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Why is my Corolla using so much oil?

I have a 2001 Toyota Corolla. It’s been a fine car, but has one problem–since 2003, when we bought it (used by an old lady who drove it only to the grocery store and to church once in a while), it’s been using more oil than it should–more than a quart every 1,000 miles. It doesn’t smoke, and there are no leaks, so it must be burning oil. My husband says it may be because the first owner (that old lady) didn’t break it in according to your recommendations, and we’ll always have this problem with the car. What do you think? Is there any way to cure it?

How many miles do you have on the odometer?

What type of driving do you do–most local, mostly highway, mixed…?

What can you tell us about your oil change regimen–in terms of both elapsed time and miles?

Have you ever changed the PCV valve?

167,000 miles
I use the car mostly for a commuter vehicle–50 miles a day, between 45-55 mph (on state and local roads without much stop and go) with a once weekly trip that is longer–up to 200 miles. Occasionally, we use it for a longer trip (300-400 miles).
The oil change regimen is a little hard to answer-- my husband notices that it’s time to change the oil–and tries to do that every 3,000 miles. I don’t really notice anything about cars and tend to let it go a little longer, may be 5-7,000 miles. We always take it, either to an oil change place, or to the mechanic when something else needs doing.
As far as we know, the PCV valve has never been changed. Don’t know about that little old lady, though.

Since the PCV valve is probably the cheapest part on your car, I would suggest just going ahead and changing it yourself. It should take you longer to open the PCV valve package than it does to actually remove the old one and plug in the new one.

If you don’t want to do it yourself, then have this done at the next oil change.
I strongly suggest that you avoid quick lube places if you value your car.
The percentage of expensive screw-ups at these places is–distressingly high.

Your oil change regimen sounds okay, overall.
With your type of driving, 3k miles sounds a bit early.
On the other hand, I never suggest going 7k miles.

Since 5k miles is really easy to remember, I suggest that you change the oil every 5k miles, but be sure that you personally check the oil every week. If the rate of oil consumption was to suddenly increase, you could wind up damaging the engine if you don’t check the oil weekly.

Thanks–I’ll try that.

For some reason that I can’t explain, I have had cars that go further on a quart of oil of one brand than another brand even though the oil is of the same viscosity. I had a Ford Maverick that would use a quart in 1000-1200 miles of Sunoco motor oil. I found Valvoline on sale at a good price. I was reluctant in those days to switch brands, but at the sale price I couldn’t resist the Valvoline. I would then go 1300-1500 miles on a quart. If changing the PCV valve doesn’t help, try a different brand of oil. It may or may not make any difference, but it wouldn’t hurt to try.

I’ve owned two Corollas, and I’ve added a half-quart into each per every second fillup (I fill the tank at a spot between 1/4 full and 1/2 full). A quart per thousand miles is pretty good with an engine with 167k on it, especially a hot running engine such as yours. Follow the oil change regimen to the letter, per time and mileage and as prescribed. In fact, follow all of the scheduled maintenance items. These tend to occur much less often than most cars, and at less cost than most foreign cars. Properly maintained, a Corolla is easily reliable for at least 250k. I’d step up the oil change schedule to 3,000. You have at least a brand new car’s life left in this car if you just maintain it.

If the little old lady story is a true one then that type of driving is the absolute worst type there is on a car; especially if the oil change regimen is not very strict.
It could be the problem originated there and the higher mileage has just exacerbated the problem.

Here is some link to old discussion on Corolla/Prizm oil burning