Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

The engine burns oil real fast

Hi, everyone,

When I took my new used car to the mechanic, complaining how there must be an oil leak cause well by now 9 bottles of oil in 7 weeks time have been put in, the mechanic told me the engine is burning the oil too fast. He said something about the piston, but I got all confused. He also said that the only way to fix this is to replace the engine, but he recommended not to cause it would cost more than the car is worth. This is a 2000 Toyota Corolla. Anyone have any suggestions on why this is happening and what i should do about it. Thanks

My first move, if I were working on this car, would be to pull the valve cover and have a look. There may be a sludge issue that is preventing the oil from draining back into the crankcase where it belongs, keeping it in the top of the head to drain into the combustion chambers and be burnt. Sometimes you can probe the oil galleys in the head and replace the valve guide seals to eliminate or lessen the severity of the problem. Other times, the problem has been around long enough that the engine has been chronically run low on oil, or even run out of oil, causing the consumption to become attributable to many different issues, necessitating rebuilding or replacing the engine. Call around to some shops to see if any of them are willing to try this and have experience doing this. Surely somebody in your area has treated this problem. It’s very common on Corollas/Prizms of this era, from what I have observed.

Anyone have any suggestions on why this is happening and what i should do about it. [?]

Tough Love 101 (Kitty, I’m sorry to hear of your loss):

Somebody unloaded their oil burning moster on you before it quit running for good. Something could have done prior to the purchase, but now you’ll have to be the one to run it until it drops or be the one stuck with it.

Keep buying, checking, and adding oil as needed to keep it full. Don’t overfill it, either. It’s hard to say how long it will run this way, but you’ll find out.

As an alternative, you could try and sell it in this condition for whatever you can get, take a loss if necessary, and buy a decent vehicle.

This is a lesson that repeats itself everyday around the world, albeit an expensive lesson in some cases. It has been going on since the first car was old enough to be sold as “used”.

Experience is the best teacher. Once bitten, twice shy, you’ll probably get your next purchase checked out more thoroughly before parting with your money. Sorry. I wish something more could be done to help.


Let’s get real basic here. Are there a lot of oil puddles under the car? Does the car smoke when the engine is running? This will narrow down the problem a little.

Even more basic, how many miles on it?? Do you have any record of past maintenance?

If it’s not leaking spots (puddles in this instance) then the first step should be to perform a compression test; both dry and wet.
Maybe the mechanic did this and that is the reasons for his comment about pistons and engine replacement.

Now you know why the previous owner unloaded the car. In the future always have a car checked out before buying it. A compression test is something that should always be done even during the most basic of inspections.

Its been well discussed on this board that this generation of Corolla are oil burners. As of a matter of fact I guessed that your car was a Toyota Corolla from the title before opening the thread.

Toyota’s aint like they used to be, so don’t assume they are a sure thing to buy as a used car.
Sorry for your Loss

My daughter has a 1999 Corolla…It’s approaching 200K miles…It’s the only car in our family that burns ZERO oil…She never has to add a drop of oil. But she changes it every 3-4K miles…

These cars are NOT well known as oil burners, and I cannot recall such a discussion on this board.

However, if it’s very high mileage and/or has not been well maintained, the cylinders could be worn to the point of extreme usage, as can any engine.

Before commenting, can you tell us what tests the mechanic did and exactly what he said? This information should be annotated on your copy of the shop order.