Car Burning Oil

Car Burning Oil: Symptoms, Causes & Fixes

This post may contain affiliate links. That means if you click and buy, we may receive a small commission (at zero cost to you). Please see our full disclosure policy for details.

Beginner car owners and newbies at the wheel often find it hard to relate to terms such as ‘you’re burning oil. For seasoned drivers, it’s commonplace knowledge for an engine to burn fuel; if an engine doesn’t burn fuel, it means there’s a problem; it also implies that it won’t produce the required power to make the car start or perform optimally. However, if a car engine burns oil, it is completely out of order and you must be wary of the symptoms that come with oil burning in the car.

Car Burning Oil is never a good thing-It’s simply when your car engine is burning the engine oil fast. This is a common problem but do not ignore it, because it will cause harm to your automobile. If you’re unsure of the signs that often accompany a car burning oil, this article offers you the chance to gain an insight into the potentially dangerous and costly condition. Meanwhile, before you arrive at any conclusion, make sure you carry out a thorough diagnosis of your vehicle to be sure whether the causes and symptoms are a result of oil burning.

What Does A Car Burning Oil Mean?

To say that a car is burning oil simply means in simple terms that there is an oil escape to an unwanted part of your vehicle. By this, oil burning will mean that there’s an oil leak somewhere in the closed system of the engine. 

There are many reasons oil can leak and escape to different parts of your car. But the common scientific explanation is that there’s an increase in the temperature of oil whenever its channels have become hot, thus causing it to burn and spread rapidly to different parts within a short period.  

Interestingly, oil burning in a car can occur in two basic ways. Oil can burn in the interior part of the combustion compartments of your car’s engine. It can also occur in the outer part. Whether it burns in the inside or exterior of the engine’s combustion chambers, oil burning is not healthy for your car and requires that you pay close attention to it as soon as you discover the condition. 

But how would you know that your car is burning oil? You need to watch out for certain signs.

Car Burning Oil Symptoms

If you notice any of the following signs, it’s time to check if your car is burning oil:

  • Change in Smell

If your car burns oil, the first sign you’ll notice is the change in the smell of your car oil. If the oil is burning from an oil leak, there is a particular smell that comes with it. This smell often comes ahead of the smoke that may show up later.

  • Bluish Smoke

One other symptom of burning oil in your auto is the smoke that follows an unpleasant smell of the oil. The smoke is often bluish and will indicate only when your vehicle is running, especially during acceleration. This occurs when your car’s piston rings have been damaged. 

If the smoke shows when your car decelerates, there’s a chance that the components that hold your engine cylinder heads and the valve guides are damaged or at risk of potential damage.

  • Friction Around Car Parts 

There’s also a higher chance that major parts of your vehicle will have a shortage of oil due to loss of oil. When you notice that your vehicle constantly runs on engine oil, it’s time to check if it’s burning oil. Constant loss or lack of adequate lubrication at the various points in your can will result in friction and this can potentially build up heat that may lead to engine damage. 

  • Fail Emissions Test

You can always attribute a failed emission test to burning oil in your car engine. If your car fails the emission test, you may not be able to drive until the problem is resolve-depending on your state of residence.

  • Loss of engine efficiency 

Burning oil can increase the low efficiency and reduced power of your engine. This is as a result of the constantly running of oil which has a huge impact on the overall performance of your car engine.

Causes of Car Burning Oil

Whether burning oil occurs in the inside or outside of your car’s engine combustion chambers, here are a few reasons your car can burn oil:

  • Malfunction of PCV

If your positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) system is faulty, the first suspect is burning oil. Your PCV can be clogged, making it unable to cause an air-fuel mixture to flow into the engine. Once there’s no blowby, motor oil becomes polluted and the pressure in the crankcase can cause the gasket or seals to blow.

  • Failing Valve Guides

Your car can burn oil if it operates on worn-out guides and valves. In this case, the damaged valves and seals are not able to prevent engine oil from the combustion chambers, thereby leading the oil to burn inside the engine.

  • Worn-out piston rings

There is a higher chance that the piston rings are damaged once you notice that your car burns oil. Damaged piston rings cause a vacuum between the piston and bore surface, causing more oil to find a way through the piston and burn.  

  • Loosely fitted drain plug and oil filter 

If your car burns oil, you’ll need to also check if the car’s oil drain plug is loose or not properly fitted. The oil drain plug is responsible for getting rid of the old oil from your car’s engine. If not properly tightened, it may allow the oil to leak, leading to oil burning.   

The same problem applies to the oil filter. If it’s not properly attached during an oil change, it can lead to an oil leak in some parts of the engine bay, causing the escaping oil to burn. In the same vein, the oil filler seal can be missing, loose, or worn-out. The cap should be tight around the opening and securely fitted to prevent oil from returning outward where it may fall on a hot surface and burn.

Other causes of burning oil include damaged oil pan, failing valvecover gaskets, or worn-out oil cooler lines.

How To Fix a Car That’s Burning Oil? 

The first step to fixing any auto issue is to identify where the causes of the problem lie. Burning oil can occur inside or outside of your engine, and you’ll need to understand the causes responsible for the oil to burn.  

Make sure you replace damaged, worn-out, or missing parts, including PCV and valve seals and guides. In the case of loose or ill-fitted accessories, including the oil drain plug, oil filter, and oil filler, you need to tighten them securely to prevent oil escape to hot surfaces. 

For the faulty piston rings, it is good that you go for a complete engine rebuild. Although this may cause a fortune, it is worth it to make your car engine perform optimally. Except for the damaged piston rings, you can replace any of the worn-out parts with new ones.

Final Thoughts

Now that you have all the information you need to avoid or fix oil burning in your car, you should take all necessary steps to attend to any ugly symptoms. The thing about car burning oil is that the sooner you realize it, the better chance of a reduced cost of repairs. Conversely, the longer you take to discover and fix it, the greater the chance of serious damage happening to your vehicle. You’ll have to spend more if the problem lingers unattended to.

Similar Posts