What is happening to my oil?

Twice now I have had this problem. I have regular oil changes but the last two have resulted in barely any oil to be drained. Today the mechanic said he only drained one quart! There is no oil dripping on my garage floor, i am not blowing smoke fumes out the back end. It seems like the oil is being burned up or disappearing somewhere. He told me to bring it back in after i drive 500 miles and he will check it again. Any ideas?

You gotta check your oil! How many miles? Check it every gas fillup, see what consumption is. Let us know.

If it isn’t dripping on the floor and there are no signs of oil leaking under the car, it has to be going out the tailpipe.
How many miles on this engine and how many miles between oil changes? The burning of oil might not be severe enough to be seen out the pipe if it takes long enough to get that low.
Best and cheapest bet is to check the oil every time you get gas so you can keep from running it too low. If your mechanic is only draining one quart, you run the very real risk of doing serious damage to your engine.
As for the cause, the most likely causes are leaking valve guide seals and leaking rings.

How many miles on my car?

The oil is going somewhere, most likely out the exhaust pipe.

If it’s not leaking, it’s burning. Where else would it go?

Yes, and what year is it?

Well, I have one idea. Check your oil regularly before you kill your engine!

If this engine has been run for an extended period of time with a very low level of oil in the crankcase, the engine may already be on its way to the graveyard.

We still don’t know the model year and the odometer mileage of this vehicle, but I believe that anybody who allows his/her oil to fall to the “one quart” level should not be surprised if major damage has taken place as a result of their negligence.

Well, I change my oil every 3,000 miles which is average , right? I take very good care of my car. it is a 2005 chrysler pacific with 30,000 miles

You are indeed changing the oil at an appropriate mileage interval, based on the fact that it is driven much less than the typical car. For this, I applaud you.

That being said, if your crankcase has only 1 qt left in it when you arrive at the mechanic’s shop, that would appear to indicate that you do not check the dipstick between oil changes, or that you do not check it often enough. When you allow the oil level to fall very low, that does NOT equate with “very good care” of a vehicle.

Now that the engine has run on a very low oil level for an extended period of time, the engine has experienced greatly increased wear, and this means that the rate of oil burning will increase. As a result, you will now need to check the dipstick weekly.

The object of regularly checking the dipstick is to never allow the crankcase to fall more than 1 qt below the full mark, lest you force a small quantity of oil to do the work of a crankcase full of oil. When a small quantity of oil is overworked in this manner, it breaks down very quickly, no longer provides adequate lubrication, and has a tendency to cause a build-up of damaging sludge in the engine’s narrow oil passages. When the sludge collects to the danger point, it cuts off oil flow to delicate parts that need constant lubrication.

In addition to having an engine with greater wear than it should have at 30k miles, your catalytic converter will likely give up the ghost soon, simply because all of that oil combustion is going to overwhelm the converter. A properly-functioning catalytic converter is the reason why you don’t yet see oil smoke, but that may change very soon. Sorry for the bad news.

I’m kind of curious as to how the mechanic measured the oil he drained. Most mechanics use a bulk oil container for drained oil so the amount would only be a guess. But its possible.

You should check, or have the oil checked periodically. Traditionally, oil is checked when the gas tank is filled. If you don’t know how to check your oil, there are instructions in your owners manual but I think your mechanic will be glad to show you how. I’m not trying to talk down to you, a lot of people don’t know how to check their oil.

You can have a major oil leak and not drip any oil where you park. Some leaks can occur at a high oil pressure point in or on the engine, for example the oil pressure sending unit. The oil will come out as a mist and not drops and it won’t leak when the engine is off.

Thanks for this useful advice. I guess all this time I thought getting my oil changed in a timely fashion was enough but now I know differently. Its all I have ever done with all the cars I have owned.I never checked the oil levels and never had a problem. I WILL be checking it more often as I do not want to bad things to happen to my engine. Your advice was the most helpful. I am going back to my mechanic when I have driven 500 miles so they will keep an eye on it

Bad things have already happened to your engine, as your mechanic undoubtedly told you. That’s why you started this thread, right?

Keith, you know better than that…

This is not ideal, but it will set you in the right direction:

On the first of each month take the time to check your tire pressure and your oil.

Please take this advise to heart:

Have an independent shop perform an oil consumption, a compression and leakdown test on your engine.

From the information that I pulled up on Google just by typing in “Chrysler Pacifica burning oil”, it appears that there are quite a few complaints about engines (mostly the 3.5 liter v-6) that burn oil, including one that burns over a quart of oil in under 800 miles.

That owner brought his car to a dealer in Michigan and they performed an oil consumption test, and determined that there was an internal failure with the pistons, the oil control rings on the piston, and the piston rings.

The solution was a rebuild that included new pistons, and rings.
Their engine immediately stopped burning oil.


Do you have a 7year 70000 mile warranty with this car, If you do you should be at the dealer complaining loudly, Gather all your oil change recipts before you go.

I wouldn’t do that until the OP can document high oil consumption. Right now, they can only document poor maintenance on their part (failing to check the oil). If this gets recorded by the dealer, the OP may never get a warranty claim approved.

The dealer does not need to know that they fail to check the oil.

They need to visit the dealer if this is under power train warranty ASAP. The dealer will document a consumption issue and have oil topped and then have the poster return at a set interval to see the level drop.

The poster needs to check their oil on any car they own. Not every fuel fillup but maybe every 3-4(1000 miles).

I cross my finger the motor is under warranty. This is an expensive lesson otherwise in basic car care. We all take for granted cars do not burn oil and majority do not. But that simple check is needed. I neglect it too, checking every 1000-3000 miles.

I just don’t know what the OP tells the dealer.
OP: "It’s using too much oil."
Dealer: "How do you know that?"
OP: “uhhhhhhhhhhh…”