to reduce your oil consumption some. Our Olds Intrigue with the 3.5L V6 would consume Mobil 1 5W-30 at a high rate; switched over to Castrol Syntec 0W-30 and oil consumption is drastically reduced.

What is happening is that you’re apparently taking proper care of the car and thus experiencing an absolutely healty level of oil usage for an 81,000 mile engine.

Some new cars use this much and consider it normal. For a car with 81K on th eclock it’s downright okay.

Congratulations. And kudos on your monitoring the level. This is a good thing to do for all drivers. Keep up the good work.

this would not be considered abnormal use for a car of this mileage and age. Mfgr’s accept up to 1 qt per 1000 miles as “normal range”. don’t worry, just keep an eye on use.