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How often to change oil filter in a car that burns through oil?

My 2008 Rav4 started burning oil, starting at 110K miles, which apparently is a common issue in older Toyotas of this vintage. After talking with my mechanic, it seems like my best option is to continuously add oil (not worth it to me to do overhaul my engine). I am currently needing to add a quart of oil every 600 miles or so. My question is this: If I am adding fresh oil so often, then can I reduce the frequency at which I change the oil filter? I was doing an oil change every 5000K miles or so, but since this new problem has arisen, I feel like I might be able to get away with decreasing the oil filter changes. I do not do my own car maintenance and I’d love to avoid going to Jiffy Lube, just to do an oil filter change!

Appreciate any advice in advance!

Since you have your own mechanic I think I would place more value on his opinion than a bunch of anonymous people on the web . But since you asked if it was mine I would keep adding oil and change oil and filter at 7000 miles or 12 months .

No you can’t

I would continue to change the oil every 5k miles or even a little sooner. The oil is still holding contaminants in it and a full crankcase of new oil will do a better job than a crankcase of mixed old and new. I forget when they said it, but Tom and Ray both said on more than one time that replacing a quart every 600-1,000 miles isn’t going to provide the same benefit as a full oil change. Definitely don’t decrease the changes!

Oil changes aren’t a hard thing for someone to learn how to do. If you’re not able to or don’t have the time to, I would HIGHLY recommend you find a good, well recommended independent mechanic instead of using Jiffy Lube


What ever you do stay away from jiffy lube.


Burning a quart every 600 miles is not horrible, some new cars have a disclaimer that a quart in 1,000 (sometimes less) is considered normal.

Your engine needs more TLC now, so changing the oil and filter every 5,000 miles is still good practice.

I had a beater many years ago that drank oil, but otherwise was reliable. I would save the oil from our main car that was in good shape and use the used oil to top off the beater, but I would change the oil and filter every 3,000 miles. The beater was still running well when I sold it.

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Add a can of this to the engine oil.

If it doesn’t stop the oil consumption, it might slow it down.



It’s also on where you live. Many (if not all) apartment complexes don’t allow people working on cars on t heir property. This includes oil changes. I’ve sold all my income property. Most were duplexes and owned a couple triple-deckers…and I had in the lease no working on cars on property. Mainly that was to prevent someone from starting a side business. I really didn’t enforce someone from doing their own work. But the clause was there if they took advantage of the situation.

If it were my car, I’d extend the oil and filter change interval to 7000 miles or so.

I would stick with the 5000 mile oil and filter change, and I would use the oil specified in the owner’s manual. The owner’s manual for my Toyota Sienna notes that 600 miles a quart of oil is not abnormal.
Consumer Reports back in the 1950s and 1960s used to record the amount of oil consumed after break-in on the vehicles it tested. Some new cars back then used a quart every 600 miles.
I realize that times have changed. My suggestion is to ride it out. The oil consumption may not get any worse for a while.


I say keep the oil changed on the same schedule or sooner. And have the entire crankcase ventilation system inspected and cleaned/repaired as needed. And the product Tester recommended has a better than even chance of improving the situation and so it is probably worth taking a chance on it.

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Top off the oil every 600 miles or as necessary, and a full oil and filter change every 5,000 miles.


I don’t know whether or not you are using synthetic oil. If not, you might want to try full synthetic oil of the viscosity specified for your RAV-4. I got three more seasons of use from a push lawnmower that was burning so much oil I was fogging for mosquitoes when I mowed. The manual for the mower that I bought in 1992 specified 30 weight heavy detergent oil. Synthetic oil wasn’t common back then. I bought a quart of 10W-30 full synthetic oil and after about 10 hours, the oil consumption dried up. At the end of this past season, while mulching leaves, I detected s little blue smoke. However, I staved off buying a new mower for three seasons.
If you are not using synthetic oil, it may be worth a shot.

Your engine may be getting sludge in it. Extending the oil change interval is only going to make it worse, faster. You would be better off decreasing the oil change interval, for a while anyway. It might clean out some of the sludge and reduce the oil consumption.

One problem with those oil change places (among the many) is that they often don’t do what you want them to do. For example, if you want any oil other than their generic 5w30 conventional oil, you have to pay extra because they have to get it from bottles where the 5w30 comes in 55 gallon drums,

If you pay the extra charge for the bottles and if you aren’t watching them, your liable to get the bulk oil anyway. You really get cheated if you pay for synthetic and they do this. If you don’t want to do your own oil changes, then shop around to find a place that will do it your way.

If jiffy lube is your only option, then I’d suggest that you bump up the oil change interval to 3000 or 3750 miles and at least check the oil before you leave to make sure that it is clean and up to the full mark. That way you will be sure they at least actually did the oil change and/or they didn’t accidentally forget to put the oil in after they drained it. That has happened, even at good shops. Someone gets distracted and an engine gets ruined.

Sometimes the oil leaks. From the oil pressure sensors and other places. A previous owner told me that two shops would change the rear main seal on a Cadillac. To do the job “right” would take $2,000. The problem was loose oil pan bolts. I tightened them up and stopped losing oil. If you see big black spots where your car is parked, the oil pressure sensor and the low oil sensor should be checked for leaks. It’s probably not the pan bolts, but if nobody looks, nobody is diagnosing.

My friend’s '08 Rav has the characteristic oil consumption problem, and I have used a variety of oils in his car. I found that Mobil-1 full synthetic was consumed at the same rate as the conventional oils that I tried.

Then, when Pennzoil was on sale I bought several quarts of it. For reasons that I don’t really understand, conventional Pennzoil seems to slow-down the rate of oil consumption to a small extent.

If my engine was burning a lot of oil, I’d be tempted to change the oil and filter more often, not less often, because those contaminants are collecting in higher concentrations as the oil gets burned and replenished.

If you want the engine to burn more oil, your plan is a good way to get there.


Real practical experience. When we were teens,my friend had a 1950s Studebaker flat-head six that really consumed oil. He used to say “Fill her up with oil and check the gas.”

He went with the “just add, never change” idea. When he finally went for a change, they took the drain plug out…and nothing came out. There was so much sludge in the bottom of the crankcase that the outlet was plugged.

Since the oil pickup is at the bottom of the crankcase, it’s possible that oil flow to the engine was choked off, not a good thing for engine longevity.

I think changing the oil and oil filter every 5000 miles is standard. But when the engine burns a lot of oil, you should not go for this rule. As #Whitey says, when it happens, the oil and filter should be changed as early as possible.

Thanks everyone for your thoughts, I really appreciate it. Now that you all explain it, it does make sense to me how I can’t get away with extending my oil changes, despite adding fresh oil on a regular basis.