Oil burn

I have a 2000 honda civic with 89K miles on it. I have the oil changed every three months. I just got back from Vavaline and for the first time the attendant told me my car had burned a quart of oil. In three months? He tried to assure me that this wasn’t the end of the car. He said there was no indication that there was a leak. He told me to get this so-called “higher mileage” oil which of course cost more. My car gives not indication that it burns oil. Should I have my mechanic check it our for a leak? What if it is burning oil. Is the car trying to tell me 12 years is long enough? Johanna

You should be checking the oil yourself, at least once a month, between changes…A modest oil consumption is normal for all cars regardless of mileage…

I would check the oil once a week. I do this first thing in the morning when the engine is cold before I start the engine. I don’t think I would go to a high mileage oil.
You might have been shortchanged a quart at your previous oil change. This used to happen with my dad’s 1954 Buick when I was in high school. Sometimes the garage would forget that when the filter was changed, an extra quart was needed.
Use the viscosity of the oil specified in the owner’s manual. Check the oil once a week and most importantly, quit worrying.

Maybe it was 1 qt low or maybe 1/4 qt and exaggerated so you will pay for the overpriced high mileage oil change.

Oil consumption is normal in vehicles. Simply check the oil level on the vehicle every 3-4 fuel fills and top as needed.

“the attendant told me my car had burned a quart of oil. In three months?”

The only problem that we can definitely verify in this situation is a car owner who apparently never bothers to lift the hood and check the oil dipstick (and undoubtedly other fluids as well).

As was said, the oil change guy may have been exaggerating about how much oil had been consumed in order to upsell you to the higher-priced oil for high-mileage cars. Or, maybe it was actually more than 1 qt low. Without any effort by the car owner to check and correct fluid levels between oil changes, almost anything is possible–from a trivial amount of oil consumption right up to an engine that winds up being destroyed as a result of low oil or coolant levels.

I suggest that you get into the habit of checking your oil once a week until you have some idea of how rapidly the engine might be consuming oil. The object of this exercise is to make sure that the oil level NEVER falls more than 1 qt below the full mark on the dipstick.

Even better is to replenish the oil as soon as the level drops by 1/2 qt.
On a Civic–which, if memory serves me correctly, only holds 4 qts of oil to begin with–there is really very little room for error before a low oil level starts to lead to greatly increased engine wear. And, as engine wear increases, the rate of oil consumption increases, and then engine wear becomes even greater, and so on…until eventually an engine that should last for 250,000 miles with no issues winds up being destroyed by 100,000 miles.

If you don’t know how to check the oil and the coolant, and–hopefully the transmission fluid as well–ask a friend to show you how to do it.

Johanna–Unless you actually begin to monitor your car’s fluids and refill them as necessary, you will REALLY have a lot of “soris”.

Johanna–If you check the oil when filling up with gasoline, check the oil after you have filled the gasoline tank. This gives the oil a chance to drain down into the pan at the bottom of the engine and you will get a more accurate reading. Pull the dipstick out, wipe it off with the paper towel used to dry the windshield or a rag, put the stick back in and then pull it out and get the reading.
One advantage in checking the oil at a gasoline station is that other motorists will think you are an expert and ask for advice. I have had that happen and it’s great. It gives me two places–this board and the gasoline station to give bad advice.

How many miles do you drive in 3 months?

Unless you’re only driving a few hundred miles in this 3 month period I wouldn’t worry about it being a quart low. I’d suggest checking the fluid levels once a week unless there’s reason to believe something is wrong and should be checked more often. As others have already stated if you don’t know how to check your own oil, coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid and transmission fluid (if an automatic) get someone who knows about cars to show you how. All these things need to be watched regularly in order to assure the car will be safe and reliable. I seriously doubt you have a problem and I have seen cars use oil during one oil change interval and then return to their normal behavior of not using any oil between changes. If the car does continue to use some oil just be sure to keep the oil level in the safe zone (1 quart or less low). I always try to refill my cars if they get 1/2 quart low on oil. I have one car that has 518K miles on it and uses a quart of oil about every 1000 miles and has for probably about the last 100,000 miles which to me is excessive, but the car isn’t worth rebuilding the engine so I just add the oil and keep driving it. Just because an engine is using some oil doesn’t mean it’s wore out.