Reader Question I’ve had this question for years about how the engine oil system works. I’ve consistently changed my engine oil every 5,500 o 6,500 miles.
I go to a commercial oil change shop where they change both the oil and filter each time.
The question is; why does my engine go through about a quart of oil between 3,000 to 4,000 miles from the last oil change? When I put 1/2 to 3/4 of a quart of oil it normally is fine until I change my oil at my regular interval.
With my current car, last few times the engine seems to continue, at a much slower rate, using another quart before I get to 6,000 miles.
The engine’s didn’t go through a full quart of oil between oil changes for the first about 140,000 miles and in the last 18,000 it seems to be using more but only after the first 3,000 miles since the last oil change.
I drive a 2000 Honda Accord, w/ 177,300 miles, manual transmission, and four cylinder engine. I bought the car new in 2000. Most of my driving is freeway with 40 to 80 miles driven each trip. I make a few short trips on weekends only.
I’ve always gone to the same oil change shop for this car and until this last oil change use Chevron 5W 30 motor oil and the shop supplied filter.
This last time I agreed to add an oil system cleaner prior to changing my oil in hopes that it might help the oil usage issue. It’s not the first time I’ve used the cleaner but it’s been well over their recommended interval since I used it last.
Is the problem that the oil filter is clogging up and forcing the oil out of the engine or to be burnt or . . .? If the filter gets clogged at 3,500 is there a way to use an oversize filter that would give greater capacity?
Is the increased usage just because the engine has the number of miles it has? If so, is there something I can do short of an engine rebuild?
All of my cars have always used some part of or a quart of oil between 3,000 to 4,500 mile since the last oil change. It’s always made me wonder.
Thank you in advance for your consideration and advise.
Hi there Ron,
Without being able to run some tests on your engine, mainly a compression test I would ASSUME what you have going on is due to normal wear and tear of the engine. Your engine oil is probably being consumed by the engine, and going out the tailpipe gradually as to not create visible smoke.
With that amount of mileage you could probably increase the oil weight to at least 10W30 or 10W40 although that old saying “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” really comes to mind here. Your oil change routine seems to have worked well so far, so you might not want to change things….except maybe increase the oil change interval a bit.
There are products on the market that will increase compression in engines that have some internal wear on there. Engine Restore oil additive in the metal can is one that I have used on occasion, and I think it worked well.
Wynn’s Engine Oil Treatment is also a good product to use and I have been using it for many years with good results.
I have seen an engine run perfectly fine for 4 hours with NO engine oil inside it at all…..they actually took the engine oil pan off the engine and sprayed water inside the engine as it was running.
This product leaves a thin coating of protection on the vital engine components. We use it as insurance, just in case one of our mechanics forgets to install the oil during an oil change.
I would also have your mechanic check your PCV system and make sure it is working correctly and is not stopped up with carbon build up.
These Honda’s are prone to this problem which can cause too much internal engine pressure thus internal and external gasket failure and blue exhaust smoke out the tailpipe. With your mileage I would expect to see some build up which will need to be physically removed with a scraper and solvent.
If you want to learn everything there is to know about motor oils, here is the link to download the Motor Oil Bible ebook from my site
Reader Follow Up
Thanks for the informative explanation. I really do appreciate it.
At the fear of being too pushy, Do you feel my idea of the oil filter getting clogged causing a significant oil usage jump when the mileage is over 3,000 miles has no merit?
Thanks again and I think I’ll try the Wynn’s Engine Oil Treatment. It sounds good if an engine can run for 4 hours without oil. I’ll assume there’s directions on the container as to how much to use. Do you feel Wynn’s is better than products such as “Slick 50”?
Hey there Ron,
I am not really the expert on this topic, so I really can not commit much about the idea of the oil filter clogging. I am not sure if the Motor Oil Bible covers that topic or not…..it covers a lot on filtration issues.
Believe it or not, I am a 3,000 mile oil change interval guy…I know I know I know I have been brain washed by the fast lube places. HA!
I know for a fact that Wynn’s works, I have seen it with my own eyes. Sick 50 costs a lot more and I have no personal experience with it like I do with Wynn’s. I think the Wynn’s product retails for $6.95 a bottle. You must use the Wynn’s product during each oil change though for it to really be effective…so they claim.