why does my car engine burn oil
Is Burning Oil Really a Problem? YouБll sometimes hear people say that itБs normal for an engine to burn oil. Whether theyБre right or not depends on your definition of Бnormal. Б
If by БnormalБ you mean Бcommon,Б then yes, burning engine oil is a pretty common problem, especially in older cars. But itБs still a problem, even if itБs common. ItБs not БnormalБ as in Бyour car is designed to do that. Б In fact, itБs the opposite: your car is designed to prevent oil from burning, or at least not burn enough to really notice. If youБre burning so much oil that the level gets low between oil changes, thatБs not БnormalБ in a good sense. ItБs not a problem you should ignore, either. Oil is important; itБs what keeps your engine from destroying itself as metal rubs against metal several dozen times per second. If the oil gets too low, it doesnБt provide that essential protection. Even if you were to continually add oil to keep it from getting low, burning oil can still be a big problem. Remember the part about the catalytic converter having to deal with the smoke from burning oil? That smoke can eventually damage the catalytic converter and require it to be replaced. Catalytic converters contain precious metals such as platinum, and are therefore not cheap. The smoke and soot can also lower and, while increasing your. ItБs not good for the environment, and not good for your pocketbook. Towards the diagnosis end of things, there are some general guidelines to follow: If you are seeing smoke coming from your exhaust, what color is the smoke?
If it's blue, then it's oil If it's black, it means you are running rich (too much fuel). If it's white, the car may be burning antifreeze or (quite rare) auto-trans fluid. Since it's blue smoke you are seeing, you can know that oil is the problem. What can cause oil smoke? If the smoke only comes at start-up and quickly goes away, it can be valve seals and/or valve guides. This is because while the car sits for extended periods of time, the oil has time to seep past the valve seal and collect on top of the valve (or if the valve is in the open position, it could run past and on top of the piston). When you go to start your car, the oil is then burned, giving the tell tale puff of blue smoke. COST TO FIX: There is moderate cost involved with this, depending on the vehicle/engine. If just the seals, this can be accomplished most of the time with keeping the engine mostly together and replacing the seals. Most of the cost here is labor. If the valve guides, this requires an engine tear down. Your heads will have to be taken apart and new guides installed. There is a lot more labor here and a bit more in parts. If you see smoke as you are decelerating, this too is a possible sign of valve seals and/or valve guides. This is because as you decelerate, there is a large vacuum build up within the intake tract. There is enough vacuum to pull oil past the valve seal if it's worn. COST TO FIX: Same as above. If you see smoke while accelerating, this is a sign your oil control rings are worn. These are the bottom rings used in the ring pack.
When they are worn (or the cylinders are worn past tolerance), oil can flow past the rings as the piston travels down the cylinder. The oil control rings normally will scrape the cylinder of the oil, pushing it back down into the crank case. COST TO FIX: There fix is quite expensive, as it requires a complete engine rebuild to fix. If a PCV is bad, you normally won't see burning oil. What you'll see is seals and gaskets failing. This can cause a loss of oil (and a very dirty engine bay). It's one of those things which can sneak up on you if you aren't paying attention. While a bad PCV is not a good thing, don't look here for a reason you're seeing oil smoke coming out the tail pipe. COST TO FIX: If you catch it before it becomes an issue, it's actually quite cheap to fix. just replace the valve. If you see leaks at seals or gaskets, your expense goes way up, but it depends on which seal or gasket is leaking. Easy to get to seals or gaskets will cost much less, because the labor is much less. The converse holds true - Labor is a determining factor here. If you are seeing blue smoke which goes away after an oil change, but slowly comes back as you get closer to your scheduled maintenance, this could be a sign you have an internal fuel leak which is thinning the oil. As the oil gets thinner it passes by the oil control rings easier, causing your vehicle to smoke. An easy way to check this is by pulling the dipstick and smelling the oil. If you smell fuel, this may be the issue. This can be caused by an injector which is stuck open, or possibly an internal failure of a fuel pressure valve which would allow the gas to escape to where it doesn't belong.
COST TO FIX: Diagnosis of what is going on will take a little bit of money. This could be a very low cost fix, to a moderate cost, depending on the actual cause. If you are not seeing smoke, but you're seeing the oil drop lower and lower as time moves on, this may be a "sort of" normal oil usage in your vehicle. Take for instance my '06 Chevrolet Silverado. Its engine is an LS variant. As these engines get up in age, it is common for them to use more oil. You don't see it from the exhaust, but it uses it up, none the less. The engine still runs great and the gas mileage has stayed about the same. Your vehicle could also be losing oil via leakage (or seepage). As engines get up in mileage, this is a very common thing. If you see spots on the driveway where you park the car, this could very well be the issue. Be mindful that vehicles will loose more oil during operation than they will just sitting in your driveway. EDIT: In deference to your edit - I can see where an up-to-temperature catalytic convertor might make some difference in smoke from the tail pipe. This does not hold true, though, for start-up smoke (puff of blue smoke), as the cat is not hot enough to make a difference. It also won't make any difference once the catalyst is covered in oil suit or if there is too much oil for the cat to deal with. Sooner or later when oil gets burnt in this manner, you'll see the blue smoke. You probably have to put new cats on at that point, as well.
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