Excessive oil consumption in Camry Hybrid


#1

I bought a 2007 Camry Hybrid expecting typical Toyota quality and a service life of at least 150,000 miles. However, the car started burning oil quite noticeably at about 70,000 miles. Toyota has announced a warranty extension to do repairs if the oil burn exceeds 1 quart per 1200 miles, but at about 0.7 quarts per 1200 miles, with 90,000 miles on the car now, I am not quite there. That extension is about to expire without me being able to get the repairs.

My questions are:

  1. Toyota will not say WHY these Camry’s are burning so much oil. It sure is a mystery how a company with a reputation for great engines can drop the ball like this. Can you find out what it is?
  2. How much life do you expect we will get out of this engine?

Thanks,
Max Joe


#2

Seems like you are getting about 1500 miles per quart. That isn’t something to be concerned about imo, esp as you have at least 70K miles on this 2007 beast from what I gather. My own Toyota’s – an early 90’s Corolla – oil usage is about one quart per 5,000 miles. But it uses 10W 30 oil. Your car probably uses a thinner oil, which is more likely to sneak through the engine than a thicker oil. That’s done purposely in newer cars to improve engine efficiency and mpg and to allow power-improving features like variable valve timing. And there isn’t really much you can do about it if you want to drive a newer model; all the manufacturers are doing the same, and for the same reasons: improved mpg & engine hp.

There’s some variability car to car of course, maybe yours is a little on the high side. But suggest the best course is to verify there’s no oil leaks, check and top off the oil regularly when needed, and beyond that, don’t by overly concerned. We get quite a few posters here saying their newer car is going through a quart of oil every 800 miles and the manufacture saying it is normal. It’s just the design compromise the manufacturers are using to get higher mpg and power ratings in order to make their cars sell better.


#3

I’ll tell you exactly what the problem is, because I’ve seen the factory documents you may be referring to

The engine in your car has an “issue” with pistons and rings, which can result in extremely high oil consumption

Toyota’s official repair . . . if the engine exceeds a certain threshold . . . involves replacing the pistons, rings, and I believe possibly even the block. I’m not sure about the block, but I AM sure about the rings and pistons

It is actually not a mystery. Anybody can pony up about $20, log onto the Toyota technical website, and see all the technical service bulletins, warranties, recalls, campaigns, etc. that the guys at the dealership have access to. You’ll get about 3 days of access.

I’ve actually done that myself several times over the years, and informed myself as exactly what Toyota I wanted to buy, and what model years, specific engines, transmissions, etc. to avoid. I’m happy with my choice

I think as long as you continue to monitor the oil level, and top off as needed, never letting it get below the “add” line, your engine will give you many more years of service.

Several years ago, I had a Corolla, which had FAR higher oil consumption than yours. In fact, it was like that since day one. I religiously checked the oil level every week, topping off as needed. I drove it like that for years.


#4

Hi George:

I might accept some oil burn for lower viscosity and higher mileage if it was actually designed on purpose.

But this is a flaw, and so much of one that Toyota is doing a $6000 engine rebuild to correct it. However, it seems to take about 110,000 miles to get to the point where the burn is enough to qualify for that rebuild.

Thanks,
Farron


#5

Hi db:

Hey, thanks a lot. You’re telling me more than my Toyota dealership or their national call in tech support are willing to tell me. These guys just shrug and pretend like they don’t know when asked.

Still, it’s a frigging mystery. Toyota is know for excellent engineering and durability. Then, you pay $7000 more for the hybrid version and the thing starts falling apart like they have forgotten how to design and engine.

Best,
Farron


#6

Interesting. What’s the cutoff point then? Is it that after a certain number of miles, Toyota won’t fix it under warranty no matter what the oil usage?

I seem to recall some newer engines – not sure if it was Toyota or not – had a problem where the piston rings would rotate enough that the gaps would start to align. There’s multiple rings that seal to keep the oil in and keep the compression what it should be. In order to be able to install them over the piston, they aren’t a full circle, they have a small gap in them. There might be 3 rings on the piston, one above the other, and the gaps are installed at 120 degrees apart to get the maximum gap to gap distance. That way they act in unison like a complete circle with no gaps. But in some engine designs the individual rings can rotate with use, and enough that the gaps start to align with each other, increasing oil consumption.


