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Lovely old Plymouth just beginning to use oil. Uh oh

Plymouth voyager, 1996, 117 K, 3.3L. Beautiful car, wonderful history
(little to no problems). I love it. Gets as good mileage as more than
75% of the cars on the road (19 city, 22 hwy).

One of these
“puzzle” questions: I am having to add 1 qt of oil about every 700
miles. I hadn’t noticed any oil drips on driveway or gnarly exhaust
fumes. Car drives wonderfully well and looks almost new!

Finally yesterday got a refrig. carton, cut it so it would fit under
car, and voila! Today, two small areas (size of a quarter or so) of
drip – but it must be a very slow drip bec. there was little diffusion
of the oil spread.

Oil drips are under the car, about 2 feet in from the driver’s the
side and 2 ft. in from the front. (Sorry, that’s the best I can do. I
don’t know anything about cars except to baby them). Might this be an
oil seal, a hose something?

Best guess???
Little old lady from Pasadena (not really from Pasadena but old)

Is this an uh-oh moment?

Well for two small drips no but it could be worse while the mini van is in operation when the oil will be under some pressure from heat and engine operation and the only way to determine that is to let the van idle and look underneath while it is idling to see if there is a more persistent oil flow coming off the engine specially as it hits operating temperature and then to rev the engine mildly for a minute or so and then check underneath again for more oil flow out of the engine. Also as I have a 96 dodge grand caravan I am wondering why your highway mileage is so low as it should be about 25 - 27 miles to the gallon and could be indicative of an internal problem with the engine or possibly the transmission which if your engine is the 3.3 liter engine is most likely the A604 which is one of the worst that mopar ever made.

The PCV valve should be checked. This valve is used to control the amount of vacuum to extract crankcase gases from the inside of the engine to be burned through the intake system. When they get clogged or stuck, the crankcase pressure can build up and force oil to burn in the cylinders and leak through otherwise good seals. They are cheap and easy (typically) to replace, so I’d try that first. On today’s cars, they are easy to ignore, since maintenance items like this are extended to 100K miles or more.

One quart per 700 miles isn’t that big a deal. Having said that . . . you still do have a leak. Question is . . . how much are you willing to spend to fix it? At the least I would have someone put the vehicle up on a “rack” and run the engine and watch for leaks in the general area that you have indicated. The drips may be more when running than not and you’ll only catch that with the vehicle running. Any decent mechanic can pick this up for you and tell you what part of the engine is leaking. Might charge you $25 to look at it, or might diagnose it for free if you get him to fix it once he sees where the leak is. The suggestion by Busted is a good one . . . an old or clogged PCV can force oil through weak seals. Depending on where you live I personally might go with a heavier weight motor oil, but this is sometimes risky if you get cold weather. Anyway, 700 miles per quart for a 15 year old vehicle isn’t that bad. Post back if you get someone to pinpoint the leak and maybe someone here can make some suggestion as to a fix and the price for that fix. Good luck! Rocketman