Overall Mystery: Why is my car going through oil so quickly and where is it going?
We purchased a used 2002 Subaru Outback at the end of July of this year, after our car was totaled by another driver in a wreck this summer. This new-used car, dubbed Scooby Doo the Subaru, had about 105k miles at the time of purchase and was given a clean bill of health on a pre-buy inspection by a generic mechanic in the area.
About six weeks ago (early-October) our oil light started to flicker on when we stepped on the breaks. Soon it was on consistently so we checked the oil. We were completely out! We added 3 quarts and were good to go. We brought the car in for a routine check-up to our very reliable mechanic about 3 weeks ago and mentioned the issue. They checked the oil and it was already down by about half. They checked for leaks (finding none) and asked the usual questions:
- Are there oil stains in your driveway? Answer: NO
- Has there been smoke coming off the engine? Answer: NO
- Have you smelled anything weird while driving; a burning smell, for instance? Answer: NO
They changed the filter which was dirty but not overly so, did one final overall check for leaks or clogs, etc. Not finding any they topped off the oil and said to come back in a week to check the level. A week later, the level on the oil seemed normal so we went on our way.
Last week, the oil light started flickering on again when we brake. Brought it in…totally out of oil again. Another inspection and there are still no signs of leaks, clogs, etc and the filter is clean. The mechanics say we will have to replace the engine. Their only thought is that somewhere in the engine is getting too hot and the oil is just burning up on contact. Over time, they think this will cause a clog and make it go completely kaput. The mechanics think we can roll along fine with consistent replacement of the oil but that it won’t last long. Where is all the oil going and if it’s being used up, how and why? Is there an easier/less-expensive fix than replacing the whole engine??
So, to the Daphne’s, Fred’s, Velma’s, and Shaggy’s out there…please help solve this mystery of our little Scooby Doo the Subaru.