#7

What db4690 stated is true, but with my friend’s “oil burning Rav-4”, I was able to reduce the rate of oil consumption from 1 qt every 600 miles to 1 qt every 3,000 miles by simply replacing the PCV valve.
In light of how incredibly cheap a PCV valve is, I would suggest that the OP spend a few bucks on a new PCV valve in order to see if that makes as dramatic an improvement with his Camry’s oil consumption problem as it did with my friend’s Rav-4.


#8

What year was that RAV4 . . . ?

I’m wondering if it was a 2AZ-FE . . . OP has a variant of that engine

Not exactly the same engine . . . because it’s a hybrid . . . but very close, and similar enough to be included in that bulletin I mentioned


#9

You’re welcome

Here it is, in all its glory

24 pages worth of Toyota technical service bulletin

THIS is what your dealership and tech support are unwilling to tell you about :smirk:

http://www.rav4world.com/tsb/2011/T-SB-0094-11.pdf

If you’re up to it, how about visiting your dealership, showing them the printed out bulletin, and asking WHY they were pretending as if they had never heard of the issue

Actually, that would be a waste of time, because it probably would NOT result in them suddenly deciding to perform the repair for you

Seriously, though, if you threw that bulletin on the desk, they KNOW that you’re aware of the potential problem, and what the worst case solution would be. Then you can say you’re extremely concerned that your engine oil consumption will get steadily worse, to the point that it would theoretically qualify for new rings and pistons, and possibly that short block, shortly AFTER you’re no longer eligible. Tell them you would be very upset, were that scenario to play out, and that if it were to happen, your next car will definitley NOT be a Toyota.


#10

db, that finally tells the whole story, so thanks a lot. Looking through that service bulletin, the repair might be limited to new pistons and rings, but often the cylinder is so badly scored and damaged it takes a new block as well. Might as well be a whole new engine.

This excessive oil burn started showing up at about 70,000 miles. The pictures in the service bulletin show the obvious damage to the cylinder walls. Jeez, what a mistake on the part of Toyota design engineering to let this happen. You buy a $30,000 car from Toyota, you at least expect it to have engine design quality as good as their bottom end Corollas that roll 200,000 miles. Then, the way they treat the details like national security secrets and won’t tell you what is going on makes it twice as irritating.


#11

It’s not just Toyota.
There are plenty of Euro-luxury cars (Audi, Porsche etc.) and some Subarus that are burning 1qt per 1,000 miles from brand new and the makers are saying it’s perfectly normal.
Imagine the cost of Euro-spec synthetic oil over a 10,000 mile change interval.
Do a little searching and you’ll find an article by Consumer’s Reports that lists models with significant oil consumption.
My Toyota Owner’s Manual says that one qt per 600 miles is the threshold for warranty repair.


#12

Hey CircuitSmith:

In this case the technical bulletin db sent shows it is a real design problem where the pistons and cylinders are damaged so badly they must be replaced. If you’ve driven your Camry Hybrid about 110,000 miles the wear will be bad enough that they will rebuild the engine. But, we’re not quite going to make it before the warranty expires.

After this its back to Honda for me. We’ve had three Civics and one Accord that were still running fine at 150,000 to 180,000 miles when we sold them. We’ll probably be lucky to get 120,000 miles out of this Camry, which was the most expensive by far.

You must be a circuit designer. Me too–RF being my specialty.

Max Joe


#13

Sorry you are having this difficulty w/you Toyota. Hopefully in other aspects of your driving life your poles remain in the right half of the S-plane … :wink:


#14

I would be concerned about what repair Toyota might do to correct your oil consumption problem. I have seen some ring replacement jobs that made the oil consumption worse. If it was my car, I would live with 1 quart per 1500 miles before I would let someone tear into the engine and do a ring job. IMHO, the proper repair is a new or remanufactured engine.