Oil guzzler

Just bought a 2002 Honda Accord for our teenage daughter. In the last 6 weeks she’s had to put 6-8 quarts of oil in, and I doubt she’s gone 2000 miles. 1) Is this dangerous? 2) what could be causing it 3) is it something that could/should be fixed? Or should she just keep putting inthe oil?

Forgot to mention— Doesn’t appear to be leaking (no oil spots) or burning (no smoke seen).

Stop driving it it will only get worse!
Can you take it back and get your money???
Did you have a repair guy look at it before buying?
If not you need to find where the oil is going,leaking out,burning from bad rings,burning threw intake or leaking into radiator.
Turn key to 2nd click where lights on dash light up but before starting. Is check engine light lit?
If not someone unhooked it to deceive.

More than likely you bought someone’s cast-off headache without an pre-purchase inspection is the way I read this.

The first step should be to run a compression test, although compression and leakdown tests are not always 100% defintive when it comes to oil consumption.
Since the comp. test is easier do that one. Note the readings for each cylinder during a dry test. Follow this up with a wet test (meaning a squirt of oil in each cyl. as it’s restested. If the figures take a noticeable jump upwards this means the piston rings are gone; a.k.a.,time for major engine work.

If this test shows a problem then it’s decision time; an expensive one.

Continuing to add oil is not good. If it’s burning oil eventually the catalytic converter will clog up, there will be loss of power, and the engine may overheat; even seriously.

If the engine has a ring problem this could have been caused by failure to change the oil regularly enough or a past overheating episode.

Oil consumption could also be caused by valve seals (not as serious) and there is no test for this. It’s a replace and hope thing so this is why you do the comp. test first.
Hope this helps.

Something is definitely wrong. It should be looked at without question. The oil is either leaking out or getting burned. If it’s leaking out through a loose drain plug or filter, it could suddenly fall off and the engine lose all its oil and get destroyed.

Have you noticed any puddles? And blue/grey clouds?

Do you have a shop you trust?

Anything over 1 quart of oil consumption in 1,000 miles is excessive. Something is very, very wrong with the engine in this car. Did it come with any sort of warranty?

If there is indeed no leak, then this engine is burning oil at a rate of 1 qt every 250 to 300 miles, which is so excessive that there are undoubtedly BIG problems inside that engine.

Can it be fixed? Sure.
Does the book value of the car warrant spending the amount of money that would likely be necessary to fix it? That is a judgment call on your part. My vote would be a definite NO.

As was said, it is likely that this car was very poorly maintained or not maintained at all during its lifespan, with resulting excessive engine wear. If my theory is correct about the engine receiving little or no maintenance, then it is fairly definite that the transmission was also not serviced as it should have been. The result is that, even if you spend money to repair the engine, then the next item to fail will likely be the transmission. Put both repair bills together, and they likely exceed the book value of the car by a considerable amount.

Then, factor in the consequences of a snapped timing belt. If the engine did not receive timely oil changes, it is unlikely that the previous owner changed the timing belt a year or two ago, as he should have. Even if you fix the oil burning, a snapped timing belt will essentially wipe out the money that you spent on fixing the oil-burning problem. The cost to replace the timing belt, water pump, serpentine belt, and all belt tensioners will probably be somewhere in the $500-$600 range, so you should plan on spending that amount, in addition to the cost of doing a “ring job” and whatever else needs to be done regarding the oil burning.

I would recommend that you spend the money necessary for a compression test, which will likely prove my thesis regarding excessive engine wear resulting from lax maintenance. Then, get an estimate for the necessary work (which could very possbibly increase once the engine is torn down by the mechanic), and decide whether to dump this headache or to spend the money necessary to repair it.

As was said, you can continue to add oil to it, but with this high a rate of oil burning, the expensive catalytic converter will be the next thing to fail.

You really need to do the following:

Have a trusted mechanic (NOT a chain like Midas, Meineke, Monro, Sears, AAMCO, etc) do a compression test.
Get an estimate for repairs.
Do some long, hard contemplating of everything that we all have mentioned in our responses.
When buying your next used car, be sure to have a trusted mechanic do a pre-purchase inspection for you.
I seriously doubt if you did that with this car, and that led to your current problems.

Good luck!

