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Toyota Corolla 2007 Burning Oil

Hi, I have a used Toyota Corolla 2007 that has engine problems

I bought this for $8000 in Dec 2012 and did not realize the previous owner was using synthetic oil. I used the regular oil and changed every 3 mins. At one point I started seeing lot of smoke and the oil was burning quickly (like in a month for 300 miles). The oil change guy recommended to use synthetic oil and that should remove all the sludge. It’s been a year I am using the synthetic oil and I still have the sludge issues.

I took the car to the mechanic today and he is saying the piston rings could have worn out and asking to rebuild the engine and that would cost $2800 including the taxes. My wife will be using this car to drop and pick up the kids from school. So I dont want to take any risks. Should I go ahead and rebuild the engine? Any other suggestions?

How many miles on this car? How often did the first owner change the oil? Some people think thay can use Mobile 1 and NEVER change the oil…Changing from one type to the other should not make any difference…Sludging should not be a problem unless the first owner neglected changing the oil…

First off…using regular dino oil had NOTHING (repeat NOTHING) to do with the car burning oil. The fact the previous owner used synthetic had NOTHING (repeat - NOTHING) to do with the car burning oil.

Toyota had sludge problems with some of their V6 engines. But that problem was fixed by 2002.

What I think is the problem…Is the previous owner was using synthetic oil and MISTAKENLY thought he could extend the oil change interval to some ungodly number of miles.

Your engine burning oil or sludging is caused by ABUSE…nothing more.

The second part of this is the mechanic rebuilding the engine for $2800. That’s awfully cheap. That’s even a little cheap for putting a good used engine in this.

75K miles so far…I have no idea how often the first owner changed the oil. When I bought the car, the car seems to be perfect. After couple of months, it started showing the problems

I agree with caddyman. I would think dropping the oil pan, cleaning it out, and running an engine flush would at least be worth a shot beforehand.


Toyota had sludge problems with some of their V6 engines. But that problem was fixed by 2002.
I don't think the Corolla was ever offered with a V6. But I believe the Corolla 4 cyls did have an oil control ring problem or was it clogging the oil holes or inadequate oil holes in the piston.

Agree; this car has certainly been neglected by the first owner. Our 2007 Corolla had had both synthetic and regular dino oil in it and today I can never add oil between changes at 5000 miles. This engine model is NOT subject to sludging, this only occurs when you try to get too many miles out of the oil.

What prior ownwers say about their cars and its care should be taken with a shovel full of salt. It’s entirely possible that this owner used dino oil and long drain intervals until the engine started using oil, and then just before selling it used synthetic.

Otherwise honest and straight people can turn into incorrigible liars when it comes to cars!

Open up the air-filter box and the tube that leads to the throttle body and see if there is any oil in there…If so, have the PCV system serviced (cleaned) from end to end…A plugged up PCV can cause oil burning…Have a compression test performed to see if that’s normal…

The previous owner using synthetic MIGHT have been a factor, but only in a secondary-effect way… he/she may have believed the marketing hype that if you use synthetic you can go 10,000 or 12,000 miles between changes. he/she probably never checked the oil level either, thinking the engine was well protected because he/she was using synthetic.

Burning oil in a Corolla engine is a result of neglect. The oil rings could be gummed up, the cylinders could be worn prematurely.

There is a way to determine if the oil rings are likely sludged. Remove the valve cover. If the area under the valve cover is pristine, it’s unlikely that the oil rings are sludged. It’s also worth a try to use some oil additive from the parts store designed to clean out sludge. Can’t hurt.

I’d also suggest a compression test on the engine. That might reveal premature wear.

Removing the sparkplugs and “reading” them might also reveal a problem with a single cylinder… or confirm that the problem is in all 4 cylinders.

Even if you do nothing, as long as you keep the oil above the FILL line, the motor will keep running. You may suffer premature catalytic converter failure, and perhaps need new sparkplugs more often than recommended, but the engine will keep running for a long time burning oil.

The root cause of the problem, whatever the details, is neglect by the previous owner. These engines do not become premature oil burners if they’re well maintained.

“I have no idea how often the first owner changed the oil. When I bought the car, the car seems to be perfect.”

…and therein lies a significant part of the problem.
When people buy used cars without getting access to maintenance records, they can wind up with a car that received little or no maintenance. The car may look good, and may even drive well–for a limited amount of time–but then the chickens will come home to roost, so to speak, when the first owner’s negligence becomes apparent through oil burning or mechanical breakdowns.

The OP is not to blame for the damage that was done to his engine by the previous owner’s neglect, but–hopefully–he will now learn to NOT be fooled by a vehicle that appears to be a good one, but whose condition cannot be verified with hard copies of maintenance records.

Anyway…as was already stated, one option is to simply check the oil level every few days, and replenish the oil as soon as the level begins to fall. The object of the game is to never allow it to fall more than 1 qt below the full mark, although it is better to replenish the oil after 1/2 qt has been consumed.

The other option is to overhaul/rebuild the current engine, but I would strongly advise the OP to not do that until the health of the transmission can be verified. The transmission fluid should have been changed twice already, and if–as I suspect–the transmission’s maintenance was ignored just as the engine’s maintenance was, then it may not even be worth spending the money on an engine overhaul. Imagine spending over $2,000 for an engine rebuild, only to be faced with a similar bill a few months later for a transmission rebuild.

I second the check of the transmission fluid, but even if it is dark, you can change it and the transmission will be fine. As for the oil burning issue. If you see oil smoke from under the hood, then the most likely issue is the front seal. It will sling oil all over including on the exhaust pipes where you will get a lot of smoke up front.

If the oil is coming out the tail pipe, then it is burning, but that does not necessarily mean that you need an overhaul. It could be the PVC system or it could be due to sludge on top of the cylinder head. Sludge build up on top of the cylinder head can cause oil to pool around the valves and get sucked into the combustion chamber during the intake stroke.

Sludge on top of the head can also plug the oil drain back holes also causing oil to pool around the valves. Removing the valve cover and cleaning out the sludge with small plastic scrapers, parts brushes and solvent can take care of this and it can be done by someone with basic tools and rudimentary mechanical skills. Do replace the valve cover gasket and spark plug hole gaskets when done.

BTW, while the valve cover is off, it would be a good idea to check the valve lash.