Why Is My Car Burning Oil?

January 25, 2024

Noticing a burning oil smell in the car can be alarming, but many don’t know what it means. Diagnosing the problem is the first step to solving it. If you own a vehicle or plan to get one soon, it would help to understand oil consumption and what to do when a car smells like burning oil but is not leaking. Learn proper maintenance tips and which products are great for addressing oil burning. 


Understanding Oil Consumption

For any vehicle to perform at its full potential, the engine must have the correct oil. It keeps the engine cool, lubricates the engine and its parts and keeps them moving as intended.

Different types of engines consume different levels of oil. A four-cylinder engine, for example, needs at least five quarts of oil. The smaller the engine, the less oil you need. Check your vehicle’s user manual to see the type of engine oil needed, how much and when to change it. 


Normal vs. Excessive Oil Consumption

There’s no clear way to know how much oil consumption is “normal” for every vehicle on the road. The rule of thumb most car owners follow is that the lower the mileage, the lesser the need for oil changes. If your mileage is below 50,000, consuming a quart of oil between oil changes could be normal. If you suspect your engine is losing oil faster than usual, it might be time for a thorough check.


Key Signs of Oil Burning in a Car

A car burning oil means a bigger issue with the vehicle that needs immediate attention. The most common signs of an engine burning oil are:

  • Burning oil smell: It’s usually the first sign you’d notice and could mean oil leaks to the engine.
  • Blue or gray smoke: Oil could be seeping through the combustion chamber and burning during the cycle.
  • Low oil light warnings: If you see these more frequently than usual, it could mean excessive oil consumption.
  • Low compression: A problem with the engine’s parts affects compression. If compression goes below 100 psi per cylinder, the engine might be having trouble caused by burning oil.
  • Coolant issues: Oil can impact the coolant’s efficacy when they mix. If you suspect coolant deterioration, check your engine oil.

Some car models burn oil faster than others. It’s always best to check the engine oil consumption for your vehicle model to be sure.


Common Causes of Oil Burning

The symptoms of engine oil burning vary depending on what’s causing them. Watch out for these problems that could mean your car is burning oil excessively:


Worn Piston Rings and Cylinder Walls

Piston rings close the gap between the piston and the cylinder wall. These components, along with the cylinder head, form the engine’s combustion chamber. When worn out or damaged, engine oil seeps through the piston rings and forms carbon deposits, causing higher oil consumption.


Valve Seal and Gasket Issues

Valve seals ensure the engine oil remains inside the gasket as the engine runs. But these seals, as well as the gasket, may wear out over time. Mileage may also cause the gasket to crack and the seals to loosen, eventually allowing oil to escape. This leads to oil burning and creates clouds of smoke when you start the engine.


Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) System Malfunction

A car’s PCV system is what holds the motor oil. It has a one-way valve that produces gases as the engine burns fuel and removes other unwanted gases. Simply put, it’s an emission control device that helps increase fuel economy. 


Effects of Ignoring Oil Burning Issues

If you’ve ever found yourself asking, “Why is my car burning oil?” it’s a sign you need to schedule a maintenance check. Excessive oil burning causes damage to the engine and the entire vehicle. Some effects of ignoring oil-burning issues include:


Engine Damage and Reduced Performance

Excessive oil burning is among the biggest culprits of engine damage. Adequate lubrication is crucial to the maintenance of the engine’s internal components. Without it, engine parts may suffer from premature wear and cause engine failure.


Catalytic Converter Damage

Damaged piston rings can cause high carbon formation in the engine and may lead to catalytic converter damage. It prevents the converter from turning emissions into less harmful gases. A common sign of converter damage is when the engine takes too long to start or the engine lights turn on abruptly.


Increased Risk of Overheating and Other Mechanical Failures

Excessive oil burning can cause the engine to overheat, and this is likely due to coolant deterioration from valve seal and gasket issues. Engine oil leaking into the combustion chamber may cause spark plug problems that lead to mechanical failures.


Burning Oil Smell

A burning oil smell in your car could mean an oil leak or low levels of engine oil in the pan. It’s one of the first things you notice when your engine is burning too much oil and is a sign that an oil change may be due.


Diagnosing the Issue

There are several ways to check if you suspect your car may be burning too much oil all at once.

  • Performing a visual inspection: Check the oil level of your car using the oil dipstick for possible excessive consumption. 
  • Utilizing diagnostic tools: Use diagnostic tools to help identify potential problems with your engine. Consider getting an automotive scanner for a thorough check of all vehicle systems.
  • Seeking professional advice and assistance: Call your trusted mechanic if you think your car might be burning oil. Seek professional advice to address the problem right away and prevent further damage.


Preventive Measures and Maintenance Tips

Too much oil burning is a serious problem, but there are simple ways to prevent it, including:

  • Regular oil changes and quality oil selection: Find time to schedule an oil change when necessary and only use high-quality oils for your vehicle.
  • Monitoring oil levels and addressing leaks promptly: Monitor your oil levels often and keep a record if you have to. Address leaks right away by checking that all seals, plugs and covers are in great condition.
  • Following manufacturer-recommended maintenance schedules: Adhere to a regular maintenance schedule to ensure peak performance.


Hot Shot’s Secret Products: A Solution to Oil Burning

Hot Shot’s Secret offers a variety of oil-burning solutions to car owners. We have products specifically designed to address excessive oil consumption in vehicles.


Hot Shot’s Secret Stiction Eliminator

The Hot Shot’s Secret Stiction Eliminator removes the impurities from oil burning, also known as stiction. It’s also used to lubricate the system to prevent engine trouble and improve performance. The Stiction Eliminator works great for both gasoline and diesel engines.


Hot Shot’s Secret Blue Diamond Oil

The Hot Shot’s Secret Blue Diamond Oil is a heavy-duty synthetic oil that helps increase fuel economy. Engineered using our FR3 Nano-Technology and CK-4 additive package, this high-quality oil ensures longevity and performance. It keeps your engine running smoother for longer and reduces maintenance costs.


Choose Oil and Additives From Hot Shot’s Secret

When you choose products from Hot Shot’s Secret, you get benefits like these:

  • Improved engine performance: Our products are designed with peak engine performance in mind. The FR3 technology in our oil products ensures your engine is in great condition.
  • Reduced oil consumption: Engine oil is crucial in all vehicles, but changing it regularly can be costly. Hot Shot’s Secret’s products reduce your engine’s oil consumption, minimizing the need for maintenance.
  • Increased longevity of engine components: Your car’s engine requires help from several systems and components to run smoothly. If any of these parts wear out or fail, there is an instant impact on the engine. Our technology increases the longevity of all engine components for a smooth and reliable ride.

Shop our selection of oil and additives scientifically formulated to improve engine performance.