What causes an engine to burn oil?

Is it normal for an engine to burn oil every 750 to 1000 miles?

Some manufactures seen to think it’s OK for their engine to burn a quart of oil every 750 to 1,000 miles.  I can assure you that oil burning is not normal for any engine and is a smog concern according to the California resources board.

The oil burning you experience may not be seen when driving or sitting steal with the engine running. The amount of oil burned is very small but never the less it is using oil. Over time the oil usage will get worst as the miles increase.

The cost to repair an engine from burning oil is as much as a new vehicle, depending on which vehicle you have purchased.

I have inspected several vehicles with the V-6 and V-8 engine and they were using oil every 750 to 1,000 miles.  The owners have complained to the dealership for the oil burning issue’s, and was told it is normal.  This normally happens after they run an oil consumption test and can’t repair the engine unless it’s completely replaced.

The engine cost can be from several hundred or as much as $10,000.00, this is just for the parts and this does not included the labor to remove and then reinstall the new engine at labor cost starting at $85.00 an hour for as much as $150.00 an hour at most dealers, exotic cars may be much more.

I have also seen this oil burning concern with the 3.8 engine, this person was told it is normal for their engine to burn oil every 750 to 1,000 miles of driving; in fact it was in writing the engine will burn a quart of oil every 750 miles but was not true. The engine should not burn oil any time between oil changes on any engine.

I have also seen very high end vehicle costing over $80,000 dollars to buy and they are having problems using oil every 1,000 miles and the owner is told; the engine burning oil is normal for this engine because it has a Turbo. The replacement engine for the vehicle is over $30,000 dollars (yes over 30K) not to include the over 25 hours of labor at $135.00 to $150 per hour average cost to install it. You might want to think twice before investing in a vehicle that has this oil burning concerns.

What causes an engine to lose or burn or lose oil?

There are several things that will cause abnormal oil usage or burning,

1)    Damaged or worn valve guides

2)    Damaged or worn valve seals

3)    Collapsed, broken or stuck piston rings

4)    Damage pistons

5)    Damage piston walls

6)    Clogged breather valve

7)    Oil leaking from seals and gaskets

Signs of oil burning are usually accompanied by Blue Smoke from the exhaust when it is started or running depending on what part is defective or damaged and how bad the damage is.  Oil leaking can also contribute to excessive oil usage and this is something that will be seen after you park and let the vehicle sit awhile. Most oil leak repairs are fixed by replacing a seal or gasket.

If valve guides are worn blue smoke will be seen when the engine is started, usually after it has run and then sits awhile.

If valve seals are worn or broken blue smoke will be seen when the engine is started, usually after it has run and then sits awhile.

If the piston ring seize, break or collapse in their groove, oil will pass causing the excessive oil burning. Damaged pistons and rings will cause oil burning and excessive blow-by. This will also cause the exhaust smoke to be blue when driving or at idle depending on how bad the oil is leaking past the piston rings or valve guides or seals.

When an engine is using oil it is caused by defective piston, rings or valve parts and the engine will need to be removed and over hauled. It’s a time consuming job and very costly depending on the vehicle.

If you are told the oil burning is normal don’t accept that just because the dealership is telling you. In fact if you call an engine repair shop that rebuilds engine they will tell you when an engine is burning oil it will possible need to be overhauled, that means all intern parts will need to be cleaned and replaced as needed.

The good news is the lemon law applies to all new and used vehicles with a warranty. If you are given the run the engine oil burning is normal, don’t accept that as a final word when help is available at no cost to you in most cases.

I suggest you go to my web site and see some of the attorneys listed that over 3,500 of my customers have used to help them get a full refund or a replacement vehicle and in some cases get some money compensation.  You have nothing to lose by asking for some free advice by some of California best Lemon Law and Personal Injury attorneys.

Keep in mind the Lemon Law applies to all new or used vehicles purchased from a dealership with a warranty and includes Pre-Owned Certified cars and trucks.  The warranties can be negotiated; you must be sure the extended warranty covers free loan car and zero deduction or you will pay for any and all complaints, be careful and be sure to read what is covered before you sign.

Good luck God bless you from Lemon Protection.



17 thoughts on “What causes an engine to burn oil?

  1. I got 23 Ram 1500 it used 1qt of oil in 3.000 the dealer it normal to used oil and it get 50.000 it used 1qt in 750 mi is this normal I had to the dealer 3 time

  2. new 2013 Ram 1500 it used 1qt of oil in 3.000 the dealer it normal to used oil and it get 50.000 on it used 1qt in 750 mi is this normal I had it to the dealer 3 time it got 17.000 mi on truck

    • Hi Joe,
      No, it is not normal for an engine to burn oil. The engine should be full of oil at each oil change. The cause of oil consumption is worn valve guides, worn or broken valve seals and or piston rings. These are the most likely cause as long as there are no external leaks. If you complained three or more time in the first 18mo or 18K miles you are covered under the lemon law in most states. If you in CA, AZ or NV I work with several very good attorneys that do not make you pay a fee if they take the case, it is basely free until you settle then the money comes out of the settlement. I have seen some get full buy backs, some get part money back and some get a replacement vehicle. Keep all paper work if you get an attorney he or she will need everything including the sales contract.
      Good Luck, Thanks for reading the site,


