Oil consumption problem

My 2003 Honda Pilot with 67,800 miles has started using oil, sometimes up to two quarts between oil changes. I first found out about this when my wife drove the car to Portland and had an oil light come on. She had to add about 1.5 quarts of oil to the engine.

There are no signs of leaks around the engine/transmission or stains on the driveway and no smoke during idle or acceleration. The Dealer did an oil change and we will check the dipstick every 1,000 miles to verify how much oil is being consumed. The dealer also says a quart every 1,000 mile may be considered normal by Honda. Unfortunately, 5 year/100,000 mile honda warranty just expired in October.

From my standpoint, it doesn’t seem like the engine should be using this much oil (although we have not yet confirmed how much oil is being used) given the low mileage.

My question is what could be causing this oil usage and what tests or what can be done to help remedy the problem (if anything). Please note we have not yet done any compression tests or oil pressure tests.

Thanks for any help or advice you can give.

The Toyota dealers are stocking a lot of 5W20 and 0W20 oils and Toyota is pushing them to go to the lighter oils since all new Toyotas have this spec. I recently rented a Toyota Matrix, which has 5W20 oil in it. The owner’s manual said that 1 quart of oil consumed in 700 miles should be considered NORMAL!!!

In other words, most new cars if maintained by the dealer, including Fords, will get 5W20 oil (all CAFE driven) and this stuff is just too thin for heavy duty or hot weather operation.

Tell us what oil the dealer actually put in and we can then comment more accurately. If he put 5W20 dino oil in the oil consumption is almost certain. In any case, I would insist on 5W30 for your vehicle.

Oil consumption of 1 quart per 1000 miles in a vehicle your age is acceptable.

I’ve owned two Hondas. The first was an '88 CRX that I bought new and ran for 15 years and 160k miles before selling. The engine still ran like a top and burned zero oil. I now have a '99 Honda CR-V with 70k miles, and it, too, burns zero oil. No Honda should be burning 2 qts oil between changes, especially not one that has less than 70k miles as yours does. For your dealer to suggest that it’s OK is laughable. If you wanted to burn that much oil, you would have bought a Mack truck. Why it’s burning oil, I don’t know. You may have a bad valve guide seal, which would allow oil to be sucked down into the engine throught a valve guide. But for my 2 cents, it’s not “OK” for a Honda with less than 70k miles to be burning that much oil.

And by the way, I use 5W-20 oil also, with zero oil consumption.

My guess is you are experiencing "normal" oil usage.  It seems modern cars tend to use more oil.  It is not an indication of a problem at your rate.  In fact, I don't know what Honda suggest is the normal range, but I suspect you are well within the normal range.  

My car may use a quart every 1,000 miles yours with the same mileage by use less than a quart in 5,000 miles.  Both may be normal.

What is the mileage and time interval in general between oil changes? Some brands of oils burn off faster than others. Monitor your oil levels at least every 1000 miles and more often is better. Once the oil is down over a quart the remaining oil circulates more rapidly and runs hotter and burns off faster.

When your oil is 1/2 way between the marks on the dipstick add 1/3 to 1/2 quart until it reads on the full mark. It could a future oil change using a different brand of oil you won’t see same drop in oil levels.

A quart of 5W-20 oil is about $2.50 at Walmart. Keep a quart handy and your car will go on for many more miles. A quart of oil every 1000 to 2000 miles isn’t adding much to the cost of operating your car. Adding some oil between oil changes is not a big deal.

The comment that the oil light came on but only required 1.5 quarts of oil to shut it off makes me hope that this light was a oil quanity indicator and not an oil pressure (or lack of) indicator.

Can you clear this up? was the light an indication of low oil quanity and not the red “oil can” light which indicates low oil pressure.

There only seems to be one type of oil light and the honda tech did indicate that there was an oil pressure sensor, but he implied that it only checked low pressure due to low oil levels. Sorry I can’t be more specific, but the light came on and my wife added oil. The Dealer uses and Honda suggests 5w20.

Once we have gone through the process of checking the usage over the next 1,000 miles I will definitely keep an extra bottle of 5w20 on hand. The cost is not the issue for me, it is the fact that the dealer said they don’t see many oil usage issues on Hondas with low miles. This is what is bothering me.