I have seen bore scope inspections (through the spark plug hole) identify the reason for this type of oil consumption, without engine disassembly

Are you sure it isn’t smoking? Even at startup? If the car was burning it at this rate, you should be blowing some blue smoke, at least at startup. Once the catalytic converter gets to operating temperature, it may be burning up the oil before it gets comes out the tailpipe as blue smoke, but you should at least see some smoke at startup if the car is burning oil.

Are you positive you don’t have a leak? How about parking it in a clean spot in the driveway, starting it and letting it run for half an hour or so? It may be only leaking when it’s running. A bad oil pressure sensor can leak like this, as can crankshaft seals. Have you crawled under to see if there’s any evidence of a leak, such as oily grime streaming back from the engine?

If the oil consumption is due to worn cylinders/piston rings, there’s not much that can be done short of rebuilding the engine. However, you might try using this product http://www.restoreusa.com/Engine_Restorer.html. If it doesn’t completely stop the oil consumption, it might reduce it.


Honda uses an engine technology where the piston rings ride directly on the aluminum cylinder walls without the benefit of a steel sleeve. They have pretty much perfected this, but when it fails…Sometimes a neglected or improperly installed air filter leads to this failure.

Your only real options are to live with it, try to get some portion of your money back, or install a salvage yard engine.

What is the mileage on this car and how much did you pay for it? What weight oil are you using?

First, thank you to everyone who is trying to help. This is great having you all out there so willing to impart your wisdom.

So, here are soome data. First, yes, it is blowing blue smoke when you step on the gas at a stand still. No, we don’t see any oil leakage in the driveway. If there is some, it is very small. There is a black coating on the exhaust pipe - very thin and fine particles, not thick or gooey. My duaghter has driven 700 miles so far and put in somewhere between 8 and 10 quarts. It has 111,300 miles on it now. We paid $5,000 for it. Using 5/30 oil.

We have an appointment for the Honda service center to look at it Tuesday. Have parked it until then. Wonder if it would be better to just ask them to replace the engine or go on a hunting expedition to find the cause and possibly fix it? What would you do? Thanks so much for your wisdom out there. /Marianne

First off, totally reject all the doomsday rhetoric you’re hearing. It’s about as useful as udders on a bull. If any/all of the conditions mentioned are truly present, anyone would reason that it would show itself BEYOND JUST OIL CONSUMPTION. It would be fouled plugs, billowing clouds …idle like a coffee can full of rocks …etc…etc…

You report none of this.

Check the PCV system (it may have been mentioned). A baffle may be dysfunctional in the valve cover …etc…etc.

Go ahead and do a compression test if you so desire. Not hard to do. I’d then recommend Auto-Rx (www.auto-rx.com) and do the double dose treatment.

There are self maintaining alterations you can make to the PCV system that will make it harder for the oil to migrate from the valve cover to the intake. Many install catch cans …but they require emptying. If you configure the deceleration chamber properly, it merely empties back into the engine. Remove the velocity of the vapor stream and the oil sinks out of suspension.


Replacing the engine at a Honda Service Center will cost more than you paid for the car. You are pouring good money after bad. Change the oil, install 20-50, try a can of “Restore”, and sell the car warning the new eager buyer “It burns a little oil”…Move on and learn…

As I mentioned in an earlier post–if the engine is shot, can the transmission be far behind?

Accords of this era are known for transmissions that are “weak” and prone to failure.
If the previous owner(s) did not maintain the engine sufficiently to prevent excessive oil burning, what are the chances that they serviced the trans every 30k miles?

This may sound stupid but I would ask my daughter to show me where she is putting in the oil.

Excellent tip…It is always best to doublecheck such “simple” things. A thorough read of an Owner’s Manual is also highly recommended when acquiring a “new-to-you” piece of expensive equipment.


Perhaps I missed it, but where exactly did you say you bought this car from? Franchised dealer or private indivdual ???

Again, thanks everyone. This is very helpful. We bought it from a used car dealer - smallish place with lost of low end cars. Good point about reading the manual - I taught her how to check oil - thank God - something I know how to do. We’ll start with the easy things and see what happens. I’ll let y’all know the outcome.

If I were you, I would try to get my money back.

Or request that they trade you for a similar car. Gently point out that your daughter is planning to picket the place with a dozen of her friends.

When buying old beaters, you will be MUCH better off with a stick shift…