Although many may worry, the truth is that it is common for our car to consume oil, within limits. But a drop in that oil level higher than it should be is a sign of problems.
One of the elements that we must control in our vehicle frequently is oil. This oil is the key both to lubricate the different parts of the same and to reduce the amount of heat present in its interior, thus helping the refrigerant to achieve better results and obtain better performance. During these oil level checks it is possible that we see how the level drops and we start to worry, but the truth is that our vehicles consume oil. As we will see later, it is common. Anyway, we are going to see when oil consumption is normal and when it is something we should pay attention to.
Why does my car waste oil
To begin with, we are going to see what are the reasons why an engine uses oil. The oil flows throughout the interior of the car engine and reaches the deepest areas of the car, creating a lubricating film, which is what reduces friction between the different elements of the engine. This protection has a cost for the oil, which deteriorates with friction and is also lost through the different spaces inside the engine. An expense that increases in older vehicles, since the presence of gaps (always very small, of course) is greater in engines that already have tens of thousands of kilometers behind them.
Another reason why the oil is consumed is because of the heat. All oils have a level of fluidity or viscosity, depending on the SAE scale in which this oil has been classified. According to each of these scales, said oil is capable of working at a recommended temperature, both cold and hot. As proof, in case our car uses the best 5W30 oil , it will be able to work properly at temperatures of up to 30 degrees. This does not mean that at higher temperatures the oil does not work, but simply that the oil will be considerably fluid, which also increases your consumption or expense.
Finally, the oil is also consumed within the combustion and inflammation process itself that occurs in the engine, whether it is diesel or gasoline. In these combustion processes, part of the oil reaches the areas where the pistons, the combustion chambers and the rest of the elements that allow the car to move are located. Therefore, when the movement occurs in the engine, some of that oil also burns, in very small quantities. However, within the engine break-in process, when this process is repeated thousands of times it is obvious that we will have a certain oil waste.
How much oil does our engine use
Once we know the usual causes why our car consumes oil, it is time to find out what we mean by a conventional or acceptable oil consumption. Something that depends on different parameters.
Among them, the age of the engine is the aspect that most influences this consumption. The older the car and the more kilometers it has, the higher the oil consumption of the vehicle. An older engine has more clearances and more spaces in which the oil seeps during lubrication, so in older vehicles this consumption is higher.
Another important aspect is the type of driving we do. If the vehicle only travels on the highway at normal speeds, you may not even perceive oil consumption, because it is the situation in which less oil is used. However, if we drive in the city or do aggressive driving, the oil consumption will be higher, since this driving mode requires more effort from the engine.
That said, we go with the figures. In general, an engine can consume up to one liter of oil every 1,000 kilometers. A considerable amount that only older vehicles usually consume or those that circulate in very aggressive environments, such as urban environments. However, this amount is not the usual one, being the most normal thing that the car consumes around one liter every 10,000 kilometers, combining urban circulation with sections of highway traffic and normal, not very aggressive running.
What if it uses more oil?
You may be wondering what happens if the amount of oil your vehicle uses exceeds the levels we have discussed. Well, we are facing a considerable problem. A high reduction in the engine oil level is a symptom of a failure, which can be as simple as a leak or as complex as a serious problem inside that engine.
Starting with the simplest problems, a slight loss of oil can be due to several causes. One of them is the leakage through the crankcase plug, which in the event of a hit, not having been adjusted correctly or if there is a deterioration of the washer can cause a slight leak. The same happens when a sleeve deteriorates and cracks slightly or when a joint fails. This causes an oil drip, which causes the level to drop slightly.
More serious is the problem when the loss is sudden or very high. This case occurs when the sleeve or some similar element breaks. Luckily it is something more scandalous than expensive to repair. Just the opposite of what happens with turbo or cylinder head gasket failures. These are two breakdowns that cause the engine oil level to drop drastically and burn it, in the case of the turbo, or mix with the coolant, in the case of the gasket. Worst of all, they are expensive breakdowns, so detecting them in time is essential.