Where is the oil going?

I bought a 2003 vw golf a month ago from a dealer. The car had 45,000 miles on it, had been serviced at that dealership and had a clean carfax report. I buy used because I commute about 2x/month between SE Mass and DC. The car is automatic, runs well and doesn’t leak oil. As I neared my DC location this weekend the oil indicator flashed. Upon checking the oil level I found it to be 3 quarts low. I had driven 2800 miles. The car has the 2.0L engine; engine is squeaky clean,coolant is nice and pink, fluid levels were perfect when I bought the car and had it checked. Took it back to the dealer who can’t find a problem. Any ideas? Thanks!

When you start the vehicle, does the exhaust have a blue tint to it? If so you could have leaking valve guide seals.

VW engines have a history of oil sludging, especially if the owner does not change the oil frequently and/or does not use oil that meets the VW specification. It is very possible that sludge in the engine has led to poor lubrication of bearings, rings, valve guides, etc, and that this is the reason for this high rate of oil consumption.

And, since it appears that the previous owner drove the car only about 7,500 miles per year, it is very possible that he/she was one of those dullards who change oil only on the basis of odometer mileage, and not on the basis of elapsed time. When a car is driven for only short trips, as this one probably was, the oil is especially subject to sludging if it is not changed every 3 or 4 months.

I know that I am stating the obvious, but I will do it anyway: Check the car’s oil level at least once a week, and if you are on a long drive, check it at least once during that trip!

When an engine is operated with a low oil level–as this one was recently–the small remaining amount of oil becomes extremely hot, has to “work harder” (an oversimplification), and breaks down very rapidly. The trick is to never let the oil level fall more than 1 qt below the proper level, otherwise you are further accelerating the engine wear that has already taken place.

Good luck!

The oil is being burned in the engine and is going out the tailpipe. You don’t see any smoke because the catalytic converter burns it up.

This is common with many VWs. Volkswagen considers one quart of oil use per 1,000 miles to be “normal.” You need to get in the habit of checking the oil level on a regular basis, because this condition is not going to go away.

It’s very important to read the owner’s manual for the correct oil change intervals, and to use the proper oil in this engine. I suggest you try to find an independent mechanic who specializes in VW to help you maintain your Golf.

Yes, I have 2000 VW Golf gas model and it did the same thing when I first got it in 2002 with 12k on it. It’s apparently normal, although I hadn’t experienced this with my previous VWs. Just check it every 1000 miles. However, the dealership was also using 5w 30 oil, which is very thin. The independent shop where I go now-they specialize in VW AUDI PORSCHE, says it’s a BIG mistake to use anything BUT 15w 40w, which is mainly for diesels, but VW has recommended it for years. It burns a lot less with this oil, although still check it at 1000, but I’m pretty sure you will have to add less oil or none at all. I have had my car for 7 years, so far so good with over 113k on it.

Thanks for the reply. … No sign of burning oil. … Having a compression check done tomorrow “just in case”,

Thanks! The car was well maintained by the dealership from which I bought it. I drive vws all the time. Just sold my '98 golf with 251,000 miles. Change oil regularly. Having my great mechanic run a compression check tomorrow. Car runs great. If you think of anything else, let me know>

Just sold my '98 with 251,000 miles to my mechanic. … Same engine - never used a drop of oil. Maybe the dealership from which I bought it used a light oil. Your feedback on the oil viscosity is very helpful. My mechanic uses a heavier oil. He’s going to do a compression check tomorrow, just in case. The car runs really well so maybe I’ll have to add a quart once in awhile.

Are you a “spirited” driver? A lot of steady high revving on the highway tends to increase oil consumption. I had an '81 Accord that normally didn’t burn a drop of oil except a little(~1qt/2k mi) when zooming down I-95.

Maybe…that’s the kind of driving I do most of but pretty much keep within speed limits. Thing is my recent Golf, a 98 with the same engine had 251K miles on it when I sold it to my mechanic just after I bought this one and never used a drop of oil. Nor did any of my other Golfs or Rabbits use oil and I ran all of them over 200K and did the same kind of driving. That’s why I’m so baffled by this one. Never had a VW that used oil.
Thanks much …Marge