Reader Question I have an old Honda Accord, 1999 standard EX model. It’s had a
problem with oil for a number of years and no one seems to be able to find the cause.
It’s not burning it, no blue smoke under load or when revving the engine, and no white tail pipe. There are no drip spots under the car when parked. It seems to be most noticeable with highway driving however this could be due to the amount of time the engine is actually running as opposed the strain on the engine. The amount of oil is significant, up to 4 liters per 1000 km.
I would think that much oil should show up somewhere. I’m not a backyard mechanic and I have some one else change my oil. The mechanics who work on the car don’t seem to know what’s happening but say there is some oil around the back of the engine near the oil filter but not enough to drip. The valve cover gasket have been replace twice in the last year when they were replacing valves. (possibly damaged from low oil?)
As I said I understand if you don’t have time to respond to this email, I just thought you might have some suggestions on where to look for the missing oil.
Thanks for your time.
I would suggest you do a little more investigating on this issue. Either the oil is physically leaking from the engine and onto the ground, or it is being consumed by the engine and leaving out of the exhaust system. Some internal oil consumption is normal and might not be visible to the naked eye as smoke out the tailpipe.
The amount you mention is pretty significant though, so I would look harder for a physical oil leak at the engine. Remove all plastic splash shields from under the engine so you can get a clear view underneath.
Buy 2 cans of CRC BrakeKleener from your local auto parts store and spray off any oil spills from the engine. This cleaner is non flammable, dries almost instantly and there is no need to wash the engine with water afterwards.
Some very common oil leaks spots on these vehicles are around the distributor, there is a small rubber oring that leaks, and inside the timing cover where the timing belt is are two seals that can leak and not be readily visible because they are concealed by the plastic timing cover.
I would also check the PCV system and make sure you have plenty of vacuum and there are no restrictions. This is how the engine breathes, and if the PCV Positive Crankcase Ventilation system is not working it puts excess internal pressure on the engine, seals and orings etc. etc. Your mechanic can check this.
I have seen the PCV systems get completely plugged up with oil sludge and carbon on a handful of these vehicles. We had to use an ice pick and a chisel to remove the sludge from the intake manifold on one Honda that I can remember.
If you don’t have any external oil leaks, and your PCV system is working properly I would suggest you try using thicker weight engine oil and see what happens. You live in snow country, so talk to your dealership or mechanic about how thick of engine oil they would recommend to slow down oil consumption without causing any adverse issues do to the extreme temperatures.
They also make some over the counter oil additives that are designed to reduce oil consumption, one that I have used many times is ENGINE RESTORE, and you just add the can to your engine oil.
You are probably using 10W-30, which is recommended, but it pretty thin oil….you might benefit from using straight 30 weight and a can of RESTORE additive….but talk to a local mechanic FIRST. I live in Houston….it does not get cold here and I am not familiar with your climate.
I would also check your air filter and make sure it is not covered in engine oil and feels oily to the touch. This could indicate internal engine wear if oil is getting on the air filter. A compression test of the cylinders should be done if this is happening to determine if the engine is worn out or needs to be rebuilt.
Keep me posted as to what you find out will ya?