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VW/Audi 1.8T Oil Consumption


First post, but I’ve really had no problems in a decade. I guess that says something in itself. I think this may be a ?Stump the Chump? question?

I am the (proud) owner of a 2001 VW Jetta Worlfsburg, 1.8T. It’s an awesome little car, and really has a lot of go.

I’m currently sitting at 124K miles, and until now, it has used no oil (that’s right, none) between services, which are done exclusively by me. I?ve maintained the car in its entirety (except for tires and alignments) since the 1st year ?bumper to bumper? warranty expired (and recalls).

I cannot explain what?s happening now.

At the 120K service, everything was normal. No oil usage, nothing out of the ordinary to be noted. Now, at 124K, it seems to be consuming a heck of a lot of oil. In fact, almost 3 quarts in the last 200 miles. I know VW/Audi say that some consumption is normal, but this is crazy usage.

I?ve checked the plugs, and they all look nice and tan. There?s no mess in the anti-freeze, there are no oil spots under the car, and there?s no smoke from the exhaust. I spent a couple hours today checking out the motor, and there are no visible oil leaks. The (original) exhaust has the normal black soot in it, but nothing extreme (no worse than my 2004 Toyota 4Runner Limited 4x4 with 125K miles, which I serviced today).

I will admit, I love both these vehicles, and truth be told, I drive them like I stole them. They are a blast, both on road and off. I just cannot figure out where all this oil is going.

Any ideas?


How often do you change your oil, what type of oil do you use? Have you ever serviced the PCV system? If it gets plugged up, a lot of oil can be pushed back into it’s intake which is usually connected to the air-intake plumbing. See if your air-intake if full of oil…

I’ve maintained the 5K service schedule almost religiously. I use only Mobil 1 5w30, and at 100K I switched to the “High Mileage” version. Yes, the entire vacuum system, including the PCV valve and the rest of the components in that system was replaced at approximately 100K miles.

Based on the question, I went out and checked the intake…nothing but dust.

Is the turbo oiled cooled? If so maybe the oil is getting sucked through the turbo. Perhaps it maybe possible to disconnect the intake tube to verify.

Hmm…yes, it is oil cooled. I’m not sure what you mean by “disconnect the intake tube” though. It’s pretty much a sealed system. If the turbo was sucking the oil, it would have to do something with it, yes? There would be evidence at some point, like in the exhaust system, or the plugs would be fouled.

I’m guessing at this point.

If oil was getting sucked into turbo you would get a lot of blue smoke.

I also vote for bad turbo bearings, though you would think that at this rate of consumption, the catalytic converter would be overwhelmed and you would see some blue smoke.

Did you check all the passageways of the PCV system? Not just the valve etc.

It could be the crankcase is getting pressurized only when you’re driving so it leaks oil only when you’re on the go.

Three quarts in 200 miles should be obvious wherever it goes, unless it’s dripping on the pavement going by.

I didn’t really check the plastic and rubber tubing, no, I replaced all of it. The car lived in FL (hot summers) for 7 years, then in ND (extremely cold winters) for a year. Two extremes. There was a lot of cracking and air leakage to be found (throwing engine faults, which is how I found them), so once I got into it, I just replaced it all. It was far easier than ripping it all apart, replacing a piece, then doing it all over again later when the next one failed. That was over a year ago, though, and this just started in the last 4K miles - actually, probably a lot less than that…more like <1K miles.

I agree…there would be evidence somewhere of this leak - even if it did drip out and hit the ground while moving. Splashes would hit the car - I can’t find any new oil on the undercarriage.

I’m liking the “turbo bearings” thought from above. It’s the original turbo, and although it still runs great, it may be about to fail. I’m not sure how to test that, though, without just replacing it. I’m just thankful we have AAA and the wife can have it towed home. :slight_smile:

VW requires VW 502.00 spec compliant oil for their 1.8T engine cars. These are all full synthetic oils. Anything else can cause problems with sludge and other failures due the high temperatures created in the oil by the turbo (oil/water cooled).

The oils you are using do not meet these specs - sorry.

I personally use Mobil 1 0W-40 Euro Spec. for both daily driving and track time with no issues.

The turbo is most likely worn and passing excessive oil. It is most likely being leaked mostly into the intake, where it is then burned. This won’t show as much on plugs as oil slipping past rings.

Here is a link to the VW site stating the same thing:

Here are some commonly available oils and links to their specifications:

Mobil 1 0w-40 Product Sheet:

Castrol Syntec 0w-30 and 5w-40 Product Sheet:,q/pds_syntec_usa.pdf

Valvoline Synpower 5w-40 Product Sheet:

Well, regardless of VW’s opinion, I will continue to use Mobil 1, although I may move to 0-40 (I don’t think this even existed when I bought the car, and it’s now the recommended oil by Mobil1). VW doesn’t follow the rest of the industry when it comes to oil standards - they just created their own. It’s not hard to follow a standard when you’re the only one who uses it, and it guarantees future customers.

