Disappearing oil

I have a 2004 Acura TSX with 98,000 miles. In the last 12 months the car has been using oil. There’s no oil leak, the exhaust does not look like it’s burning oil and no one so far has been able to find out where the oil is going. The dealer did a compression test, said it was normal and we should quit using synthetic oil and use regular oil. They thought that after 2 or 3 oil changes the problem would go away. Not so. At first it was using 1 qt about every 1800-2000 miles. Now, it’s a quart about every 1000. The mileage is still 27-28 miles/gallon. The car runs smoothly. What the heck is going on? Where is that oil going? I don’t want to get a new car and thought this one would last for 200,000 miles.

Since there’s no sign of a leak, the oil is either being burned or leaking into the water jacket. If the dealer did a leakdown test when he did the compression test, that would eliminate the water jacket. If he did not, start by checking you rcoolant for the presence of hydrocarbons, although without other symptoms the probability of having a bad headgasket is extremely low.

The exhaust is no longer a good indicator of whether it’s burning oil. First off, the cat converter can capture much of the smoke before it gets out the tailpipe. And since it smokes most when under acceleration (or deceleration of it’s valve stem seals), and if you’re like most you tried to see it in the rearview mirror while driving, what smoke gets past the converter was probably dissipated by the air you were passing through as you were driving. The best look-see to confirm burning oil is deposition on the sparkplugs. It’ll show up as a grey crust (often called oil ash) or perhaps even a black wetness.

Your car has a turbocharger. Since its bearings are lubricated with oil, and its purpose is to push air into the intake, a leak of the sealing ring can allow oil to get drawn into the turbocharger and pushed into the engine’s intake. That’s where I’d look. You may see residue in the turbocharger’s air passages.

Post back with your findings. We care.

I agree with mountainbike except for the turbocharger part. The TSX has a naturally aspirated 4-cylinder engine.

The oil is being burned in the engine. There’s no doubt about that. Some engines use a bit of oil. Maybe this is one of them.

Switching from synthetic to regular won’t make any difference, and I’m surprised the dealer suggested this. You might try replacing the PCV valve. A malfunctioning PCV valve can cause increased oil consumption.

If it doesn’t get any worse than a quart per 1,000 miles I’d say add oil as necessary and continue driving. You might also try a “high mileage” oil. It might help or it might not (probably not) but it’s worth a try.

Really? I could have sworn it was turbocharged.

In that case I’m with McP all the way.

I have the same problem. But there is no PCV valve on this engine. It is not turbocharged. It is a Vtech 2.4. I am also getting a vapor lock on the dipstick and oil cap, so, there has to be some kind of check valve to release the pressure…Any thoughts. I don’t want to think it is the rings. There is no smoke (any color) on start up or going down the raod.