  3. This article is completely incorrect. Engines are designed to consume oil and it would be very bad if they didn’t. Valve seals are specifically engineered to meter oil flow down the guide. If there was no oil flow failure would result. These seals are specific to the application and can vary quite a bit (turbocharced vs. naturally aspiriated for example). Similarly, the crosshatch of the cylinders is designed to hold a small amount of oil and extend ring life. If the bores were completely smooth the engine would not last long. Some manufacturers have even tried to add oil cavities to cylinder liners using a laser to etch the surface in a specific pattern.

    There’s no doubt that excessive oil consumption is a serious problem, but saying that engines shouldn’t consume any oil is totally incorrect.

    • The oil consumption I am speaking of is oil that has to be added between oil changes. The fact is no engine should burn any measurable amount of oil between oil changes. The piston oil control rings lubricate the cylinder walls as the piston works up and down, the top and bottom of that oil control ring is there to hold the oil in that area as it rides up and down the piston wall, lubricating but not allowing oil to seep past the rings. The purposes of the piston oil control rings is to control the amount of oil that lubricate the piston walls as it works up/down but not allowing it to leak into the piston chamber to burn. The cross hatch in the cylinder your speaking of is put there when the cylinder is honed out so the new piston rings will seat into the cylinder. If you have an engine burning oil you have an oil burner.

      • Actually it is quite common for up to a quart of oil to be burned off during a 5k mile OCI.

        • It is common to burn oil if you have a ring or valve seal or guide problem.
          It is not normal for any engine to burn oil and if it is burning oil it is a smog concern.

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  6. Hey there,

    I’ve been told several times that some engines burn oil and that it is normal. I’m glad to know it is not OK. However, I am talking about Ducati motorcycles’ engines. Is it different because it is a motorcycle engine? BMW manuals for motorcycles states that a quart of oil every 1000 miles is OK.

    • I would contact a lemon law attorney, if you pour a quart of oil down the throat of the engine and it burn the oil and smokes the whole area around you, this is what you are doing in very small amounts at 1 quart of oil every 1,000 miles. It is not normal for any engine to burn oil other than a lawn more or chain saw where the oil is mixed with gas.
      GOD bless,


  7. I have an Impreza STi 97′ and motor has about 18k miles on it. I recently checked my oil yesterday and it was at half, I checked today it seem lower than that. How can that be and rubbed the inside of my exhaust tip it was black. I was told that it is burned oil.

    • Before you think it is oil burning do some test. First make sure there are no leaks and check the oil when it is cold if hot wait 5 minutes to check it so it has all drained back down to the oil pan. With the engine full of oil start the engine and look at the rear of the car, look for blue smoke coming out the exhaust, blue smoke is a sign of oil burning, if it clears soon it may be valve seals or guides. If the smoke is blue in color it may be oil control rings if it continue to smoke blue. White smoke is water condensation; excessive white smoke that don’t go away is likely a leaking head gasket. Black smoke is too much gas/running rich. The exhaust tips with that black stuff is likely gas soot not oil and common on a lot of cars. If it is oil you will fell the oil wet, soot is dry. If it is under warranty let the dealership know so they can do an oil consumption test on the engine, it should be covered up to 36K. If it is under warranty and they refuse then contact an attorney for lemon law and they most likely can help you. I have some listed on my web site.
      By the way it is not normal for any engine to burn oil no matter what a service technician and manager may say, some new BMWs burn as much as a quart of oil every 750 to 1000 miles. These cars cost is in the range of 70K to 125K and you ahve to stop and add oil, what about those junkers that don’t use oil between changes like my old 67 Triumph Spitfire. Looks like quality control has gone out the doors. OK good luck and thanks for stopping by,


      • Thank you, I will check once I do an oil change. I appreciate the help. The only leak I know of is my powersteering leak. Other than that I don’t have any leaks. And oh okay, the exhaust check looked like a charcoal feel or mushy chalk or something. Yeah I’ll start the rests very soon. Thank you again.

  8. I have a 2008 Volkswagen jetta Wolfsburg edition its burning oil no leaks under car. It’s already paid off . It was a new used when we bought it. Can you give me some advice

    • If you have complained about the oil burning three times before the warranty expired then you may be entitled to the lemon law clams. My web side has the name of some of the best Ca has to offer. You can call Todd Friedman his number is on my web page and he is the best. BMW, Porsche and MB are having some oil burners with the high performance engine and are telling the owners it is normal for the engine to burn oil, at least 1 quart every 750 to 1,000 miles of driving but will not disclose than when you buy. All lies, the oil burning is caused by leaking seals or defective rings or valve guides and is fixable but the cost is well in the 10 of thousands. Some of the new model engines run as much as $30,000.
      Good Luck,