Losing oil

my car is losing a quart of oil every 800 to 1000 miles the car is not leaking or burning oil. why is this happening and where is the oil going .how do i stop this from happening the car is a 2009 toyota camry with a four cylinder engine

If you’re sure it’s not leaking oil, then the oil is being burned. You won’t necessarily see smoke in the exhaust if it’s burning a quart or so every 1000 miles.

If you’re lucky, it’s just a stuck PCV valve. Try installing a new PCV valve. It’s cheap and easy. If that doesn’t work, then engine may have more serious problems, like stuck/worn piston rings or worn valve guides. But try the PCV valve first, and hopefully that works.

It’s obviously going somewhere. If the engine burned oil at that rate you would have a blue and smelly exhaust. If the oil is only going through the valve guides, you can see so by taking your foot off the gas while in 3rd gear and watch in the rear view mirror. If you see blue smoke, it’s valve guide seals.

You can start by running the engine at fast idle in your driveway; if it leaks oil it will show up on the pavement, even by small drops. Also look underneath the car to see any wet areas on the engine sump.

Run you finger through the tailpipe; soot or sludge may also indicate oil consumption.

If you’re very lucky it could only be an oil filter that was not tightened enough!

If you went and asked at a Toyota dealer they very well might tell you that a quart every 1,000 miles is not out of the ordinary and nothing to be concerned about. Opinions about that vary.

As noted, it is leaking or burning or both.

If your car is losing oil to the tune of 1 quart every 800-1,000 miles, then it is either leaking or burning the slippery stuff. There really aren’t any other possibilities.

I am going to assume that you have ruled out a leak because you don’t see any evidence of leakage on the ground. I am also going to assume that you have ruled out “burning” oil because you don’t see a cloud of smoke coming from your tailpipe.

However, you could be wrong on one or both counts.
It is possible that oil is only leaking when the engine is pushed to higher RPMS, and that it isn’t leaking much oil when the engine is idling–and in a case like that, you wouldn’t be likely to see evidence of leakage on the ground.
And, ever since the advent of catalytic converters, oil burning is usually concealed by the converter taking care of that smoke. Unfortunately, in that type of situation, the very expensive catalytic converter is being destroyed by having to deal with the oil smoke, thus turning things into a much more expensive proposition than merely an oil consumption problem.

So, if I was in your situation, I would do the following:

Replace the PCV valve. This is perhaps the cheapest part on your car (less than $5.00), and a gunked-up PCV valve is frequently the cause of oil burning. I know that this resolved the mystery oil burning on my friend’s RAV-4, even though the dealership was skeptical of my advice.

Monitor the oil level very carefully, so that it never falls more than 1 qt below the full mark. If you have allowed the oil level to fall below the “add” mark on an extended basis, that alone could have led to increased oil consumption

If replacing the PCV valve doesn’t help, then you should have a compression test done on the engine.

We don’t know either the odometer mileage or the oil change schedule that you have used on this car, but it is entirely possible that extended oil change intervals have led to excess engine wear, which definitely leads to increased oil consumption.

What can you tell us about the car’s odometer mileage, and–specifically–about its maintenance. Please don’t use a meaningless phrase such as, “it has been well-maintained”. Please give us specifics as to how many miles and how many months you go between oil changes.

In the Owner’s Manual, Toyota considers 1Qt./1000 miles acceptable oil usage. Out of curiosity, what is your oil change interval? Do you check the oil level between changes? Has the car ever been run low on oil?

I ask because a coworker has a 2010 Prius that needs a quart of oil every 600-700 miles. He drives 500 miles a week (mostly highway) and was changing the oil every 7500 miles. He wasn’t using oil between changes and got out the habit of checking the oil level. Unfortunately at 120k miles the Oil Pressure light started flickering one day and the Prius was 3 quarts low. Since then it has been using oil, but he regularly checks the oil level and adds a quart as needed. It has 150k miles and is running well except for the oil consumption.


