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Intermittent Oil Consumption 2002 Nissan Maxima

Problem: Intermittently my Nissan Maxima 2002, with 90K will consume a large amount of oil.

Latest episode 1.5 quarts down after 500 highway miles. Previous 500 highway miles no oil consumption at all. This occurs periodically.


No physical oil leaks.

No oil in coolant.

No eivdence of oil burning on tail pipe.

No evidence of oil spray on tail pipe.

Compession check, normal.

Dealer has no idea of what the problem is. He suggests two options: replace pcv valve for $150 and/or/ replace valve covers and pcv valve baffle for $1,000. He admits however, that these could be shots in the dark and he cannot guarantee that either action will solve the problem.

Any ideas out there?



After Reading Just The Title I Was Thinking PCV Valve. Most Oil Consumption Problems Are Not Intermittent. A Freezing (In Cold Winter Weather) Or Sticking PCV Valve Could Be A Cause.

I’m shocked at the $150 estimate. Most PCV Valves are inexpensive and easy to replace. Most can be removed and shaken to see if they rattle. A rattle sound is good. Stuck ones don’t rattle. Your’s could be stuck at one time and loose another time.

I’d check with another shop or two (could be an independent) and get an estimate on replacing the PCV valve. I’m thinking it should be less than 30 or 40 bucks, but I could be wrong. It’s a shot in the dark, but I don’t think it has to be an expensive shot.


I agree that this is the only reasonable explanation, but where is the oil going? If it were burned in the engine wouldn’t there be some residue in the tailpipe? If it isn’t being burned in the engine, where is it going? I will also check the repair cost with an indpendent garage.

Thanks for your comments.


Does the oil consumption take place during and after highway driving? And is the “no oil consumption” during stop and go short trips.

If that is the case, you have CONTINUING oil consumption is a very worn engine that during short trips puts a lot of blowby gasses (water vapor and some raw gasoline) in the crankcase keeping the oil level up.

The minute you take a fast highway trip all that condensation evaporates, leaving only oil at a much lower level. Hence the “consumption”.

Veteran mechanics refere to this as “the case of the mysterious oil loss”.

I wish it were that simple! Just now I completed a five day 1200 mostly highway trip. I checked the oil level every morning with a cold engine. The first 600 miles, no oil consumption at all. The last 500-600 miles the oil dropped 1.5 quarts. These last miles were all highway miles but so were the first 500 miles. I have seen this sporadic oil drop occurring even in city driving, although in our city we really don’t have heavy stop and go traffic, mostly 40mph most of the time with very little stopping.

Thanks for your thoughts,


I realize that I am replying to an old post, but what I have to say may be very relevant and helpful to many Nissan Maxima and other model owners. Some, will become rightly furious.

I had the same oil consumption problem with my 2003 Maxima. Each time I went to the dealer, they basically played dumb as to what could be causing the problem. There were no external signs - no leaking, no smoke, etc. When I asked if they had ever seen anything like it - there answer was no. When I asked what is the usual cause? Their response was that owners were not changing oil at required intervals.

The problem with excessive oil consumption that became noticeable at around 70,000 miles, eventually took my engine out. Luckily, I removed it from the Nissan dealership where it was towed and had it taken to a garage - owned by a Nissan trained mechanic - previously trained at that same dealership. He recognized the underlying cause.

The excessive oil consumption was caused by faulty catalytic converter design. As the catalytic converters aged, they produced a sand like substance that was being sucked back into the engine during the common negative cycle. This created a comet like substance that created excessive internal engine wear. As engine oil was drawn into areas it should not be and burned off, it further accelerated the catalytic breakdown process.

IMPORTANT: This was a known failure by the Nissan designed catalytic converters. The proof can be found in the Nissan Sentra Catalytic Converter Recall for 2003 - 2005. Refer to Nissan Service Bulletin Number NTB08-023 for model years 2003, 2004, 2005 and Service Bulletin Number 501 for model years 2003, 2004. (NHTSA # 10024146 and 10018243).

Each Nissan vehicle owner that was impacted by this would have had a difficult time seeing the forest for the trees. Each would have been looking for issues for their particular model. However, this issue covers wide spectrum of models. For example, the Maxima 6 cylinder engine can be in the Pathfinder, the Altima, the Infinity, etc. How many models use cats produced by the same manufacturer?

The shell game: Nissan and the dealerships have had great incentive to divert attention away from the real cause. Why? To avoid a wider recall than with just the existing Sentra one.

Do a Google search and you will find some amazing coincidences. When Nissan was forced to honor their warranty, engines AND catalytic converters were often replaced without an explanation. When owner solutions were provided by dealers, the engines were replaced, or rebuilt without dealing with the cats.

Here is a clincher: Also reported is that, even though the catalytic converters had failed, the check engine lights never came on. Many do not know that the internal diagnostic computer can be made to ignore any area. It would be easy to make this happen simply by a normal firmware update that could take place anytime it is hooked up to the dealership’s diagnostic computer. My computer did not report anything wrong with my Maxima cats even though they were almost non-existent and had much of this dust. One cats material was a ball the size of a small fist - sometimes blocking the exit of the exhaust, causing a loss of power. Also, searching online, you will find reports of mechanics acknowledging that Nissan stopped the computer from reporting Cat errors.

In my opinion, there has been a wide ranging cover-up about the Nissan Cats. This is something that should have been an obvious concern of U.S. Government lawyers when the original Sentra recall happened. Problem catalytic converters are not just restricted to the Sentra.

Oh, yes. I replaced the engine with a 84k used one. And, it had the same problem as the previous one. 1 quart of oil per 650 miles.