Oil in my 2001 Honda Civic

My 2001 Honda Civic has about 130,000 miles and runs great, however I have started filling the gas at about a half tank and topping off the oil as well (about 1/2 to 2/3 quart). If I wait till the gas is less than 1/4 tank, the oil level drops down to the bottom mark or dosen’t even register. Is this normal?

Mamma Mouse

No, it is not normal. Assuming a 14 gallon tank and 30 mpg, I make that to be about a qt every 300 miles, way more than normal oil usage.

You are either leaking oil or burning oil.

There is no connection to the gas tank level and the oil level. What’s happening is simply that you’re waiting longer to check your oil now and it’s simply dropping more between checks because you’re waiting longer.

I actually get about 33 mpg. There are no drips under the car and no blue smoke from the tail pipe, ever. Also, how important is weight of oil? When I take the car in to have the oil changed they always tell me they put 5-W20 in. My dad (a mechanic) always said to be sure to stay with the same type of oil ("It has Penzoil, never use anything else)! What about synthetic vs. ??
Mamma Mouse

It may benefit you to try one of the high-mileage oils.
There is no reason at all to stay with one brand of oil. That is a myth.

I believe your owner’s manual calls for 5W-20. If it does, that is what you should use. Brand isn’t important and synthetic oil is a waste of money if your car doesn’t require or recommend it.

Your dad is right about using the weight recommended. And yes, 2001 Civics use 5W-20.

While we could have a long discussion about brands, out of respect for your dad I think you should follow his advice.

As to the usage, in newer vehicles the oil being burned isn’t always visable because the exhaust goes through a honeycomb within the caralytic converter onto which much of the oil can deposit. Leaking oil doesn’t always leave drips either, because in an older engine it can be leaking only when the crankcase is pressurized, only when the engine is running. Let me suggest you check or change the PCV valve. It’s cheap and your dad can help you. Your engine is probably just worn, but a stuck PCV valve can exascerbate oil usage due to normal wear by not allowing the crankcase pressure to dissipate.

Mountainbike; in 2001 5W20 oil was not very common and few car manufacturers recommended it. Only in 2008 has Toyota even breathed the word 5W20. This engine is sufficiently worn to use 10W30 in a warm part of the country, and 5W40 synthetic in the winter.

With the warranty run out, I would try a heavier oil; most thin oil recommendations are driven by CAFE standards to maximise fuel mileage. In 2001 I lived in Asia and not only did the national oil company not even make 5W20, nor did Shell and BP and ESSO (EXXON)even have it; all Hondas there used 20W50!!! These are the same Hondas that OP drives.

So, depending where OP lives, I would start with a good 10W30 in the summer, and see what happens to oil consumption. If it is still unacceptably high, a serious checkout (leak test, etc) by a good mechanic is in order.

My daughter’s 2001 Civic took 5W-20. As does her 2002 Civic.

It’s readily available in my neck of the woods. Although the oil usage would make me support trying a heavier weight. 10W30 is a good pick.

While I normally stick to the book, when it comes to oil viscosity my focus is long life and not fuel economy. My son drives a Mazda3, which has a 5W20 oil spec. He has used 0W30 synthetic since after the break-in. Now at 60,000 miles, the enigine is essentially in new condition.

My 2007 Toyota manual specifies 5W30 year round, with 10W30 if the 5w30 is unavailable. Last year Toyota issued a bulletin saying that 5W20 was acceptable and their dealers would carry it. I think they were sceptical about the lubricating qualities under extreme stress of the early cheap 5W20 oils.

Last year I had a Ford Explorer V6 for a field project, and the manual specified 5W20 for the V6 and 5W30 for the V8. The V8 was an older design and the loose tolerances would probably have it consume oil. The V6 also outsold the V8, so economising there was more important for the CAFE standards.

Agree that the subject is anything but simple; using a heavier oil in a new car in a cold winter will INCREASE engine wear.

The 2001 Honda Civic has a 13.2 gallon tank . . . and we can assume that she fills it halfway with about 6 1/2 gallons . . . multiplied by about 30 mpg is 195 miles to half a tank. Half a quart of oil for 200 miles of driving is a quart per 400 . . . and the oil capacity for a Civic is only 3.2 quarts . . . down a 1/3 if you go to 1/4 a tankful, more or less. Not good, as mountainbike suggests. Gotta be going somewhere Mamma . . . put a large piece of cardboard under the engine overnight and look for drips. I would think that you’d have to see oil smoke if you’re using it, and you say you don’t see blue smoke, so it’s gotta be dripping. If it were my car (depending on where I lived, outside temp being over 50 degrees) I’d go with a heavier oil. I use 20W 50 in the Summer in my old Accord, very little dripping or smoke. Rocketman