Is Your Car Burning Oil?

The price tag on a used car is usually more affordable than a brand new car, which is why so many people opt to buy used instead of new.

Is Your Car Burning Oil?

car burning oilHowever, while the purchase price may be lower, if there are issues with the vehicle, it could actually end up costing you a lot more than a new car in the long run.

To ensure a used vehicle won’t end up being a money pit, take the time to thoroughly check it over before you commit to purchasing it. A lot of people make the mistake of only inspecting the exterior of a used car, such as the pain, the head- and taillights, and the tires, for example. While these are all important components of a car, you really need to dig deeper.

There are several mechanical problems that could exist that could spell major trouble. The only way to avoid making a bad purchase is by popping the hood, checking underneath the car, and giving it a good test drive.

Of the several potential issues that could exist with a used car, burning oil is one of the more serious problems.

Why Do Cars Burn Oil?

There are two common reasons that would cause a car to burn oil:

  1. The oil is bypassing the piston rings.

    The piston rings act as seals that prevent the gases that are created during the process of combustion. These rings seal those gases within the cylinder of the engine, allowing your engine to receive the maximum amount of power. The piston rings also prevent the engine oil from entering the combustion chamber. Piston rings can wear out as a result of either high mileage or improper maintenance. When these rings become worn, tiny amounts of engine oil can get into the combustion chamber. If that happens, the oil will be burnt during combustion.

  2. The oil is leaking over the valve seals.

    Engine oil moves around the valves that are located in the head of a car’s engine. Valve seals prevent the oil from entering the combustion chamber. These seals can be worn out as a result of high mileage or low levels of engine oil. If the car isn’t driven frequently, the valve seals can become dry and they will eventually crack. When valve seals are bad, oil can seep around them when the engine is off. The oil will start to collect on top of the piston. When this happens, the oil that has accumulated on the piston will burn when the engine is turned on.

Signs of Burning Oil

If you own a car, you can tell if it is burning oil by checking the level of engine oil on a regular basis. You can also visibly see leaking oil collecting underneath the car.

If you are on the market for a used car, the above-mentioned methods of checking for burning oil won’t apply. That’s because you won’t have access to the vehicle long enough to notice if there are any issues with leaking oil.

How can you tell if the used car you are interested in buying is burning oil? – Simply turn the engine on and examine the exhaust. If you see any blue smoke coming out of the exhaust pipe, that’s a surefire sign that the engine is burning oil. Turn on the engine and examine the exhaust.

Blue smoke will be most noticeable when you start the engine while it is cold. You can also check to see if the engine is burning oil by keeping an eye on the exhaust while you are test driving it. Accelerate the car quickly from a stop and look at the exhaust coming out of the tailpipe. You can look for exhaust fumes while you are driving; particularly when you accelerate quickly from a complete stop. You can also have someone drive behind you and ask them to pay attention to the exhaust emitted from the used car.

Car Burning Oil? – Blue Smoke!

If you notice blue smoke coming from exhaust, chances are that the car is burning oil. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a dud; however, do make sure the issue is corrected before you purchase the vehicle. The longer engine oil burns, the more damage the vehicle will endure.

Is you car burning oil?  For more information on why taht might be check out this great article by Stack Exchange.

For a better quality oil check out our recent review of Shell Rotella T6 SW40 here.

We’d also recommend that you read our post on the best oil filters for your car here.

Having trouble with start-ups in cold weather?  Check out our post on the best 0w-20 synthetic oil to help you out.


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