Also, there is no smoke at start up or during acceleration so it would seem that a valve guide problem may be unlikely.

Thanks for all the comments, though. I appreciate your help!

It is not at all good that simply being 1.5qts low resulted in a low oil pressure warning. I would not tell your wife as it would only worry her but this is not a good sign in regards to the state of health that your engine is in.

Did this oil light incident happen to occour while the car was in warranty? if yes I see someone who knows how to word a complaint correctly recieve warranty consideration for this condition. In short a tech knows that 1.5qts low should not turn on the low pressure light and they sent you away knowing that your engine was in poor health. If you want me to explain more completely I will.

With no leaks present, oil consumption will be past the piston rings, valve seals, or both.
Valve seals are normally not a problem unless the vehicle has overheated in the past.
Piston ring problems can also occur due to overheating or failure to change the oil regularly enough.

Regarding the latter, what happens is that the oil control, or wiper, rings will seize in the piston grooves due to oil sludging or coking and oil will not wiped from the cylinder wall on the piston downstrokes.
A compression or leakdown test may not show this because the compression rings may be fine but the wiper rings will be stuck.

If this is the case an additive may help free them up but it’s very iffy. It’s claimed that a quart per 1000 is normal but in my opinion this is not normal on a low miles, well maintained vehicle.

Hi remodelguy I don’t know why your honda pilot is burning oil, but I have owned a 92 Accord, a 2000 Accord & am now driving a 2006 CRV bought new, none of these burn a drop of oil.Honda calls for 5W20 but I have always used 5W30 .I change oil about every 4000 miles.
Hope you can get some honest advice on your problem.

You use thinner oils because the clearance is tighter in engine. Thicker is not better. Put thick oil in and it can’t get in the smaller clearances and you’ll starve the parts. Viscosity is not the problem. My 08 Accord is consuming and I’ve posted also.

Funny, my Lincolns take 5W20 and do not consume any measurable amount between 5K oil changes. One is at about 75K and the other around 140K miles. The oil weight is not the OP’s problem.

Your right. My wife was in a lean on a off ramp when her light came on. THANK GOD. Was almost 3 qts low. Had just bought the car with 2k miles. Been checking ever since. Dealer took it in yesturday and going to rebuild supposedly. Car has 78k on an 08. I’m not happy but they are trying. Still love Hondas

Is the driving that this car sees mostly high speed highway driving?
And what brand of oil is being used? Just whatever the Honda Dealer puts in?

You might want to consider running an experiment during your next oil change, and switch the brand of oil that the car uses. Ask your dealer if it would be okay for you to buy 5 quarts of a different brand of oil, and if they would be willing to pour that in, and install a Honda oil filter that they provide. I’m sure they will say it is okay.

Then go to an auto parts store, and pick up 5 quarts of Castrol Syntec, or Pennzoil Platinum, or Valvoline Synpower. Try running that oil for your next oil change interval, and see if it burns less oil.


The first thing I would try, if no visible leaks are present and no smoke out the tail pipe is just change the brand of oil.Stick with the manufacturer recommended weight for the climate your in.Give the new brand at least one oil change of time.

My wife pilot runs fine and does not smoke and no noticeable leaks anywhere. Usually when I check it every 1000 miles or so it is low. I keep an eye on it and add between oil changes. I always keep a quart in the back. As long as it’s not not smoking and leaking I don’t see a problem just more annoying than anything.

That’s an old post, so I’ll reply to keep you from echoing. :smile:

I don’t know your year or mileage but it’s good to see someone who checks his oil. I agree, a quart in 1000 is not horrible. (Our Caravan started using that much, almost overnight, and it turned out to be the valve guide seals had popped off.) I think the greater concern on his was the oil light popping on before he checking the oil.

That’s a weird one. I’ve heard of vg seals getting worn and leaking, but I’ve never heard of valve guide seals all of a sudden just popping off from where they are seated.

As I understand it, it was common in the V6 turn-of-the-century Caravan. I took it in, the dealer smirked, and knew the problem immediately. Around 65K and several popped over 3 months’ time.

It was under 70K, so it cost $125 to transfer the warranty to fix that and something else wrong in the engine (don’t recall). Good thing, the tranny blew @ 70K, a 3 or $4K fix… and was afraid mileage would expire before I got to the dealer.