The lack of a puddle in the driveway is not a conclusive indication that the engine isn’t leaking. When the engine is operating, both the lubrication system and the crankcase space (which is connected to the space under the valve cover) are pressurized. An engine can easily seep oil past tired valvecover gaskets and/or tired crank and/or cam shaft seals when operating and not do so when parked. And, as VDC pointed out, the pressures are greater at higher engine speeds.

You’ve been given a lot of good advice here. I only wanted to add that point.

I think you should look at the oil seal on the crankshaft pulley. On this engine, they are bad about leaking and they only leak when the engine is running, they don’t drip after the car is parked. But you will see signs of oil in the vicinity of the pulley.

Good thing is that this seal is easy to replace. The hardest part seems to be removing the inner fender shroud, it has a hidden fastener that is hard to find and has to be popped out first.

Toyota has a service bulletin for oil consumption that involves revised pistons.

The powertrain warranty is 5 years/60,000 miles, how many miles are on this vehicle?


The first thing I would check is the oil filter. If the gasket from the last oil filter stuck to the engine, and your new filter has its gasket against the old gasket, it might only leak when the engine is running.

Toyota has had a problem with some of these engines that they are not willing to admit. Google Toyota oil burning 4 cylinder engines. On some of them the head bolts down the passanger side of the engine were overtorqued on the assembly line and the threads are stripping out of the block. My daughters 2006 Rav4 needed a new engine at 70000 miles and she got no help from Toyota.


Toyota is just better at covering up their mistakes than some other manufacturers

The 2002-2006 4 banger Camrys had the problem with the threads in the block stripping out

From 2007 on, that problem was resolved, only to be replaced with the high oil consumption

Some trade off . . .

Every manufacturer has problems. But what I’ve found is that Toyota/Nissan/Honda have far fewer then most of them. There isn’t enough room for me to explain all the problems I had with my GMC pickup. Or the problems my Sister-in-law had with her Taurus and her husband had with his Explorer. We all eventually switched to one of the 3 listed above (although it took my sister-in-law and her husband a lot longer to switch over)…and funny how we stopped having as many problems with our vehicles.

Toyota oil consumption.
Toyota engine thread stripping.
Toyota oil thickening.
Toyota floor mat issues
Toyota power window switch recall (minor issue, but holds the record as the largest recall in the world).
You may feel you are having fewer problems, but the numbers, at least of late, don’t support that.

Are you Toyota-bashers going to help the OP with his problem, or would you just like to bash Toyota all day? Perhaps you should start a new thread. Then you can all play all day there while some of us try to help the OP.

You may feel you are having fewer problems, but the numbers, at least of late, don't support that.

It’s NOT a matter of feel…it’s a matter of FACT.

Of all the things you mentioned…the ONLY recall I had was mat issue. And that was determined to be caused by owners NOT using the hooks to hold the mat in place.

We can get into the MULTIPLE issues I had with ONE GM vehicle…and the multiple issues and THOUSANDS of dollars my sister-in-law had with her Taurus’s. And the lack of ANY issues she now has had with her Corolla. Or the TOTAL of $4 my wife had in repairs she had on her 96 Accord when we gave it to our niece with OVER 250k miles.

my car has 66205 miles and i change my oil when the car indicator tell me which is every 5000 miles but there was one time that the oil level did go below the low level dote on the dip stick it was 2 quarts down that is when this problem began prier to that point my car used about a quarter of a quart between oil chanes

@rich w Why did you let the oil level drop 2 quarts? Your owners manual tells you to check the oil level regualrly; we normally recommend every two tanks of gas.

You may have incurred additional wear by letting it drop that low, but it won’t be enough to wreck the engine.

@whitey these engines use a replaceable oil filter cartridge and o-rings.

A sudden increase in oil consumption does indicate a seal. If the sudden increase occurred immediately after an oil change, then I’d suspect the oil filter assembly or drain plug seal.

If it occurred sometime between the oil changes, then I would look at that front seal area for residual oil.