When I took it in for its first service, right at the first 5000 mile mark, I took enough Mobil1 5W-30 with me to do the job, and to a man, the entire service department told me this was the absolute best oil to use in that motor, and better than the one they were going to use - which wasn’t even a synthetic - I had to request a synthetic before they would use one. They implied they had documentation - a tech bulletin from VW, I think - that said most other synthetics met their “standard”, and that Mobil1 was on that list.

I don’t believe that using 5-30 for the past 10 years has caused this problem. Whether it meets their “spec” or not…driving it like he** may have, but not my choice of oil.

I’m just gonna throw a WAG out, and I’ve only seen it once, but it was also the only time I’ve seen a car use this much oil.

Look on the bottom of the car by the oil filter; if there is a lot of oily goo I would vote for a cracked or leaking oil filter. It is hard to diagnose, cause it only leaks when the car is running and the filter is under pressure, so you don’t get any puddles under the car.

When I saw this problem for the first time a friend said she went through 4 qt driving home 200 mi. It turned out somehow a pebble got thrown up and pierced her filter.

The other thing it could be is an O ring left on from the previous oil filter when you went in for the 120K service. Its possible that it sealed until now and is now gushing oil when the engine is running.

I’d glance under the car specifically by the oil filter and straight back from there or pay someone to do it for you. It could be the turbo, but I like to rule out the cheap stuff first.

Please follow up and let us know what the issue is/was. It’s always nice to get feedback on out advice.


If your mechanics recommended a non-synthetic, then that doesn’t give me confidence in their knowledge of the peculiarities of VW engines. The VW 1.8T requires 502.00 synthetic, according to VW’s own statements. (See this link: Using an oil that doesn’t come up to the specs can cause problems with coking in the turbo.

Sorry, that link doesn’t seem to work. Here’s another, for Audi, but it’s the same engine.

Now, THIS is an interesting link. Yes, it is the same motor, and they’re quoting the same oil spec’s as the others, but also include alternatives.

jdmere, the mechanics that I took it to were at the dealership. This car has only been worked on by me and dealers…granted, dealers in 3 different states, but supposedly 5 star dealers, in any event. A couple times, the dealer mech’s messed things up, and I had other things to fix (in addition to what they messed up), so I try to do the research first, and fix it right. So far, none of my repairs have failed. I do (well, did) have an “in” with VW, as my brother-in-law used to work there (top salesman, and he always chatted with their best mechanics). Alas, that resource is gone now. I always went to him/them for advice…even if I thought I knew what was best.

I do find it odd that the 0W-40 and 5W-40 are listed, and according to Mobil, those and the 5W-30 meet the same specs. I suppose it’s possible they want the -40 due specifically to the turbo, as it runs so hot.

I checked it out, and I can get a replacement unit for ~$1700. That’s gonna leave a pretty serious dent in the old bank account, I can tell you.

I crawled all over that motor on Sunday, checking it out after I did the 125K service on my 4Runner. Nothing odd was down there, and I did look pretty closely…inspection mirror, light and all. I also cleaned both engines so that any fresh oil leak with be obvious, and I’ll check the car out tonight, and then again on Thursday. I do all the services, and I’m careful to always put the guards back in place.

I did not see any oil on the filter.

This is possibly the most frustrating problem I’ve come across in a long time, and I do appreciate the inputs.

I’m not an expert on VW oil specs, but I can’t see how Mobil 1 5W-30 could cause problems. The thing went 123K miles on it with no trouble, for pete’s sake! That said, I’m glad to have my plain ol" Nissan Versa. My MR18DE Motor is just fine on the Castrol 5W-30 dino oil I get on sale at Wally-world, and I don’t have to worry about some out-of-the-way oil spec. I think these great german engineers should find ways to keep things a bit simpler.

$1700 for what ? A turbo should run about one third of that and your oil leak may well be the O ring between the oil cooler and the block . The part costs around $6 at the dealer and it takes about an hour to replace it .
Look on ClubB5 for info on this exact problem .

It only takes a problem with 1 ring on one piston to create a huge oil consumption problem.
Has a quick compression test been considered to see if a problem in this area exists examining the plug tips for oil deposits while they’re out?
A compression test is always Step One after an inspection for external leaks.

(Keep in mind that a compression and/or leakdown test is not always the final word but it’s the best method available)

You also state that you “drive them like you stole them”. While I agree with you that this can be a blast, eventually these habits can come back to bite you.

+1 on the compressions and leakdown tests for each cylinder to see if there is an issue with a specific cylinder.

Also, if you can, have a friend drive behind you while you accelerate up a steep hill to see if there is a lot of black or blue smoke, which might indicate valve stem seals, or worn valve guides.

Finally, even though its only ~24k miles old, replace that PCV valve, as it might be bad.