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The Most Common Myths And Unknowns About Engine Oil Consumption

Is it normal for the engine not to consume oil within the oil change interval and does the quality of the oil affect consumption? These and many other questions, dilemmas and misconceptions will be addressed by our expert consultant, Stevan Dimitrijevic. We warmly recommend that you read the text below.

This subject is an ongoing one and is one of those drivers tend to analyze using arguments, such as “a man told me”, “I read it on the Internet” or “I heard it from a friend”. Seeing it as there are a lot of myths, unknowns and questions regarding engine oil consumption, we’re going to deal with the most important and common ones.

Engine Oil Consumption

 

Myths

  • A car engine mustn’t consume a gram of oil because if it does, it’s in for an overhaul. This myth is usually followed by the my-engine-does-not-consume-a-gram-of-oil statement. False!
  • A car engine can consume very little oil, but if it consumes it so much that extra oil has to be added in between 2 oil change intervals, it means that the engine is not working well. False!

The following statement is also a borderline myth:

  • If a car engine consumes more than 0.5 liters of oil per 1.000 kilometers, it needs repairing. This is often the case, especially with older engines, but not always!

Reality

The engine oil level needs to be checked in accordance with the car manufacturer’s recommendation. When it comes to modern cars, this ought to be done at 2.000 or 3.000 kilometers, whereas, in the case of older cars, which are outdated in terms of both, construction and production, this kind of check-up ought to be performed at 500 to 1.000 kilometers. Timewise, it translates to between a week and a month. Of course, prior to going on a long trip, you need to check the engine oil level, even if your vehicle is relatively new. If the vehicle has oil sensors, the need for oil check-ups decreases, but even then it’s advisable to perform them in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendation, at 5.000 kilometers, as well as prior to going on a long trip.

 

 

 

The engine oil level needs to stay in between minimum and maximum (half way from each is ideal) on the oil dipstick, which usually represents a 1-liter difference, although the difference can be both, smaller and bigger. At wintertime, if the engine oil level is closer to minimum, it doesn’t signify a problem, and the same applies if, at summertime, the engine oil level is closer to maximum. What’s more, in theory, the best thing to do is keep the engine oil level closer to maximum, but it’s not recommendable to fill up the engine all the way due to the fact that it’s easier to add oil, in the case of a shortage, than it is to remove excess engine oil.

Having excess engine oil is damaging, but driving with an engine oil level below minimum is devastating to your car’s engine. Even though it’s not a disaster to have the engine oil level a little below minimum (especially if you don’t push the engine), you shouldn’t keep it like that for a long period of time because by doing so you shorten the engine’s life expectancy and, in extreme driving conditions, you risk damaging your engine severely.

Engine Oil Consumption

 

If you see that the red light, which signalizes low pressure, is on, make sure you immediately stop the car SAFELY and add oil. If, after that, the light is no longer on, proceed with driving. If the light remains on, try to get a hold of a professional car service. The yellow light on your car’s dashboard signalizes that the engine oil level is low, which is why you should make a stop at the first fuel station or a car shop you come across and add oil up to the required level.

 

Unknowns

  • Do car engines consume high-quality engine oils less than low-quality engine oils?
  • Do car engines consume certain brand’s engine oils less than other brands’ engine oils?

Knowns

High-quality engine oils, as opposed to low-quality engine oils, are less vaporescent, as well as more resistant to shearing and fuel dilution (they maintain their initial viscosity index), meaning car engines don’t consume them as much. However, the differences are so small that they can only be detected when comparing extremely high-quality engine oils to extremely low-quality engine oils. The viscosity index of an engine oil often has a much bigger impact on the engine oil consumption than the quality of the engine oil used, but only if there is a significant difference in quality. For example, a car engine can consume a high-quality 5W-30 engine oil less than a low-quality 5W-40 engine oil.

 

 

 

The brand of an engine oil can only have an indirect effect on the engine oil consumption, which is in accordance with the aforementioned factors. A slight change in the engine oil consumption can be (but not necessarily) detected if one switches brands, but only after the first oil change. Anyway, if your engine is consuming smaller quantities of oil and you’re not certain of the oil type in it (maybe you’ve purchased a used car) or you know that the oil inside your engine is produced by a relatively unknown manufacturer, the best thing to do is replace the current engine oil with a renowned manufacturer’s engine oil. It is recommendable that the new engine oil be a premium one.

 

 

 

Seldom does it happen that a high-quality engine oil contributes to significantly lower engine oil consumption. Unfortunately, the use of low-quality engine oils not only increases the engine oil consumption, but it causes engine problems, such as seal leaks, which require a professional car service’s intervention. This is why you’re better off using high-quality engine oils, such as Total or Elf, which help you avoid facing the aforementioned issues. If the engine oil consumption, even after using high-quality engine oils, keeps increasing, it means that something is off and that you need to pay a visit to a professional car service. Have in mind that average-quality engine oils only seem to be cheaper and that they can end up costing you more than their high-quality counterparts, seeing it as high-quality engine oils make it possible for a car engine to maintain its initial characteristics, including the oil consumption, thus extending its life.

Engine Oil Consumption

 

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